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Yesterday I made Boeuf Bourguignonne based on a Delia Smith recipe (Delia’s complete cookery course – a wonderful recipe book). My adaptation is shown below. Trouble is I had no Burgundy to hand. I pondered on what would work, and settled on a Merlot. I thought that a local Pinot Noir might be too light (and a bit pricey to cook with), and Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz too heavy.

Even if I say so myself, it was absolutely delicious and well suited to the chilly weather we are experiencing.

I settled on a budget Merlot – I am not in the league of those who can select the very best from their rack and throw it into a pot with gay abandon. I therefore chose a Merlot made by Phambili wines. There was a glass left in the bottle which I felt compelled to sample and I found it to be very pleasant.

I have heard it said that you should cook with the same wine that will accompany the meal, so we settled on Merlot and it worked very well. The fruitiness and softness of the Merlot was not overwhelmed by the smokiness of the casserole. I suspect Shiraz may have worked too – I will have to try it and see.

I would almost say it was one of the best casseroles I have ever made, and easy too, as most of the cooking takes place in the oven with no intervention required. In fact I took a small nap during the first phase of the cooking.

Boeuf Bourguignonne

1 kg beef steak cut into 5 cm cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion – sliced
1 heaped tablespoon flour
450 ml Burgundy (or next best thing)
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves
15 pickling onions, peeled
250g smoked streaky bacon cut into cubes (not ordinary bacon but the very thick, chunky kind)
250g large mushrooms, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 140C
Heat two thirds of the oil
Sear the beef in batches and set to one side
Brown the sliced onion in the same pot
Return the meat to the pot and stir in the flour
Gradually pour in the wine and stir whilst doing so
Add the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper
Put on the lid and place in the oven for 2 hours
Using the remainder of the oil, fry the pickling onions and bacon cubes until lightly brown
Add the onions, bacon and sliced mushrooms to the casserole, cover and cook in the oven for a further hour.

Serve with boulangère potatoes and the same style of wine that you cooked with.