When I eat a beef bourguignon in a good restaurant, the meat is extremely tender; melt in your mouth and literally falls apart when cut, with a deep, rich flavour. I try to emulate this at home with a slow cooker but never seem to be able to achieve the same soft, rich texture with the beef. Can you please share a very good recipe, tips, cut of beef, and cooking process that may enable me to achieve similar results?
- Much appreciated, Raelene
A classic boeuf bourguignon is a delicious dish to have in your repertoire as it's the perfect winter comfort dish to serve alongside a potato gratin, mashed potatoes whipped with lots of mustard and butter, or even with potato gnocchi. If you have a slow-cooker I'm not sure why you aren't getting a tender finished dish, so I'll run through my version. I have a suspicion that the meat may not be getting browned enough before slowly cooking it, but that may not be your answer.
Key to the "stew" is the beef itself. I'm a huge fan of beef cheek for stews but shin or chuck are also really good. Make sure you trim any of the "white skin" from the beef as this adds nothing to the finished dish. If none of these cuts are readily available then ask your butcher for something suitable. The other ingredient alluded to in the name is the wine - which as the name suggests would be a red burgundy. In this case if you're using local ingredients, use a NZ pinot noir. A little fruit on the palate is good, but not a sweet red fruity NZ version. .
You'll also need bacon lardons (my Craft Series range by Beehive is preferred by me of course), or else you'll need to find thickly sliced belly bacon (smoked or unsmoked) and cut it into smallish cubes.
Baby onions or shallots, and button mushrooms are also essential, and it's best to add these past half-way through so they don't completely break down.
For four people, heat some butter and olive oil in a heavy based oven-proof pot and brown, in several batches, around 600g thickly sliced or diced beef cheek. Make sure you colour it well - the more colour at this stage the earthier the finished flavour will be. Take the beef out and cook 100g lardons, 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced and a sliced red onion until caramelised. Take out and add to the beef. Add a little extra butter if needed and brown 12 baby onions and 16 button mushrooms, put the lid on the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the baby onions and mushrooms and return everything else to the pot along with a bouquet garni (or 2 bay leaves, some thyme and sage). Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon flour and coat everything with it. Pour on 400ml pinot noir and 400ml beef stock. Bring to the boil, put the lid on then turn to a simmer. Alternately, once it comes to the boil place in an oven set to 150C. Whichever way you're cooking it, stir in the button onions and mushrooms to the pot after 90 minutes and cook another hour. Taste for seasoning and also the tenderness of the beef - if it's chewy then keep cooking another 30 minutes or so. If it's looking too watery, ladle some of the cooking juices off, boil to reduce in a pan and return to the pot - do this before adjusting the seasoning.
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