Boeuf à la Bourguignonne


  • Serves 6 people

Begin this recipe two days ahead to marinate the meat.

  • 24 tiny champignons (such as Swiss browns)
  • 6 pieces beef oyster blade (240gm each trimmed weight), preferably grass fed (see note)
  • 170 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml Cognac or brandy
  • 2 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 fresh bouquet garni of 4 thyme sprigs, 6 parsley stalks and 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 150 ml veal glace (see note)
  • 300 gm boneless pickled pork belly, cut into 8mm lardons
  • 100 ml clarified butter
  • 12-18 smallest pickling onions, peeled and pierced through their centres with a paring knife
  • ¾ cup finely chopped curly-leaf parsley
  • Red Burgundy marinade
  • 750 ml red Burgundy or other pinot noir
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 6 parsley stalks
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled, smashed
01   Remove stalks from mushrooms and place in a sealable non-reactive container with marinade ingredients and beef (reserve mushrooms), cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
02   Remove beef from marinade and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels, then set aside to come to room temperature (chilled meat will not brown easily without shedding its juices).
03   Meanwhile, strain the marinade through a sieve lined with muslin or filter paper and set aside.
04   Heat 60ml oil in a frying pan over medium heat and brown meat well all over, watching the heat so caramelisation occurs slowly (5-6 minutes). Remove the meat and wipe out pan with paper towels, then return meat to pan. Away from the heat source, add Cognac, return to very low heat, shake pan and allow to boil for 20-30 seconds (take care – the spirit may catch alight over a gas flame, which is desirable but can set off smoke alarms). Turn the beef over and set aside.
05   Preheat oven to 160C. Wipe out pan again, add 60ml oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly coloured (7-8 minutes). Drain off the fat and pat the vegetables dry with paper towels. Place a piece of muslin in the bottom of a heatproof casserole that will neatly hold the meat in a single layer, add vegetables and bouquet garni, wrap into a bundle and secure with kitchen string.
06   Strain any juices left from browning the beef and add to pan along with veal glace, bring slowly to the boil over low heat and skim until clear - add water if necessary to keep the braising liquor only just covering the contents. Taste to check the seasoning; it will taste acidic and bland but don’t oversalt. Press a sheet of baking paper cut to fit the casserole directly on the surface and transfer to the oven. After 20 minutes reduce oven to 130C and continue cooking until meat holds just a tiny bit of resistance when pierced with a skewer (55-60 minutes). Place meat in a bowl and press a sheet of baking paper on the surface to prevent beef drying out. Transfer the bag of vegetables to a sieve placed over the braising pan and press the bag to release the juices, then place over low heat on the stovetop and simmer gently while skimming off as much fat as possible until broth looks fairly clear (4-5 minutes). Filter the braising liquor through a sieve lined with moistened muslin into a bowl placed over a larger one holding ice cubes and a small handful of salt so that it cools quickly. Stir from time to time and once cool, pour this over the beef. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Once liquid is really cold, spoon off any remaining fat.
07   About an hour before serving, very slowly reheat your Bourguignonne on the stovetop. Heat remaining oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add lardons and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (2-3 minutes). Place lardons on paper towels, discard butter and wipe out pan.
08   Heat half the clarified butter over medium-high heat and sauté champignons until they look glazed (5-6 minutes). Place the champignons on paper towels, discard butter and wipe out pan.
09   Heat remaining clarified butter and sauté pickling onions, keeping the pan on the move so onions roll in the hot butter to gain some colour (10-15 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Add lardons, mushrooms and onions to Bourguignonne and simmer until onions are cooked through (10-15 minutes; the sauce won’t be thickened but will taste delicious). Serve in deep dishes with an equal share of the vegetables and lardons and scatter generously with parsley. Accompany with small boiled kipfler or chat potatoes.

Note Instead of oyster blade, you can use boned, trimmed short rib or chuck steak. The former may be portioned like the oyster blade and will take 2-2½ hours to cook. The chuck should be diced in 2.5cm-3cm pieces and will take a similar time. Veal glace is a highly reduced veal stock. Boil 750ml good low-salt veal stock over medium-high heat until reduced to 150ml.

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