I am amazed that the diet in this household has changed tremendously since last year, especially within the last couple of months. A huge factor that causes such change would probably is because of this blog, food has suddenly become more exciting, dinner has become more elaborate, and every conversation will evolved around food. Almost every single dish will be photographed and blogged; a hobby becomes a habit, eventually a ritual.
I have also created a monster, but a good one. The Pom, who usually not-so-food-focused has also become quite a "foodie" himself off late. He was the one who suggested to go and watch Julie & Julia, but found ourselves the only two men in the cinema surrounded by women of all ages cackling away. Don't get me wrong, I quite enjoyed the movie actually and so did the Pom. But who would have thought it can be so inspirational and I couldn't believe when I heard what the Pom had to say one evening.
"I am going to cook Boeuf Bourguignon."
And that's exactly what he did last weekend.
Boeuf Bourguignon, a well-known traditional French dish, a stew prepapred with beef braised in red wine and beef broth, slow cooked until it is meltingly tender. Even though this dish is made famous by Julie Child, the authentic boeuf bourguignon was actually first codified by Georges Escoffier. No matter whether it is a peasant dish or a haute cuisine, I am sure everyone have their own secret recipe to make that perfect Boeuf Bourguignon just like mum used to make.
The Pom used a recipe from the cookbook that I bought by Trish Deseine, called Nobody Does It Better: Why French home cooking is still the best in the world. I picked up this cookbook from the bargain bin, it is definitely my current favourite and always have a quick flip through whenever I get a chance. Looking through the recipe which is simple enough and we have most of the ingredients in the kitchen pantry, The Pom decided to give it a crack.
It is obvious why the name "Bourguignon", when all chunks of beef start turning a deep red burgundy colour after 4 hours of marination. We found that one of most important steps while preparing this dish is to make sure all the beef chunks are pat dry completely with paper towel and lightly dusted with flour before frying them in the pan. That way it will locks in all the juicy goodness inside the beef from the marinade, resulting the most luxurious flavour it possibly can.
We actually couldn't find any bacon lardons, and simply replaced with normal bacon strips. It is not as salty as the lardons, so an extra pinch of salt will be needed to counteract the soury sweetness of the wine. Another ingredients that we couldn't find is the pickling onions. It is resolved with one big chopped brown onion instead. Then, it's all a matter of waiting until the beef is cooked to perfection.
After braising the beef for more than two hours, the aroma from the kitchen fills the air and suddenly the whole house smells like a little French cottage! The boeuf bourguignon is now a much darker brown in colour with thick gravy bubbling away.
This is my first time having boeuf bourguignon and I am absolutely overwhelmed by the richness, intensity and depth of flavour. Despite all the alcohol is all gone, but the distinctive scent and taste of red wine are still sipping through the tender beef on every bite. Usually the boeuf bourguignon are served with some boiled potatoes, but I have decided to whip up a mash potato instead. The buttery waxy mash and the tender beef casserole makes a perfect hearty meal. Even though there are a few core ingredients missing in the bourguignon, it is definitely one of the most delicious beef casserole I've ever tasted.
During dinner, The Pom has already started planning on how to improve the recipe for his next Boeuf Bourguignon. Hmm... I like the sound of that and already looking forward to it.
Boeuf Bourguignon (Serve 4 - 6)
1 large onion, chopped
Sprig flat-leaf parsley
Sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1.5kg chuck steak or top rump, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp cognac
500ml red wine
4-5 tbsp olive oil
150g poitrine fumeé (bacon lardons)
24 small pickling onions
450g button mushrooms, sliced
25g plain flour
400ml beef stock
1 garlic clove, crushed
Methods: 1. In deep bowl, put a few of the onion slices, some parsley, thyme and the bay leaf. Add a few pieces of beef on top, then layer up until all the beef, parsley and thyme are used up.
2. Mix together the cognac, wine and 3 tablespoon of oil, and pour them over the beer. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. In a large frying pan, heat the butter and fry the bacon lardons with the pickling onions and the mushrooms until they become golden brown. Drain on some kitchen paper and set aside.
4. Put the flour on a plate. Drain the beef, reserving the marinade, and dry with kitchen paper.
5. In the heave-based casserole dish with a lid, head the remaining oil. Roll the beef quickly in the flour and brown in the hot fat for a few minutes until lightly coloured all over. Sprinkle in the remaining flour and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Stir.
6. Pour in the marinate and beef stock, stirring and scraping off any tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer very gently for about 2 hours.
7. Add the bacon lardons, mushrooms, garlic, and pickling onions and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the beef is meltingly tender.