Beef Bourguignon

Here in Jersey, we are proud to be part of the British Isles, but we are exceedingly close to France and have many French influences on everyday life from the street names to our culture and our cooking. There are probably several dishes that come to mind in mainland Britain if you are asked to think about French cuisine, Onion Soup, Coq au Vin and Moules Marinière are some of the most popular as is today’s classic recipe, Beef Bourguignon. This is a classic French recipe that comes from the Bourgogne or Burgundy region of France and is traditionally made using Charolais beef.

Today restaurants serve far more elaborate versions of the dish which was originally a simple stew. Traditional the beef was threaded or larded with bacon fat and it was marinated in red wine for up to two days for extra flavour before being cooked with the marinade, vegetables, and a bouquet garni. Bacon is still added to give the sauce extra flavour and makes up the traditional bourguignon garnish with button mushrooms and baby onions or shallots. Many of the recipes have changed from Auguste Escoffier’s recipe of 1903 and now use cubes of beef such as chuck steak, I am sticking to the single piece of beef in Escoffier’s recipe but using a slightly unusual cut, beef cheek, which cooks down into the sauce and makes the best bourguignon I have ever tasted. The dish is very rich so one cheek will feed two people.

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Beef Bourguignon

2 Beef Cheeks

200 gr diced Pancetta or Smoked Streaky Bacon, cut into slices

200 gr Button Mushrooms, cut into quarters

1 bottle Red Burgundy

300 ml quality Beef Stock

14 Shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise if very large

1 large Carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Plain Flour

A large knob of fresh Butter

1 Bouquet garni

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Freshly chopped Parsley

Preheat your oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2. Heat a large, heavy-based ovenproof casserole dish on a medium heat and add the oil.  Season the beef cheeks with sea salt and black pepper and fry until brown, for three to four minutes, on each side. Remove the beef and set aside on a plate and add the butter to the casserole then add the shallots, bacon, mushrooms, and carrots, and cook until lightly browned.

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Then stir in the garlic, tomato puree, and plain flour and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly. Return the beef cheeks and any beef juices to the pan and pour in the wine and stock. Put on the casserole lid and cook very gently for three to four hours. Alternatively, you can cook in a slow cooker following the manufactures instructions. Check seasoning and serve topped with plenty of chopped parsley.

The traditional accompaniment is Boulangère potatoes, but I like Celeriac or Parsnip mash.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Milk

Please see Allergens Page

Bacon Jam, National Toast Day and the Best Ever Hangover Cure

Wholegrain Toast with Bacon Jam and Fried Egg

It is National Toast Day so I want to share with you one of my favourite recipes. When you read the title, you might think I’ve lost the plot ( again ) but there is definitely something very, very moreish* about the combination of sweet onion, salty bacon with just a tickle of chilli heat. You will also probably think that this is quite an expensive dish to make with a lot of bacon** but rather like marmite this is something to use sparingly on your toast, and unlike marmite, there will be no polarisation, I’m sure everyone who tries it will LOVE it.

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This recipe for bacon jam is my adaptation of any number of American recipes, each perfectly wonderful, reflecting the availability of ingredients and my own personal preferences. You can try substituting Maple syrup for the honey and adding more chilli if you want more kick in your finished jam. Other recipes I looked at substitute a cup of ground coffee or beer for the water. Next time I am going to use Guinness and I’ll let you know about the result.

*Everyone I know who’s tried it, and I’m a bit of a bacon jam evangelist, always asks for more. It is the ultimate hangover cure on thick toast topped with a fried egg.

**Ask your local butcher if he has any bacon and gammon offcuts this will help with the price.

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Bacon Jam

500 gr quality dry cure Smoky Bacon ( this is better if it is quite fatty )

2 large Spanish Onions, peeled and finely sliced

2 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

200 ml White Wine Vinegar

100 ml Water

250 gr soft Brown Sugar

100 ml runny Honey

1 medium hot Red Chilli Pepper, finely diced

2 dried Bay leaves

10 – 12 Coriander Seeds

3 – 4 Cloves

½ teaspoon freshly picked Thyme

¼ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

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Slice the bacon into half inch thick strips ( any smaller and they tend to burn ). Put the bacon strips into a large, heavy-bottomed, pan and place over a medium to high heat. Fry the bacon stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning until the bacon is nicely brown, caramelised and crispy. The bacon will cook in its own fat which will melt down, this process is called rendering. When the bacon is cooked remove it from the pan and strain to drain off the excess fat. This can be stored and used for cooking*. Once the bacon is cool, chop very finely into very small pieces.

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Add the onions to the pan in sufficient bacon fat to allow them to fry. Cook over a medium heat, for ten to fifteen minutes or until clear. Add the garlic, stir well and cook for another two minutes. While the onions are cooking blitz the spices in a coffee grinder ( you can, of course, use a pestle and mortar ). Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the bacon and reduce the heat until the jam is simmering. Stir frequently and cook until the onions are meltingly soft and the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup. Be careful due to recipes high sugar and honey content you must keep stirring to prevent the mix sticking and burning.

Remove pan from the heat and allow the mix to cool for fifteen minutes. Process the jam using the pulse setting in a food processor to help break up the onion, If the result is still quite liquid return to a pan and bring back to the boil. Simmer to reduce the liquid further stirring all the time. Using a funnel transfer into sterilised glass jars and seal tightly. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for a month. Served warm or hot on toasted bread or breakfast muffins and top with a fried egg.

*I’m unashamedly old school just as you cannot have too much butter, cream, alcohol or garlic in your cooking, pretty much anything tastes better fried in bacon fat. Pour the melted bacon fat through a piece of muslin cloth and keep in the fridge in an airtight container.