Nigel Slater is one of my favourite food writers. His writing has a healthy, normal, slightly gluttonous attitude to food. You can tell from every recipe that he simply loves food, and the fact that he has happened to make a career out of this is a happy coincidence. So, when I found his classic boeuf bourguinon recipe on the guardian, I was pretty thrilled to try it. However, this one seemed to fall into the very ‘cheffy’ chef trap of not realising that most people reading a recipe on the Guardian do not have a professional kitchen. I had this issue during my brief stint working in a restaurant. I was requested to make a dessert which I had made on several occasions before. I left this in for 1/3 of the time it would take to bake in my not unimpressive home rayburn. When I took it out, it was burnt to a crisp. This was put down to incompetence on my part, that I had gotten the timing wrong. Unfortunately, many people who are used to working with top of the range professional equiptment forget that the rest of us do not have the same access.
Sadly, it appears Nigel has gone over to the other side for this recipe, and so it has been modified.After the recommended time in the oven, it still looked more like beef floating in wine than a proper rich sauce, so I removed the meat (which was perfectly done by this time) with a slotted spoon and reduced the sauce separately on the hob. I’d suggest this is the way to go. Serves 4.
- 500g stewing beef pieces
- 10 small shallots
- 20 button mushrooms
- 1 large onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 80g of chopped bacon, preferably pancetta
- 2 bay leaves
- 200ml rich meat stock
- 1 bottle of red wine (yes, traditionally burgundy, but given the prices that runs to, I’ve heard Cote du Rhone suggested as a good alternative)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1-2 tablespoons of flour
- Toss the beef pieces in seasoned flour.
- Generously brown for 20 or so minutes in a large casserole which can go in the oven.
- Peel the shallots and add to the pan.
- After the shallots have browned, add the mushrooms, chopped to your preferred consistency (I like mine quite thin, still not a huge button mushroom fan).
- Remove the mushrooms and shallots once they have browned.
- Add a large chopped onion.
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and the beef to the pan.
- Pour in the wine and stock.
- Bake in an oven at 180 degrees for 1.5 hours.
- Add the shallots and mushrooms for the last thirty minutes.
- If, as happened to me, the sauce is still more wine than actual sauce, remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and reduce the sauce on the hob for 10 or so minutes, or until it is a rich dark brown, and tastes like a rich meaty jus.
- Serve with mash potato, or macaroni (traditional in France, though not my preference).