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boeuf bourguignon

It’s somewhat of a tradition here in Canberra, and an unspoken convention that heaters are not to be turned on before Anzac Day. I’m not sure how many people stick to this rule really, as it got down to 0°C a few nights before, but so compelling is this unspoken rule (and the pressure to fit into Canberran society) that even if you do turn on your heater, you’d be hard pressed to admit it. After all, you wouldn’t want your friends to think of you as un-Canberran, would you?

Just in time for the colder nights, here’s a recipe for boeuf bourguignon, a Burnett speciality tweaked with reference to Francois at FXcuisine.

Once considered a peasant dish, it’s now comfort food at it’s finest – after all, it’s hard to argue with beef slow cooked in red wine. Pop it on the stove on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it makes for good leftovers as long as it’s not frozen.

Boeuf Bourguignon
serves 6-8

1.5kg beef – chuck or blade steak
2 large white onions, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
bouquet garni – bay leaf, parsley, sage, thyme
1 bottle red wine, yes the whole bottle – and, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it*

500ml beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
100g speck, cut into 3mm pieces
200g small button mushrooms
12 pickling onions, peeled

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

green beans
rice, baby potatoes or mashed potato to serve

  1. Dice your beef into large, approx 3cm cubes. Alternatively, you can buy already diced beef. Chuck steak is usually more fatty and blade is lean – use whichever you prefer.
  2. Place the beef into a large non-reactive (glass or stainless steel) bowl and add diced onions, carrot, garlic, bouquet garni and all the wine. Leave to marinade overnight.
  3. The next day, remove the beef pieces from the pan (they should’ve turned a darker colour) and pat dry. Don’t take shortcuts here, really pat it dry so that you get the Maillard reaction and that lovely caramelised flavour when you brown the meat in the pan.
  4. Using a heavy based pot and a splash of oil, sear the pieces of meat in small batches making sure to turn them so that they brown evenly on all sides.
  5. Drain the wine and save the bouquet garni and reserve it for later.
  6. On a low heat, sweat the onions, garlic and carrots from the marinade – about 10 minutes.
  7. Add beef back into the pan along with the wine, beef stock, tomato paste and bouquet garni. Cook covered on low heat for 2 hours.
  8. In a separate pan, cook the speck. Using the fat (add extra butter if needed), fry off the pickling onions and mushrooms and pickling onions. Add these to the main pot, making sure they are submerged.
  9. Make a roux to thicken the stew using 2 tbsp butter and flour. Add this to the main pot and stir. Cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the onions are cooked through. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Serve hot with a side of green beans and your choice of rice or boiled baby potatoes, or if you’re feeling decadent, mashed potatoes.

*good advice from Peter, Nick’s dad and resident wine expert, though I must confess I tend to use on average about a $12 bottle of wine for this.