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Oh My God! Beef Bourguignon!

May 22, 2010

Having been trained in classical French cooking, I will always have a soft spot for the hearty, traditional dishes of France. Healthy… erm, no… but tasty, oh mais bîen sur! So what better way to welcome ourselves to Bordeaux, one of the most famous wine regions in France, than to cook a quintessentially French dish that pays homage to wine. A good boeuf bourguignon, I decided, was in order. Before heading to the supermaket, we stopped over at a little crêperie for lunch. Just like in our home town in Switzerland, almost everything is closed over lunch which is a nuisance until you finally get to the point that you quit your grumbling and you accept that, hey… that’s just the way they roll. After a quick lunch, we got to talking to a couple of older French men who were seated at the table next to us.

“Zhust luke at zat façade! It is magnifique, non?” remarked the older of the two men.

“Yes, it is,” we replied admiring the handsome old building directly in front of us.

“Zis is ze last shoppe of eets kahnd here. Ah op zey keep it… would be vehry sad, non, to lose eet?” he continued. “Zhey used to sell ze… comment tu dis ça?” he asked, waving his arms around his midsection.

“A corset?” I suggested.

Oui, yes, exactly. Zhey specialise in corsets before,” he replied.

And so the conversation continued for a while as we discussed the area and why he preferred Toulouse (something to do with short skirts). I suppose my quasi-American accent is to blame for the turn of conversation for suddenly he laughed and said, gesturing wildly, “You know, eet always meks me laugh when I hear in ze movie zees people and zhey say ‘oh my god!’.

We looked at him quizzically and he smiled back at us conspiratorially, “You know, because in French ze word ‘god’ it means… ah, how do you say..? A peh-nis? But not real, yes? It is mechanical.”

We stared at his odd gestures and laughed, “A vibrator!”

“Yes, zis is why we always laugh. Zhey say ‘oh my god!’ and we are looking, looking… where? where is your ‘god’ and what is eets problème?!” he laughed.

And that, my friends, is why I will never say the word ‘god’ in France again.



BOEUF BOURGUIGNON (beef burgundy) for three… or two very hungry people


90g bacon (cut into lardons)

700g cubed stewing beef (a cheap cut is all you need as you will be stewing this for quite a while)

500ml+ beef stock

500ml full-bodied red wine (for example a nice Burgundy or a St-Emilion-style Bordeaux)

1/2 T of tomato paste

3 cloves of garlic (smashed)

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

2-3 bay leaves

10 cocktail onions

230g mushrooms (thick 5-8mm slices)

1 carrot (cut into 1 cm slices)

1 onion (cut into 5mm slices)

1 T plain flour

a few sprigs of parsley (to garnish)


1. On a low to medium heat, pan fry the lardons in a 3-inch deep casserole pan until lightly coloured and the fat has rendered.

2. Remove the lardons with a slotted spoon and set aside. Turn the heat up slightly and preheat the oven to 160°C.

3. Dry the beef cubes and then add them in batches so that there is never more than a single layer of beef being browned at one time.

4. Once browned, place the beef in a bowl and repeat the process.

5. Sauté the onion and carrot in the remaining oil until lightly coloured. Set aside with the bacon.

6. Sprinkle the flour and some salt and pepper over the meat. Mix and then return to the casserole. As the flour colours, add the tomato paste and cook over a low to medium heat until the raw tomato smell begins to dissipate.

7. Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with a little of the stock. Once the bottom of the pan is clear, add the wine, 3 sprigs of thyme, the sauteed vegetables, 1-2 bay leaf/leaves, the bacon and the garlic. Finish by pouring in the remaining stock until the beef is just covered.

8. Place the casserole (with lid) in the bottom third of the oven and cook for roughly three hours. After an hour and a half, lift the lid and check the beef to see how far along it is. It is done once the meat is extremely tender. I had mine in the oven for almost four hours.

9. While the casserole is in the oven, lightly pan fry the mushrooms in butter in a single layer.

10. Set aside and sauté the cocktail onions. Once they are lightly browned, add a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme and enough stock to cover the onions. Simmer gently for 30 minutes or until tender.

11. Traditionally at this point, one should strain the stew, reheat the sauce on the stove top and add back the meat. If you don’t want to, I understand! But do make sure to at least remove the bay leaf/leaves and the thyme – they’re none too pleasant to choke on.

12. The sauce should be coating consistency (dip in a spoon and check whether it nicely coats the back), so reduce it if necessary. Add the onions and mushrooms, stir et voilà!

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: you can serve the beef bourguignon with potatoes and/or green beans, but the sauce is just so delicious mopped up with some warm, crusty bread. I think a big pot of this stew with a stick of baguette or something similar straight from the oven… well, that’s all you need!

Bon Appétit!



4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2010 16:20

    Oh my god, this was so delicious!!!! Please sir, can I have some more?

    • May 30, 2010 16:34

      Why, thank you, sir! We’ll see… ;) Any other requests?

  2. June 1, 2010 22:09


    • June 1, 2010 22:26

      Sure thing. Will make that next then!

      Oh, and thanks for the feedback btw :)

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