At the cook school we are just starting to get into winter, and so the other night I was looking at one pot cooking and up popped my recipe for Boeuf Bourguignonne. I know the name is a mouthful and if I’m being honest I don’t think I pronounce it right so lets call it a French beef casserole.

It’s probably a few years since I’ve cooked this dish and I’d forgotten just how good it is. The aromas wafting around the kitchen as it cooks leave you in no doubt that dinner is on the way and as you serve it the wonderful rich colour of the meat is just stunning. This all sounds great so far but the best is still to come, as you cut into the meat it just falls apart, with every mouthful being soft and full of flavour.

Why is that casseroles taste so good at this time of year? Lets be honest winter is the time for comfort food, as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter our cooking styles change. What can be finer than walking into a home with the air filled with the aroma and warmth of a slow cooking caserole gently sizzling away in the oven? The anticipation of a cozy family gathering insulated from the outside elements. Of course the other sneaky advantage is that slow cooking is also perfect for the cheaper cuts of meat, which for me always have a much deeper flavour.

So all things considered this is an absolute winner and my advice would be to make more than you need as it will keep well in the fridge for a few days or even freeze for that night when inspiration has deserted you. Bon appetit.

Boeuf Bourguignonne or lets be honest, Beef Casserole

Serves 6

900g chuck steak, cut into 3 cm squares

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 Medium onion, sliced

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

425ml red wine

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

350g shallots topped, tailed and peeled

225g streaky bacon

100g brown mushrooms

Salt & freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 150˚cHeat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large flame proof casserole dish and sear the chunks of beef – a few pieces at a time _ to a rich dark brown on all sides, removing meat with a slotted spoon as it browns to a plate, repeat until all the meat is browned off.

Add the sliced onion to the casserole and brown a little then return the meat to the casserole, sprinkle with flour, stirring to soak up all the juices, and then gradually pour in the red wine, stirring all the time. Add chopped garlic and herbs, season with salt and pepper, put lid on and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours.

After an hour and a half, pan-fry the shallots and cubes of bacon in the remaining oil to colour lightly and add them to the casserole together with the whole mushrooms. Put the lid back on and continue to cook for a further hour.

Serve with new potatoes and lightly steamed seasonal vegetables.

This dish works with most red wines, but to give it that really strong rich flavour why not use a Shiraz/Syrah in the cooking and the glass. There are lots of great Shiraz/Syrah out there with the Hawkes Bay probably leading the pack, try Bridge Pa Reserve Syrah.

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