When I first moved to England, money was hard to find. My salary arrived in my account, and after rent, heat and putting the occasional bit aside to pay for flights back to NS, the remainder paid for food. Sometimes it was not exactly the most glamorous food (top tip: beans on toast can be made interesting by adding hot sauce).
But when you taste something so rich and savory, that you just want more and more, you find a way to make it. For me it was when I first tried beef bourguignon at a restaurant. French winter dishes are just so tasty and rich, and beef bourguignon quickly became my favorite cold evening treat. So I developed a cheaper version, my bourgy beef.
Having recently been inundated with extreme winds and a very cold weekend gave me the excuse I was looking for. A good beef bourguignon has a strong sauce, tender beef, tasty mushrooms and bacon on the top. If I were going all out, this would mean buying really good beef, top red wine and some homemade bacon to make this a brilliant treat. And one that would earn me plenty of brownie points.
However, beef ain’t cheap so I used my bourgy beef from the poor old days. Brownie points without the cost, win win. The key is to maximize the flavour where you can.
So where can the cost savings be made?
- Beef – This is the big cost here. Rather than buy a large joint, I switched to pre-diced meat. If you are savvy, you may notice that at the meat counter in the UK at least it tends to be cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff. However, you probably also want to pick up a bit of Oxtail, which is loaded with flavour and very cheap.
- Red Wine – The store brand red is doing the trick here, cheap and unoffensive. I actually used one leftover from the ‘house’ wine we stocked for Christmas. It may have been an South African Cab rather than French Burg, but still strong enough to work with the beef..
- Bacon – Smoked lardons from Lidl.
Beef stock – a rich beef stock pot (brilliant little addition to the cupboard)
The steps to create this are very simple, but then much good food is.
- In a casserole dish (one that has a lid for later) boil the wine down by half. At the same time flour the beef and sear in batches in a frying pan.
- Wipe out the pan, add oil and fry some onions and garlic. Fry them slowly so that the onions begin to caramelize, again this adds a lof of flavour.
- With the caramelised onions, turn the heat up slightly and dash in some brandy. Follow this with beef stock, the beef, some thyme and bay leafs. Boil for 1 min, then add to your casserole dish.
- Put the lid on and bake for about 2hr.
Rather than serve it as is, instead it is time to let it rest. Using a metal strainer, separate the sauce from the soilds. Reduce the sauce by about a ⅓ or so and toss in some butter to help add some shine, reduce it enough to cover the back of a spoon. Place the beef chunks into a pyrex or enamel bowl (it will be reheated over water later), and pour the sauce over it. Place this in the fridge overnight, during this time the sauce will really penetrate the beef and taste great.
- Boil some water in a pot and place the beef n sauce over it. Slowly reheat this or it will separate.
- In a frying pan crisp up the bacon and mushrooms for a garnish.
- Plate the whole thing up.
Beefy Bourg, job done.