I’m from Lyon, the “gastronomic capital” of France. Passing recipes to the next generation is a great French tradition, and one of the reasons why the home cooking in France is so good.
Your mum will teach you recipes from her mum and you will pass it on to your children. People cook old-style recipes, such as this classic beef bourguignon, and usually they are the best ones, because a lot of people have improved the recipe.
Start this recipe the day before.
1.8kg topside beef, cut into large pieces
2 large onions, chopped
200g chopped carrots
1L Burgundy or other medium-bodied red wine
100ml olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves
Bouquet garni (sprigs of thyme, a few parsley stalks and a few bay leaves tied together with kitchen string)
1 tablespoon butter
200g spring onions, quartered if large
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
200g streaky bacon or pancetta
200g button mushrooms, sliced
150ml beef stock
1) Place beef in a container with the onion, carrot and wine. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours.
2) Preheat oven to 200C. The next day, drain out the wine, reserving it separately from the meat and vegetables. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and when very hot, brown the meat and season with salt and pepper. Add the marinated carrots and onions and cook, stirring for 4 minutes, then cover with the wine. Add garlic and bouquet garni. Cover the pot with a heatproof lid and cook in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is fall-apart tender. If the wine reduces too much, add a little water.
3) Remove dish from oven. Remove and reserve meat, then pass the remaining liquid and vegetables through a fine colander into a bowl and set each aside.
4) Melt butter in a separate pan over medium heat and add the spring onions. Add the sugar and enough water to just cover the onions. Let liquid reduce until onions become caramelised, then add the balsamic vinegar. When liquid is reduced totally, remove from pan and set aside.
5) In the same pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a little more butter to the pan, if necessary, and cook the mushrooms, stirring until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
6) Take the wine liquid and place it in a heavy based saucepan over low heat. Add beef stock and simmer, allowing the sauce to reduce. Thicken with the flour, mixed with a little oil if necessary. Add the beef, bacon, spring onions and mushrooms and cook until warm. Serve with steamed potatoes or rice.
For more on Romaine’s story and French cuisine, see our feature story here