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Boeuf Bourguignon

supperclub christophcaro 011

A classic of French cuisine, this is one of those wonderful dishes that improves with being made the day before and left in the fridge overnight before serving. Which makes it a boon for dinner parties and supperclubs. You can also make the onions and mushrooms the day before as well and reheat them in the stew ten minutes before serving.


It is sometimes said that the cheaper the meat you can get for Boeuf Bourguignon, the better it will taste. I am not sure that is exactly true - and I think organic meat is always worth the extra money - but certainly you want to get hold of tougher stewing meat - shoulder (chuck), brisket or rump - rather than lean and tender (and expensive) fillet.


Serve with mashed potato. If you can be bothered to go to the extra effort of making a cheffy-style Pomme Puree with waxier potatoes and enormous quantities of butter- a la Joël Robuchon, whose recipe is rumoured to contain equal quantities of potato and butter - it is very good here. However, normal mashed potato will more than suffice.


Serves 6 as a main course


For the marinade

About 1kg of stewing beef, boned

1 onion

1 bottle red wine

a few parsley stalks

a few peppercorns


For the sauce

50g butter

6 rashers streaky bacon, cut into strips, or 200g diced pancetta

1 onion, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

3 carrots, chopped into chunks

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tbsp plain flour

500ml good beef stock

1 bouquet garni


To finish

12 shallots

250g mushrooms

1 tbsp sugar

50g butter



Two days before you want to eat, cut the meat into 12 chunks, slice the onion and mix with all the other marinade ingredients. Leave overnight.


The day before you want to eat, pick the meat out of the marinade and dry on kitchen paper. Preheat the oven to 140°C.


Heat the butter in an ovenproof casserole dish, add the bacon and brown. You want it to catch in places, but not to be crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, turn up the heat and brown the beef, in batches if your casserole is not big enough to take it all in a single layer. For the best flavour, you want to get a proper Maillard reaction going on here. Obviously, don't let the meat burn, but it is better to overdo it rather than underdo it.


Remove the beef. If the casserole looks dry, add a little more butter. Tip all the vegetables in together and brown them too. Then add the flour.


Return the beef and bacon to the casserole, add the bouquet garni and stir until combined. Pour in the marinade, holding back the parsley stalks, peppercorns and onion. Add enough stock to just cover. Season, and bring to the boil. Put the lid on the casserole (or cover tightly with foil) and transfer to the oven. Cook for 4-5 hours until the meat is tender to a fork point. You don't need to check it or stir it - I usually have a peep and stick a fork in after 3 hours, and then leave for another hour and half. When the meat is perfectly tender, remove from the oven, allow to cool, and refridgerate overnight.


The day of eating, remove the big chunks of meat and carrots from the sauce and remove and discard the bouquet garni. Reduce the sauce until pleasantly thickened. Have a taste, I sometimes find it is the better for a little extra splash of red wine at this point.


To finish, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the sugar and peel the shallots. Put the shallots in a single layer into the pan and cook for about half an hour, turning occasionnally until they are deep brown and sticky and tender all the way through to a fork. Remove them, thickly slice the mushrooms and add them to the same pan. Fry briefly.


Add the meat, carrots, shallots and mushrooms to the hot, thickened sauce and simmer for about ten minutes, to be sure everything is piping hot. Scatter with chopped parsley and serve with buttery mashed potato.

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