Bœuf (Beef) Bourguignon is a beef stew that has been braised in red wine and beef stock. The dish is a French classic that originated some time in the 19th century and was later made famous by Julia Child. As part of my immersion into the French culture I decided to give this recipe a try and after making it in a first attempt, I immediately knew that it would become a new cooking staple of mine. On my second attempt at cooking the dish I decided that I would share the recipe with you on my blog.
This is my first time sharing a recipe on here so something that I feel obliged to mention is that when I cook I never actually follow any sort of strict recipe, guidelines or exact measurements. Aside from baking (which is as much like chemistry as it is cooking) I personally feel that strict recipes are generally un-necessary when cooking at home. I find that recipes mearly act as a sort of psychological comfort factor for people and prop up the notion that cooking is difficult and that it should be left to the professionals (which is mostly bullshit). When I cook any sort of meal, even if it's a new recipe, I generally just look at the ingredients of the dish and any sort of special requirements for cooking and then I experiment on my own. I tweak a dish to suit my taste or for practicality reasons and I generally add or remove steps and ingredients on subsequent attempts that didn't work out the first time. In other words, I tend to be extremely flexible in my cooking which I will demonstrate in this post. I am aware that a lack of "recipe" can be annoying for some people (like my wife), so I apologize in advance to anyone who prefers very distinct steps and measurements. However, I will assure you that this recipe appears to be very flexible and I honestly believe that it can be made easily by anyone. That being said I highly recommend that you try it yourself. You won't be disappointed!
As noted above these are simply approximations of what I used to make the dish, which was for 2 people with left overs. Please feel free to tweak the quantities to suit your needs or your specific taste.
Sausage (or bacon) to add fat and texture to the dish.
Pearl onions (or regular)
Red wine (3 cups full bodied)
Beef stock (2-3 cups)
Tomato paste (1-3 tbsp)
Mushrooms (Optional. I didnt use them but they are often used in this dish)
Herbs and Spices:
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with green onion (or parsley)
To thicken the gravy:
Flour (approx. 1-2 tbsp)
I cooked the majority of the meal on the stove in what I would call a Dutch oven (a large cast iron and ceramic pot). You can cook this on the stove or in the oven, whichever you prefer.
I started by cooking the sausage which I set aside afterwards. While that was cooking I began making a beef and vegetable stock from scraps that I trimmed off the meat and vegetables during my prep work. One thing that they do not sell here in France is premade beef or chicken stock (which is really annoying because it's not the easiest thing to make). You can skip making a stock if you are able to buy premade beef stock at your local grocery store.
After removing the sausage from the pot I added in the cut carrots and pearl onions, which I cooked in the sausage fat to add more flavor to the dish.
I kept the onions as whole as possible and trimmed them so that they wouldn't fall apart during the cooking process. This was a personal preference of mine to give the dish a distinct stew like quality to it. However, the onions could be sliced if you prefer them that way.
After the vegetables were somewhat cooked. I removed them from the pot.
Next I added the stewing beef and browned that on all sides. While that was taking place I prepared the potatoes which I was going to serve with the stew. Everything I read about the dish recommended that it be served with a relatively plain accompaniment like pasta or boiled or mashed potatoes.
I preferred boiled potatos so that the ingredients remain individual and district rather then as mixed together in a muck.
After the beef was browned I made a rue to thicken the gravy. I used the remaining fat, in the pan, some butter and some flour and mixed them together until it was paste like.
When the rue was complete, I added the stewing beef back to the pot along with some bay leaves, tomato paste and about 2 cups of the beef stock that I prepared.
Next I added in about 3 cups (complete guess here) of red wine. I basically just tipped the bottle and poured in as much as it took to cover the beef entirely. I brought that up to a boil and let it simmer on low for probably an hour or so.
The dish is meant to be cooked slowly for a long period of time in order to fully marinate and tenderize the beef. Really, the longer its cooked the better.
After a spell, maybe an hour or so I added the carrots and onions back into the pot and cooked them on low until tender. Maybe like another 30-45 minutes.
I added the garlic, thyme, and red peppers to the dish in the last 15-20 minutes because I generally like my peppers to be soft but slightly undercooked. Also, when cooking I generally follow the principle of adding spices early in the cooking process and herbs in late. This generally tends to maximize their flavor.
During this last phase I also boiled the potatoes until soft and added butter and salt to them before serving. I garnished the stew with freshly cut green onions.
And that is my version of bœuf bourguignon. Overall I was quite happy with how it turned out and will continue to make it this way from here on out.