What is Fusion Cuisine?
Fusion cuisine is simply where established recipes or cooking techniques are taken from two or more culinary cultures or disciplines and fused together to form an altogether new creation. The whole concept acquired a pretty unenviable reputation in the 1970's and in to the 1980's due to the often ridiculous extremes to which the principle was carried. This is a shame in many ways because if we stop to think of it, is not nearly every recipe in existence which contains two or more ingredients essentially a form of fusion cuisine? I definitely believe that provided we keep it sensible, fusion cuisine by its widely accepted definition continues to be capable of playing a prominent role at the very forefront of world food culture.
This recipe is fusion cuisine in its most basic form. It features a classic English dish and a classic French dish combined on a plate to incredibly tasty and hopefully attractive effect. Yorkshire pudding is most commonly served in modern times in slightly smaller portions than this as an accompaniment to roast beef, roast potatoes and gravy for Sunday lunch. Beef bourguignon is a rich beef stew, slow cooked in red wine with vegetables. Giant Yorkshire pudding filled with a meat stew is something which has become increasingly popular on British pub menus in recent years and is precisely where I first came across the concept. This is simply my interpretation of the dish.
Beef Bourguignon Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 1 pound shin of beef or similar stewing steak
- 2 tablespoons all purpose (plain) flour
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and sliced
- Generous handful mixed seeded and sliced bell peppers
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ bottle red wine
- 1 pint fresh beef stock
- 12 small button mushrooms
Yorkshire Pudding Ingredients per Pudding
- 2 medium sized eggs
- Equivalent amount by volume of all purpose (plain) flour
- Equivalent amount by volume of full cream milk
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Chop the shin of beef in to chunks of around an inch with a very sharp knife. You could if you wish ask your butcher to do this for you at the point of purchase. Note that shin is a very fatty and sinewy cut of meat but this is important to keep the meat moist and tender during cooking. Do not under any circumstances remove the fat prior to cooking. Pour the vegetable oil in to a large stew pot and start bringing it up to a medium to high heat.
Spoon the flour in to a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add the chunks of beef and gently stir them around to evenly coat them in the seasoned flour.
Lift the beef pieces in to the heated oil and stir them around with a wooden spoon until all the pieces are evenly browned and sealed. This should only take a maximum of a couple of minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the browned beef pieces from the pot and temporarily back in to the bowl.
You may need to add a little bit more oil to the pot at this stage and bring it up to heat. Put the bell peppers and onion in to the pot along with the dried thyme and rosemary and saute for a couple of minutes until the onion strands are just starting to soften.
Return the beef to the pot. Pour in the red wine and the beef stock. Stir well and turn up the heat until the liquid just starts to simmer. Put the lid on the pot and adjust the heat to maintain a slow and gentle simmer for a total of two and a half hours, stirring every so often and keeping an eye on the liquid level. Provided you maintain a gentle enough simmer, it shouldn't be necessary, but a little boiling water could be added in the latter stages of cooking if required.
When the beef bourguiginon has been simmering for approaching two hours, it is time to start making your Yorkshire pudding(s). You will need a dish like the one above for each pudding. This small casserole dish is seven inches in diameter and three inches deep. You should of course make sure the dish you are using is fully ovenproof as it will be subjected to a very high heat. Pour the oil in to the dish(es) and place in to your cold oven. Only then should you start the oven preheating to 450F/230C/Gas mark 9. It is imperative that the pudding batter is poured in to extremely hot oil.
The heat of the oil aside, the key principal to making perfect Yorkshire pudding is to use absolutely equal quantities by volume of egg, milk and flour. You can get in to all sorts of difficulties trying to measure out your ingredients in this way but I use a very simple technique which works to perfection every time.
You will need three identical small ramekins or similar type of dishes. Start by breaking the eggs in to one dish and simply fill the other two dishes to the same level with flour and milk respectively.
The eggs, milk and flour can simply be tipped in to a mixing bowl and seasoned with a little bit of salt. Beat with a balloon whisk or even a fork until all the ingredients are fully combined and a batter is formed.
Sit the batter in your fridge to rest while your oven continues preheating. Wipe the button mushrooms clean with some dampened kitchen paper and add them to the beef bourguignon, stirring them through, for the final half hour approximately of cooking.
Being sure to wear oven protecting gloves, lift the hot dish(es) from the oven to a heatproof surface. Pour the batter in to the hot oil, being conscious of the possibility of the hot oil spurting and splashing. The batter will visibly start to cook immediately.
Return the dish(es) to the hot oven for twenty to maybe twenty-five minutes. It's really important not to open the oven door during cooking but where your oven has a glass door, you can monitor the progress of the cooking pudding(s) fairly easily. Where you don't have a viewing portal, make a quick check after twenty minutes have elapsed.
When the pudding or puddings are ready, carefully lift the dish(es) from your oven. A large slotted spoon is necessary to lift each pudding from the dish and place in a deep serving plate.
The slotted spoon should then be used to fill the pudding(s) with beef bourguignon. Serve immediately with a large glass of red wine per person.