Our French teacher was recently complaining about the lack of good, affordable French food in Sydney. He recommended making beef bourguignon at home to get the real “flavour of France” without the hefty restaurant price tag. Now, I don’t think that all French food in Sydney is too expensive, but I do agree that making beef bourguignon at home is one of the easiest ways to get your French fix. It’s also a really good way to get rid of some red wine.
Now, I know there are those of you who will be shocked by that last statement. “Get rid of wine”, you might shout, “what a barbaric idea! Wine is to be savoured and pampered and enjoyed out of large, fragile and expensive glasses!”
And you would be right about most of those things (we can’t use expensive wine glasses in our house- Andy has a habit of knocking them over onto the floor) but, the fact remains that we have some wine we need to “get rid of.” You know the wine I’m talking about. Bottles that lurk on your wine rack for months after purchase, always being overlooked when the time to drink is upon you. Perhaps you bought them on a wine-tasting trip, at the end of the day when your palate was *ahem* not it’s best? Perhaps they were brought to your house during a party by friends who aren’t into wine and don’t know any better? Or perhaps they were on sale at the bottle shop and you just can’t resist a bargain?? No matter the origin, there is a difference between wine to be savoured and pampered, and wine you’re happy to pour into a pot and add salt and pepper to.
(A small aside here- I’ve heard varying opinions about wine that’s best to cook with. Some people say only cook with a wine you’d drink. Others say it doesn’t matter if the wine you cook with isn’t very good. Does anyone know which is correct?)
So I made a big pot of beef bourguignon according to the vague directions given to us by our French teacher (which included the instruction, “Buy some beef- but not too much”), the recipe from one of my French cookbooks, and the ideas in my head of what I wanted the dish to taste like. Overall, I’d say the results were excellent. That’s one bottle down, 10 more to go.
1 kilo or 2 pounds of beef (I bought round steak, but gravy beef or stew beef would also work for this) cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 rasher or 2 slices of bacon, finely chopped
1 bottle of dry red wine (I used an Aussie shiraz)
1 cup beef stock
2 carrots, chopped
8-10 button mushrooms, chopped
Toss the pieces of beef with the flour, salt and pepper to taste. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot with a lid over medium heat. Put the meat in the pot and stir around until beginning to brown on all sides. Remove the meat and keep in a bowl (to conserve all the lovely juices).
Add the onion, garlic and bacon to the pan and stir. Allow the bacon to cook and the onions to become transparent (about 5-7 minutes).
Put the meat and any juices in the bowl back into the pot. Stir. Add about 3/4 of the bottle of wine. Fill the rest of the pot up with the beef stock. Add salt and pepper and stir. Turn the heat down, put the lid on the pot and simmer for 1-2 hours. Check after an hour to see if the beef is tender. You can cook this for a while and it just keeps getting better.
About an hour before you’re ready to serve, add the carrots and mushrooms to the pot.
Serve with mashed potatoes and good red wine (you could even finish the bottle you cooked with!) The leftovers are even better the next day. Waste not want not!