This is the paradigmatic French bistro dish. Although it suggests something complicated, in reality it is very simple to make. It can be prepared in advance and keeps well (if not better) overnight. There are as many recipes as there are bistros in France: mine keeps it classic, but I omit using the traditional baby onions and cook the mushrooms separately so they retain their texture.

Ingredients (serves 4)

800g stewing beef (ideally chuck steak), cut into large pieces

4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, sliced into strips

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

4 carrots, cut into batons

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

2 tsp sugar

1 bottle of red wine Bouquet garni

(2 bay leaves and a bunch of thyme sprigs)

400g chestnut mushrooms, quartered


Parsley (optional garnish)


Get a large stewing pot on a high heat, add a bit of oil and add the beef. Allow it to brown generously on all sides, before taking the pieces out, reserving the fat. Add the bacon and stir until crispy, before taking out. Turn the heat down a touch and add the onions. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes before adding the garlic, and then the carrots. Allow to fry for a bit before adding the flour and sugar, stirring around to mix it in. Pour in the bottle of red wine and scrape the bottom of the pot so all the brown bits get mixed into the sauce. Add the meat back to the pan, the bouquet garni, salt and pepper and leave to simmer for 2-3 hours or until the meat has cooked through and the sauce turned thick, stirring very occasionally. To cook the mushrooms, fry them over a high heat in olive oil until brown but not mushy. Season before transferring to the stew pot right before serving. Add the bacon back to the pot and stir in a knob of butter. Serve with crusty bread, boiled potatoes or tagliatelle, garnished with parsley.