Sunday, November 8, 2009

Julie & Julia - Boeuf Bourguignon

As any self respecting food geek can attest to - Julie and Julia (starring the phenomenal Meryl Streep and the very impressive Amy Adams) is a unique film that portrays a fascinating story of how food can have a pivotal role in transforming everyday lives. Another thing that this movie brings to life is the idea that French food doesn't have to be daunting and can be accessible to everyday cooks.

Perhaps the best example of this is the classic dish of boeuf bourguignon - basically an extremely robust, earthy, rich red wine beef stew. The large quantity of red wine used in the recipe may seem overwhelming at first but transforms the humble beef stew into something beautifully rich yet subtle at the same time. There are of course multiple variations to this classic dish - from Julia Child's version to that found in the numerous French cookbooks in the market. I have adapted snippets from a few respectable French cookbooks into this version - try it - you'll love it.


1.5kg beef shin (cut into quite large chunks)
10 red shallots peeled and left whole
4 rashers bacon roughly chopped
2 brown onions chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 cloves
1 bottle red wine (something delicious enough for you to sneak a glass while cooking)
bouquet garni (1 bunch thyme and parsley tied in kitchen string)
2 carrots cut into large wedges
10 button mushrooms cleaned and left whole
1 can tomatoes (drained)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour

1. Marinate beef shin in the red wine for an hour. Drain (reserving wine) and season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and coat lightly in plain flour.
2. Pan fry bacon until crispy and fat has been rendered. In the same fat, brown onions, shallots and garlic cloves. Remove and set aside.
3. In the same pan, brown beef pieces in batches (do not crowd the pan to prevent beef from stewing).
4. Return browned bacon, onions, shallots and garlic cloves to pan. Slowly add reserved wine marinade to pan to deglaze pan. Add tomatoes and cloves and simmer. Cover pan with baking paper and foil and secure with a tight fitting lid.
5. Pop the pan into a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees celcius. Cook gently for 3.5 hours (cooking the beef gently this way yields a melt in your mouth texture). Remove foil and baking paper. Pan fry button mushrooms and carrots until slightly caramelised - add to pan and return to oven for another hour.
6. Using clean hands, bind flour and butter to form a roux. Fry roux in a hot pan until slightly brown and add sauce from pan - whisk until sauce thickens and return to rest of the ingredients. Cook for another 2 minutes until sauce coats the back of a spoon.
7. Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (ok - maybe this is an Italian touch but I love it) and serve with warm crusty bread.

Bon appetit!


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