As with so many of my blogs, they really are random and varied in their subject topics and this one is no exception.
Several years ago, a wonderful friend of mine who was born in Paris but raised in the French countryside by her Parisian mother and Tunisian father, showed me how to make beef bourguignon. It was one of the most wonderful meals I’ve tasted. Over the years, I have made a few adjustments and even modified it for the crockpot and it has become a favourite meal in our house. According to my French friend, the difference between French country beef bourguignon and Paris beef bourguignon, is the potatoes, but I love them and wouldn’t make it without them as they give this dish the added heartiness it needs.
I’m going to do my best to share with you the recipe/process of making it but you must first understand that I don’t really measure anything when I cook, so you’ll have to go with my explanation of amounts and if your anal about your quantities, you’ll just have to make it your own by perfecting the measurements 😉. The great thing for me is that each time I make beef bourguignon, it has an ever so slightly different taste and each time is just as lovely as the prior one.
If you’re still here then I’m assuming you want to know more. This is a great family meal and can also be a great dinner party meal, which is how I came to writing this blog. We had guests over one Friday night and the menu was quite last minute, but it was a hit and I was asked to share my recipe, so here goes:
Obviously the first thing you need is the beef. I am not completely au fait with different types of beef, so I normally buy either a nice looking lean beef for stewing package (and still remove all of the fat as none of my family likes fat on any meats) or I buy a top sirloin family package and cut it into chunks (somewhere about the 5cm/2” chunk size especially if I’m doing it in the crockpot as the meat will shrink, basically, you want it to be bite size after it has been cooking. As far as the amount of meat, it really depends on how many you’re cooking for. The night of the dinner party, I was cooking for 8, so I used about 1kg/just over 2lbs, of meat.
I cook the meat in a large pan with olive oil on a medium high heat until just brown, then add the bacon. Again, I like the bacon to be nice and lean. I cut most of the fat off and have even used lean turkey bacon in the past. Either one works. In this case I used 7-8 slices of center cut pork bacon that I cut into very small pieces after I had trimmed the fat off. Then I threw in a variety of salts (pictured) because I didn’t have any ‘seasoned salt’ on hand, so just made my own. It’s important to add a little extra salt as you will be cooking potatoes.
I added 3 cloves of fresh garlic (refrigerated minced garlic is just as good – about 3 teaspoons) and lots of onion powder as well as some dried minced onion (note – I love cooked onion but my husband and 2 of my kids, do not. I find things need that onion-y taste, so have resolved to using a mix of onion powder/dried minced onion to give the taste without adding the texture they dislike so much).
Next add a couple of heaped tablespoons (or 1/4 cups with a bit) of flour. This was weird for me the first time I saw it as I thought it would end up chunky/lumpy like gravy, but it works itself out. Stir the flour in, it will get thick and pasty very quickly so have your wine ready to go.
I really like using the box wine for this. I have used different types of red and I guess it can’t really be called a bourguignon if you don’t use that wine, but semantics. Lol. The Franzia chillable red gives the dish a lighter taste (which my kids prefer, rather than a heartier red that continues to give it a ‘wine’ taste even after the alcohol is cooked). My friend used a heartier wine but added an equivalent amount of water, so I really find this does the job just as well. I did measure it this time knowing I would share the recipe with you 😊 and I used about 750mls of the Franzia and added about 250mls of a cheap cab sav to find a happy medium in the sauce/stew. I gave it a quick stir and threw it all into the crockpot then added the tomatoes and tomato paste, 3 bay leaves and a huge spoonful of the beef stock paste you see pictured here. I love this paste. Best stock brand in America in my humble opinion. Find a good quality beef stock where you live and use it generously.
If you are cooking it in your pan, add these ingredients, put a lid on your pan and turn it down to a simmer, stirring regularly and cooking for about 40 mins. If you’re using a crockpot, set on low for 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, stirring it after about an hour.
Potatoes. In this particular meal, I used a 3lb bag of baby red and yellow potatoes. But I’ve used all sorts of potatoes and just cut them into bite sized pieces. You have some different options here as far as cooking them goes too. I like to cook the potatoes a little bit before adding them to the crockpot as I have had potatoes not quite cooked even after they have supposedly simmered away for 8 hours. Your other option is to cook them and add them at the last minute. I prefer the first method because they get the saucy flavour interspersed in the potato and it adds to the overall quality of this dish, but sometimes things don’t work out, so it’s always an option at the end. If you’re cooking this meal on the stovetop, then your only option is to cook the potatoes separately and add them into the sauce for a few mins. Make sure you taste it after you have added the potatoes to see if you need to add some extra salt, this goes for both methods.
To finish off this hearty stew meal, I throw a loaf (or two) of French bread into some foil and warm it up in the oven. Serve it with some real butter and let your guests dip away into this wonderfully warming meal!
Let me know what you think of this recipe and if you make it, how it goes down with your family and friends. This meal gave 4 of us seconds and lunch for 4 of us the following day, so it certainly went a long way.
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- Seasoned salt
- All purpose (USA) or plain flour (Australia)
- Large can of crushed tomatoes (28oz in USA equivalent to 794grams metric – but don’t worry about being precise, just adjust your other ingredients to account for amount of tomatoes) and/or
- Fresh tomatoes if desired
- Tomato paste – small can or about 2 heaped tablespoons – be generous 😊
- Bay leaves
- Beef stock
- Crusty bread