• Forget flowers and chocolates this Valentine’s Day and woo your partner or special someone with this romantic dinner, and remember that the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart is through their stomach!

    At the same time you’ll be skipping expensive and overcrowded restaurants on Valentine’s Day and cook a delicious meal in the comfort and cosiness of your own home while enjoying a glass or more of wine without the problem of getting home.

    We’ve chosen this recipe because of its French association and the reputation as the French being the best lovers. They have a saying ‘dîner en tête-à-tête’, meaning a romantic dinner, something even couples that have been together for years are expected to do regularly.

    BEEF BOURGUIGNON RECIPE

    Beef Bourguignon is a classic French beef ragoût (stew). But Beef Bourguignon is so much more than a simple beef stew, it’s comforting and heavenly and a once you’ve cooked it for the first time it will become a favourite and part of your cooking repertoire (the French again!)

    Beef Bourguignon is also known as beef Burgundy as it originates from the Burgundy region in France. This recipe for Beef Bourguignon can be cooked on top of the cooker, over a low heat, for 1½ to 2-hours, but slow oven-cooking produces a better result. The meat becomes as soft as butter, but not shredded or falling apart, and there is no danger of it ‘catching’ on the bottom. Much of the preparation and cooking can be done in advance so you’ll be able to turn the lights down low and the music up will the beef cooks.

    While this is a recipe for four, you can indulge yourselves with ample portions or freeze half for another day.

    SERVES 4

    Ingredients 

    • 675 g chuck steak
    • 1 tablespoon beef dripping or oil
    • 12 small button onions or shallots
    • 30 g butter
    • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
    • 2 teaspoons plain flour
    • 300 ml red wine
    • 300 ml Brown Stock
    • 1 bouquet garni
    • 50 g piece of fatty bacon, diced
    • 115 g button mushrooms

    salt and freshly ground black pepper plus chopped fresh parsley, to garnish.

    Method

    • Cut the beef into 4 cm cubes, discarding any fat and gristle. (We can do this for you in the shop)
    • Heat half the dripping or oil in a flameproof casserole and brown the beef cubes very well, a few at a time. They must be brown on all sides. Transfer them to a bowl as they are done. When the bottom of the pan becomes brown, add a little water, swishing it about and scraping up the sediment. Reserve this déglaçage (deglazing), then heat up a little more dripping or oil and continue to brown the meat. When it has all been browned and transferred to the bowl, deglaze the pan one last time and pour all the déglaçage over the meat.
    • Heat the oven to 150℃/300℉/gas mark 2.
    • Immerse the button onions in boiling water for 30 seconds, then immerse in cold water.
    • Peel off the skins. Dry them and fry in half the butter until well browned.
    • Add the garlic and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
    • Pour in the wine and stock. Stir until boiling, again scraping the bottom of the pan.
    • Put the meat and sauce in the casserole and add the bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook in the hot oven for 2–3 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
    • Meanwhile, cut the bacon into 1 cm cubes and blanch in boiling water for 1 minute.
    • Refresh and drain well.
    • Wipe the mushrooms but do not peel or remove the stalks. Cut into quarters if large.
    • Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and, when foaming, add the bacon and mushrooms and cook fairly fast until golden brown. Lift them out and add to the beef when it has been cooking for 1 hour. Return to the oven for a further hour, until the meat is tender.
    • When the meat is tender, use a slotted spoon to lift the meat, bacon and vegetables into a clean casserole. Remove the bouquet garni and check the seasoning boil the sauce fast to reduce to a syrupy consistency. If the sauce is too salty, thicken it with a little beurre manié* rather than reducing it.
    • Pour the sauce over the beef and serve sprinkled with parsley.

    * Beurre Manié – Butter and flour in equal quantities worked together to a soft paste, and used as a liaison or thickening for lids. Small pieces are whisked into boiling liquid. As the butter melts, it disperses the flour evenly through the liquid, thereby thickening it without causing lumps.

    Serve over Tagliatelle or creamy mashed potatoes.

    Accompany with a fine bottle of Red Burgundy and candles!

    This recipe is taken from the recipe book of one of our customers, Susan Spaull who trained many chefs at (Prue) Leith’s School of Food & Wine – you can find this recipe in her book Leiths Meat Bible available from Amazon Books – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leiths-Meat-Bible-Max-Clark/dp/1408833522