On the joys of locally sourced, free-range beef and home cooked Boeuf Bourguignon and potato gratin

Some meals are pretty, some meals are mouth-wateringly delicious but it’s rare that you will find a dish that is as good to eat as it is beautiful to behold. Boeuf Bourguignon, a peasant dish, fills your house with the aroma of home, a stew of great ingredients, simmered for hours, a pleasure to sit down to, a joy to eat with family. Pretty, well not so much. A dish anyone you cook it for will thank you for, absolutely. I recently made Boeuf Bourguignon, with the meat from a locally bred and raised 4 year-old Charolais cow picture below from Wikipedia .Vache de race charolaise avec son veau.jpg Charolais is the breed traditionally used for Boeuf Bourguignon, it is an old French breed used for both sheer volume of meat as well as apparently for muscle power. A friend of mine lives across the border in France, in a tiny village, with farms still embedded in the center of it, a river running through it, and fields all around it in which herds of cattle graze.  My friend sources his meat from the farm next door, the cattle are raised literally in his back yard, he sees them in the mornings, he sees them being fed, and when he drives to work he passes the fields in which they graze. So when he called me and offered me some meat, I said yes. I like the idea of supporting local farms, I like sourcing eggs from a farm I can cycle to, meat from a farm round the corner, where I know how the animals were raised, and I know that they were not transported long distances before being slaughtered. Eating meat is to accept slaughter of a living being, it’s not comfortable, but there it is. For me if I am going to eat meat, I want to try to ensure, that the animal I am eating had an adequate life before being killed.

Anyway below is the pack of meat my friend gave me. It shows the date of birth of the animal, the race, the date of slaughter, the origin of the animal, it’s breed, and where it was butchered. I like all that information; I like feeling I can follow the chain from beginning to end. When was the last time you knew that much about the meat you were eating?IMG_2603 (1)

Also the meat looked great both packaged:

IMG_2604And unpacked: IMG_2605I pretty much followed this recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon – however, I didn’t bother with pouring away the frying fat, not sure that the peasants who made this dish famous would have bothered. Sorry, let me correct myself, I am certain, the peasants who developed this dish would not pour away fat.   That practice is a development of modern times. I also couldn’t be bothered to make it in the oven, but just used my le creuset look alike and simmered on the hob.

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I used free-range organic bacon in the recipe  a  Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon Los Vascos (I had one open, I used to drink it as a student, it’s still ok to drink, ok to cook with but doesn’t rock my boat anymore in a glass…) I also skipped the filtering out carrots and stuff at the end as well. I just served as is:

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It was absolutely delicious, we mopped up the sauce with french bread, and ate the left-overs for lunch the next day. The house was filled with the scent of  stew, for some reason I felt like I was being pampered and when we sat down we were all really excited about the dish to come, which doesn’t happen every day. It was in short an amazingly satisfying and wonderful dish. I also served a very delicious and simple potato gratin – simply made – take one clove of garlic and rub it around your oven proof container. Take some about 1 kg non-floury potatoes and cut into 1 cm wide slices. Take 60g of grated cheese, I used gruyere, which is what I had and 25cl of cream and 30g of butter. Put your ingredients in layers into an oven proof container – some potatoes, some cream, some gruyère, potatoes, cream gruyère, you get the idea. Finish off with some flakes of butter on top. Salt and pepper (black, freshly ground, need I specify?). Put in oven and back at 200°C for about 50 minutes. Serve with the beef stew:

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Voila, so I am once again a day late for Angie’s fiesta friday – but the offerings I bring to the table are well worth it, fellow party-goers and Angie followers :). Happy weekend all!

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31 thoughts on “On the joys of locally sourced, free-range beef and home cooked Boeuf Bourguignon and potato gratin

      • oh yay – double oscar, and after it was already awarded too, Angie you are the best, bucking up the spirits from far far away! Thanks a lot. Happy Friday happy weekend and thanks for always stopping by, you must be a GREAT multitasker!

      • oh great you broke down and got tomato plants – apparently its the carbondioxide you exhale while talking that makes them grow (or so some miserable sods claim that don’t think plants respond to being loved – personally I am not sure how the concentration of CO2 would be high enough by you just talking) , and if you stroke their little tiny leaves their resistance to nasty bugs apparently increases as they make chemicals to protect themselves 🙂

      • haha yes she said she did boeuf, of course she was copying me and you CANT take it back…..grips on to it and cries giving a “dont touch this with a bargepole” look on face

      • oh well if you want it that badly of course I wouldn’t dream of wrenching if from you, but I suspect Angie handed out a second one right – so we both got one lucky us!

  1. It is remarkable how red and fresh that meat looks! I have a heard time buying meat at the market for the very reason you’re talking about–I’m not sure where the meat came from or if the slaughtering was humane. There are two “local” ranches I will buy beef from and we have to buy it at certain markets; if we can’t find them, then no beef for us. Same goes for chicken. (This is also the reason why we eat vegetarian often, but are not vegetarians.) I had no idea there are certain types of cows specially bred for Boeuf Bourguignon. That pot of stew looks delicious and I wish I could have some of that now (for breakfast) with a side of potatoes.

    • Hello there, I thought the meat looked great too, it is the first thing I noticed when I opened the vacuum pack, other than the absence of any smell, Great that you can get your beef and chickens from trusted sources. Like you if I cannot do that then I will eat vegetarian, which on a day to day basis I prefer anyway, meat is for special occasions with guests generally. re breed of cow used for bourguignon, I had no idea that this breed was classically used for the dish either, until I found the recipe, also I have never eaten beef and known anything about the breed with the exception of Angus of course because this is always advertised on the menu and costs extra :). Breakfast, beef for breakfast with a side of potatoes. Indeed why not – perfect brunch too! Happy weekend.

  2. Thanks for the smile – first thing I saw when this post popped open were those two handsome cows!
    Such a lovely cut of beef – I imagine the flavor it provided your stew was fabulous!

  3. HI Nancy thanks so much for commenting, and smiling, the cows are handsome aren’t they, and the beef really was incredible. I don’t think it was all in my head either, but it really was very good meat.

    • Hello BBB – thanks a lot, I wasn’t sure if posting pics of raw meat was going to offend anyone, but then I felt like we need to embrace the provenance of our ingredients, I am glad you felt inspired, I made this for my dad and my partner while my mum was away, the two guys just kept on praising me. It really was a very special family evening and it had a lot to do with a wholesome, simple dinner with perfect ingredients. Until soon!

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