Here in Jersey, we are extremely proud to be part of the British Isles. But we are geographical exceedingly close to France. We have many French influences on everyday life from the street names, tradition language , our culture and our cooking. Now there are several dishes that come to mind in Britain if you are asked to think about French cuisine. I think Onion Soup, Coq au Vin and Moules Marinière would be some of the most popular. However the recipe that comes to my mind first is classic Beef Bourguignon. This is a recipe that comes from the Bourgogne or Burgundy region of France. It is traditionally made using a joint of Charolais beef.
What is Beef Bourguignon?
Today restaurants serve far more elaborate versions of the dish which was originally a simple stew. Originally the beef was first threaded or larded with bacon fat. It was then marinated in red wine for up to two days for extra flavour. It was then cooked with the marinade, vegetables, and a bouquet garni. Now the dish is often more refined than Auguste Escoffier’s recipe of 1903.
Smaller pieces of beef such as chuck steak are slowly cooked in red wine. Bacon is still added to give the sauce extra flavour. Together with button mushrooms and baby onions or shallots it makes up the traditional bourguignon garnish. I am sticking to the single piece of beef in Escoffier’s recipe. But I am using a slightly unusual cut, beef cheek, which cooks down into the sauce and makes the best bourguignon I have ever tasted. The dish is very rich so one cheek will feed two people.
What to drink?
The classics red wines of Bourgogne are made from the Pinot Noir grape and are potentially some of the most expensive wines you can buy. To hold up to the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness from the carrots and onions I would try to buy two good quality bottles and spoil yourself with using one to add in the Bourguignon and one to drink. It really is a great opportunity to try out some lovely appellations such as Mercurey, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a Crozes-Hermitage, a Lirac or even a Côte-Rôtie as your budget allows.
- 1 Large heavy-bottomed Frying Pan
- 1 large oven-proof casserole with a lid
- 2 large Beef Cheeks
- 200 gr diced Pancetta or Smoked Streaky Bacon cut into slices
- 200 gr Button Mushrooms cut into quarters
- 1 bottle Red Burgundy
- 300 ml quality Beef Stock
- 14 Shallots peeled and halved lengthwise if very large
- 1 large Carrot peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 cloves Garlic peeled and very finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons quality Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons Plain Flour
- A large knob fresh Butter
- 1 Bouquet garni
- Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
- 2 tablespoons Parsley freshly chopped
- Preheat your oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2. Heat a large, heavy-based ovenproof casserole dish on a medium heat and add the oil.
- Season the beef cheeks with sea salt and black pepper and fry until brown, for three to four minutes, on each side. Remove the beef and set aside on a plate and add the butter to the casserole then add the shallots, bacon, mushrooms, and carrots, and cook until lightly browned.
- Then stir in the garlic, tomato puree, and plain flour and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
- Return the beef cheeks and any beef juices to the pan and pour in the wine and stock. Put on the casserole lid and cook very gently for three to four hours.
- Alternatively, you can cook in a slow cooker following the manufactures instructions.
- Check seasoning and serve topped with plenty of chopped parsley.