Anyone who says that a low carb diet is difficult to follow is obviously not doing it properly! Take this dish for example… Generous chunks of 30-day matured beef, sautéed in butter then slowly simmered in red wine with garlic, mushrooms and herbs. Few things could be more delicious or more appetising! There’s a reason that this dish has been so universally celebrated for so long… quite simply, it’s perfection itself!
Because it’s very low in carbs, this dish is ideal for diabetics and ketogenic-dieters alike. You never know, paleo-fans or gluten-intolerants may want to give it a go too. The more the merrier!
The name bouguignon takes its roots from the French red wine of Burgundy, where the dish originates. The wine is soft, velvety smooth and rich in flavour (most definitely my favourite!). Without this, purists would argue that it can’t be called a bourguignon. In all honesty however, any good French red will yield equally pleasing results; they’ll just lack the authenticity and a bit of the smoothness of the original.
Don’t be put off by thinking this may be too complicated. The dish itself couldn’t be simpler. All you need is good quality ingredients and a reliable heavy-based casserole. When people refer to French cookery, they don’t mean a list of complex ingredients or fiddly, time-consuming recipes. They’re actually referencing a way of cooking. French cuisine is a methodology; a time-honoured discipline, designed to bring the best out of ingredients. When the French refer to the ‘art of cookery’; art in French means type or style. The ‘French-style’ requires the mastery of a few basic techniques which, once learnt; will deliver consistently outstanding results.
One of these competencies is the classic French method of cooking meat. There’s a stately ritualism to this process, which is almost comforting in its cadences. The succulent sealing-in & caramelisation of the meat is followed by the slow softening of shallots & garlic; then deglazing the pan with a magnificent whooshing ‘sigh’, as wine hits the thirsty metal-surface of the pan. As the kitchen fills with the delicious aroma of melting butter, fresh herbs and pan-seared meats, you’ll begin to feel like an alchemist creating pure gold from the very simplest of ingredients. It’s truly an art worth learning!
Start by sealing your beef. This must be room temperature and dry to the touch. Heat a metal-lined sauté-pan on the hob (non-stick doesn’t deglaze with pleasing results) and throw in a knob of salted butter followed by a dash of oil. The sizzle should be a rewarding sensation in itself, as should the aroma.
Add your beef to the pan and seal on each side until it’s golden brown and deliciously caramelised. You must excuse me for constantly repeating myself, but it needs to be said…! Do not fuss around with the meat in the pan or move it until it’s good and ready. No-one likes to be mothered; why do it to your dinner?! When the beef is ready to be turned, it will release itself of its own accord in response to the merest touch with finger or wooden-spoon. If it sticks, it’s not ready. We want the meat to caramelise and brown; not steam! And do not crowd it in the pan or the same will happen!
Once the meat is beautifully golden on each side, lift out of the pan and tip in sliced shallots & chopped garlic. Soften these until translucent and just starting to brown, then add sliced mushrooms and simmer these until coloured. Once done, crank up the heat as high as you can. This is not some obscure act of retribution, you simply want the pan to be as hot as possible for when you pour in the wine. That way, you’ll deglaze with the maximum effectiveness, lifting all the caramelised flavours straight off the bottom of the pan.
Once it’s good and hot pour in a large glass full of red wine, making sure to stand over the pan and enjoy the cloud of sweet, alcoholic steam which billows beautifully out into the kitchen! Once the liquid has all but evaporated, place your beef back into the pan and pour in a enough beef stock (or water and stock cubes) to ensure that the meat is just submerged. Dissolve a small teaspoon of Dijon mustard into the pan and add a bay-leaf or two for warmth. Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in a good handful of chopped parsley, place the lid onto the pan and put the casserole into a medium oven for 1-2 hours (the slower the better!).
In the last hour of cooking, prepare your celeriac. Peel ‘the big ugly’ and dice into 1cm chunks. Add a spoonful of butter to a broad pan and sauté the celeriac for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Finely slice an onion and a clove of garlic then add these to the pan and cook for a couple more minutes until the onion starts to soften. At this point, pour in chicken stock (or water and some stock cubes) until the liquid just covers the vegetables. Season well and simmer for circa 40 minutes more until the liquid had reduced and the celeriac starts to break down when pressed with a wooden spoon. If you like, you can add a handful of grated cheese. Cheddar, emmental or gruyere would be perfect. Take the pan off the heat and garnish with a sprinkle of herbs.
Remove the casserole from the oven and place onto the hob on a very low heat. In a mixing bowl, add one small teaspoon of cornflour and whisk in enough water to form a thin ‘pourable’ paste. Make sure to whisk sufficiently to avoid any lumps. These will ruin the sauce and be unpleasant to eat. You may wonder at the addition of flour for a low carb diet. Cornflour is an incredibly potent thickener. The amount you’re using will provide only a tiny quantity of carbs, circa 5-10g for the whole dish. Per portion it will only be a couple of grammes! If you’d rather leave it out, I’d quite understand, but as everything else is very low in carbohydrate, I don’t see this small sacrifice as a problem – the results will be worth it! Stir the cornflour paste into the beef and simmer for a minute or two until the sauce thickens.
All that remains is to ladle the bourguignon into bowls and spoon on your celeriac mix. Few dishes could be more luxurious and resplendently rich than this one. Be sure to enjoy every last mouthful. We certainly did!
Browse this and other recipes by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.
Thanks for reading and bon ap!