This is an all time classic. I use smoked bacon, which would earn me the rough edge of Elizabeth David’s tongue for a start. I also use a lot of garlic. Which I do in general. Follow this straightforward, classic French recipe and you’ll have a stunning, rich, unctuous dish that will make your dinner party guests empty their bank accounts in your favour just so that they get invited back. It's pronounced berf borginion.
- 1.3kg beef in 2cm cube
- 250g small button mushrooms
- 15 shallots
- 10-12 rashers smoked streaky bacon, sliced
- 8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 500ml red wine
- 45ml brandy
- 250 ml good stock
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 3-4 bay leaves
- Olive oil
Stop laughing there at the back of the class, Simon.
Now fry off the shallots in a glug of oil, adding in the bacon and stirring it to fry nicely, giving the shallots some brown spots and letting the bacon fry dry and start to brown. Add in the smashed garlic (by which I mean crushed with the blade of a knife) and then stir it all up before adding the beef and the bay leaves.
Mix everything up, leaving it cooking all the while over a high-ish heat, then add the stock and finally the wine. Incidentally, I like to put in 250ml of wine and reduce the other 250ml to about half before adding it, but it’s up to you.
And now turn the heat to as low as it’ll go and leave it to bubble away. I like to stir it every now and then, uncover it every now and then. But we’re looking at a 3-hour stint here. I also like to take it off the heat for 30 mins or so in that time, just to let it all get settled. And cooking it earlier in the day is a great idea, because you can take it off the heat after 1.5 hours and really let it cool before bringing it back up.
At the 1.5 hour mark, pan fry the mushrooms until they’re browned, turn the heat of the pan down (you do NOT want it too hot if you’re using gas, believe me) and add the brandy. Toss the mushrooms and brandy into the mixture and let nature do its work for the rest of the cooking time. Season, of course.
Serve with nothing more or less than a good dollop of creamy mashed potato.