Boeuf Bourguignon, or Beef Burgundy, is a classic French peasant dish made most famous by the late, great Julia Child. Though the French pronunciation is a bit complicated, this dish is not. Beef Burgundy is, in the simplest terms, a beef pot roast with mushrooms, onions, and red wine. While the ingredients are humble, the end result is a hearty, fall-apart-tender roast with rich, complex flavor that will impress anyone. This is by no means a quick meal, taking about four hours in the oven, but it is well worth the time and preparation. There are a few stages in which this roast is put together, but don’t let that intimidate you, as they are easy steps and some can be done the night before. I’ve found it’s a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, ending the week with a beautiful, satisfying dinner that the whole family will love. Serve it alone, over egg noodles, or with a nice crust of bread.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 4 oz. bacon, diced or cubed (1/2-inch cubes)
- 3 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 2-3-inch chunks and patted dry
- 20 oz. pearl onions
- 1 lb. mushrooms (I used white and baby portabellas), quartered
- 1 bottle red wine, young and full-bodied (traditionally a Burgundy is used, but I used a Pinot Noir
- 3 c. beef stock
- 1 T. tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 t. thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 T. butter, divided
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 T. flour
Start out by preheating the oven to 325. Next, in a large Dutch oven or casserole, cook the bacon until the fat is well rendered, remove from pan and set aside. Then, making sure they are patted dry so they sear properly, cook the beef chunks over medium-high heat just a couple minutes on each side, creating a nice, dark brown sear. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan as this will cause your meat to steam rather than sear; if necessary, you can cook the meat in batches, setting them in a bowl as you go, to make sure you have enough room in the pan for a good sear.
Once all of the beef is browned and set aside, pour the wine into the empty pot. Be sure to scrape all the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan. This “deglazing” adds a ton of flavor to any dish, so don’t be afraid to scrape off every bit; it’s not burnt, it just looks like it.
Next, add the beef and bacon back to the pot with the tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf, and add enough beef broth to just cover all the meat. Cover with a heavy lid and put in the oven. Now, forget about it for about 4 hours.
The mushrooms and onions can both be done the night before, but if you haven’t done them yet, take the time the beef is cooking to get them ready.
If you are using raw pearl onions, you’ll need to prepare them first. Put a pot of water large enough to hold all of your onions on to boil. Once boiling, dump in the onions and boil for about 3 minutes, then strain them into a bowl of ice water. With a paring knife, slice off the very bottom of the root end and slide off the outer peel. Next, using the tip of your knife, cut a small “x” in the root end. You want the onion to still hold together, but the root to be scored so it cooks better. In a saucepan or skillet (with a lid) that is large enough that the onions fit in one layer, melt 1 T. of the butter and the olive oil (when sautéing with butter, use a little oil as well; this keeps the butter from burning). Add the onions and just enough beef broth to come about halfway up the onions. Cover and simmer them for about 10 minutes. At this point, you can put them in the fridge for later use, or set aside just until the beef is ready for them.
Now it’s the mushrooms’ turn. Over medium heat, melt 1 T. each of butter and olive oil until the butter stops foaming/bubbling. Add the quartered mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook for 5-10 minutes until dark, golden brown, tossing occasionally. These, too, may be refrigerated or used immediately.
Once all of the components are cooked, it’s time to get ready to finalize the dish and thicken up the sauce a bit. Remove the roast from the oven and strain the meat from the pot. Julia suggests pouring the whole pot into a colander over a saucepan (I used the onion pan, sans onions), returning the meat to the now-empty casserole/Dutch oven and I concur. Add the mushrooms and onions in with the roast.
Place the pan of yummy wine and beef sauce on a medium-high burner and make a paste from the remaining 2 T. of butter and the flour. Stir the paste into the sauce making sure there aren’t any lumps and bring to a boil. Once the sauce boils, it’s ready to return to the pot with the beef, onions, and mushrooms.
Finally, if you’ve never watched Julia Child, I highly suggest checking out YouTube for some of her shows. She is a wonderful teacher, and quite a funny lady. While I’ve not followed her recipe exactly, here’s a link to Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon show for some extra insight into this delicious dish.