Why does Anthony Worrell Thompson stick celery in his and sprinkles it with parsley?
Why does Jamie Oliver needs two bottles of wine?
Why does Nigel Slater use one bottle in his?
Why does the Belfast Telegraph shove a chicken stock cube into theirs?
Why does Gordon F***** Ramsey recommend Irish Soda Bread with it?
Why does James Martin say to have it with mash?
Why does AWT above say to have it with new potatoes?
Why do ‘all recipes dot com’ not use carrots in theirs?
Questions, questions, questions. You can see that when I went to find the definitive recipe for Beef Bourguignon I was left in a bit of a muddle. I do like to credit my sources but this lot, famous chefs or repositories of recipes all, can’t seem to agree on what goes into it or how to cook it. Why is that?
A friend who is himself a chief dropped in the other day. I showed him my photos for this post. He told me how he prepared his version. It bears only a passing relationship to my method or those of any of the above. Why?
I can’t answer these questions but I can show you why my Beef Bourguignon recipe is the one. It seems to be as authentic as anything that this lot are at. I have no fear of the process I use so I will tell you not only what but why.
You will need
- 1.5 kilo of stewing beef
- .5 kilo of carrots
- .5 kilo of mushrooms
- .5 kilo of shallots
- .25 kilo of pancetta
- 2 onions
- 2 bay leaves
- A bunch of thyme
- 2 bottles of wine (No, I have not gone all Jamie Oliver. 1 for the stew. 1 for the chef).
- .5 litre of beef stock
- A few cloves of garlic
- Oil for frying
- Butter for frying
- Salt and pepper
In the big casserole dish heat some oil and brown the beef in batches.
Why? To caramelise the outside of the beef so it will add depth to the flavour of the stew.
Fry the pancetta in a dry pan (It will release plenty of fat). Add the shallots a few minutes later and then the mushrooms a few minutes late again. Add a bit of butter if needed to keep things going.
Why? To concentrate the flavours in each of these ingredients before adding them to the stew and to caramelise the shallots a bit.
Chop the onions and garlic and put them in the big casserole with the lid, on a low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to gently brown them.
Why? To get a lot of the water out of them and then to create some natural sugars and to concentrate the flavour. This also fills the house with delicious cooking smells. Worth it for that alone.
Add a tablespoon of flour to the onions and stir like a mad thing.
Why? To coat the onions and get all the brown bits mixed into the onions. This will prevent lumps of flour in your stew.
Add back the beef and mix it in.
Why? It’s a beef dish, for goodness sake.
Pour in the beef stock and the wine, add the bay leaves, the thyme and do a bit of seasoning. Stir it until it boils.
Why? Because we are making a stew.
Tip in the pancetta, carrots, shallots and mushrooms.
Why? To add their beautiful deep flavours to the dish.
When it is boiling, pop it in the oven and leave it there for an hour. Then add the carrots and return it to the oven for another hour.
Why? To cook it, of course.
Boil some potatoes.
Why? Because I’m with AWT on this.
Assemble ‘votre famile’ and serve this French classic. Don’t forget to take advantage of the second bottle of wine in the recipe. You will have (as did I) earned it.
Why? Because it will be one of the best stews you will have ever tasted. But only if you stick rigorously to the recipe – My recipe. Don’t ask “Why?“.