Slow cooker beef bourguignon

I made this on Saturday to have something for myself and my son to have ready to eat after football (we support Crystal Palace). I wanted something easy and comforting to come home to after what we thought would be yet another demoralising defeat – we were yet to score a goal (or gain a point) this season, let alone win a match. But the comforting dinner turned into a celebration feast because we beat Chelsea 2-1. Beef bourguignon has never tasted so good!

I’m a big advocate of the slow cooker because it’s so convenient and you can cook cheaper cuts of meat to perfection. I had it in my head that it was a big energy saver too – I have bandied around the phrase that it only uses the same energy as a light bulb – but some quick research shows that’s not quite right – there are too many factors to take into account (type of slow oven, whether it has a thermostat or not and how long it’s on for etc). Clearly I need to do some more research – I do want to look at all the ways to cook food more cheaply.

Lots of slow cooker recipes simply involve piling everything into the crock pot and switching on, but for beef bourguignon (or any meat stew) I like to brown the meat first and add some of the other flavours to get everything going. Traditionally a beef bourguignon would use bacon in the early cooking process (fried with the onion) but I haven’t used bacon here. Some recipes call for beef stock but I have just used a lot of wine and topped up the liquid with water from a recently boiled kettle.

Finally, for more on that amazing win, head over to the Crystal Palace website. Eagles!!!

Ingredients

  • Beef cuts for braising – I used a pack of braising steak from the Co-op for £3.99, trimmed of excess fat (but still keeping a marbling of fat which is great for flavour) and chopped into quite large chunks. I don’t like buying ready cut cubes of meat as they tend to cook down to a minuscule size.
  • Flour to coat the beef.
  • Red wine – good drinking quality. I used two thirds of a Claret from the Co-op (I guess purists would use a Burgundy).
  • 1 small coarsely chopped onion and six shallots (shallots are perfect for the look of the dish).
  • 3 x carrots, chopped in chunks.
  • Pack of button mushrooms.
  • 3 cloves of garlic. 1 clove chopped and the other two left whole in their skins.
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree.
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.
  • Thyme.
  • 2 x bay leaves.
  • Olive oil to brown the meat.
  • Salt and pepper.

Method

  1. Place the chopped beef in a plastic food bag with the flour, salt and pepper and coat well. The flour will thicken the stew. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan and cook the meat until browned.
  2. Remove the meat and add the carrots, chopped onion, shallots and chopped and whole garlic and cook for a few minutes before adding the wine.
  3. Let the wine come to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Top up with about quarter/half pint of water. Add the whole garlic, tomato puree, mustard, thyme leaves, bay leaves and salt and pepper.
  4. Carefully pour everything into the slow cooker and turn to high. After about an hour I added the mushrooms and turned the cooker to low before going off to Selhurst Park. The stew will be ready after about five hours – we ate after about six. I served this with mashed potatoes and a glass of the Claret to wash it down.

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