There is nothing much to say about Boeuf Bourguignon. It's perfection, pure perfection. This traditional French beef stew features tender, juicy, and flavorful meat braised in red wine and served with aromatic braised onions, sauteed mushrooms, and amazing sauce over the top!
The post on French Breakfast, which I posted few days ago, reminded me that I still haven't showed you my favorite French recipe ever. It's a true classic, and I am sure that many of you have tried it before. If not, well, you are a lucky person then, because the first time is always the best and most memorable one! Of course I am talking about Boeuf Bourguignon, which is also called Beef Bourguignon or Beef Burgundy. The name already indicates us that this comforting stew originates from the Burgundy region in France.
The famous French chef Auguste Escoffier was the first one to publish the recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon over a hundred years ago. Back then it was a peasant dish. Most probably, the method of slowly simmering the beef originated as a way to make it tender and possible to eat. However, 50 years later, when the legendary Julia Child brought this dish to the United States and later to the rest of the world, it became a part of haute cuisine (high level cuisine).
I am sure that since the Julia Child's epic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was released in 1961, many great recipes for Boeuf Bourguignon were born, but for me the recipe from this never-getting-old book is still the best one. I did try few versions from other sources, but they weren't nearly as good as the original.
So what is Boeuf Bourguignon? Is it just a simple beef stew? Not at all. This dish has so many flavors your head will spin! I don't even know how to describe this culinary masterpiece. Let me try. The beef is first browned and then simmered together with the bacon, vegetables, wine, beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, and other goodies. And that's not everything! When the meat is cooked, you also add brown-braised white onions and butter sauteed fresh mushrooms to it. How does it sound, huh? I am not even talking about that gorgeous wine sauce you get after simmering the beef in it!
You MUST try this French miracle, my dear reader. It never disappoints. That's how the beef should be prepared to make it tender, juicy, and flavorful. Thanks to Julia Child for the wonderful recipe!
P.S. Boeuf Bourguignon reheats beautifully. Some people say that it's even better the next day!
Boeuf Bourguignon - A French Classic
For the beef:
- 6 oz (180g) bacon , chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 lb (1.4kg) stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 carrot , sliced
- 1 onion , chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups red wine
- 2-3 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic , mashed
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
For the braised onions:
- 20-25 small white onions , peeled (you can also use frozen; defrosted and patted dry)
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ tablespoons oil
- ½ cup brown stock
- salt and pepper , to taste
For the sauteed mushrooms:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ lb (225g) fresh mushrooms , left whole if small, quartered if bigger
- salt and pepper , to taste
- The beef. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
- Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or any stove and oven-safe pan. Cook the bacon for 2-3 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Leave all the fat, we will need it to cook the beef.
- Dry the beef using paper towels. It won't brown if it is too damp. Reheat the fat and saute the beef cubes for a minute or so on each side, until the pieces are evenly browned on all sides. Once again, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- In the same fat, add the carrot and onion, and brown them for few minutes. Pour out the fat, leaving the vegetables in the pan.
- Return the beef and bacon and toss them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over, and toss again.
- Place the pan, uncovered, to the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat, and return to the oven for 4 more minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325°F (160°C).
- Add the wine, stock (the liquid should barely cover the meat), tomato paste, garlic, and thyme. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Cover the pan and return it to the oven. Cook for 3-4 hours, until the meat is fork tender. Meanwhile, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
- The braised onions. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet, until bubbly. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, rolling them around from time to time so they would brown evenly. Pour in the beef stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes if using fresh onions, or about 20 minutes if using frozen ones. The liquid should evaporate and the onions should brown. Set aside.
- The sauteed mushrooms. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- The assembly. When the meat is cooked, pour all the mixture through a sieve. Collect the sauce in a saucepan or a glass bowl and let rest for few minutes.
- Return the beef to the pan. Arrange the onions and mushrooms over the meat.
- Skim fat off the sauce. You should get about 2 ½ cups of the sauce. It should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Pour the sauce over the beef, onions, and mushrooms.
- You can serve Boeuf Bourguignon with boiled potatoes, or anything you like. Enjoy!