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- BOEUF BOURGUIGNON This is my tried and tested recipe for a favourite classic. I am not claiming it is the quickest and easiest way to do it – prepared like this, it does take a bit of time so I don’t think it’s worth making in a very small quantity. The quantities below will feed six but this is a dish which freezes perfectly – so, if you are cooking for two or three, make these quantities and freeze what you don’t eat. In England, Boeuf Bourguignon seems usually to be served with mashed potato but I much prefer what you normally get in France with dishes of this sort – plain boiled potatoes with a light dusting of finely chopped parsley. The dish also needs a robust green vegetable like Swiss Chard or Savoy cabbage. Ingredients1kg Longhorn diced shin (or other diced Longhorn)1 bottle red Burgundy600ml chicken stockA four inch piece of shin bone with marrow (optional)75ml brandy50ml port2 medium onions3 cloves of garlicLarge sprig of thyme2 bay leavesAbout 200g cold unsalted butter15 small shallots or cocktail onions200g button mushrooms12 small young carrots (failing which, larger carrots cut lengthwise)5 rashers unsmoked streaky baconJuice of half a lemonSea salt and black pepper Pour the wine into a saucepan and boil and until it is reduced by half – only 10 to15 minutes so keep checking. Fill a small bowl with boiling water and put the marrow bone in it. Leave for half an hour, by which time it will be simplicity itself to remove the marrow: it will come out like a cork if you just push it with your thumbs. Slice it into four or five discs. Meanwhile season the flour well and put it in a plastic bag. Add the meat, shake it around and then remove the meat. Heat about 50ml of the oil in a large frying pan. When it is almost smoking hot, add the floured beef in batches and fry until the cubes are nicely brown and caramelised on the outside (don’t put too much in the pan at once –we are trying to brown, rather than stew, at this stage). Finely slice the larger onions and either put the garlic through a press or chop it finely. Discard the oil in the frying pan and wipe it with kitchen paper. Pour in a small amount of fresh oil and add the sliced onion. Fry very slowly until it is sweet and golden, adding the garlic a few minutes before the end. Add the brandy, the port and the wine to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add back the meat, together with the slices of marrow, the thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper (remember the flour is already seasoned). Tip the whole contents of the frying pan into a large, heavy casserole and add 500ml of the chicken stock. Bring back to the boil, cover with greaseproof paper and the lid and put in a medium oven (about 150oC but this doesn’t need to be exact – the medium oven of an Aga will do perfectly) for two hours. By that time, the meat should be very tender and sitting in a wonderfully rich dark sauce. If you think the sauce is not thick enough, take out a few ladlesful, boil hard for about ten minutes to reduce and then stir back into the casserole. Meanwhile prepare the various bits that you are going to add at the end of the cooking time. Cut across the rashers of bacon to produce two shorter pieces. ‘Spread’ them with the back of a knife and then roll them tightly. Peel the shallots (which is most easily done by putting them in boiling water for five minutes first). Peel the carrots – if they are young, they look best if you leave a little of the green stalk. Wipe the button mushrooms but leave them whole. Melt 50g butter in a small frying pan and add the peeled onions, the remaining 100ml of the chicken stock, salt and pepper. Braise until they are shiny and soft (but rescue them before they collapse!). Put the carrots in a small saucepan with enough stock to cover them and about 50g butter. Cook until the carrots are soft and shiny and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Fry the mushrooms gently in the remaining butter – about 75g. When they are cooked, season well and add the lemon juice. Wipe out the pan, add a very small amount of oil and fry the bacon rolls until they are crisp. Remove the thyme and bay leaves, reheat the casserole and stir in a couple of knobs of good quality, unsalted butter – to bring a shine to the sauce. Add (but don’t stir in completely) the shallots, carrots, mushrooms and bacon rolls – and serve, with plain boiled potatoes – see above.
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