Let’s forward time and now I’m back from my gastronomic trip to the Jura and Burgundy. I grumbled about the beef bourguignon we had in Beaune all through the drive back home. I will mention the restaurant and the food in another post when I review my spontaneous visit to Burgundy during my Jura tour.
I should have gone to the same place as the last time to eat but as it’s my character, I always want to try something new. The “maybe…” seems to be a problem. I expected the melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and dark, intensely flavoured silky sauce in the beef bourguignon I ate, just like the last time in a more tradition brasserie.
So Cyrille suggested I make the real beef bourguignon. You see? By then, my cooking skills had been proved and I was even asked to make a traditional French dish for a French! Isn’t it something I should definitely feel proud of? It’s about experience and confidence.
The number one secret of best beef Bourguignon is the choice of wine, Pinot Noir!!!!, and marinating the meat before cooking. When I first made this dish, I used just any red wine and that’s why the colour and the taste didn’t seem right. Again, I still had a problem with wine this time. I didn’t have any Pinot Noir for cooking. All the wines from the fun wine tasting were Bordeaux wines. So I had to my laboratory Pinot Noir by diluting it with the 1989 white wine we got from the fromagerie in Jura. Can you guess what a 25 year-old white would taste like? It tasted like a dry vin jaune without the sweetness. Two or three sips were enough to feed my curiosity but I couldn’t drink more but thought it’d add some woodiness and lighten the colour of the red wine.
One ingredient in the traditional recipe, which you don’t have around unless you’re a Burgundian, is Marc de Bourgogne. Not having tasted it, I had no idea of it but assumed it similar to Cognac, which I used for the recipe.
Another secret is lots of pickling onions and the straining the sauce to a thick and smooth consistency, making the beef the main character. I couldn’t find pickling onions but I tried to be loyal to the original recipe by mashing the carrots.
3 hours of cooking in the oven, the house was stained with the warm and rich flavours. Cyrille, entering the house, got intoxicated by the smell of beef bourguignon. I didn’t notice it because I was smelling it all afternoon, but when I came inside after stepping outside for a minute, I, too, was surprised by the intensity of the smell.
Finally, the result was unveiled the next day and it was incredible. “It’s waaaay better than the one we ate in Beaune! “, says Cyrille, giving me two thumbs up. I saw its potential to be the best beef bourguignon in the world. Am I overdoing the praise?
But truly and honestly, it was really good. I have only Cyrille to testify it. Oh, shame, shame.. quelle domage! I’m sure I will have another chance to prove it to a bigger audience. With real Pinot Noir and right meat cuts, my next beef bourguignon is going to be as good as the one I ate in the brasserie in Beaune.
Though we didn’t have Pinot Noir to use for cooking, we had a good bottle of Volany 1er cru picked up in a domain in Volnay, which I discovered that my palate favoured more than Gevrey or Pommard. I will talk about that later as well.
The food was served with steamed potatoes, which was the quickest option at that time. I made this beef bourguignon the day before because the meat in the fridge was close to the use-by date and I felt that I wouldn’t have bothered to cook it, if I’d left it another day, but we couldn’t eat it that night because we ate out, so it was eaten one day later.
This photo is credited to Cyrille – I keep copyright. Have a look at the meat flaking off and the rich sauce. I think I will strain off the vegetables next time, just to put the meat in a spotlight, which distinguishes beef bourguignon from a stew. As I hear peopling saying hat the recipe by Julia Child is too intimidating with so many steps, I tried to make it as simple as possible while staying very loyal to the original.
Just remember to use Pinot Noir, no other wines! Please don’t add tomato paste or other stock, please….I’m begging you. Please consider the surroundings of the place where the dish it comes from. It’s cold; it’s wet; it’s earthy; it’s winey.
The recipe below is adapted from FXcuisin, which I found the most authentic. In the recipe, the onions and carrots in the marinate are strained off as it’s believed that the flavours of the vegetables are transferred to the meat during the long marinate but I used them all and mashed the vegetables to make it as invisible as possible, so the choice is yours. You can save the vegies and use them for something else but my excuse is that I hate to see food being wasted.
For the roux, which is a mix of butter and flour and a trick to thicken the sauce, I simplified the process by adding it at the end of browning the meat.
A final note… I’ve created an event on Facebook, Soiree des Gourmandes, to show off my mastering the beef burguignon. Unfotunately, it’s in Istanbul but if you happen to be around, please drop by and have a nice evening of gastronomy with me. Cheers!
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1kg beef blade, chuck or top rump
150g bacon cut in matchstick
2 garlic cloves, crushed
bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, sage)
2 bay leaves
1 bottle red wine, Pinor Noir
300g mushrooms, sliced
2 large onions
20 very small onions
1 glass grappa (Marc de Bourgogne or Cognac)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1. In a deep bowl, put the meat with the chopped onions, carrots, some parsley, bouquet garni and the bay leaves.
2. Mix together the cognac and wine, and pour them over the meat. Cover the bowl and leave it overnight, or at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Drain the meat and pat-dry with paper towel, reserving the marinade. Roll the meat in the flour on a plate.
4. In the heave-based casserole dish with a lid, heat the remaining oil. Brown the meat in the hot fat for a few minutes until lightly coloured all over. Sprinkle in the remaining flour, add the butter and stir for a further 1-2 minutes.
5. Pour in the marinate, stirring and scraping off any tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer very gently for about 2 hours.
6. In a large frying pan, fry the bacon lardons with the pickling onions and the mushrooms until they become golden brown. Drain on some kitchen paper and set aside.
7. After 2 hours, add the bacon lardons, mushrooms, garlic, and pickling onions and cook for further 30 minutes or until the meat is meltingly tender. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
8. Serve with potatoes prepared in your favourite method; mashed, gratin or steamed
- The rise and rise of Pinot Noir (grapegrowerandwinemaker.wordpress.com)
- from pauper to prince: boeuf bourguignon with buttermilk white sweet potato smash (eatandrelish.com)