Beef bourguignon

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 streaky bacon slices, cut into strips
  • 1.8kg mince beef, cut large cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 240ml Cognac
  • 1 bottle dry red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 1.1L low-sodium beef broth
  • Bouquet garni (2 fresh rosemary sprigs, 8 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, tied together with kitchen twine or tied in cheesecloth)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 450g white mushrooms, stems trimmed
  • 300g blanched and peeled pearl onions
  • Pinch sugar
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
1) Put a large Dutch oven over medium heat and drizzle in a 1/2-count of oil. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove it to a paper towel; crumble when cool and set aside to use for the garnish. Season the beef with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pot in batches. Fry the cubes in the bacon fat until evenly browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pot to a plate.

2) Add the tomato puree and flour to the pot and stir to combine. Turn off the heat, pour in the Cognac and stir to scrape up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat back on and light the Cognac, with a long kitchen match. Be careful and stand back as the alcohol flame dies down. Whisk in the red wine and beef broth; add the beef back into the pot along with the bouquet garni. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken and has the consistency of a sauce; this should take about 15 minutes. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.
In a small skillet, over medium-low, heat a little olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms start to brown, about, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the pearl onions and cook until onions are heated through.

3) Uncover the pot and add the mushroom mixture along with the pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Remove the bouquet garni. Transfer to a serving bowl and shower with chopped parsley and the reserved crumbled bacon before serving.

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