Easy but Classic Beef Bourguignon

So, you may have seen our in depth write up on a fabulous Nashville restaurant called the Chef & I. (If not, you should certainly pop over after you’re done here and check it out!) We attended a 5 or 6 course tasting given by the Chef/Owner himself, Chef Chris Raines. The Chef & I also hold cooking classes several nights a week so we decided to try one. When looking over the options, I was super happy to see they had a french cuisine class coming up AND that the main course was to be Beef Bourguignon! Ever since I watched the movie Julie & Julia I’ve wanted to try this classic French dish. For those who haven’t seen this fabulous movie starring Amy Adams- why not?! It is wonderful! But I digress. Julia Childs was known for many things but her Beef Bourguignon was one of her signature dishes. On the surface, it sounds so fancy. But in reality, it is an overall simple dish composed of rich, flavorful ingredients.

So we attended this cooking class (which we will share with you in greater detail in an upcoming post) and had a BLAST! We came home determined to see if we could recreate the dish without a professional chef guiding us.

In class, we used a beef tenderloin so it was very lean and tender. The most common cut used for this recipe is actually… any beef roast. We used Angus Sirloin Roast at home and had the butcher cut it in to 1 inch cubes. Most grocery stores will do this free of charge when you’re buying a larger cut of meat. I use this option often so I can then portion and freeze my meat for future use. Anyway, one thing I will say about whatever meat you choose is trim as much fat as you can otherwise you’re left skimming it after you pull it from the oven. I may or may not be speaking from experience…

Beef Bourguignon Ingredients

A tip when choosing your wine: Don’t go too cheap (the cheap stuff has a lot of sugar which doesn’t really translate well in this dish). But don’t get too fancy, either. A good middle of the road red will be fine. Just make sure it is on the dry side. We used a Cabernet both times we made it. While it was delicious, I will try an Shiraz or Syrah next time. What you NEVER want to do is use any “cooking” wine sold near the vinegar because this will be loaded with sugar.

Beef Bourguignon is typically served with either a thick slice of hearty bread or some classic mashed potatoes. We opted for bread since The Englishman is a fantastic bread maker. Check out our recipe for the super easy no knead bread here.

No Knead Bread

 

Get your oven ready! 325 degrees seems to be the perfect temperature to cook the meat until tender but also keep the time down to a reasonable 2 1/2 hours.

Beef Bourguignon meat

Get your oven safe pot heated on medium-high heat. We want to brown/sear the meat. If you have a really lean cut, go ahead and use a tablespoon or so of cooking oil. Our Sirloin roast was fatty enough we didn’t need any extra oil. You’re not fully cooking the meat here- just sealing the outside to hold in the juices. This step should only take 4-6 minutes at most.

Beef Bourguignon onion and carrots 2

Take the meat out of the pot and set aside. Using the oil/fat in the pot, we are going to cook our onions and carrots. After a couple minutes, add the Thyme and garlic. Fresh Thyme is preferred. If using fresh, make sure to take the little leaves off the sprig. You don’t want the little sticks in your lovely stew.

Tip: To make mincing your garlic easy try using a zester. This recipe doesn’t need the garlic to be in chunks or visible. We just want that fabulous garlic flavor.

When your onions are starting to become translucent, add the mushrooms.

Beef Bourguignon mushrooms

Generously salt your vegetables now. The salt will help draw out the moisture from the mushrooms and make your dish tasty 😉

Give your mushrooms a few minutes to cook a bit. Remember, this will all go in the oven for a couple hours so no need to cook everything through. We just want to get things started.

Here comes the fun next step… Flambe!

Beef Bourguignon flambe

Yep- this picture looks different than the rest. We just weren’t able to capture a good flambe photo at home. This is the shot I took in our Chef & I class. Pretty cool, huh?

Here’s how to do this: Add the Cognac and immediately set it on fire. I do NOT recommend using a simple little lighter. If you don’t have one of the long handled ones, you can light the end of a piece of dry spaghetti and use it like a long match. We used blow torches in class so if you have one, go right ahead! Light the Cognac and step back. don’t touch it or stir it. Just let it burn. You’ll see the flames disappear in a few seconds. This burns off the alcohol quickly and brings out more flavor from the Cognac.

Stir in the tomato paste until well incorporated. Next step: more alcohol!

Beef Bourguignon add wine

We get to add the wine now. Bring this to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.We want to help cook off the alcohol.

Beef Bourguignon simmer 1

Go ahead and add the beef stock now.

Did you know? The difference between stock and broth as explained by Chef Liz at The Chef & I – Stock is made from the bones and meat cooked down to a concentrated form. Broth is the meat and aromatics cooked down. Stock is typically stronger in meat flavor.

Bring to a boil again and simmer another 10 minutes or so.

Beef Bourguignon add meat

Add the meat back in the pot. If using fresh pearl onions, they go in now as well. If using frozen, hang on to them but make sure they’re defrosted!

Time to put this beautiful dish in the oven and let the magic happen. 2-2 1/2 hours should be perfect. Ideally, a lot of your liquid will cook off.

beef bourguignon simmer

After your 2 or so hours, take the dish back out and get it on medium-high heat on the stove again.

If using fresh pearl onions, you’ve already added them. If using frozen pearl onions they go in now but they MUST be fully defrosted or you risk adding too much liquid back into the dish. If there’s a lot of liquid left, let it simmer for 10-20 minutes or until you’ve reduced the liquid down to at least half of what you had before it went in the oven.

Here is where the butter and flour come into play. We are going to use these two things to make a thickener. Mix the flour and butter together making a kind of paste. Add a bit at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency. It should typically be thick like a stew with gravy.

Grab a dish and serve it up!

Beef Bourguignon Final

I can’t wait for you to try this French classic! Please make sure to share your pictures, comments and results with us! Bon Appetit!

Print Recipe
Easy but Classic Beef Bourguignon
This French classic is also famed Chef Julia Child's signature dish and on the bucket list of many home cooks. It is a simple yet decadent dish that can be done by anyone. With beef, vegetables and plenty of alcohol it is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
Beef Bourguignon Final
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 2.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 2.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Beef Bourguignon Final
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees On the stove, place your stock pot over medium-high heat. Brown meat on all sides, approximately 3-5 minutes. Use a bit of cooking oil if your meat is super lean. Removed browned meat and set aside. In same pot, add onions and carrots. Scrape any brown bits from bottom of pot- there's a lot of flavor in those! Add the thyme and garlic after a couple minutes. Once onions begin to become translucent, add the mushrooms. Now is the time to generously season with salt & pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. Time to flambe! Add the cognac and immediately ignite the pot then stand back. If you don't have a long handled lighter or a blow torch, you can light the end of a piece of spaghetti. I don't recommend using a regular small lighter- you risk getting burned. Allow the Cognac to burn. Flames should subside in a few seconds or so. Next, add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate completely. Pour in the wine and bring the pot to a boil. Simmer about 10 minutes. Add the beef stock, bring back to a simmer for another 10 minutes. Time to put the beef back in the pot. If you are using fresh pearl onions, they also go in now. If using frozen- just wait. Cover your pot, place in oven and relax for the next 2 1/2 hours. Once the time is up, put the pot back on the stove over medium-high heat. If you're using frozen pearl onions NOW is the time to add them. However, be sure they're completely defrosted or you risk adding too much water into this beautifully rich dish. Bring back to a boil and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about half of what it was BEFORE it went in the oven (sometimes, the liquid has already reduced in the oven). Meanwhile, mix the flour and softened butter into a paste. When your liquid is down to where you want it, add the paste little by little until you reach your desired consistency. You may not end up using all the paste. I prefer mine to be thick like gravy. Taste and add more salt & pepper if desired. Time to eat! Bon Apetit!
Recipe Notes

We eat this dish with a hearty, crusty bread like the No Knead Bread The Englishman makes. You can also serve it with mashed potatoes. Or go crazy and have both!

It should last in the refrigerator about 5 days.

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