“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
~ Dame Edith Sitwell, British poet and critic
Sydneysiders enjoyed one of the mildest winters in 2011 but the cold chill is fast descending upon us again.
I love winter because I love the cold weather and it makes me appreciate the joy and comforts of warm and beautiful spring time. What better time to rug up at home and work with some beautiful winter recipes and ingredients.
When I came across a beef bourguignon recipe by Sydney’s leading French chef Guillaume Brahimi, I knew this is one recipe that I would want to replicate at home in winter. This recipe calls for simple hearty ingredients and it is so simple to cook as well.
The best thing about hearty winter stews is the wonderful aromas that comes from that pot of goodness simmering on your kitchen stove. For this recipe, the smell of fragrant bay leaves, fresh thyme combined with celery, onions, carrots, leek, red wine and beef is heavenly and this kind of food makes winter feel special for me.
I like Guillaume Brahimi’s approach to this classic French recipe.
One of my favourite ingredients to cook with is extra virgin olive oil and this recipe allows me to OD a little with EVOO in terms of browning the meat and to sautee the vegetables. Brahimi’s beef bourguignon recipe that was presented on SBS Food with Maeve O’Mara is one of my favourite videos recipes.
Check out Guillaume Brahimi’s beef bourguignon recipe below.
So here is my Beef Bourguignon recipe adapted from Guillaume Brahimi’s recipe as an awesome winter warmer.
You can use most cuts of beef from casserole cuts like chuck, gravy or blade to more expensive cuts such as sirloin, fillet or rib eye.
I find that cheaper cuts of beef are better for stews because they take a longer time to cook compared to cuts like fillet and rib eye. In the heart of winter, there is nothing better than filling up your home with the beautiful aromas of a slow-simmering stew. The end result is the same tender and yielding meat. I also love the stringy texture of these cheaper cut in a stew which becomes beautifully tender after a couple of hours in a cast iron pot.
For this reason, I have chosen an inexpensive cut of chuck steak for this recipe.
Ensure your cooking pot is very hot before adding the meat to sear it.
Searing the roughly cut pieces of beef in your cooking pot will seal the meat and give it a nice golden brown crust on the outside.
Unlike Guillaume Brahimi’s recipe, I like to sear the speck pieces to bring out its flavour too although this step is not entire necessary.
I love this recipe because the thyme, bay leaves and vegetables have such a beautiful aroma as they start to cook in the pot.
For the next couple of hours, my kitchen is filled with this aroma as the stew slowly simmers. This is the beauty about winter and all this season has to offer to the enthusiastic home cook.
Using pureed carrots instead of corn flour to thicken the sauce is a great idea because the carrots add more body and sweetness to the stew.
I choose an inexpensive bottle of wine that is good for cooking as well as drinking.
Add the button mushrooms at the very end when the meat is soft because they take a relatively short time to cook. Make allowance for the mushrooms to absorb a fair bit of the sauce once they are added to the stew.
Instead of mashed potatoes, we decide to have a fresh poppyseed baguette and butter to mop up the hearty sauce that is so fragrant with thyme, bay leaves and wine.
- 1 kg of chuck, gravy or casserole beef steak, cut into bold chunks
- 250gm smoked speck, cut into small pieces
- 1 leek, cut into small pieces
- 6 large carrots, 3 cut into small pieces and 3 processed into a smooth puree
- 6 stalks of celery, cut into small pieces
- 2 large onions, cut into small pieces
- 10 – 15 small button mushrooms
- 8 sprigs of thyme
- 8 bay leaves
- Small bunch of continental parsley
- 350ml of dry red wine
- 350ml of water
- 10 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to season and taste
- Fresh sourdough, baguette or dinner rolls
- Heat 4 – 5 tablespoon of EVOO in cooking pot until slightly smoking then add meat and sear until it is golden brown. Remove and let cool.
- Add chopped carrots, onions, celery, thyme, bay leaves and cook to until fragrant then add beef and water to the vegetables and cook until simmering.
- Heat wine in separate saucepan until it is simmering to remove acidity of wine, then add the wine to the cooking pot.
- Brown speck in separate pan until slightly seared then add to the cooking pot. Cover and simmer on low heat until beef is soft.
- When the meat is soft, stir in pureed carrots and button mushroom.
- Add salt to taste, season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with continental parsley.
- Serve hot with fresh bread and butter.
- Cut the meat into large chunks as they tend to shrink as fair bit as it stews so that you don’t end up with pieces which are too small.
- Always cut meat across the grain as opposed to along the grain or the meat will become chewy.
This dish has become one of my favourite dishes this winter and I hope you will enjoy this delicious recipe.
So dear readers what is your favourite winter dish and why?