Beef Bourguignon (Braised Beef in Red Wine with Carrots, Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon)

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Ingredients:

Braised Beef

  • 2kg Beef Blade (trimmed, and cut into large chunks)
  • 1.5 litres Red Wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 750ml Brown Chicken Stock
  • 5 Onions (trimmed, peeled, and quartered)
  • 3 Carrots (trimmed, peeled, and sliced)
  • 2 Celery Sticks (trimmed, and sliced)
  • 2 Leeks (washed, trimmed, sliced)
  • 2 Whole Heads of Garlic (split in half horizontally)
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 6 Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 6 Whole Cloves
  • 4 Allspice Berries
  • Large Bunch of Thyme
  • Large Bunch of Parsley
  • 50ml Tomato Paste

Garnish

  • Bacon (sliced)
  • King Oyster Mushrooms (cleaned, trimmed and sliced)
  • 2 Carrots (trimmed, peeled and cut into large chunks)
  • Parsley Sprigs (washed)

Instructions:

Braised Beef

  1. In a large non-reactive bowl, add your beef, red wine, onions, carrots, celery, leeks, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and spices.  Cover the bowl in cling film and marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24hrs.  Periodically turning your ingredients during this time.
  2. Pass all your marinated ingredients through a colander, straining your red wine into a bowl and separate your beef from your other ingredients.
  3. In a large wide surface frying pan under high heat, sear your pieces of beef in batches until each individual piece is deep golden brown all over.  After searing all your meat, set your beef pieces aside and deglaze the pan with the red wine used for the marinade.  Reduce your red wine by approximately ¾.
  4. Meanwhile in a large dutch oven or large oven proof pot with lid, heat under medium high heat.  Add a little olive oil and sweat all your vegetables, herbs and spices used in the marinaded in the dutch oven/pot.  When all your vegetables have cooked down and are lightly brown, add your tomato paste and cook for a further 2-3mins.
  5. Preheat your oven to 300ºF.
  6. Add your reserved beef pieces to your dutch oven/pot with your vegetables, along with your reduced red wine and chicken stock.  Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture up to a boil.
  7. When your mixture comes up to a boil, turn off the heat.  Place the lid back on and place your dutch oven/pot inside the oven and cook for approximately 3-4hrs.
  8. Remove your dutch oven/pot from the oven.  Carefully remove your beef and onion pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  9. Pass your braising liquor through a strainer and into a pan, removing and discarding any solids.  Cook over high heat until your braising liquor has reduced by half and thickened to a consistency that will coat a back of spoon.

Garnish:

  1. Place your carrots into a small pan with a lid, add a splash of water and salt and cook over low heat until the water content has evaporated and the carrots have cooked through and are tender.
  2. Place your sliced bacon onto a non-stick frying and cook over low heat until all the fat has rendered and the bacon has become crispy and golden brown (approximately 15-20mins).
  3. Place your king oyster mushrooms onto a roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil and place them under a broiler for 3-5mins until slightly wilted and nice and golden brown.

Assemble:

  1. Pour a generous amount of sauce on the bottom of a large serving dish, and arrange your beef and onion pieces on top.  Add a little more sauce on top of the beef and onions.  Finally garnish your beef bourguignon with your carrots, bacon, mushrooms, and parsley.

Notes:

  • For the actual cuts of beef, you actually have a few options to choose from including: cheek, oxtail, shoulder (flat iron, blade, etc), shank, brisket, shortrib, etc.  In my opinion the best cut to use is oxtail, for the simple reason that the meat contains a tremendous amount of flavour, good fat content and it has a lot of bone and natural gelatin which will improve the body and mouthfeel of the sauce.  But I acknowledge the fact that for the domestic kitchen where most people source their meat from supermarkets, it may be hard to find cuts such as cheek, shank, oxtail, etc.  I think a good alternative would be brisket.  
  • I know my above tip sounds a little contradictory to what I have posted in the recipe.  Where I have shoulder listed in the recipe but advertise oxtail and brisket instead in the notes but the reason was because it was the best looking and most marbled cut available to me at the time when I made this recipe.  So I went with that instead of the other cuts mentioned.  So basically what I’m trying to say is you use this recipe as a guide and not follow it like the bible.  That is to say use your own discretion when picking and choosing your own meat, and use the one that’s available to you locally and that’s good quality and not follow a recipe religiously.
  • When prepping and butchering your meat, it’s better to have larger chunks versus smaller cubes like you often see for meat pies and stews. The increased flat surface area would’ve given me a better sear and more caramelization on the meat, rather than multiple little cubes that literally dance and roll around in the pan.   
  • The red wine I used in this recipe was Cabernet Sauvignon, but if that isn’t available choose another good quality full bodied and smooth red wine instead.
  • In this recipe I used chicken stock, but alternatively beef or veal stock can be substituted.  Ideally veal stock is the best option, as it has a neutral flavour and contains a lot of natural gelatin that’ll enhance the body and viscosity of the sauce.
  • The reason for marinating the beef, herbs and vegetables in the red wine is to help tenderize the meat along with introducing more flavour to the dish as well.  You’ll have to remember, we’re using tougher cuts which contain a lot of connective tissue.  So little things like marinating the meat and cooking it long and slow help to improve the eating quality of this dish tremendously.
  • It’s important not to use too high a heat and boil your meat during cooking, but instead gently cook and simmer the dish.  If you’re too aggressive with the heat and boil the dish, what will happen is the high heat will cause the meat to tighten and contract resulting in a dry tasteless meat.  By cooking it low and slow, you give time for the collagen in the meat to soften and breakdown resulting in soft unctuous fall off the bone meat.
  • The reason for removing and discarding the other ingredients in the braising liquor (carrots, celery, leeks, herbs, spices, etc) is because after being cooked and braised for 3-4hrs, almost all the goodness within these ingredients have already been released.  So it’s better to discard them as there’s hardly any flavour and nutrients left inside them.
  • If you find that after reducing the sauce by half, the body is still too thin you can add a little bit of cornstarch or potato starch to it to help it thicken.
  • This dish is actually better a day or two after it’s been finish cooking and gently reheated as it’s been allowed time to mature and develop it’s flavours.
  • I used bacon as the garnish for this recipe but lardons (diced pancetta) is traditionally used instead.

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