Beef bourguignon

The first time I ate beef bourguignon was when I was in Paris – mind you, this was so many years ago that I barely remember what it tasted like. This was also way before I started my love affair with cooking and baking. What I do remember though, was that it managed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which is always a plus when it’s cold and gloomy outside.

This dish truly is very simple, and although it may seem like it takes quite a while to cook, you don’t actually need to do very much as you can just leave it to simmer on the stove. Very different from a dish like risotto where you would have to constantly stir it every 2-3 minutes. What more could one want on a cold and gloomy winter’s day?

I love eating this with a dollop (okay not a dollop, more like a huge mound) of mashed potatoes or polenta, as I personally feel they complement each other really really well. I favour polenta over mash, as polenta is much easier to whip up and requires less washing up. Always a winner when it’s been a long day at work – in my books anyway!

Another plus is that this dish can actually be turned into a vegetarian dish – simply by omitting the beef, and replacing it with more mushrooms. I’ve cooked both the mushroom and beef versions countless times, and I honestly can’t choose between the two.

Beef bourguignon
Please note: I know this may not be the most traditional (or correct) way to cook this, but it works well for me.
  • 500g stewing beef
  • 100g pancetta cubes
  • 4 carrots, diced (I use a lot as I love carrots)
  • 6 shallots, quartered
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms (use them whole)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 600-700ml beef stock (I use stock cubes)
  • 350ml red wine
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from the stems
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from the stem
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a pan/pot over medium high heat, and brown the beef on each side (usually takes 3-5 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.
2. In the same pan, cook the pancetta cubes until they start to release their oils. Add the quartered shallots, diced carrots, mushrooms and tomato puree to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes until everything is nicely browned.
3. Return the beef to the pan, and stir to combine.
4. Add the red wine, beef stock and herbs to the pan, and bring to the boil.
5. Turn down the heat, and simmer over medium heat for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can slow cook it in a 150°C oven.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with your choice of polenta or mashed potatoes. Or maybe even some pasta!

For the polenta:
Use a 1 part polenta: 4 parts water* ratio. Put polenta into a pan (over medium high heat), add the water and bring to the boil, stirring constantly the whole time. Be forewarned that the polenta will bubble madly, which is why you need to stir it whilst it cooks. The consistency you are aiming for is that of mashed potatoes.Season with salt and pepper. I also season it with garlic olive oil to add some extra flavour.

*I sometimes use an equal mix of water and milk to cook this as I find it makes the polenta creamier.


Teriyaki salmon with polenta

There are days when I get back from work feeling so tired that all I really want is a quick and easy meal for dinner. To me, this is something that can be ready in around 30 minutes. This is one of things I turn to on those days, as it is simple and requires hardly any prep whatsoever.

Polenta is an ingredient I discovered a year ago, and I fell in love with it the first time I tried it. Polenta is basically cornmeal, which means corn ground into a fine powder. It has a amazingly deep and rich yellow colour, which may account for my affection for it. 😛 Polenta can be used in both sweet or savoury dishes – my favourite way to use it is as a substitute for mash potatoes. It’s much less tedious compared to mash, as it only takes about 5 minutes to cook. It’s also healthier than mash (as there is less butter involved).

I know it may seem strange to pair a seemingly Asian dish with polenta, but I think it works well together. Definitely agrees with my tastebuds anyway!

Teriyaki salmon with polenta

  • 4 salmon fillets (skinless or skin on is fine)
  • Kikkoman teriyaki marinade (thick)
  • 4 bunches pak choi (a Chinese leafy vegetable), washed and separated
  • Oyster sauce
  • Shaoxing cooking rice wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • Polenta
  • Boiling water
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • Garlic infused olive oil (optional)
  • Chicken stock granules (optional)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  1. Pour a liberal amount  of teriyaki marinade on the salmon fillets. (Liberal =  just make sure it covers most of the salmon). Leave for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, start cooking the polenta. Again, I’m completely useless when it comes to measurements, and I just eyeball this. More specifically, I pour the polenta in a pot, and add boiling hot water as I see fit…. I have however, heard that it’s roughly 4 parts water to 1 part polenta. A handy tip is that most polenta packages give clear instructions on how it should be cooked.
  3. I usually add butter to the polenta, along with a sprinkling of chicken stock granules. I also sometimes add a splash of garlic infused olive oil to the polenta.
  4. Heat oil in a pan over high heat. Cook the salmon fillets in the pan, roughly 2-3 minutes on each side. Take care not to overcook the salmon, it is ready when the fish has a nice “bounce” to it when touched with a finger.
  5. Whilst waiting for the salmon to cook, fry the chopped garlic with some olive oil. Add the pak choi leaves to the pan, followed by the oyster sauce and Shaoxing rice wine.
  6. Serve: place polenta on a plate, top with the pak choi and salmon. Add black pepper to taste, and the dish is ready to be eaten!