Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Encore français - aligot et bœuf bourguignon for #BloggersAroundTheWorld

The warm up is in the past. Now we are ready for the real thing. 
Some time ago I was invited by a friend, who actually is from France. According to him, a usual meal would consist of apéritif - not necessarily some alcohol to drink, although a pastis would work for me - then a salad or soup, followed by the main course. After that we would be ready for the cheese course and we can close with dessert, of course. Really? Maybe a calvados fits in to round everything up.
I don't need to mention, that baguette and red wine would be part of the deal as well, although the alcohol is not compulsory.
Now I would love to present you such a meal. 
Pastis - no big deal. Well, it doesn't have to be the apéritif, because we have aligot.
Many moons ago ... or month ... I read the book Encore Provence written by Peter Mayle. Maybe you have heard of him, or read something he wrote, or even saw a movie.
Whatsoever, in this very book, he mentioned something called aligot. This originates from the Latin word aliquid, that means something. The story behind it has something to do with monks, but I don't want to bore you with any more details.
This aligot contains two important things: garlic and cheese. In fact a large part in it is cheese. So ... naturellement ... I was destined to try it. In other words, the moment I read about it, I knew I would make it one day. So, apart from the garlic and the cheese you need tomatoes, sour cream or the like, salt and pepper, and patience.

To get a bit more detailed, I used the following:
400 g tinned tomatoes, chopped
250 g cheese (one that is a good melting kind)
100 g créme fraîche
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Let's do it, or at least have a try:
Before we start, just a brief note. The cheese that would be used in the original one is tome d'Aubrac, that is fresh cheese from the region where this dish comes from.
First of all cook the tomatoes. If you haven't chopped them properly, you can also puree them afterwards.
Once done, add the remaining ingredients and start stirring ... and keep stirring ... stirring ... stirring ... stirring ... stirring.
Hopefully, it will thicken at one point. However, if it gets so thick, you can't stir anymore or even get out the spoon, things went terribly wrong and according to Peter, you should have a glass of wine and start again.
However, I was on the safe side and ... lost patience ... and consequently had to be satisfied with a slightly thinner version.

That, in no way deminished the joy of this meal. To you give you a fuller picture ...

Already we feel a bit satisfied. Still, we need to think about the main course. That would be bœuf bourguignon.
In fact for that we have to go a few hours back in time, for you have to start this well in advance. At least that is what I heard. Before that day, I didn't cook it yet.
I had to enlist the aid of some cookbooks among which is the well known Mastering the Art of French cooking. I took that as a rough guide, combining it with other information I read. Anyway, I had to adjust to the amount of food I would need in the end or respectively on what I had in stock.
Here we go for the main course ...

Bœuf Bourguignon
  • Melt 50 g of butter in a pan at a medium heat.
  • Cut 100 g of bacon into stripes and fry them in the butter. 
  • After that remove them to a casserole type dish.
  • Have 500 g of beef, that is cut into about 2 cm sized chunks. Pat the meat dry with ... something.
  • Then fry the meat in the pan, so it gets colour from all sides.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 160°C.
  • Remove the meat as well and ... have a guess ... yes, put it into the casserole type dish and reduce the heat for the pan
  • Now you have two medium sized onions ready, which you more or less have chopped finely ... as fine as you like.
  • Soften the onions in the pan.
  • While that happens add a few tbs of flour to the casserole type dish to coat the meat and then put the dish into the oven for about ten minutes.
  • Get the dish out and repeat the flour thingy.
  • By now your onions should be ready. You can turn of the heat for the pan.
  • The onions go the well known casserole type dish. Together with the onions you add a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme, a bay leaf and two peeled and crushed cloves of garlic.
  • Now we top that up with 300 ml of red wine and 300 ml of beef stock.
  • Now cover your casserole type dish and put it into the oven for about three hours until the meat is really tender.
  • Just before that time is over you could prepare some potatoes to eat together with your bœuf bourguignon.

  • When you think your meat is ready ... it is not. Remove the cover from your dish and keep it for another 30 minutes in the oven.
  • Then you are ready to plate up and eat the main course.

I hope you enjoy it! I did! It was very delicious. That would bring us then to our next course ...
If you feel you already had enough cheese at the beginning, this must be an illusion. For sure there is a little bit room for some Camembert, brie or another cheese ... Why not!
What's for pudding?
Well, I felt like I should have a chocolate souffle or some crêpes, but honestly? Yes, I didn't feel like preparing them or even eating some more food. I already had quite some share from the bœuf bourguignon. So I have to do a chocolate souffle at some other time.
Still, I hope you enjoyed this small (?) French meal for Bloggers Around the World.

If you haven't done so already, why not join us on this food trip around the world ...


  1. Oh god, this is making me so hungry. Damn all I have is a cup a soup!

  2. Nothing beats a good boeuf bourguignon - absolutely delicious!
    Thanks for introducing me to aligot :-)

  3. Formidable ! You can't beat a Bourguignon. The aligot is fascinating - I've never come across it in this form before. The versions that I've had before have been based on mashed potatoes with the cheese and garlic.

    1. I just talked to my France expert today. He also knows aligot only with mashed potatoes. Anyway, that way it tasted nice. Maybe I have to try the potato version as well.

  4. Wow Chris you've really outdone yourself this time!!! This looks fantastic, reminds me of Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon! So delicious. I long to be in France again eating all the foods you described...and the wine of course! The 'Aligot' looks really nice....must try!

    1. Thank you! Well, if you are a cheese lover, then you have to try aligot. Already for cheese it would be lovely to be in France again.

  5. I LOVE Boeuf Bourguignon, but never get the time to make it. It's so worth the time it takes, though..and yours looks beautiful and succulent!

    1. The good thing is, once the food is in the oven, you have plenty of time to do other nice things.


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