Well, I received one of these boxes of luscious ingredients a few days ago - and my challenge was to make either the Marco Pierre White recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon that was contained therein, or think of something else I could use the ingredients for.
Now, with all due respect to Marco Pierre White, I've come to feel a little unsettled where his recipes are concerned, as the last two I've tried have been remarkably unsuccessful. Hence, when I saw that he used the lovely bacon and beautiful wild mushrooms simply as a garnish to the dish, I bridled at the thought. After all, the flavour of that bacon had to be pretty good, and the wild mushrooms were spankingly good (you could tell just looking at them) - so why reject using those flavours within the dish? Seemed a bit pretentious to me. (Sorry Marco!).
I also like to cook beef such as brisket - Welsh brisket, no less! - in the slow cooker, to take advantage of the beautiful flavours that result from long slow cooking. Marco cooked his Bourguignon on the stovetop and in the oven.
Hence, knowing that I had a tried and tested recipe for Beef Bourguignon on the blog already that I could use as a guide, I decided to go my own way with the dish. Still make Boeuf Bourguignon - but my way and with Knorr's ingredients.
|Brisket all trimmed up and ready to go|
So started what was nothing less than a marathon ingredient preparation session. This dish took me a good two hours to get to the "in the slow cooker" stage - and it wasn't all taken up with peeling tiny shallots. Oh my god but those flipping tiny shallots are a cook's nightmare - they don't give their outer layers up easily!
|Browning the brisket - smelled gorgeous!|
Because of the tender nature of the wild mushrooms, I decided not to include them right from the beginning of the slow cooking time, as I didn't want them to disappear into the gravy. However, because I still wanted that mushroom flavour to be there in the gravy from the word go, I chopped a couple of chestnut mushrooms additionally and added those in with the leek and celery. This worked perfectly and allowed the wild mushrooms to still be very much in evidence at the end of the cooking time.
|Oh no! It's all gone!|
It has an early sweetness, which is flattened by the tannins that just roll over your tongue but don't threaten to choke you (like so many cheaper wines), with accompanying satisfying fruitiness redolent of plums. It's a bit like drinking a red velvet cushion - if you can imagine that!
I would also really like to know what the Port was that they supplied - as that was pretty darned spectacular too.
|Just look at those huge pieces of wild mushroom!|
So, take all these flavours and cook them long and slow - and you'll have a small idea of just how spectacular this dish turned out to be.
|That's my kind of Halloween cauldron - full of beef & red wine!|
Hubby declared that it was "restaurant quality" - and that doesn't happen often. Son & heir was transported - apparently - into another world at his first taste of the beef in the gorgeously rich red wine gravy that had been bolstered by the use of the Rich Beef Stock Pot from Knorr. Those little stock pots are real flavour bombs for when you're cooking beef - I couldn't be without them now.
This was the type of meal that all the time you're eating it, you know that what you have on your fork is truly something special. Every mouthful delivered on flavour in absolute spades - and many different layers of flavour. Even several hours later, I still knew that I'd eaten what was a spectacular meal.
I can't recommend that you enter the competition highly enough. To have the chance of receiving all the ingredients for free and being able to cook this meal again - if I could, I would!
SLOW COOKER BOEUF BOURGUIGNON (feeds 4-5)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
800g beef brisket, trimmed and cut into chunky cubes
1 onion, chopped small
3 rashers unsmoked back bacon, chopped
1 knob of butter
1 small leek, chopped small
3 small celery sticks, chopped small
2 chestnut mushrooms, chopped finely
6-8 whole round shallots, peeled
a garlic clove, peeled but left whole
a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
2-3 sprigs of thyme
225ml red wine (1 glass)
1 Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
200g wild mushrooms (or sliced chestnut mushrooms if no wild are available)
1. In a large frying pan, heat the rapeseed oil until smoking and carefully add half of the meat. Leave to brown, before turning to brown the other side. The aim of the exercise is to achieve some caramelisation on the cubes, as caramelisation equals flavour!
2. Place the meat into the slow cooker using a slotted spoon and turn it on to low, replacing the lid.
3. Place the onion and bacon into the frying pan - do not wipe it clean - and cook on a moderate heat until the bacon fat has rendered and the onion is softened. Decant into the slow cooker.
4. Add the knob of butter to the pan and, once it has melted, add the leek, celery and mushroom. Cook until the vegetables have softened, then add the shallots and garlic clove and continue to cook until the shallots have warmed through.
5. Add the parsley and stir through, then add the whole lot to the slow cooker, including the thyme sprigs.
6. Heat the pan on a high heat, then pour in the red wine and the port and allow to frizzle and simmer. Add the Rich Beef Stock Pot and the water and stir through. Bring back to a simmer and add a little black pepper.
7. Decant into the slow cooker and stir gently through.
8. Turn the slow cooker up to medium, replace the lid and forget about it for the next 2 hours.
9. At the end of this time, add the wild mushrooms and gently stir through. Replace the lid and cook for another 2 hours.
10. At the end of this time, you may need to add a little cornflour to thicken the sauce. If so, then put two or three heaped teaspoonfuls into a small bowl and add just enough water to get it moving in a runny paste. Remove the lid of the slow cooker and with a slotted spoon, gently heap the meat and vegetables to one side, creating a pool of sauce. Add half the cornflour mixture and stir like crazy, but trying not to knock the meat down or you'll land up breaking up the pieces. The sauce should begin to thicken and you may not need the other half. Once the sauce is your favoured consistency, bring the meat & vegetables back down and stir through very gently.
11. Serve, with mashed potatoes, carrots and savoy cabbage.