Boeuf bourguignon may sound a little fancy, but when it comes down to it, it’s really just a beef stew. A great beef stew and basically the original one, at that. It likely started as a peasant’s dish in the middle ages and it has persisted and evolved through the years. It’s a quintessential French dish, hailing from the Burgundy region of France, but it’s known – and cooked – throughout the world, in no small part thanks to Julia Child and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Some versions take two days and Julia’s version involves boiling the bacon before it ever hits the pan, but we don’t think a successful beef burgundy needs to be quite so complicated. While it does taste better if you give it a chance to sit overnight, our version takes just a few hours to come together. It’s low and slow enough that the flavors have time to develop and the meat has a chance to become fall-apart tender, but you don’t need to go to the trouble of an overnight marinade or a bouquet garni. (Throwing a sprig of thyme and bay leaf in the pot is more our style anyway.)
You begin by browning the bacon and then searing the beef in the drippings. You want to make sure all of the beef gets well browned, so work in batches and take care not to crowd the pan. After sauteeing all of the veggies and adding the liquid and meat back to the pot, you let the whole thing simmer until the meat is delicate and fork-tender. You can simmer on the stovetop if you wish, but the oven does a little bit better job of keeping a steady, low temperature. (And you don’t really have to watch it if it cooks there.) The pearl onions and mushrooms are cooked at the end and stirred in just before serving. The flavor is rich and deep, and it’s just about as comforting as food can get. Bon appetit!
Serves 6-8; 3 hours
- 3 pounds beef chuck roast, cubed
- 3 cups (750 ml) dry red wine (preferably Burgundy)
- 2 cups beef stock or broth
- 6 oz bacon, chopped into lardons
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 8 oz pearl onions, peeled
- 1 lb small cremini mushrooms
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. (Don’t drain Dutch oven.)
- Pat beef dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Working in batches, search beef on all sides until browned, 8-10 minutes. When beef is browned, transfer to bowl with bacon. Set aside.
- Add chopped onions and carrot to Dutch oven and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute before stirring in wine and beef broth. Add thyme and bay leaf, the browned beef and bacon.
- Cover and transfer pot to the oven. Let cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until beef is very tender, stirring half way through.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pearl onions and cook until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until soft, 7 minutes more. Stir onions and mushrooms into stew, discard bay leaf and thyme sprig, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from Saveur.