I recently got myself a brand new slow cooker and was wondering what was going to be the first dish I would love to prepare. Stews are obviously better made in slow cookers and I started to look for what I liked most in French preparations. It had to be “boeuf bourguignon”, certainly the most widely known of all French dishes. A favourite among those carefully composed, slowly cooked dishes, which are the domain of French housewives and cooks of modest or small restaurants rather than of professional chefs.
Beef burgundy deserves its reputation. There is nothing difficult about its preparation. Such dishes do not, of course, have a rigid formula, each cook interpreting it according to his or her taste.
According to Larousse Gastronomique, my favorite cookbook, la bourguignonne refers to any meat cooked with red wine and usually garnished with small onions, Paris mushrooms and pieces of fat bacon.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large slices salt pork or 6 large slices of bacon
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
One 2-pound boneless chuck or beef rump roast,cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1/2 bottle (750-ml bottle) Burgundy or pinot noir (the French usually use “Passetoutgrain” which is not expensive)
1/3 cup Cognac
1. Pour the oil into a large casserole and add 1 slice salt pork (or 3 slices bacon). Add the diced carrots and cover them with one-third of the sliced beef in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the meat with half the onions, garlic, shallots, and mushrooms. Cover with a layer of half the remaining beef and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Add the remaining onions, garlic, shallots, and mushrooms and cover with a final layer of the remaining beef. Top with the second slice of salt pork (or remaining 3 slices of bacon). Pour the Burgundy and Cognac over all. Season with additional salt and pepper.
2. Place the casserole over high heat, and when it begins to simmer, cover and lower the heat. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender when tested with a fork.
That’s it. Serve with potatoes, boiled and dipped in the sauce or with pasta (tagliatelle or linguini are good options).