Raymond Blanc’s recipe for Braised Beef in Red Wine from The Real Food Cookbook
At my restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, we grow as much of our own vegetables, salad leaves and fruit as we can, and we try hard to source as much of our produce locally as possible. As our name states, we are totally seasonal in our menus, and we take our ethical responsibilities seriously – we know our suppliers, and we know how they grow and raise the food we buy from them.
As a child my family was not well off, but even in post-war France we ate beautifully, because we were completely connected to our bit of earth. Maman Blanc’s vegetable garden provided a constant supply of fresh green vegetables, tomatoes and salad things in their seasons, and preserved vegetables in the cold months. Neighbouring farms supplied wonderful big chickens, we kept our own rabbits, and there were brown trout in the nearby streams. Like all red meat, beef was more of a treat. It had to be bought from the butcher, but it was honest, grass-fed beef that had never been near a feedlot. Saturday lunch was always beefsteak with chips made from our own potatoes and vegetables from the garden.
“I try hard to reconnect what I put on my guests’ tables with the land”
My home town was only 30 miles from Burgundy and my recipe for Braised Beef in Red Wine with Jabugo Ham is really a refinement of the classic boeuf bourguignon. Now that you can buy ox cheek at some supermarkets, you can make this dish using this wonderful moist cut, or indeed other economical cuts such as shin or blade. Blade of beef has an excellent flavour and there is no waste.
This hearty dish will do very well with a wonderful robust red wine, such as a shiraz, pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon, rather than a red burgundy. Real burgundy is far too expensive for this dish, and the flavour is actually improved by using a more full-bodied red. In any case, the real trick is to boil the wine for five minutes to evaporate the alcohol before marinating the beef in it. On the other hand,to accompany this dish, any great quality red burgundy will celebrate this dish very well.
Braised Beef in Red Wine with Jabugo Ham
“The tiny village of Jabugo lies in the heart of the Spanish Sierra de Aracena. Clean air and a perfect climate mean that this area produces the best cured ham in the world. The authentic hams of Jabugo are cured for between 18 and 30 months and have a delicious grey-yellow fat with a soft, melting consistency.”
Cooking time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes (with 24 hours marinating time)
1.2kg/2lb 10oz ox cheek, shin or blade, trimmed of sinew, cut into 2cm/¾in steaks
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp clarified butter
300ml/10½fl oz/1 cup plus
3 tbsp water
sea salt and freshly ground
For the Marinade
750ml/26fl oz/3 cups full bodied red wine, such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon
2 carrots, cut into 2cm/¾in slices
1 celery stick, cut into 1cm/1/2in slices
2 baby onions, quartered, root left on
6 garlic cloves
8 whole peppercorns
1 bouquet garni (a few parsley stalks, 4 bay leaves, 6 sprigs of thyme, tied together)
For the Garnish
1 tbsp unsalted butter
320g/11¼oz button mushrooms, wiped and trimmed
100g/3 1/2 oz Jabugo ham, finely sliced
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. To make the marinade, first boil the red wine in a saucepan for 5 minutes to remove the alcohol. Then allow to cool. Pour into a large dish containing the carrots, celery, baby onions, garlic, peppercorns and bouquet garni. Add the beef and cover with clingfilm. Put in the fridge and leave to marinate for 24 hours.
2. Put the beef mixture in a colander over a bowl to drain. Leave for at least 1 hour. Separate the beef, vegetables and herbs and pat dry with kitchen paper. Reserve the marinade.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Spread the flour on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8–10 minutes, until pale brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 110°C/225°F/Gas.
4. Season the beef with 4 pinches of salt. Heat the clarified butter in a heavy-based casserole on a high heat, and colour the beef in it for 5–7 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate. Add the vegetables and herbs to the casserole. Lower the heat to medium high and cook for 5 minutes until lightly coloured.
5. Spoon out the fat; add the toasted flour to the casserole and stir for a few seconds. Then add the wine from the marinade little by little, whisking constantly to incorporate it into the flour. The sauce should be smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the beef pieces, bring the sauce to the boil and skim. Cover and cook in the preheated oven for 3 hours, adding water if the meat seems to be drying out.
6. Place a colander over a large saucepan and drain the beef and vegetables through it. Put the saucepan on the heat and boil until the sauce has reduced by half. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Put the beef pieces back into the sauce.
7. Over a high heat in a non-stick frying pan, heat the butter and cook the mushrooms until lightly caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the Jabugo ham and mushrooms into the beef, sprinkle with the parsley and serve piping hot.
Giorgio Locatelli says that British produce is something to be proud of – read his article from the Real Food Cookbook and be inspired!