Beef Bourguignon, a stew of beef slowly braised in red wine is a classic Burgundian dish that is worth all the effort to prepare. It’s utterly delicious and I’ve modelled my recipe around Joël Robuchon’s rendition from his eponymous book ‘’The Complete Robuchon”. He is amongst the greatest French chefs, or chefs from anywhere, that ever lived. I needed a dish that was strong enough to stand up to the spectacular Tokara Reserve Collection 2018 Cabernet sauvignon and this was a perfect pairing.
The dish makes a lot of sauce, so I added 500gms extra beef as I had it on hand. I also upped the carrot from 2 to 3 and increased the mushrooms to a full punnet of 250gms. As we don’t easily get the tiny pearl onions in South Africa and that is an essential element of this dish, I had to settle for baby onions which are roughly double or triple the size. I landed up braising them in the stew for the last 40 minutes to ensure they were cooked through to that silky and much-desired consistency. I wish I had added a few more. I used streaky bacon instead of lardons, but lardons would be much better if you can find them. As for the bouquet garni, I upped the levels here a bit too as I felt one sprig of thyme and ½ a bay leaf was too little.
The recipe calls for pinot noir to be used in the dish, but as this could get quite costly, a full-bodied South African red would work for the dish. You want to use a dry robust red with some fruit, and one which you would happily pour in your glass.
The best accompaniment for beef bourguignon is mash potato. It’s probably the dish Joël Robuchon is most famous for and he used an obscene amount of butter in a ratio of 2:1 potato to butter. There are legendary tales of him pushing this to half and half, but I just didn’t have the courage to go the full whack with this. I put in more butter than I normally would and added the warm milk as he does. It was sublime.
Set aside 3 hours to make this dish.
Recipe – Beef Bourguignon – serves 6 generouslyPrint
A classic Beef Bourguignon recipe with perfect mashed potato
1 bottle of full-bodied red wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
60gms butter (divided)
1.4kgs stewing steak such as topside, chuck, rump pot roast & silverside cut into 5cm pieces (you can ask a butcher to do this)
2 – 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 0.5cm rounds
2 medium onions, peeled, halved and sliced into 0.5 cm thick rounds
2 Tbsp flour
Crushed black pepper (about 1 tsp)
750ml beef broth (I used 3 sachets of concentrated beef stock from Woolies)
1 large celery stalk cut in half
1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 fresh bay leaves, 4 stems flat-leaf parsley, tied together with a green leek leaf, or string)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and degermed (the middle germ grain removed), and cut in half
16 small white or pickling onions, peeled (or 8 small onions)
1 tsp coarse salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
125g lardons or chopped streaky bacon
200– 25gm small button mushrooms, cleaned and with their stems trimmed
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Put the wine into a small pot and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 20 mins. Take the meat out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature and pat it dry with a paper towel.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan or lidded casserole dish (such as cast iron). Add 45g butter to the pan and when it foams add the cubes of meat to brown on all sides. You will need to do this in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan and boiling the meat. Turn the meat over with tongs or a wooden spoon ensuring you get a deep brown colour. Set the meat aside in another dish.
Put the carrots and sliced onions into the pan in which the meat was browned and cook for 5 minutes over very low heat, stirring a few times to prevent darkening.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat and return it to the casserole dish with carrots and onions. Add 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and cook over medium heat until the raw flour has been cooked out. This will take about 5 minutes
Pour the beef stock into the pan along with the reduced wine, sliced celery stalks, garlic and bouquet garni. Simmer very gently over low heat for 2 hours. Check it every 30 minutes to give it a stir and skim off any foam that might appear on the surface.
While the meat is cooking, put the small onions into a saucepan with about 1 litre of water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer the onions for 2 minutes of they are very small and 5 minutes if they are bigger. Drain them in a colander.
Melt the remaining 15g of butter in a medium-sized non-stick pan. Add the onions and caster sugar; season with pepper, cover, and cook over gentle heat for 20 minutes stirring the onions every 5 minutes until they are soft and caramelized on the outside. If your onions are bigger, pan fry for about 10 – 15 minutes and then add them to the stew 40 minutes before the 2 hours of cooking is complete. If you are using tiny onions set them aside on a plate.
Wipe the same pan as you cooked the onions and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the lardons (or bacon) over medium heat until golden brown and the fat has rendered out. Add these to the onions.
Add the mushrooms to the same pan and with the remaining fat, cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season lightly with salt and pepper and then add these to the onions and lardons.
When the stew has been simmering for 2 hours and the meat is perfectly tender, remove any fat from the surface. You can use a fat skimmer. Or drape kitchen towel over the surface and lift the fat off. Remove the meat and carrots (and onions if you added these to the stew) with a slotted spoon and put them in a large, deep serving dish. Add the lardons, onions and mushrooms into the same dish. Strain the meat sauce through a fine-mesh sieve and return to the pot. Bring it to a simmer for about 5 minutes to warm through and reduce slightly. Add seasoning to taste.
Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potato.
Keywords: Beef Bourguignon, recipe, classic Joel Robuchon, French, beef stew, red wine
How to make my mashed potato: (this was enough for 4 servings so adjust accordingly)
Recipe – My best mashed potatoes
I use around 100gm – 125gms to around 1 kg of potatoes, but use as much as you dare.
- 6 medium-large potatoes (about 1kg), peeled and rinsed
- 1/2 cup milk, warmed to just below boiling point
- 125gms butter (salted butter)
- sea salt & pepper
- 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Cut the potatoes in half and bring to a boil in a pot filled with water and 1 tsp of coarse salt. Cook until the potatoes are knife tender and cooked through. Drain in a colander and allow to air dry for a few minutes.
Use a potato ricer to mash the potatoes in parts until they are all forced through the gadget. This is the best way to mash potatoes and ensures they are 100% lump-free.
Add the butter and stir until it has melted through. Do the same with the warm milk in 2 parts until its smooth and incorporated. Season with freshly ground white or black pepper, salt and. the optional nutmeg.
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