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Beef Bourguignon, recipe from the Butcher

Beef Bourguignon is perhaps Burgundy's most iconic dish; a rich beef stew made infamous in America by Julia Child, prepared from marinated beef simmered in local wine with a calves foot, onions, bacon lardons, herbs and mushrooms.

Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author Francois

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef shoulder cut into 2 inch large pieces - see notes
  • 1 each calves foot split
  • 1 bottle red Burgundy wine, or low alcohol pinot noir
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 tablespoon pork fat, or duck fat
  • 1/4 pound slab bacon cut into large dice
  • 16 each pearl onions or shallots
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, I used cultivated 'horse mushrooms'
  • 2 stalks celery finely diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 head garlic, but I like
  • parsley for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Put beef into a glass bowl and cover with wine, bay leaf and thyme. Let marinate a minimum of six hours, but preferably overnight.
  2. Heat pork fat in large pot, add bacon, and cook till lightly browned.. I generally would advise staying away from strongly smoked bacon as it imparts too smokey a flavor for a dish as subtle as this. The French would blanch the bacon first in boiling water. 

  3. Drop your peeled pearl onions into the pork fat, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and reserve with bacon. Do not worry about fully cooking as they will simmer in the last 30 minutes of cooking.

  4. Saute button mushrooms in fat for a few minutes, then add to bacon and onions.
  5. Remove beef and calves foot from marinade, saving marinade, and pat dry. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and saute in pan.
  6. When the meat is browned, add celery and carrots and continue sauteeing for five minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour and stir into vegetables.
  8. Add reserved marinade, stock and garlic and simmer for two hours. The idea is to cook the beef about 2/3 of the way. If you need to add liquid as you cook you can add water or even beef stock.
  9. Remove the beef and calves foot, dicing the meat and cartilage and throwing the bones away.
  10. Strain the sauce, discarding the carrots and celery and garlic. At home when cooking for family I would be apt to leave the vegetables in, but certainly would remove if serving guests.
  11. Remove any fat floating at the top, then return the sauce, beef and diced calves foot to the pot, and continue cooking for another hour, or until the beef is done. I usually add the mushrooms, bacon and onions at this point too because I do not want to be bothered trying to guess exactly when the meat will be done.
  12. Beef a la Bourguignonne is better the next day or even four days later like any other stew on the face of the planet. It really needs time to mature and have the flavors marry together. When you are ready to serve, ladle out hearty portions and serve with a starchy side like fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, macaroni gratin, pasta and evn risotto. Sprinkle with parsley and for god's sake, drink a great Burgundy with this.

Recipe Notes

What cut of beef to use? Avoid what most stores call stew beef, it usually is devoid of fat and cartilage, two things necessary for stewing. I generally use meat from the shoulder or oxtails, short ribs or shanks.