I’m finally back with another World Series recipe! This time we’ve gone to France; the home of incredible food, there were so many choices here for me, I thought about a delicate pastry or a classic ratatouille but I settled on something that would give me a challenge (and I wasn’t wrong, but not for the reasons I expected), I did my research and decided to try and put together a vegan Beef Bourguignon. When looking at recipes it seems like the overall method to cook this dish could very easily be made vegan, it was just subbing out the meat as most of it is built around vegetables and stock.
Beef Bourguignon can be found in almost any restaurant in France, from small family-owned to Michelin star, but back in the 1900’s it was considered a bit of a “peasant dish” because the idea is to slow cook leftover meats to form another meal (which obviously rich people don’t need to do), but nowadays we all understand the greatness of a slow-cooked dish, so it’s had a bit of a revival again. The dish is usually eaten as a large group meal in the evenings and is accompanied by boiled potatoes or pasta/rice…I feel like I need to toot my own horn here and say that without even knowing this info I decided last minute to boil up some potatoes to have with it, I must have had a little whisper in my ear from the French cooking gods!
Anyway, on with the recipe!
400g Vegan Beef, cut into strips or diced
1-2 tbsp Oil
50g Vegan Bacon/ Lardons, sliced or diced
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
2 Vegan Stock Cubes
2 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Sage
150g Button Mushrooms, quartered
2 large Potatoes, peeled and quartered
200ml Red Wine (just the cheapest will do)
1 tbsp Plain Flour
To start with we want to pre-cook and season the beef with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of herbs in a frying pan on medium heat with a tbsp oil. Once browned, transfer to a slow cooker or casserole dish and preheat the oven to 170C/ 150 Fan/ Gas Mark 4.
Now into the frying pan add the bacon lardons and fry these for a couple of minutes until crispy, then add on top of the beef in the stewing pot.
Add your garlic and onion into the frying pan or cook for around 5 mins until the onion is soft and translucent, then transfer to the slow cooker/ casserole dish.
Now, into the casserole dish pour the wine and 75ml cold water, then add the tomato puree, crushed stock cubes, and herbs. Give it a stir so everything is fully combined then transfer to the oven to cook for 1 hour. Around halfway through, just give it a stir again.
In the last 20 mins of cooking set a medium-sized pan on the hob add your potatoes and cover with boiling water, leave on medium heat to soften for around 20 mins. Heat up a frying pan again with 1 tbsp of oil and add in the mushrooms, cook these in salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of herbs for around 5-7 mins until soft and golden. In a jug, combine the flour and 1 tbsp of water to form a thickener for the stew.
Once the mushrooms have cooked, take the bourguignon out of the oven and add the mushrooms on top with the flour/water thickener, give it all one final stir then put it back in the oven for a final 20 mins. Once softened, take the potatoes off the heat, pour the water away and place them on your serving plate/bowl. Once the bourguignon is cooked, spoon it on top of your potatoes and you’re ready to eat!
There were a few unknowns here that meant I was skeptical about whether it would all come together right, mainly because I’ve never cooked with wine before but this beef bourguignon was amazing! It was hearty without being stodgy, the stew stock itself was flavourful and you could taste each component (which is what I was aiming for) but it wasn’t too overpowering and the potatoes just add that bit of bite to an otherwise soft meal.
Although the list of ingredients may look long, I had a lot of this in the cupboard already but trust me when I say that each ingredient is key and worth adding in, I've tried to make it with easy-to-find ingredients but still close to a traditional recipe. I also want to make a special mention to HOW DIFFICULT it was for me to find vegan beef, last year I couldn’t move in supermarkets for great vegan diced beef and now there was none in Tesco, none in Waitrose and one single product in Sainsbury's that you’re supposed to use for stir fry’s but it worked just as well, I'm hoping this isn’t a permanent issue and it's just because not alot of people are making stews and curries right now, I'm hoping that by November there will be more choices for winter…I hope.
But anyway, apart from the trek I took to find beef, this was a fairly simple recipe that once you put everything together you just leave it to do its own thing, and it does it very well! I would say this is a great recipe for newer cooks who want a bit of a challenge as it does take over 2 hours to put together, but I promise that once you taste this VEGAN Beef Bourguignon, you’ll want to make sure you've always got the ingredients in!