1 bottle of fruity, relatively light dry red wine
1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut into 2cm chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed with the back of a knife
1 bay leaf
Small bunch of parsley, plus a handful for garnish 2 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
200g unsmoked bacon lardons or a thick piece of unsmoked bacon cut into 2cm cubes
24 pearl onions, or 12 small shallots
18 baby carrots
200g button mushrooms
2 tbsp flour 1kg beef cheeks, cut into 3cm chunks
250ml good beef stock
Put the wine in a pan with the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes until reduced by about half. Heat the oven to 150C.
Heat the oil and butter in a large casserole dish over a medium-high heat, and when the foam has died down, add the bacon. Fry until golden, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the bay carrots and mushrooms to the pan and saute until lightly golden, then scoop into a fresh bowl. Add the onions, turn down the heat slightly, and fry until just beginning to brown. Meanwhile, put the flour on a plate, season, then roll the beef in it. Add the onions to the other vegetables and turn up the heat slightly in the pan.
Fry the beef in batches until crusted and deeply browned, being careful not to overcrowd the pan or it will boil in its own juices (add a little more oil if it feels like it’s burning rather than browning). Scoop out and set aside in a bowl. Turn up the heat.
Add the brandy to the pan and scrape to dislodge any caramelised bits on the bottom. Strain in the reduced wine (discarding the vegetables), followed by the stock. Return the cheeks and oxtail to the pan and bring to a simmer.
Cover and bake for two and a half hours, then tip in the pearl onions, mushrooms and carrots and bake for another half an hour.
Scoop out the oxtail and strip the meat from the bones. Stir back into the pan with the lardons and season to taste. Add the remaining parsley and serve with mashed potatoes.
It is a false economy to make Boeuf Bourguignon with any other wine than red burgundy to enjoy the full flavours of this classic French dish