This week Celebrity Chef & Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala shares a recipe with special memories, perfect for a chilly winters evening.
OF course I shall never forget my first Chef/ Patron job of a charming restaurant called The White Hart in Gt Yeldham, North Essex.
It was 1981 (does that make me old?) I hadn’t turned 20 yet when I was asked to run this beautiful old coaching Inn dating back to the1500s. When I saw it for the first time, my heart missed a beat, it was beautiful! It sits proudly just off the A604 on the road to Haverhill.
Its Tudor façade is striking and as you drive over a little bridge, there it is standing alone and loaded with history. I was taken aback by the immaculate landscaped gardens bordered by the River Colne, which flooded in the winter months!
There are huge inglenook fireplaces in every room and the aroma of burning wood and the charm of the old beams literally everywhere, it was and still is a breathtaking building.
I wrote my first ever menu there and on it I had dishes like, crispy duck salad (now famous as Princess Diana’s favourite) whole roasted duck for two, Lamb Navarin, Beef Wellington and Beef bourguignon with buttery mash.
I used to set light to the duck and present it flaming to the guests and then carve it at the table. It was quite modern to have the chef patron being seen by everyone and serving in the restaurant not just stuck in the kitchen.
I was and still am a bit of a showman and I love the entertainment side of the business and even to this day I come out of the kitchen and chat to everyone at the end of every evening service.
The menu was printed and ready to launch and with anxiety and excitement the menus went over to my customers. I peeked through the kitchen door at what I will always remember to be my first ever clients.
In the bar that evening I could see (and hear!) the Yeldham family. I had heard about them but not yet met them. They were the farming royalty around here and can be discerning, I was told!
A short while after, we all became great friends and I shared many fond memories with both Ian and Karen Yeldham and still keep in touch via Instagram and Facebook.
Back in the restaurant, this couple had just ordered and on the order was my beef bourguignon. My mother used to cook me this classic dish.
She had French roots so knew how to make a stew delicious! I can still taste the rich sauce made with gallons of red wine, coupled with the smoky flavour of the bacon when she first made it for me.
After the clients were served the bourguignon I enquired about them and whether they were enjoying their meal. The waitress shrugged her shoulders and said, “I am not sure, they keep moving the food around the plate a lot!” So I put on a tall chef’s hat and went over to table five to see them. Crossing my fingers and toes I asked ”Is everything OK with your bourguignon?”
The lady turned and looked at me and said in an American accent, “honey it’s not the bourguignon it’s the last 24 years of marriage!” I often wonder if they stayed together!
At the Little Geranium, I serve a miniature saucepan of this delicious bourguignon along side a mini Beef Wellington filled with truffles and wild mushrooms. It is the most divine combination!
Steven Saunders’s opinions are his own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.
Beautiful Beef Bourguignon
Ingredients for four
- 1 kilo of stewing beef cut into 3cm pieces
- 1 onion roughly cut
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 bottle of decent red wine
- I bay leaf
For Cooking the Bourguignon
- 3 tablespoons of plain flour
- 1 stick celery chopped into 1cm pieces
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 100ml of brandy
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 300ml of good beef stock
- Olive oil and 20g butter
- Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
To Finish Dish
- 12 baby onions the size of a small olive
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
- 200g smoked bacon lardons
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped for finish
- 250g of button mushrooms, quartered
- 1 glass of good red wine
- 1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar to finish
- Put a large pan on a medium heat and add the red wine, onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Bring to the boil then immediately reduce the heat and simmer. Allow to cool then put the marinade in a bowl and put in the fridge until it is cold.
- When the marinade is cold, add the diced beef to the bowl stir well and cover. Place in the fridge to marinate overnight.
- The next day, remove the meat from the marinade with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Strain the marinade into a clean bowl or jug and discard the onion, garlic and herbs, reserve the liquid (wine).
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
- Roll the beef in the flour with some salt and black pepper, a few pieces at a time so that they are all dusted completely.
- Put a large frying pan on a high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When hot, add the beef cubes about six pieces at a time and seal all over. Repeat in batches and then tip them into your large casserole pan when sealed.
- Add a little more oil to the pan and then add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and fry over a low heat until soft. Add this to the casserole pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan and any crispy bits to the casserole pan also.
- Put the casserole pan on a medium heat, add the wine from the marinade, the brandy and the beef stock. Stir in the tomato purée and add the thyme and bay leaf. Simmer for a few minutes to get it started and cover and now put the casserole in the preheated oven for two hours.
- 45 minutes before the casserole is ready put a frying pan on the heat and add a little olive oil. Fry the bacon lardons until crisp and set aside on tissue on a plate.
- Now fry the baby onions until coloured and add the mushrooms and the carrots and the celery cook until gently coloured for about one minute. Remove the casserole from the oven and then add all this to the casserole with the bacon lardons and the glass of best red wine.
- Return the casserole to the oven for the last 35-45 minutes to allow all the flavours to come together and for the meat to finish cooking.
- Remove from the oven and taste the sauce. Add a little honey and stir in.
- Serve immediately or cool first then keep in fridge until needed and it will freeze very well
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with creamy mashed potato.
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The Little Geranium, Winner of Best Contemporary International Restaurant 2019
Costa Del Sol – www.thelittlegeranium.com