Boef Bourguignon. The very words conjure up the 1970’s: Tom and Barbara dining in Surbiton with Jerry and Margot, liberal libations of Yago Sangria, orange scented candles and of course, a Neil Diamond lp playing in the background.
This dish is the Barry Manilow of cuisine: not bad but nobody’s first choice among the more exotic curries, caribbean stews and gumbos we like at our house. My sons had never tasted boef bourguignon until last Saturday.
At Christmas, Joe College gave his loving parents (us) a new cookbook: “Genieten Van Winterkost” or “Enjoy Winter Foods” for those of you who don’t speak Dutch. Chock full of warm, winterfriendly comfort food, I spent last weekend perusing it for inspiration. What did I did I find on page 13 but the inevitable Boef Bourguignon. By some strange coincidence, I had all the ingredients in my pantry, thus pre-empting any trips to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon for dinner groceries, and I enthusiastically got down to cooking.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it is easy to prepare in advance if you’ve got a busy day ahead. The other best thing is this: once you get your mind past the 1970’s kitsch, it really is delicious. It serves 4.
800 grams of lean beef (a bit more than a pound and a half)
2 large carrots
1 stalk of celery
10 oz. Button mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
6 Tablespoons olive oil
About 16 oz. sturdy red wine (bourgogne for example)
16 oz. Beef stock or beef bouillion
2 Bay leaves
1 sprig of Rosemary
Handfull of bacon cubes
Salt and Pepper
Regarding the ingredients: The cookbook is Dutch. One of the things you realize as an expat is that every trip to the butcher is an adventure. They have entirely different cuts of meat to what people in the US and UK are used to seeing in the butcher shop. I used “riblappen” as they are known in Dutch. Research tells me that riblappen come frome the same portion of the cow where you would find “chuck” cuts. You could go with something like a top blade steak but be adventurous. Any meat you would use to make a good pot of stew would work fine.
I happened to have button mushrooms in the fridge, but you could use any basic mushroom as well.
People get really uptight about oil in Europe. You’ve got your arachide (peanut) oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil and all kinds of olive oil. I say,”Use what you’ve got in your pantry.” My mom cooked everything with Wesson, nobody died.
The wine. Ah, the wine. We like wine at our house. I was not allowed to use this wine nor any of the bourgognes my husband is saving for a special occasion. For this dish, I went with a nice little Argentinian Malbec. Never cook with wine you wouldn’t drink.
No! Just, no.
Too fine for cooking
(prep time 30 mins/cooking time about 2 hours)
Pat the meat dry with a paper towel then slice it into cubes of about an inch.
Peel the carrots and clean the celery then cut them into bite sized pieces
Clean the mushrooms and cut the big ones into bite sized pieces. Leave the bite-sized mushrooms whole
Peel the garlic cloves and shallots
Slice the shallots in half and slice the garlic into thin pieces
Heat 4 Tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven and brown the meat.
Add the shallots and garlic
Add some wine to the mix and let it reduce before adding the rest of the wine
Add the bay leaves and beef stock
Leave this to simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours stirring occasionally and adding stock as needed
About 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the carrots and celery
If you’re using fresh rosemary, zip the needles off the sprig and chop them up fine
Fry the bacon cubes in a frying pan and add the mushrooms when the bacon is
Let this cook for about 4 to 5 minutes
Check the meat and vegetables to see if you need to add salt and pepper (use a clean spoon!)
Add the rosemary/bacon/mushroom mixture to the meat and veg.
Serve with a sturdy red wine, and some nice artisan bread.
Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits
Curtis Mayfield ‘s Superfly
Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise
Carly Simon’s No Secrets
James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James
anything by Cat Stevens