Long, slow-cooked beef casseroles are friendly dishes; not just to the cook who can make them in advance and then swish around the kitchen feeling tidy and in control but also to wines. At least, they are friendly to French wines. Boeuf bourguignon was – as the name suggests – originally made with red wine from Burgundy. Pinot noir, in other words – savoury and dry but also relatively light-bodied. You’d put half a bottle in the pot and drink the rest with dinner. Or something like that.You wouldn’t catch me pouring red burgundy into boeuf bourgignon these days. It’s too expensive to put in a cook pot. It does work well with the dish, though – but so do reds from other parts of France. Best of all, nothing needs to be too grand.You could try a côtes du rhône or a costières de nîmes, a corbières, fitou or saint-chinian. Go further west still and try an aged cahors or a lively marcillac. Head for Bordeaux or Bergerac, Fronton or Fronsac.The key is to find a wine that doesn’t seem to splurge with sweet, sunny fruit.The velvet nap of an Australian pinot noir would taste odd here.You could look for reds from Portugal, leathery cabernet sauvignon blends from South Africa, an Austrian blaufränkisch or even a rustic Eastern European red. Casserole is kind to cheap wines, which means you can get away with a lot. It also serves as a willing backdrop to the good stuff. Almost free reign.
4 GOOD MATCHES:
Château de Pizay Morgon 2012 France, 13% (£8.99, Majestic)
Morgon is always the most hefty of the named beaujolais cru but this is still a light red, supple and smooth and filled with bright red berries, ready for spring.
Domaine de la Meynarde Plan de Dieu 2012 France, 14.5% (£8.49, M&S)
This is a superb, dusty red blend from Southern Rhône. It will make you think of rocky, herb-strewn hillsides.
La Bastide Blanche Bandol 2011 France, 15% (£14.79, Waitrose)
A brooding, spreading red from the hot amphitheatre that is Bandol, in sunny Provence. Based on mourvèdre, it’s what I call proper wine, a real favourite and beautiful stuff – worth splashing out.
The Wine Selection Dao 2010 Portugal, 13% (£4.50, Asda)
Not many people have heard of the Dao. It’s a fantastic Portuguese region for red. oddly, Asda have two own-label wines from there and doublly oddly, this one is much better than the one that costs more. A rustic, bargain red.
Beef bourguignon recipe
olive oil or beef or goose fat 2 tbsp
beef shin 600g, trimmed and cut into pieces
pancetta 75g, sliced 1cm thick and diced
shallots or small button onions 12
small chestnut or button mushrooms 250g, peeled
bouquet garni 1, (bay leaf, thyme sprig, parsley stalks, tied with string)
celery stick 1
tomato purée 1 tsp
red wine 1 bottle
Put the fat in a cast iron casserole dish and heat on the hob. Fry the meat rapidly in batches, removing each batch from the pan once it’s browned and setting aside. Fry the pancetta until the fat is melted and browned then remove from the pan. Fry the onions until they are golden on all sides then remove. And finally, fry the mushrooms until golden. Set the mushrooms aside. Return the beef, onions and lardons to the pan. Add the bouquet garni, celery, tomato purée and the bottle of wine and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Season. Simmer, partially covered, at a very low bubble or cook in a 150C/Fan 130C/gas 2 oven for about 3 hours. Add the mushrooms about 20 minutes before the end of cooking. If you prefer a thicker sauce, scoop out the meet and veg and boil rapidly to reduce. Discard the bouquet garni and celery before serving.
PER SERVING: 471 kcals, protein 33.9g , carbs 2.7g, fat 22.3g, sat fat 7.7g, fibre 2.2g, salt 0.7g
This feature was published in April 2014
Photographs: Sam Stowell
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