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Beef Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

2 hours 30 mins Cook
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NomNom Recipes 60

Considered by many to be the mother of all stews, beef bourguignon is a slow-cooked French dish of beef, bacon, carrots, onions and mushrooms in a rich red wine sauce.

To make the best stew of your life, start two days before you plan to serve her. Don’t cut frying ingredients individually, use homemade beef he broth.

Beef Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy) -  NomNomWow
Beef Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy) – NomNomWow

Beef Bourguignon

One of the best memories of my trip to Burgundy was finding a family-run bistro in a small village. Serving traditional French cuisine, it was so good you could swear you were in a hidden Michelin starred restaurant.

Being in the birthplace of beef bourguignon, I couldn’t help but order this iconic dish again and again. Every bistro had a secret recipe and no two were exactly alike.

The most incredible beef burgundy I’ve ever had in my life, apart from the quality of each!.

I have one more thing to add to this list. That’s the beef bourguignon recipe you’re reading right now. It was created with the help of his Jean-Baptiste Alexandre of Baptiste & Wilson, a traditionally trained Burgundian French chef who lives here in Sydney. For such an iconic dish, I refused to compromise on old recipes. I’m here.

What goes in Beef Bourguignon

There are two main components to making Beef Bourguignon:

  1. Red wine-marinated beef; and
  2. Slow cooked stew
RED WINE MARINADE FOR BEEF

What you need to marinate beef in red wine

  • Chuck beef – Not all beef is created equal, even when slow-cooked into fall-apart submission! Look for good quality chuck beef, ribboned with fat for the juiciest result.Also, be sure to either buy BIG pre-cut pieces – as in 4-5 cm / 2” cubes – or a one single piece which you slice up yourself. If you purchase pre-cut pieces that are too small, they will cook faster than the time it takes for the sauce to develop enough flavour;
  • Pinot noir – Beef Bourguignon is also known as Beef Burgundy, and thus the wine called for is a Pinot Noir – the most famous variety of wine produced in the Burgundy region of France. Using a lighter style wine might sound unexpected for a hearty stew, but the more delicate flavour compared to bolder wines like Shiraz makes it ideal for using as a marinade so the red wine flavour doesn’t overwhelm the natural beef flavour. We’re using a whole bottle here. Sorry folks, you’ll need another bottle for drinking!
  • Thyme and bay leaves – Classic herb aromatics;
  • Carrot – Just your everyday standard carrots will do fine;
  • Pearl onions – These small onions are the traditional onions used in Beef Bourguignon but are annoyingly difficult to find here in Australia. I use what’s sold as “pickling onions” which are virtually the same but slightly larger, so I peel an extra layer or two off the surface to make them pearl onion size (~3 cm / 1.2″ diameter).Alternative: Just use slices of a normal onion. The end result tastes the same, I promise!
THE STEW

And here’s what goes into the stew:

  • Beef stock – The single biggest variable on which a stew hinges, differentiating a good home-cooked stew and a quality, why-does-this-restaurant-stew-taste-so-damned-good result. Homemade beef stock trumps store-bought. But if you’re going down the store-bought path, try to opt for a good quality stock from the butcher rather than the cheap mass-produced stuff. The difference I promise is remarkable. Having said that though, I would never say that this is not worth making with basic supermarket beef stock. It is, oh-so-very worth making!
  • Bacon – Get slab bacon from your butcher if you can, so you can cut it yourself into big chunky lardons (batons). A proper bite of meaty bacon lardons is part of the awesomeness that is Beef Bourguignon.If you can’t find slab bacon, try speck (which in Australia seems to usually smoked pork belly chunks). Failing that, normal bacon slices works just fine too;
  • Mushrooms – Just your everyday normal mushrooms. Cut large ones into quarters, medium ones in half;
  • Garlic – Flavouring (rare to see a savoury dish around here without it!);
  • Tomato paste – For a touch of tang, to help thicken the sauce, for flavour and for colour; and
  • Flour – For thickening the sauce.

How to make Beef Bourguignon

For the absolute best results, start this 2 days before you plan to serve it to allow for:

  • Overnight marinating of the beef; and
  • Leaving the finished stew overnight to let the flavours develop even further.
PART 1: BEEF MARINADE
  1. Marinate beef for 24 hours in red wine with the onion, carrot, thyme and bay leaves. This tenderises and infuses the beef with beautiful flavour. I’ve tried it with and without marinating, and marinating is way better. It’s worth it!
  2. Strain and reserve the red wine – we’re going to reduce it to use as the stew braising liquid;
  3. Pat beef dry – Separate the beef from the carrots and onion, then pat dry. Why? Because wet beef won’t brown. Browning is key for flavour!
  4. Season beef with salt and pepper. Ugh, please don’t skip this step. I once did, and even though I was salting the sauce furiously at the end, it just wasn’t the same!
PART 2: MAKING THE STEW

I recommend taking the time to brown each ingredient individually before slow-cooking it in the broth.

  1. Brown beef aggressively all over, because colour = flavour! A very heavy pot like a cast iron pot / Dutch oven works best for this job.Be sure to use enough oil so the beef browns rather than burns. Work in batches and don’t crowd the pot otherwise the beef will just braise instead of brown.Once browned, remove into a bowl;
  2. Bacon – Cook the bacon next, to release all that tasty bacon fat which we then use to brown the subsequent ingredients;
  3. Onion next – Just cook until you get some nice golden patches, it’s impossible to make it golden all over due to the shape. Put these in a separate bowl because these get added back into the stew partway though the slow cooking phase;
  4. Mushrooms – Cook the mushrooms until golden, then add them into the same bowl as the onions;
  5. Carrots last – And finally, pan-roast the carrots until you get some lovely colour on them. We add some butter here, because you’ll find that the mushrooms soak up all the remaining bacon fat, but we need some fat to make the roux with the flour in the next step;
  6. Tomato paste and flour – Add the tomato paste and cook to take the raw edge off. Then add flour and cook for a minute;
  7. Add liquid – Slowly add the beef stock while stirring so the flour dissolves easily, no lumps! Then stir the reduced red wine in;
  8. Add beef, bacon, thyme and bay leaves, then give it a good stir and bring to a simmer. Now, it’s ready to slow-cook into fall-apart magnificence!
PART 3. SLOW-COOKING

It’s just a matter of time – don’t forget to add the onions and mushrooms in between!

  1. Oven 1 hour – Cover pot then place in the oven for 1 hour at 180°C/350°F (160°C fan). At this temperature, the stew is simmering very, very gently in the oven, like it would on a low stove. I find the oven is easier than stove because you don’t have to worry about the base catching – no need to stir;
  2. Add onion and mushroom then give it a gentle stir;
  3. Return to the oven for another 1½ hours, until the beef is “fall apart tender” – like THIS:
  4. Adjust thickness and salt – At this stage, if the sauce hasn’t reduced enough (ie. too thin) or the sauce is too thick (which can happen if you didn’t use a heavy-based pot), you can adjust it using the stove. If it’s too thin, just simmer gently on low heat. It won’t take long to reduce and thicken. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water then simmer gently to bring it together again. Also, don’t forget to check if there’s enough salt in the sauce! Taste and adjust as necessary. 

Highly recommended: Leave overnight before serving

As with all stews, beef bourguignon benefits greatly from being left overnight for more flavor development and even better mixing.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s sensationally served the day it’s made…but even better the next day!

What to serve with Beef Bourguignon

I think it’s good to accompany short pasta, polenta, and cereal.

And although I usually offer Paris mash as an even more luxurious alternative, beef burgundy is actually richer. I feel it is too much.

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Beef Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

Beef Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

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Considered by many to be the mother of all stews, beef bourguignon is a slow-cooked French dish of beef, bacon, carrots, onions and mushrooms in a rich red wine sauce.
prep time
40 mins
cooking time
2 hours 30 mins
servings
5
total time
3 hours 10 mins

Equipment

Ingredients

  • BEEF MARINADE:

  • 800g/ 1.6 lb chuck beef , cut in 4-5 cm / 2” cubes (Note 1)

  • 2 large carrots (~300g/10oz), cut on an angle into 4-5 cm / 2” pieces

  • 16 pearl onions or small, round pickling onions (Note 2)

  • 1 bay leaf , fresh (sub: dried)

  • 3 sprigs thyme

  • 750ml/ 25 oz pinot noir or other red wine (Note 3)

  • BROWNING BEEF:

  • 3 tbsp oil , olive, canola or vegetable

  • 3/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • STEW:

  • 200g/ 7oz mushrooms , halved (quarters if large)

  • 150g/ 5oz bacon piece , cut into 1cm / 1/2” thick batons (Note 4)

  • 50g/3 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 3 garlic cloves , minced

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 6 tbsp flour , plain/all purpose

  • 3 cups beef stock (low sodium) , preferably homemade; otherwise the best you can afford (Note 5)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley , for garnish

Instructions

1

MARINATE BEEF:

Beef Marinade: Place beef marinade ingredients in a large non-reactive ceramic bowl or ziplock bag. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator (minimum 12 hours, maximum 24 hours).
2
Strain the liquid into a bowl and reserve the marinade. Separate beef, carrots, and onions.
3
Reduce wine: Pour red wine into a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer until the volume is reduced by half while skimming off impurities that have risen to the surface. set aside.
4

BROWN BEEF AND VEGETABLES:

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for fan oven).
5
Drying Beef: Line a tray with kitchen paper, spread the beef on it and pat dry with kitchen paper.
6
Beef Seasoning: Sprinkle beef with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
7
Brown Beef: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof pan over high heat. Add 1/3 of the beef and grill both sides thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with remaining beef, adding more oil if needed.
8
Fry bacon: Add bacon and fry for 3 minutes until golden brown. Add to bowl with beef.
9
Sautéed Mushrooms: Add mushrooms and he sauté for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Pour into a new bowl.
10
Sautéed Onions: Add a little more oil if needed and cook the onions for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add to bowl with mushrooms.
11
Fry carrots: put butter in a pan. Once melted, add carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden speckled. Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute
12

SLOW-COOK

Oven for 1 hour: Once boiling, cover and place in the oven for 1 hour. (Note 7)
13
Mushrooms and Onions: Remove from oven and stir in mushrooms and onions.
14
Oven 1 1/2 hours: Cover, return to oven and bake 1 1/2 hours or until beef is "falling apart."
15
Salt Adjustment: Remove from oven, taste sauce and add salt if needed. (Note 8 - Important!)
16
Let stand overnight (recommended): If time permits, let the stew stand overnight before serving. Heat slowly over low heat.
17
Drizzle over Mashed Potatoes - Essential for mopping up every drop of this wonderful sauce!

Notes

Scaling recipe up – will work perfectly, but be sure to brown the meat and vegetable in batches so you get some nice colour on them. If you crowd the pan too much, they will just braise and get watery, rather than going golden. Slow cook time will be the same as long as you’re using a heavy based pot and bring to simmer first before covering and transferring to oven. 1. Chuck beef – Look for beef that’s nicely ribboned with fat, as it will be juicier and more tender. Don’t buy pre-cut small pieces, they will cook too quickly before the flavour in the sauce develops. It’s better to buy a big piece and cut your own to size. 2. Pearl onions are very small onions and are irritatingly hard to find in Australia. The closest are pickling onions which are slightly bigger, so just peel an extra layer or two off to make them the right size – around 2.5cm/1″ in diameter. Soak them for 10/15min in cold water, it will soften the skin and will make them easier to peel (use a small knife to assist). You can also just use 2 brown or yellow onions, halved then cut into 1cm / 2/5” slices. 3. Pinot Noir is the traditional wine used in Beef Bourguignon. It’s the red wine that the Burgundy region of France is most famous for, reflecting the origins of this dish which is also known as “Beef Burgundy”. There’s no need to splurge on expensive wine here. Just rummage through the discount bins at your local liquor store. The bottle I used an end-of-bin bottle steeply discounted to $7 (I stocked up!). 4. Bacon Lardons – Biting into a thick piece of bacon is all part of the Beef Bourguignon experience! If you can’t find a slab of bacon to cut yourself, try speck which is similar (and similar fat % too which is key!). Otherwise, just use streaky bacon cut into strips. Bacon is key for sauce seasoning, so don’t skip it! 5. Beef stock quality is the key variable here that will set apart a good homemade Beef Bourguignon from an exceptional restaurant-quality one. Homemade beef stock trumps any store bought. Good quality store-bought from butchers etc. are far better than mass-produced (like Campbell’s here in Australia). Do not use powdered beef stock. It’s frankly inferior to even the packet liquid stock and has no place here amongst all this effort, I’m afraid! 6. Flour lumps – Don’t fret if you have some lumps! They will dissolve during the slow cooking time 7. Cook method – Oven is best because it’s entirely hands off, no need to stir to ensure base doesn’t catch. But it can also be done on a low stove, lid on, stirring every now and then (take extra care towards the end so the meat doesn’t break apart). Slow cooker: This can work but you’ll need to reduce on the stove at the end to thicken sauce. Slow-cook for 4 hours on low, add mushrooms and onion, then slow cook a further 4 hours. Transfer to pot then simmer (no lid) for 15 – 20 minutes until sauce reduces. I really think it’s just easier to use the oven! 8. Salt quantity required varies drastically depending on saltiness of bacon, homemade vs store bought stock (homemade is unsalted), so always do this at the end and trust your tastebuds. With homemade beef stock, I add another 3/4 tsp salt. With store bought, it’s unlikely you’ll need more salt. 9. Storage – Stew will keep for 5 days in the fridge, and freezes great! 10. Recipe source: Developed with the assistance of a classically trained French chef from Burgundy, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre of Baptise & Wilson. For a dish this iconic, I refused to just settle for any old recipe! Better than the Julia Child recipe I’d been using for years. 11. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.
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