OK this doesn’t qualify as baking but we can’t live by bread alone. So it was a cold night, I had some friends coming round, and what better to cook for them than the very traditional French dish, Boeuf Bourgignon, using beef and veggies bought at the local Canberra and Region Farmers’ Market. By the way I use brisket because it retains its structure and flavour while cooked for a long time. Some people say you should marinate the meat but I think that is unnecessary if you use the right kind of beef for slow cooking.
1kg brisket, chopped into pieces.
1 cup of lardons ( or bacon shopped up small)
Olive oil ( 2-3 tablespoons)
1 bottle of red wine (not expensive, but not bad quality either.)
7 or 8 pickling onions or shallots ( if you can’t get these just cut ordinary onions into quarters)
About 15 small mushrooms
2 or three carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Mirepoix: 2-3 carrots, 2-3 sticks celery, 1 onion. A mirepoix is a mix of finely chopped vegetables that is a flavour basis in French (and Italian cooking).
1 bayleaf (2 if fresh) fresh parsley, thyme, marjoram.
4 tablespoons plain flour
Pepper and salt
Mirepoix : If you have time you can finely chop the mirepoix vegetables. Alternatively, chop them in a kitchen whizzer, which makes them very fine, but I like this as it is a way of thickening the sauce.
Fry the lardons and the mirepoix in some olive oil, stirring frequently. Do not let them burn.
Take a thin plastic bag and put the flour in. Season with pepper ( not salt, as this can toughen the meat. Add the salt at the end of cooking)
Put the meat into the plastic bag and shake madly. This will cover the meat with a fine coating of flour and thicken the sauce. You may have to do it in two lots.
Take the mirepoix out of the frying pan and set aside for later.
Put some more olive oil in the pan and heat. Add the meat in two batches, and brown.
Turn the heat up and pour the entire bottle of wine in. Wait until it bubbles up, them turn down the heat, add the mirepoix, the peeled onions, additional carrots if you are using them and the mushrooms.
Notes on veggies. I always add more vegetables than traditional recipes allow as it makes the meat go further, and because I like vegetables.
Either put entire stew into a slow cooker for about 5 hours or if you haven’t got a slow cooker, put in a casserole, in the oven and cook slowly for about two hours at 160 C, until the meat is tender. How long it will take is dependant on the kind of beef you buy.
(Slow cookers are a wonderful gadget, quite cheap, and it means you can go out, leave the food cooking for several hours, and come home to a wonderful smell as though someone else had cooked dinner!)
Serve with steamed green beans of broccoli, and celeriac mash. (see recipe)