Apologies to all my French friends, I have taken one of your most well-celebrated dishes and single-handedly destroyed it.
After settling into my new apartment in the Georgian Quarter, I couldn’t wait to invite friends over and play hostess. So I invited one of my Tier Ones (friends are categorised into hierarchical tiers of importance) and her boyfriend over for dinner.
Beef Bourguignon is a traditional French recipe which started as a popular peasant recipe in Burgundy. Basically, it’s a meat plus veg casserole, but to add a little French je ne sais quoi it’s doused in a nice bottle or two of vin rouge and slow cooked for hours. It’s one of my favourites and seemed simple enough considering I was planning on operating kitchen equipment (the new slow cooker) unsupervised.
So, with several hours until the guests arrive I get my chef’s hat on. This is not a figure of speech. Forget furniture, bed linen and other really necessary things for a new home, I went straight on to Amazon and bought myself a giant chef’s hat. Quite an ironic purchase for a novice in the kitchen who has been known to set their dressing gown on fire whilst making beans on toast.
Hat on head I wake up Jamie Oliver for some advice. I seasoned and seared the beef and it quickly started to fill the kitchen with heavenly smells of cooked cow. Shallots, bacon, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, thyme all lashed into the pan with a dash of tomato puree and some plain flour. All seemed to be going très bien, and if I’m honest I did start nodding my head quite cockily and Ooh La La-ing to myself. Cow back in pan, I doused the lot in two lovely bottles of Pinot Noir and saved a small glass to toast myself on my culinary successes.
The very last ingredient on the list was “zest of one orange”. Now to the experienced chef, or perhaps just somebody with more than half a brain cell, this means grate a tiny bit of orange zest into the mix. What it doesn’t mean, is peel an entire Satsuma and plonk the peel into the pot. But I wasn’t told this vital piece of information until later, so off I go stirring it all in, thoroughly, pausing only for chef selfies and sips of PN.
Who has hidden the slow cooker?
I searched high and low but it was nowhere to be found. Jamie, what the hell do I do? “Fear not”, he says (in my head) “it can be cooked in the oven”. Excellent. So, I place it all into a large casserole dish and turn the oven on to the only setting I know – FULL HEAT. I de-chef and off I go on my merry way, tidying up and making myself presentable before the guests arrive.
Tier One plus one are seated with wine in hand and off I prance off to the kitchen to fetch their feast. I opened the oven door to reveal what can only be described as a Beouf Bourguinon graveyard. The entire dish was jet black. It kind of resembled rocks at the sea shore just after an oil spillage.
Boeuf Bourguinon? Just NON. After three hours burning away in 200 degrees heat covered in potent satsuma peel, this was now what I could only possibly referred to as Cremated Boeuf à L’Orange.