Bargeman’s Stew Is A French Classic And One Of The Best Meals You’ll Ever Eat

bargemans stew recipe

A few weeks ago I posted up a photo series on Death row meals. A comment came in about the morbidness of the subject and why anyone would think about their last dinner on earth, their last moment with food. The comment brought to mind my family’s obsession with food and our endless discussions about our last meal, our ‘hangman’s dinner’. It’s a common theme in our house, food that is, not death, and I began thinking about mine. I haven’t thought about it in a long time. My favourite dinner on earth. Big question. Easy answer. What is the most comforting, delicious, mouthwatering stew in existence? Bargeman’s stew of course.

Passed down from my grandmother this recipe is a French classic – I believe it’s Norman but I’m open to correction – and is really simple to make – its basically meat cooked in onions over a long period of time with some anchovies, red wine and a vinaigrette thrown in for good measure. It’s served best with a simple salad or a lovely buttery mash. Or both. If you’re vegetarian there’s no point. This is not for you. This is strictly a carnivorous dish.

So here goes. Let me know what you think.

1kg round steak cut into little steaks each weighing about 100g
500g onions peeled and sliced very thinly
1 generous glass wine (optional)
1 generous tablespoon flour
30g butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
60ml vinaigrette (Dijon mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper)
6 anchovy fillets chopped

Preheat the oven to 140C°
Place the onions and steak in layers in an ovenproof casserole dish finishing with a layer of onions. Season as you go with salt and pepper. Put the flour into a bowl with the butter and work the two together with your fingers. Divide the mixture into small balls and place them on top, and around the sides, of the onion and beef (this is to thicken the sauce during cooking).

Pour in the wine, if using. Cover the casserole dish with foil before placing on the lid and allow to cook in the oven for about 3½ hours, checking every hour or so to make sure the meat is not sticking to the bottom of the dish. Remove from oven, stir in the chopped anchovy fillets and vinaigrette and return to the oven to cook for a further 30 minutes.

You’re going to love this. I promise. Try it. Tell me all about it.