The babies are sick again. I predict a long and ill-filled winter. Although we have had 2 marvelously sunny days, it is still very cold and the heaters are on. Today I managed to get the first of three laundry loads out to the clothesline and back again, the second is now out in the dark and the third will have to go up indoors.
So laundry aside and babies asleep, my mind drifts to wintery stews which can of course be made in advance; critical to dinner being served at all, by me anyway. And this is a great reason to use my red Le Cruset casserole given to us as a wedding gift from Tim and Gee.
I have 3 recipes for Beef Bourguignon in my cookbook. That is the clearfile with copied pages, torn out magazine spreads, printed emails and hand scribbled versions on whatever paper was to hand at the time. I have tried a number of versions of this beef stew over the years, the first and most memorable version by Stephanie Alexander. This is delicious, but perhaps slightly too orangey for my taste and unfortunately has too many stages (such as pouring over flaming brandy, and making bouquet garni) for the speed at which I need to prepare things mid-week. SO this is a VERY quick and dirty version that should be attributed to nothing more than my basic concept of how this can be prepared, with whatever I have to hand at the
Also here is a pic of Thomasin test driving the baby high chair. This is Sabinas chair but while she was out I fitted the baby attachments to see if it would work for the babies. Thomi loved it, so I guess i will add 2 of these to my ever-growing wish list.
- In a hunk of butter AND some olive oil, brown about 250 grams of chopped streaky bacon with a few whole peeled cloves of garlic.
- Remove from the pan, then brown about 600 grams of diced beef in batches in the bacony juices. Stephanie Alexander wisely warns against overcrowding the pan – you have to brown the meat, not stew it yet. If you have them, you can also brown shallots or onions at this stage too.
- Put all back into the pan and sprinkle over a few TBSP of flour. Sizzle this for a while til the flour coats everything.
- Add a cup of red wine, sizzle, then a cup of beef stock (as usual I just use oxo stock). Add into your casserole dish (or you could have done the previous stages in the casserole dish too (but I forgot this).
- Top up with extra stock and wine to just cover the meat, then add a sheet of baking paper over the contents and put on the tight fitting lid. Cook for an hour or so at 180degC til the meat is tender.
- Add in a heap of small mushrooms, or diced big mushrooms. Cook a further half hour.
Now this is where my super-quick version stopped. But if I were following SA example I could thicken it with a buerre manie – ladle off a cup of juice, work in butter and flour to form a paste then stir back through the stew. I also neglected to add a boquet garni and I could have set the beef alight with firey brandy had I been that way inclined. We served this up with some homemade pommes frites (french fries) and quick wilted spinach. yum.
Slice a few large potatoes into fries. Microwave in a bowl for about 10 mins to soften the insides. Lay out on an oven try, add lots of good olive oil and bake at 220 degC until crispy.
And here it is: the finished plates. To continue the LeCruset theme I served up crispy fried in these mini Le Cruset pots, then served the beef over less crispy fries, and the spinach to the side. I like the look of the red on the plate too.