Mike’s Boeuf Bourguignon
This classic French dish was made globally popular by one Ms. Julia Child. The American chef, author and television personality was known for bringing French cuisine to Americans and others around the world who loved to watch her cooking shows. Julia famously said “Boeuf Bourguignon is one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man” and I have to agree with her.
I attempted her recipe once and it was perfection but I never tried it again as it was far too heavy and rich for my palette these days. I wanted to create a lighter version of this classic that still packed a flavoursome punch, without the over the top richness and long cooking time.
Boeuf Bourguignon is really all about the wine – Quality French red wine that pretty much accompanies the beef. The dish originates from the Burgundy region (in French, Bourgogne) and tradition is to use wine from this region when cooking this dish.
I like to use ‘grape blends’ in this recipe to ensure there is a good balance of flavours. One of my favourite red wines comes from an area east of the Bordeaux wine region called Bergerac. There are 1,200 wine-growers in the Bergerac wine region who cultivate over 12,000 hectares of grapes. We drove from Bordeaux last summer to the town of Bergerac and during the drive you never leave the vines, it is really very special. The stunning Château’s, Vineyards and winding rivers are something straight out of a story book.
The wine I chose for this recipe is from Château de La Mallevieille in Monfaucon and it contains 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. In Australia it retails for around $25 per bottle. In France you’ll pay around €11.
“Château de La Mallevieille is a vineyard located in Monfaucon, a small Périgord village overlooking the Dordogne River, in the Bergerac wine region. The 30 hectares of vineyards are managed by Philippe Biau and Thierry Bernardinis, who share their know-how and love for vines and wines on a daily basis with their customers”
If you asked me to describe Boeuf Bourguignon, I would say it is a luxurious dish that is decadent in regards to its ingredients and complimented by its method of cooking.
French cooking is often NOT always about visually pleasing dishes, it is about a cooking method that when followed results in a beautiful marriage between ingredients. Infusions only possible by following a method, the French method created centuries ago. You’ll note in this recipe, you begin by cooking the smoky spec which allows for the pork fat to join the olive oil which then passes on flavours to the spring onions and eventually the beef. If you simply through it all together and braised it, the flavours would be raw and bitter.
If you read my blog from last week, I said “You can subtlety taste every single ingredient whilst the smooth velvety sauce coats your mouth beautifully leaving you wanting more.” This is so very true, it is magical dish that deserves respect.
I would like to apologise to my French friends in advance. Whilst I hope you see logic in my madness in adapting this sacred recipe, I do know I should never mess with French classic dishes. They are classics for a reason and long may they live.
What you’ll need:
XV Olive oil
280 gram piece of speck with the rind removed and sliced into lardons
12 small spring onions
1.2 kg of lean beef rump trimmed cut into 3-4cm cubes
Brown rice flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
I bottle (750ml) of quality French red wine – I love the red wine from Château de La Mallevieille which contains 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.
350 ml vegetable stock (you can use veal stock but I find the vegetable stock makes the end result a little lighter)
6 thyme sprigs
4 dried bay leaves
2 garlic cloves minced
50 grams of quality french butter
300 grams of button mushrooms cut into quarters
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with crusty fresh bread, seasonal green vegetables, dutch carrots, potatoes, rice or lightly seasoned and buttered pasta
Preheat oven to 160C.
- Add a good swirl of XV Olive oil to a casserole dish over medium heat on the stove top, add the speck and stir occasionally until crispy (5-7 minutes). It is during this process that the fat from the speck will become part of the cooking oil, infusing flavour into the spring onions and the beef. Remove the speck from the casserole dish with a perferated spoon and set aside. Reduce to a low heat.
- Add spring onions and stir occasionally until golden (8-12 minutes). Remove from the casserole dish and set aside.
- Toss the beef pieces in the brown rice flour and shake off any excess flour. Increase the heat to medium-high then in batches, cook the beef enough to brown each piece on each side. Set the beef aside once cooked.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the red wine and the vegetable stock, garlic, thyme and the beef. Gently stir as you bring it to a simmer. Cover with a lid or with foil and braise in the over for 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and add the speck and braise for a further 45 minutes until the beef is tender. Add the spring onions and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- For the mushrooms, heat the butter in a pan and add the mushrooms with some sea salt and pepper. Cook on a medium to high heat until golden brown.
Serves 4 people.