Michael's Boeuf a la Bourguignonne


Renowned chef Michael Caines lived in Burgundy for about a year when he was working at the famous La Cote d'Or Restaurant under the great chef Bernard Loiseau. He loved his time there, spent his leisure hours cycling with other members of the Cote d'Or team through the gentle vine-covered hills of Burgundy. What he loved most of all, was honing his craft, learning about classic French haute cuisine and the great wines of France at the source. That knowledge and passion is evident in the innovative and exciting cuisine that he prepares at Gidleigh Park, as well as in this refined version of a regional classic.
Says Michael, "When I was 17, I took my first job as a commis chef at the Imperial Hotel, Exeter. The Restaurant Manager was Nello, and from the stories that he told of his time in London at the Connaught Hotel, my mind began to fill with the dream of one day being a talented chef.
Much has happened since our first encounter, and I am happy that now my once dreams have become a reality. But some things don't change: Nello, then as now, was always looking for the next challenge. So when Nello and Marc asked me to join them for a Ride for Life gastronomic evening, I was delighted to accept.
Marc and Nello, like me, have a passion for food, a passion that can be seen in the way that Marc writes and in Nello's cooking. When we get together (usually around the table at Nello's), we could talk all night about food and wine, exchanging knowledge and ideas.
During my time in France, I spent over a year in Burgundy. In Burgundy, the people have lived with the traditions of great food and wine for centuries. There I learned to respect above all the product and fine, genuine local produce, as well as the techniques necessary to cook well. So it is a dish from this region that I have chosen for Ride for Life as it reflects many things that make a dish great. In so doing, I have kept the character of the traditional dish and made it in a way that becomes much more than just a stew, giving you the chance to present a truly special and flavourful dish in its full glory.

Serves about 6

1 kg (2 1/4 lb) braising steak, cut into 3/4" cubes

1 lb broccoli

1 bottle of Burgundy or other Pinot Noir wine

125 g. (4 oz) shallots, sliced

450 g (1 lb) button mushrooms, sliced

A generous glassful of port

300 ml (1/2 pint) whipping cream

2 tablespoons of flour

1/2 litre (3/4 pint) chicken or brown stock

3 sprigs of fresh tarragon

5 black peppercorns

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter

groundnut or vegetable oil


250 g (1/2 lb) baby onions, plunged into boiling water and peeled

250 g (1/2 lb) small button mushrooms

250 g (1/2 lb) smoked bacon, cut into small cubes and blanched in boiling water


In a frying pan, heat a little oil. When the oil is very hot, add the butter and then the pieces of meat to colour well. If you have a small pan, then do this in two or three stages. Once the meat has coloured, remove from the pan and place into a large saucepan.

In the same frying pan, add the shallots and sweat them for 2 minutes (but do not allow to colour). Add the mushrooms and sweat for a further 3 minutes, until they are slippery in texture. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Now add the wine and port, scrape the bottom of the frying pan to deglaze, then pour into the saucepan with the browned meat. Reduce the wine slowly by half.

Next add the chicken stock, tarragon, black peppercorns, cream and thyme, and season with a little salt. Bring to the boil, and reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 hours. If the sauce becomes too thick during cooking, then thin down with water. Once the meat is cooked, use a slotted spoon to take out the meat. Bring the sauce to the boil, skim, and reduce to a consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Adjust the seasoning, and add the meat back to the sauce.

For the garnish, cook the button onions in water, butter and a pinch of sugar. Let the water reduce complete to glaze the onions. Lightly fry the blanched bacon and drain from its fat. Finally, fry the button mushrooms in butter.

Now add the garnish to the beef and leave to stew through together before serving. The dish can be garnished with some carrot batons and green beans to make a complete main course.

Wine Note:

Naturally, Michael's boeuf a la bourguignonne cries out for a really great bottle of Burgundy to accompany it, a classic Pinot Noir at its silkiest and classiest. However, for our Ride for Life evening, I chose instead to match this great regional dish with a Tuscan classic, Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva. The elegant and restrained fruit of the Sangiovese married excellently with the dish without overpowering it. MM

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