Beef and Red Wine

Today was vexing for reasons that I couldn’t possibly disclose, save that they involved a great deal of bureaucracy and very little work. Something solid is required to restore the soul.

I wouldn’t dare call this boeuf bourguigon, but certainly in the ballpark. The important thing here is to use interesting tasting ingredients, and to cook them gently for a long time. (Food Science Tip: the acid in the wine helps break down tough meat.)

  • 500g interesting beef (I’m using feather steak that the butcher has cut into one inch thick slices)
  • 500g shallots (I’m using échallions)
  • 250g portabello mushrooms (or anything but white button mushrooms)
  • two cloves garlic, peeled and squished, more if you like garlic
  • bunch thyme (I’m using half a teaspoon dried, as there seems to be nothing but dill and parsley in the shop today)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 70g pancetta, cubed (more if you like)
  • a pint of red wine
  • a pint of stock (Marigold is fine for this)
  • salt, pepper, flour

Gently fry the pancetta in a pot/casserole until the fat is rendered, scoop out the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add half a glass of wine to the cook.

Cut the beef into cubes, removing any excess fat and gristle, and fry in the pancetta fat, a few pieces at a time, until browned. Set aside.


Peel the shallots, and halve them if they’re large, and fry them till golden on the outside. A bit of brown won’t hurt.


Add a knob of butter and stir in enough flour (probably a tablespoon) to make a roux, and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the stock gradually (helps if it’s hot) and add the wine.


Return meat to pot, plus enough water to cover. It’s traditional to use Burgundy, but I’m using Cahors tonight. You may also want to add another half a glass of wine to the cook at this point, but make sure she does not become befuddled.

Add thyme, bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper, and bring to boil. Reduce heat immediately to as low as it goes, cover, and leave for two hours. You could put the pot in the oven if you fancied. The idea is to keep it below boiling, so a gentle “gloop!” every so often is permissible.

Add the mushrooms, washed and chopped, fifteen minutes before the end.


The results, as you can see, were dark, gooey and meaty. Rather eighteenth century.

I would advise you to consume this dish with more red wine and some potatoes; preferably to candelight and a harpsichord.


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