Yes it’s the middle of July, and I’m cooking up one of France’s most esteemed winter hot pots, bœuf bourguignon. I haven’t quite lost my mind, but if this year’s summer sun is going to insist on playing hide and seek, then I shall fill my belly with wintry soul food accordingly. Succulent beef slowly braised for 3 hours in red wine was the perfect accompaniment to a drizzly, chilly mid-summer Sunday.
The dish has enjoyed a welcome comeback in recent years, making a cameo alongside Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in their blockbuster tribute to Julia Child’s culinary story, Julie & Julia.
To begin with, I turned up the wireless and seasoned 2 table spoons of flour with salt and pepper. Next I lightly dusted chunks of braising beef (500g) in the flour before browning it in batches with some olive oil in a deep pan. Next I added lardons (sliced bacon) and a knob of butter to the same pan with all the beef juices. After 2 minutes I threw in a chopped onion and 2 big garlic cloves, later followed by sliced celery and carrot. I let this cook for around 5 minutes before returning the beef, along with 2 bay leaves and 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. I then added about a table spoon of flour to soak up the juices and thicken the soon-to-follow broth. Next came about half a bottle of Pinot Noir, followed by 200 ml of beef stock. At this point I simply covered my bourguignon, transferred it to my preheated oven and left it to work it’s magic for the rest of the afternoon at 140°C.
I took a few pointers from Britain’s very own Julia, Delia Smith, and added the shallots and mushrooms a couple of hours later. First I sautéed them whole in a butter for 2 minutes then added them to the bourguignon for the last hour, which meant that instead of overcooked they were full of flavour.
My bourguignon came out of the oven and filled the apartment with a belly-rumbling aroma just in time for my housemate to walk through the door after spending the day at work. I served it with steamed new potatoes tossed in a little butter mixed with a dollop of mustard (because there’s never too much butter!).
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that we tucked into our supper so swiftly that there was hardly time to snap a photo before the contents of our plates had been devoured. This must be the sign of a nourishing, comforting – albeit not so seasonal – meal.
What’s playing today?
A special someone sent this to me recently and dared me not to laugh or smile… I failed.
Mr Bojangles by Sammy Davis Jr.