Englishman attempts French cooking
Now I am pretty sure I have mentioned before in previous posts of my undying love for French cooking. With a few days off last week I decided to attempt one of the most sacred of French dishes; Boeuf Bourguignon. Not only that but I decided to invite around my fiancés father to try it. He is infamous for not beating around the bush and telling you exactly what he thinks of something, no matter if it hurts your feelings slightly… what was I thinking?
After collecting the ingredients I researched the recipe on a number of different websites, both French and English. This instilled further fear in my mind as each seemed to follow totally different techniques, ingredients and cooking times. I decided to take a median of all of the them and ‘vibe it’ as I went along. Hmmmm.
I started off by cutting a trimming some prime beef cuts from my local Boucherie.
I then started on the marinade by heating some olive oil and added a large chopped onion, 3 carrots chopped into 3 inch chunks and 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic. I fried these for a few minutes, before adding 1 bottle of Burgundy wine. I chose a wine in the higher price range of my local wine shop, and tried to choose a wine which had a punchy strong flavour. In hindsight I should have consulted the wine merchant, as the flavour of the wine could have been a lot stronger.I will blame this on my poor French reading skills, when attempting to read the label descriptions!
I added to this a Bouquet Garni to infuse some more flavours. I then brought this to the boil, and simmered these for around 20 minutes, before removing from the heat and setting aside to cool.
I placed all the beef cuts evenly in a pot and, once the marinade had cooled I poured this over the beef. I then covered with cling film and placed in the fridge to marinade away. This sat in my fridge for around 36 hours in total.
This gave me a bit of time to burn, so with the weather fine I had a stroll down to Malmousque and Le Petite Nice, which is my closest beach at about 5 – 10 mins walk. Beautiful…
Around mid afternoon the next day I set about finishing off the Boeuf Bourguignon, ready for my difficult dinner guest that evening. I removed the marinated meat, and fished out the meat pieces from the sauce and left them to dry on some kitchen towel. Once dry I coated them in flour and fried them in a pan with a little oil and a pack of lardons (small cut bacon pieces). The idea is to seal the meat rather than fully cook it, so that it absorbs more flavour during the slow cook to follow. I then popped these in a large pan and reunited it with the sauce and started to bring this all back to the boil. Using the frying pan I then lightly fried 6 shallots, which I then added whole. Once this had heated to almost boiling point I dropped the heat and slow cooked this for around 4 hours.
With 1 hour to serving I added 6 small button mushrooms and tasted the sauce for seasoning. Once I was satisfied with the look and taste of the sauce, and the meat had reached the point where it fell apart very easily when poked by a fork I dropped the heat and cooked some past to accompany.
The meal went down better than expected, with the only criticism being the lack of seasoning and the use of a stronger flavoured wine. Pretty good I think. I hope I have changed some people’s opinions of the English having no clue about food!
Next week: Coq au vin… Or maybe not!!!