A peasant dish that has been elevated to fine dining stature, beef bourguignon, sometimes spelled bœuf bourguignon or bœuf à la bourguignonne, literally translates to beef Burgundy.
What, essentially, is beef bourguignon? It’s beef slow cooked in red wine. In the olden days, so I have read, French peasants in the Burgundy region made good use of tougher cuts of meet by stewing them. Ergo, the name for the dish which reflects its origin.
What makes a really good Beef Bourguignon? The first thing is time. It’s a stew and that means long and slow cooking. You just can’t hurry up the process.
The second thing is the correct ingredients. Good red wine, good bacon, and fresh mushrooms (substituting canned mushrooms is a terrible idea).
The third thing is the correct cooking procedure. Flour the beef and brown until caramelized. That flour that coats the meat will thicken the sauce naturally during stewing.
Beef Bourguignon (Burgundy)
- 1 kilogram beef brisket cut into two-inch cubes
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoon olive oil not extra virgin
- 100 grams belly bacon diced
- 1 onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 can stewed tomatoes with the liquid
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 to 3 cups bone broth
- 18 to 24 pearl onions
- 16 to 20 button mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons butter
- fresh parsley to garnish
- Rub the beef cubes with one tablespoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper.
- Sprinkle in the flour and toss to coat all pieces.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan.
- Brown the beef in batches. Turn the beef cubes to brown all sides. Do not move them too often though and do not flip them too early to make sure that a light crust forms to sear and seal the meat.
- As each batch browns, scoop out, transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Proceed with the next batch until all the beef cubes are nicely browned.
- In a thick-bottomed pot, cook the bacon until fat has been rendered.
- Add the sliced onion and garlic.
- Cook until the onion slices start to soften.
- Add the browned beef to the pot.
- Pour in the wine. Boil gently for about ten minutes.
- Add the stewed tomatoes, a cup of broth, the thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for two hours or until the beef is tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pan. If the liquid dries out before the beef is done, add more broth, half a cup at a time. Taste the sauce occasionally and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
- When the beef is almost done, prepare the pearl onions by peeling them and cutting off the root ends.
- If the mushrooms are rather large, cut them in half.
- Heat a frying pan. Add the mushrooms and cook, shaking often, until most of the mushroom water that had been released has evaporated. Add the butter and the pearl onions. Cook for about three minutes.
- Pour the mushrooms and onions, with the butter, into the pot of beef. Stir. Continue cooking over medium heat, uncovered, for another 15 minutes or so, or until the sauce has reached the thickness that you prefer.
- Fish out the bay leaves and pour the stew into a large serving bowl.
- Sprinkle the beef bourguignon with parsley and serve. Pair with rice, crusty bread or cooked noodles.