A comforting, rich stew perfect for those cooler evenings
As the weather gets cooler here in the UK, it’s time to get cosy with a classic boeuf bourguignon.
- SERVES: 6
- PREP TIME: 30 mins
- COOK TIME: 2.5 – 3 hrs slow-cooking, hands off
- DIFFICULTY: easy
- IDEAL FOR: comforting winter warmer, family, crowd-pleaser
Classic beef bourguignon
The French have got it right with this one.
Who wouldn’t want a plate of comforting, velvety, tender beef with sweet shallots and smoky bacon, all cooked in a rich, red wine sauce?
Then serve it with creamy mash butter and greens.
And the best thing about this dish is it can be played with.
So, you can use up things in your fridge like carrots, celery etc
Where does beef (boeuf) bourguignon originate
Bourguignon means, ‘of Bourgogne’, or Burgundy.
The Burgundy region is in eastern France between Lyon and Paris.
And has some fantastic wine.
Beef Bourguignon was first mentioned in cookbooks in 1903, by the famous chef Auguste Escoffier.
But probably become the most famous when Julia Child had a go at it in her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking
And if you’ve ever watched Julia and Julia, you know this was a big dish in the film.
But in France, its beginnings come a long way back as peasant food.
Like most great simple dishes from France and Italy, they usually stem from peasant food.
Where simple, quality ingredients are used to make something great.
And it usually involves one pan, cheap cuts of meat and slow cooking.
What’s in beef bourguignon
It’s essentially meat and vegetables like baby onions, mushrooms and carrots.
Then placed in a pot, covered in red wine (some use stock as well).
And left to bubble away for hours.
Back in the day, it would have been that easy.
These days, you dust the beef with flour and brown the meat first.
And to be honest, this does add an extra depth of flavour so it’s worth doing.
And you can use stock as well as wine.
But if you want to stay true to the recipe and want a really rich, velvety stew.
Then only use (good) red wine, preferably a burgundy but that’s just being a bit specific.
Some even suggest adding a glug of cognac or brandy (I did).
Tips for a classic beef bourguignon
Cooking prep order
- Start by browning the beef.
- Crisp up the bacon.
- Cook off the garlic and onion.
- Add the wine and deglaze.
- Then the herbs and carrots.
- And then add mushrooms approx. 30 mins before you finish the dish.
- Season to taste.
Choose the best available beef
- Braising steak/chuck is perfect and if you can, try and buy grass-fed or at least high welfare.
- Cut the beef into approx.. 5 cm pieces
- Pork lardons: once again the best quality you can afford and nice thick-cut bacon cut into small pieces or pancetta.
- As long as they have good fat content i.e. flavour
- Wine: a Burgundy-style wine – pinot noir – but most reds will work.
- At the very least, choose a wine you would happily drink.
- Use a bouquet garni: it makes it easy to remove your aromatics.
- To add a bit more depth, you could use ox or beef cheek and add star anise.
- Make a day ahead as the flavours will intensify.
- Reduce the sauce for a more intense flavour.
Classic beef bourguignon
- Olive oil for frying
- 1 kg high welfare braising steak (chuck or cheek) cut into 5 cm pieces
- 2 tbsp plain flour to dust the beef
- 250 g smoked (fatty) bacon or lardons
- 150 g button mushrooms
- 2 tbsp butter
- 250 g button onions or shallots, peeled but left whole Nb: if your baby shallots are hard to peel, soak in hot water then peel)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp brandy
- 750 ml good red wine
- Bay leaf, fresh parsley and thyme sprig, tied together with string
- Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan.Pour a glug of oil into a large, lidded, flameproof casserole over medium heat.
- Toss the beef in the flour, then add to the pan in batches. Brown well, then transfer each batch to a large bowl.
- Add another splash of oil into the casserole dish and fry the bacon/lardons until crisp.Heat another splash of oil in the casserole. Add the bacon and fry until crisp.Add the butter and button onions/shallots, garlic, chopped onion and fry gently until (8-10 minutes). Now, add the beef back in and pour in the brand and scrape the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.Add the wine and bring to the boil, then add the herbs and bring back to the boil. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 2½-3 hours until the beef is tender.NB: 30 mins before you serve, add the button mushrooms and stir in. If you want, you can fry them off in button first to give them a more nutty flavour and then add in 5 mins before serving.
- Remove the casserole from the oven, stir the stew, then taste and season.Scoop out the herbs (discard).Serve with mashed potatoes and greens.
Recipe: Delicious magazine