Thursday, November 18, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon

The Eiffel Tower right at 11 PM at night. The whole tower sparkled for 5 minutes

We were in Paris a few months ago and stayed at Arts et Metiers at the 3rd arrondisement. For 5 days we roamed the street of Paris, stuffed ourselves silly with Parisian bread and fell in love with jambon... at least during breakfast every morning.

View from across the Seine river

One night my sister and I wandered into a little cafe to get dinner where we were served our first boeuf bourguignon. Truly it was delicious; the beef was tender and oh it was just unforgettable. No where else did we encountered anything the surpassed that particular dinner. Ah Paris...

Inscription at the bottom of the Charles de Gaulle statue

Now after a few hard working months at the lab, I decided to reward myself by cooking my own boeuf bourguignon. I downloaded recipes from the internet and used my French recipe book for the first time (Merci Laurence). This is my revised version of many people's recipes, je vous presente boeuf bourguignon.

A beautiful mess of a lunch


  • Roughly 1 kg of beef. Don’t use expensive cuts. I don’t know what I used (to be honest I've only started eating meat) but mine was $9/kg. The idea is to use a tough meat and get it to become tender by the long cooking time
  • 1 bottle of red wine. I used Penfold’s Koonunga 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($13)
  • 2 big onions, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 carrots. If they're fat, halve them lengthwise prior, but otherwise just cut into roughly 1.5 cm thickness
  • 1 pack of Masterfood bouquet garni (find this in the dried herbs section, there are 4 sachets in each pack)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of white flour
  • 150g of butter (get the good stuff and that quantity is roughly half a block that you get in the supermarket), divide it into 4
  • Olive oil
  • Diced bacon, 100g (or use speck if you like)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, remove skin and bash, but leave whole
  • 10 shallots, skin removed and left as whole
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 300g button mushroom
  • Fresh parsley (optional… I hate it)

A fresh loaf of bread to serve it with

First cut up the beef to bite size. Arrange onion, carrot and beef in a big bowl and add 2 sachets of the bouquet garni and add wine. Marinate overnight or 24 hours.

Bubble bubble bubble

Next day, drain the wine into another container. Separate the beef into another container and coat lightly with 3 tablespoon of white flour. Heat a deep bottomed pot and add 2 tablespoon of olive oil with ¼ of the butter. Add the diced bacon and fry until it’s crispy then drain on to a paper towel-lined plate. Now add another 2 tablespoon of olive oil and ½ of the butter. When it’s hot and sizzling add the flour coated beef and quickly brown them. At this stage you need to toss it around with a solid spatula, preferably wooden and none of those weak bendable gadgets, to try to prevent the flour from burning the bottom of your pot. When you have achieved even browning of the beef, drain them on another paper towel-lined plate. Heat another 2 tablespoon of the oil with the rest of the butter and when hot, add the garlic and shallots. Toss them around and then add the onion, the carrot and tomatoes. Stir that around. When your pot sound like it’s hissing excessively (meaning that it’s super hot and your veggies have ceased to seep out liquid), this is when you chuck in your red wine from the overnight marinate. Yeah take that! I always get a sense of satisfaction when I do this with whatever I cook.

First I plated it neatly (or tried to)...

Next, in goes the beef and the bacon. Add the balsamic vinegar and another 2 sachets of the bouquet garni and season with salt and black pepper (Note. the sauce will continue to reduce so don't over-salt at this point). Continue to stir from time to time to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning from sinking flour residues. If you have a decent size oven, you can bake this at 150 degree, otherwise stove top worked fine for me.

... but on second though, I think it looked and tasted better messy

While that’s going, heat a pan with butter (okay so you need a bit more than 150g, but trust me it’s worth it). When the butter sizzles and gets all frothy, add in your mushroom and just toss them around into they’re sort of brown and shiny on the outside. Add that to the pot of beef. Leave for at least another 30 minutes before serving it with parsley and fresh bread. Bon appétit and may your beef be as tender as mine and may your apartment be as pleasant smelling as mine.


Henny said...

ill try it out this weekend i think...

Ernie Yulyaningsih said...

It's great fun! Get Boom-Boom to make bread! He should be good at it now :D or you guys can come crash at my place next weekend and we'll stay home and cook.