I hosted a dinner party for friends this past weekend, now that the evenings are cooler I wanted to prepare something warm and filling. A great one-pot meal is a Boeuf Bourguignon, it’s perfect comfort food. Full disclosure, the following Bourguignon recipe isn’t my own, in fact, it comes from my favourite cookbook “Julia and Jacques, Cooking at Home.” It’s a simple and delicious recipe, always a crowd-pleaser. I grew up watching Julia Child and her many cooking shows, which were always entertaining as they were drool-worthy. She was definitely one of my first influencers in the kitchen. And yes, just like the movie “Julia and Julia,” I too attempted to cook many of her recipes. Of course, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” is an oldy but a goody, hands-down a requirement for any kitchen, classic French food made simply. Enjoy!
6 strips of bacon, cut into paperclip size pieces
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, or canola, plus more if needed
One 3-1/2 – 4lb boneless beef chuck roast or top blade cut into 1″ cubes
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the herb-and-vegetable bouquet
1-1/2 cups chopped onion, in 1/2 inch pieces
1-1/2 cups peeled and chopped carrot, in 1/2 inch pieces
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
A handful of parsley stems (about 10)
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and crushed but not peeled
For the cooking liquid
1 large tomato, cored and chopped
1 bottle sturdy red wine, preferably a pinot noir
1 to 2 cups strong dark beef stock
For the onion-and-mushroom garnish
18-20 small white pearl onions, fresh (blanched w/skins removed) or frozen about 1-1/4inch
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup more of the dark stock
10 oz fresh button mushrooms, trimmed and cleaned
For finishing the sauce
2 Tbsp soft butter, or more as needed
2 Tbsp flour or more
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup or more red wine
Fresh parsley, finely chopped (1/4 cup or so)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan, ( I like using my le Creuset dutch oven) over moderate heat and sauté the bacon until rendered and crisp. Remove from the casserole with a slotted spoon, leaving the remaining fat; add a little more oil to the pan.
Sprinkle beef chunks with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp or more of freshly ground pepper. Heat the casserole until the fat is very hot but not smoking and set in a batch of chunks in a single layer, with a little space between them – if overcrowded they will steam rather than sear. Brown the pieces, turning them with tongs, until well crusted on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove them as they are done to a large bowl and add more chunks to the pan for browning. Adjust the heat to keep the fat hot, adding more oil as needed.
When the beef has all browned, drain and discard the fat. Pour a cup of wine into the pan and bring to a simmer. Deglaze the brown bits in the pan bottom, scraping them up with a wooden spoon. Return the beef and its juices back to the casserole/saucepan.
Preparing the herb-and-vegetable bouquet and stewing the meat
I know Julia prefers to pile all the herbs and vegetable in the middle of a piece of cheesecloth, which you can do. I prefer to make a hole in the centre of the beef, layering the onion, carrots, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, parsley stems, and garlic. Scatter the tomato pieces on top of the meat and pour the remaining wine and enough stock (a cup or two) just to cover the meat chunks.
Bring the liquid to a simmer on the top of the stove, cover, and set into the preheated oven. Cook for about two hours, keeping the stew at a barely active simmer until the beef is fork-tender but not falling apart. To be safe, test the meat every 15 minutes after 1-1/2 hours of stewing, don’t overcook.
When the meat is done, set the casserole on the stovetop. You can leave at this point, storing in the fridge once cool, let the stew marinate in the cooking liquid, with the herbs and aromatic vegetables. Finish the stew the next day, or even the day after. Otherwise, remove the herb and vegetables from the centre with tongs or a slotted spoon.
Place the onions in one layer in a saucepan with the butter, sugar, pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of stock. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for approx 8-10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until all the liquid evaporates and shake the pan so the onions are glazed all over in the butter and sugar.
Turn the mushrooms into the pan, fold and toss with the onions, cook them together over moderate heat as the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown. When all the vegetables are glazed and coloured, set aside. Deglaze the saucepan with a few spoonfuls of wine or stock and pour that into the stew.
Return the stew to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. With a fork, blend 2tbsp of flour and 2tbsp of butter in a small bowl to make a thick paste, or beurre manié and add it in the same manner, a tablespoon or so at a time. repeat if stew needs additional thickening.
When ready to serve, reheat the stew, add the onions and mushrooms, stir in 1/4 cup or so of red wine, and heat through. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings. Serve the stew in large individual rim soup bowls,( sprinkle with a bit of minced parsley) complete your meal with mashed or scalloped potatoes, a green salad and definitely a great bottle of red!
“People who love to eat are always the best people”… Julia Child