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Boeuf Bourguignon

The recipe for the traditional braise of Burgundy may have changed slightly, writes Emma Knowles, but one ingredient remains non-negotiable: a bottle of the region's red wine.

You'll need

80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil 300 gm piece speck, rind removed, cut into lardons 16 small golden shallots 1.2 kg beef rump, trimmed, cut into 4cm pieces For dusting: seasoned plain flour 750 ml red wine from Burgundy 300 ml veal stock 4 thyme sprigs 2 fresh bay leaves 2 garlic cloves, crushed 40 gm butter, coarsely chopped 300 gm button mushrooms, quartered To serve: crusty baguette and buttered steamed chat potatoes


  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 150C. Heat half the oil in a casserole over medium heat, add speck and stir occasionally until golden (5-7 minutes). Remove from casserole and set aside. Reduce heat to low, add shallots and stir occasionally until golden (15-17 minutes). Remove from casserole and set aside. Increase heat to high, then, working in batches, toss beef in seasoned flour, shaking off excess, add to pan and turn occasionally until well browned (3-4 minutes). Remove from pan, set aside and repeat with remaining beef. Reduce heat to medium, add wine, stock, herbs, garlic and beef, bring to the simmer, season to taste, cover and braise in oven for 45 minutes. Add speck and shallots and braise until shallots and beef are very tender (45 minutes-1 hour).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, heat butter and remaining oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add mushrooms, stir occasionally until golden (3-4 minutes), then season to taste. Serve beef topped with mushrooms, with hot crusty baguette and buttered steamed potatoes.

Traditionally, a tough cut of beef - most often rump - was studded with lardons to impart extra fat and flavour before being braised in a combination of the region's signature red wine - Burgundy - and a deeply flavoured beef stock. A bouquet garni imparted extra flavour, and champignons and pearl onions were added at the end of long and languid cooking. Over time, the recipe evolved from honest peasant fare to haute cuisine, and Auguste Escoffier's 1903 recipe became the standard-bearer, although Escoffier used a whole piece of beef rather than smaller cubes. Much later, Julia Child brought boeuf Bourguignon to the notice of a whole new generation of cooks.

Changes in cooking equipment and available ingredients have brought about subtle changes to the recipe since Escoffier's version was published all those years ago, although for the most part it has remained safe from new-age tweaking. Today's cuts of meat have sufficient marbling to render the larding technique unnecessary, but boeuf Bourguignon simply wouldn't be the same without smoky bacon or speck, so these days it's included as a separate component. As to the meat itself, traditionally rump is used, and historically this would have come from the Charolais cattle for which Burgundy is famed. Other secondary cuts such as shin, however, would also work beautifully. One ingredient that is strictly non-negotiable if you value authenticity is the wine: it must be a Burgundy, preferably of a quality you'd happily quaff.

Like many long-cooked dishes, boeuf Bourguignon is even better the next day, so plan ahead a little and give it some time in the refrigerator. Alternatively, make a double batch and enjoy some straight away and the remainder a day or two later. You'll be glad you did.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Jul 2012

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