Beef Bourguignon

This is comfort food supreme and a very forgiving recipe. Don’t stress about quantities, or the quality of ingredients. Cheaper meat cuts are rich in flavour, and become melt in the mouth tender with slow cooking.

If you’re not cheating with pre-chopped frozen onions, it’s a good idea to keep the onion root end intact to enhance flavour.

Warm brandy flares up easily, by the way. Drizzle it gradually over the meat and shake the pan until the flames die down.

You’ll find the flavour improves when the dish is heated up a second time. You could include a few sliced carrots and still be authentic. The French serve it simply with rice or steamed potatoes. I like to add a touch of green (beans or zucchini) to the table as well. The secret’s in the long, slow cooking. Perfect for a cold winter’s night.

1.5kg (3lb) gravy beef
2 tblsps olive oil
60g (2oz) butter
4oz diced pork or bacon
18 baby onions (peeled)
three quarters cup brandy
1 tblsp flour
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
bouquet garni and 4 garlic cloves
250 g button mushrooms
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the beef into 2 inch cubes and roll them in the flour. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy pan (or even an electric fry pan) and brown the diced pork. Remove pork, then brown the onions. Place on one side with pork.

Brown the beef. Warm the brandy, set alight and pour over the beef.

Add the red wine. Allow to cook for a minute then add stock, mushrooms, onions, diced pork and bouquet garni.

Add salt and pepper and place mixture in casserole dish to

Cook at low temperature (around 160 degrees) in the oven for three to three and a half hours. Remove the bouquet garni and voila!

Serves 6-8

Making the Most of a Chicken

One extra-large chicken can go a long way. Here’s how to create 14 serves from one jumbo sized supermarket bird.

Day One: Family Roast. Rub 4 tbs olive oil smeared over bird, season, and cook in the oven at 180 degrees for two hours.

After the first hour, add heaps of vegetables to the roast, such as pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

One of my favourites is red-skinned potatoes with peeled garlic cloves, sliced red onions and fresh rosemary, smothered in olive oil, seasoned, and cooked till golden.

Serve the chicken with an embarrassment of steamed vegetables, including broccoli, carrots and corn. The goal is for guests to leave plenty behind, so it can be added the next day’s meal.

When dinner’s over, pour leftover fat into a container, and refrigerate. Remove all remaining flesh from the chicken carcass (carefully avoiding bones) to store in a bowl, along with all leftover vegetables, in the fridge overnight.

Place the chicken bones in a large pot, covering them with water leftover from steaming the vegetables, and topped up with hot water. Add seasoning, including Italian dried herbs, and boil for two hours.

Day Two:
These delicious pies contain four servings each. They freeze well. A blob of tomato relish goes brilliantly with them.

Chicken Leek Pies

1 tablespoon olive oil and 20g butter (or cooking fat from previous night)
Leftover chicken meat and vegetables
2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
Frozen chopped onions (equivalent to one onion)
2 cloves garlic
Fresh thyme
1 Punnet mushrooms (optional)
Tablespoon cream (optional)
Corn kernels, frozen peas (for added colour)
1 cup chicken stock
3 sheets frozen ready rolled pastry (excellent gluten free options are available in some
supermarkets)
1 egg, lightly beaten.
Preheat oven to 180 (fan forced)

Heat fat in deep frying pan over medium-high heat

Add onion, garlic, leeks, thyme, and mushrooms. Cook until leeks have softened.

Add chicken and other vegetables, then cover in stock.

Bring to boil. If mixture needs thickening, add a tsp cornflour dissolved in small amount of stock.

Place mixture in two (or three small) pie dishes. Cover with pastry. Press down the edges to seal, then brush the pastry with beaten egg.

Bake 20-25 mins, or until golden brown.

PS If you haven’t cooked a roast the night before, a large tray of chicken breasts, sliced and fried in the pan (before adding leeks and onion) does just as well.

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