Sunday, 27 September 2015

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon

We’re going back a fair while here: back when I first got a slow cooker. I’d wanted one for ages, but I’d also wanted a pressure cooker and frankly we don’t have room for both. It was a tough call - I had done tons of research on both and I think deep down I kinda wanted a pressure cooker but but in the end plumped for the slow cooker for 2 reasons. The first being that winter was on the way so in theory I would be cooking lots of heart stews and the like (although as I’ve mentioned previously I’m almost as likely to cook a stew at the height of summer if that is what I fancy - the slow cooker will also be helpful then as the kitchen won’t get so hot!) and the second being that in my bun in the oven state at the time I thought it would be handy, closer to D day to knock up lots of one pot meals that we could just defrost and reheat once we were back from the hospital. And I’m happy to state that was exactly what we did.

But back to this - the question was what to do for our first meal? Well in all honesty it wasn’t that much of a competition as, to me, Boeuf Bourguignon seemed a pretty obvious choice. That said, I’d a few other ideas up my sleeve for the coming weeks and months.

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 4

6 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon, sliced into thin strips
1kg beef shin, cut into 1-inch cubes, patted dry & seasoned with salt & pepper
300ml good red wine, divided
2 small/medium onions, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp tomato paste
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
250ml chicken or beef stock, plus more if necessary
300g button mushrooms, thickly sliced (halve very small ones)
parsley, chopped
crusty bread

Warm a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy. Transfer the bacon using a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan, reserving the rest.

Return the pan to the heat and when the bacon fat is shimmering and you see a wisp or two of smoke, add a single layer of beef cubes to the pan to sear — do not crowd the pan; sear the meat in batches: you’ll probably do about 3 in all and add a little extra bacon fat as needed.

Transfer the seared meat to the slow cooker. When all the batches are done deglaze the pan with 50ml of the wine.

Pour the deglazing wine and any scraped up bits over the seared meat in the slow cooker.

Add 1 tablespoon of the leftover bacon fat (or olive oil if needs be) to the pan and reduce the heat to medium lowish. Cook the onions with ⅛ teaspoon of salt until soft and slightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until slightly softened.

Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant then transfer the vegetable mixture to the slow cooker.

Wipe the pan clean and warm a little more bacon fat over medium heat (using olive if no more remains). Cook the mushrooms with 1/4 teaspoon salt until they have release all their liquid, the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms are golden brown.

Transfer the mushrooms to a clean bowl, rather than the slow cooker, and set aside as they get added later.

Stir the beef and vegetables (excepting mushrooms) together in the slow cooker, tucking the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over - the liquid should come about 3/4 of the way to the surface of the ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. When finished, the beef should fall apart easily with a fork.

Once the meat is cooked, stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Cook with the slow cooker on high until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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