If you learnt to cook in the1960s, as I did, you will remember those precursors of our modern brasseries, which were called bistros – candles in Chianti bottles, menus on blackboards, wine in carafes, everything amazing value and very popular. Dishes then bomb out of existence simply through boredom and we all move on to pastures more chic and fashionable. This is precisely what happened to the great French classic Boeuf Bourguignon, which was a staple of the bistro era. It dropped out of favour through over-familiarity, but now, after more than 30 years of oblivion, it is about to come crashing through the brasserie doors and make a comeback.
|2 lb (900 g) braising steak, cut into 2 inch (5 cm) squares|
|3 tablespoons olive oil|
|1 medium onion, sliced|
|1 heaped tablespoon plain flour|
|15 fl oz (425 ml) red Burgundy (or other red wine or dry cider)|
|2 cloves garlic, chopped|
|2 sprigs fresh thyme|
|1 bay leaf|
|12 oz (350 g) shallots|
|2 x 130 g packs cubetti pancetta or 225 g smoked or unsmoked streaky bacon, bought in one piece, then cut into cubes|
|4 oz (110 g) dark-gilled mushrooms, cut into chunks|
|salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).|
|Oven temperatures and Conversions|
|Click here for information|
|You will also need a large ovenproof casserole or lidded pan.|
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course
Bring 1¼ tablespoons of the oil to sizzling point in the casserole or pan and sear the beef, a few pieces at a time, to a rich, dark brown on all sides.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate as it browns.Next add the sliced onion to the casserole and brown that a little too.
Now return the meat to the casserole or pan and sprinkle in the flour, stirring round to soak up all the juices. Then gradually pour in the Burgundy, again stirring all the time.
Add the chopped garlic, herbs and seasoning, put the lid on and cook very gently on top of the stove (if the heat is not low enough, use a diffuser). Or transfer to the oven – either way it will take 2 hours.
Then, using a bit more olive oil, fry the shallots and bacon in a small frying pan to colour them lightly. Add to the casserole, together with the mushrooms, then put the lid on and cook for a further hour.
The French accompaniment of potatoes boulangères and green salad would be good with this, or else tiny new potatoes and ratatouille.
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The joy of this recipe is that it just gets on and cooks by itself once it's in the oven, leaving you free to look after the rest of the meal.
This famous Provençal vegetable stew is best made in the autumn when the vegetables needed for it are cheap and plentiful. This can be a most attractive dish but not if it ends up mushy. So to avoid this, make sure you don't cut up the vegetables too
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