The secret to this French classic is to use a full bottle of wine and just a little stock to give another flavour dimension. It’s good enough to serve at a dinner party but also great for a family dinner, because once it’s cooking away, you’re free to do other things. This can also be cooked with great success in a slow cooker if you’re lucky enough to have one – just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for exact timings.
25g (1oz) butter
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
350g (12oz) small shallots, peeled
100g (4oz) pancetta or rindless streaky bacon, cut into small, thin lardons
675g (1½lb) chuck steak, cut into bite- sized pieces
50g (2oz) seasoned plain flour
1 bottle of Burgundy red wine
150ml (¼ pint) beef stock (page 435)
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, plus extra to garnish
225g (8oz) small chestnut mushrooms, trimmed
2 tbsp brandy sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
crusty French bread, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/gas mark 3).
2. Heat half of the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and fry until they are just beginning to brown, then tip in the pancetta or bacon and fry until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.
3. Place the beef pieces in a ziplock bag with the seasoned flour. Shake until well coated, then remove, shaking off any excess. Add to the frying pan and fry until lightly golden on all sides. Transfer to a casserole with a lid.
4. Add a little of the red wine to the frying pan and scrape the bottom to remove any sediment, then pour this on top of the beef with the rest of the red wine and the stock, carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme. Add the sautéed shallots and pancetta and season to taste. Stir to combine, then cover with a lid and place in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat is tender but still holding its shape.
5. Halfway through cooking, heat the remaining oil and butter in a large frying pan and cook the mushrooms until just tender and lightly browned, stirring. Add the brandy and cook for another few minutes, then stir into the casserole and return to the oven for the remaining cooking time.
6. When the beef bourguignon is ready, season to taste and garnish with the thyme leaves. Serve straight to the table with a separate bowl of crusty French bread to hand around.