Wine-Soaked Winter Stew

Photo-Beef BourguignonneWhen the temperature dips there is nothing more satisfying than a hot, hearty stew. Stew in it’s infinite variations has long been a favourite among people who live north of 40. Every cold climate culture has their national preference. The Irish have their stew- thick with mutton and potato. Hungarians prefer goulash- rich, seasoned and meaty and the French- oh the French! Their stew ranks right up there with chocolate ganache and brioche!

Beef Bourguignonne hails from the Burgundy region of France. A place that wine columnist and Brandon-based Sommelier Kate Wagner Zeke assures me is one of the most formidable vino hot spots in the world. “[Burgundy] wines are described as having red berry (strawberry, raspberry), mushroom, earthy and “barnyard-like” aromas and flavours,” she says. “They posses beautiful depth and a silky sensual quality. Undoubtedly, Burgundy is the best place in the world for Pinot Noir.” Dishes created à la Bourguignonne always feature the famous wines of the region as well as mushrooms, onions and bacon. Add to these beef, herbs and stock and you’ve got a stew that goes far beyond the ordinary. It is earthy, rich and so steeped in flavours its difficult to put your finger on exactly what makes this dish so delish.

3.5 lbs stewing beef, cubed
1/2 pkg bacon, chopped and seasoned with salt and pepper
3 Tbsp butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 c. button mushrooms, quartered
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp flour
3 c. red wine, Kate recommends a good-quality entry-level red Burgundy
1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
2 1/2 c. beef stock
salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy pot, cook the bacon. Once cooked, remove from heat. Sear the beef in the remaining bacon fat, turning every few minutes until it is browned along the sides. Remove beef from the pot and sauté mushrooms until golden in the remaining fat. Remove the mushrooms from the pot and melt in the butter. Sauté the onions, carrots and garlic for about 4 minutes, then sprinkle in the flour, stir and continue to cook for another two minutes. Add wine, herbs, tomato paste. Bring to a boil and scrape the flavourful brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Return beef and bacon to the pot and pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for three hours (or on low in the crock pot for eight). Add the mushrooms and cook another 30 minutes. Kate recommends serving this dish with a 2010 Nicolas Potel Monthelie (available at MLCC) as it is good quality and representative of the wines of this area.

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