Nigel Slater Beef Bourguignon (With A Twist)

Beef bourguignon is perhaps one of my favourite stews, right behind a Guinness and steak stew (recipe pending publication). Nigel Slater is a well-known chef with a well-known recipe for this famous French staple, so we’re going to take a look at what he recommends… but we’re going to change it up a bit. After all – he hasn’t touched the recipe in years, and it could do with a bit of modernisation and improvement in small ways.

Nigel Slater beef bourguignon is relatively easy to make and requires only a handful of ingredients. It makes for a great long-term meal to prep ahead of time, as it melds and only tastes better with time.

And as usual, we’re doing away with that annoying faff and filler of my “famous grandmother’s long-lost recipe.” No – there is no famous grandmother, nor a recipe from her. I’m just a professional chef who loves to cook, and thinks this could use a bit of updating.

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Nigel Slater Beef Bourguignon Recipe and Ingredients

As with all of my recipes, the mise en place is first. French for “everything in its place,” mise en place is both a practice and mindset that you’ll see in every professional kitchen for one reason alone – it works. If you’re used to prepping as you go, just trust me here and give it a try. Now – the ingredients!

You’ll need:

  1. 1 kg of chuck or beef shin, cut into large pieces.
  2. Several teaspoons of all purpose flour
  3. 300 grams of fresh, seasonal mushrooms. I like a mix of chestnut and chantrelle mushrooms, though it’s up to what you have locally.
    1. Nigel’s recipe calls for 20 button mushrooms. I say there’s no reason to cheap out on those delicious morsels, and to go for the good stuff.
  4. 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
  5. 3 small red potatoes, diced
  6. 80 grams fatty bacon, diced
  7. 30 grams butter
  8. 2 tsp olive oil
  9. 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 8 crushed cloves of garlic
    1. Again, Nigel calls for only three cloves. Screw that – we measure garlic with our heart here in DreamyHome.
  12. 200mL beef stock (or veg, it’s up to you)
  13. 1 bottle of good red Burgundy wine. If you wouldn’t drink it straight, don’t use it for cooking – just trust me here.
  14. Salt and pepper to taste, at least 2 tbsp each.
  15. 2 tbsp rosemary
  16. 50 mL red wine vinegar

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The Recipe

Okay, we’ve got everything prepared… now what? Do the following and you’ll have a rich, dreamy bourguignon:

  1. Create a marinade of 2 tbsp each thyme, salt, black pepper, rosemary, 50 mL red wine vinegar, and enough red wine to cover the beef. Marinate overnight.
  2. Salt and pepper your beef, roughly 2 tbsp each, rolling the pieces in oil and flour as you do.
  3. In one pan on medium-high heat, brown the beef in the butter. This is crucial – you need a strong sear here. Deglaze a dash of red wine, saving the fond and wine for your stock. Your beef should not be fully cooked yet. That comes in step 5.
    1. Nigel’s recipe calls for no seasoning on the beef and no deglaze.
  4. In another high walled pot on medium-high heat, lightly brown and render your bacon. Once it’s cooked, turn the heat to medium-low, adding your mushrooms and onion. Cook them until tender and beginning to caramelise, adding salt and pepper as you feel is needed (you really shouldn’t need much here, bacon is salty).
    1. Nigel’s recipe says to do this all together in one pan. Again, you’ll have to trust me here.
  5. Remove mushrooms and onion to prevent overcooking. Add your garlic, thyme, bay leaves, stock, wine, and beef to the pot.
  6. Boil potatoes in salt water until partially cooked, ~15 minutes, or until just tender. If fully cooked, they fall apart when simmered.
  7. Lightly simmer for at least 90 minutes, until your beef is nearly perfect. Add the mushrooms, potatoes, and onions, simmering for another 30 minutes until your beef is perfect.
    1. Do not boil this stew. The longer it simmers (and its time in the fridge) will improve flavour, while boiling it will break it.
  8. Serve garnished with thyme and a nice glass of wine. This stores very well and mellows overnight. I strongly recommend making it the previous day you plan to serve it.

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An Important Note

Some people recommend baking the beef at a low (140 degrees C) temperature for ~2 hours. I personally dislike this approach as it’s easy to overcook the beef.

Others recommend adding a pig trotter to the stew, while I would personally prefer that my stock is already perfect. Using homemade stock will make a massive difference here – so don’t skimp.

He also says to serve this with steamed potatoes – I highly disagree. I’m a Hobbit at heart, and that means that potatoes go in the stew. They’ll also lend some starch to the stew, thickening it as it cooks.

Final Thoughts

There we go! A relatively easy meal to prepare, that ends rich and delicious. People will think you slaved for days over this when most of the work was watching a pot. While Nigel’s recipe is great, don’t get me wrong, I feel that there are a few necessary modernisations to make.

First, fresh and seasonal mushrooms make a massive difference in flavour over button mushrooms. Second, marinating the beef overnight adds a good depth of flavour and tenderness to the beef itself that his approach didn’t have. Thirdly, adding potatoes to the stew is just… the obvious change that’s needed. Finally, deglazing the first pan will add further depth of flavour to your stock that you just don’t get by doing it all in one pan.

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