|Beef Bourguignon is so satisfying on a cold winter night.|
Do you have a dish that you can make with your eyes closed? That your hands know by rote? For me, that dish is Beef Bourguignon. It was one of the first dishes my mother taught me how to make. I started by peeling the carrots, and eventually graduated to browning the meat. It’s a classic beef stew that I make when I’m having friends over for dinner or just for my family on uninspired mid-week nights. Beef Bourguignon is easy, cheap, and incredibly delicious.
You don’t need a long list of ingredients to whip up this French stew. If you have a $7 to $10 bottle of Bourgogne or Pinot Noir (never use the cooking wine they sell at the supermarket – if you wouldn’t want to drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it), and a couple of pounds of beef chuck, you’re pretty much all set and halfway to filling your kitchen with the delicious aroma of this quintessential beef stew.
On lazy Sunday afternoons, I make the stew in the same big blue cast iron I’ve been using since college. But on weekdays, I turn to my slow cooker to work its magic while I’m running around car pooling. Either way the end result is the same: a satisfying dinner of melt in your mouth beef stew.
- 2 pounds of beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch medallions
- 1 bottle of full-bodied yet fruity red wine such as Bourgogne or Pinot Noir
- 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 1 white onion, minced
- 1 1/2 cups of white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1/4 cup of cognac
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 Bay Leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- Regardless of whether you'll be using a crock pot or cooking this on the stovetop, the recipe begins the same way. A day before you want to eat this dish, heat a cast-iron saucepan or large stockpot over medium heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter and melt. Add a layer of beef pieces and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate and repeat the process with the rest of the meat. The browning is a key part of the recipe as it imparts a caramelized taste and creates yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan that begin the sauce.
- When you're done browning all the meat, put all the meat pieces back in the pot and sprinkle with the flour. Stir vigorously to have the flour mix with the pan juices. Take the meat back out and set aside.
- Add the remaining butter to the pan and toss in the minced onion. Saute over medium heat until translucent.
- Add the carrots, the mushrooms, the bay leaf, and the browned meat and the tomato paste. Toss it all together with a wooden spoon.
- Now pour in the wine and the cognac, scraping up the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon to add all the onion and beef browning to the wine. Bring it all to a vigorous boil for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- You are now ready for the slow cooking (pour mijoter) in either your crock pot or on the stove top. If using a crock pot, transfer the contents of your stockpot to the crock pot. If you'll be cooking your stew in the same container, then just bring the heat down to low, to a light simmer, and cook for 3 hours, until the meat is tender. Same timeframe in the crockpot, on high setting.
- Three hours of slow cooking later, the meat should fall apart easily with poked with a fork.
- Let it sit overnight to let the flavors come together.
- Reheat before serving over medium heat. Salt and pepper to your liking.
- Serve with rice or egg noodles.
- A note on the mushrooms. In the recipe above, to keep things simple, I threw them in with the carrots. However, traditionalists will tell you to blanch the mushrooms and throw them in during the last 10 minutes of cooking so they retain their shape and texture. It depends on how you like your mushrooms and how easy you want to make your life.