Beef bourguignon or beef burgundy is a popular French dish that is basically a type of stew prepared with beef braised in red wine, the traditional recipe uses red burgundy wine and beef broth flavored with garlic, onions and a bouquet garni, which is French for garnished bouquet and consists of a bundle of herbs that are held together with string or net and is removed after cooking. Some of the ingredients in a bouquet garni can include parsley, thyme, bay leaf, basil, rosemary, peppercorns, savory, tarragon, carrot, celery, leek, onion and parsley root. Pearl onions and mushrooms are then added near the end of the cooking. The beef used to be drier and required extra pork fat to be added into the recipe but modern beef is tender enough without extra fat. Additionally, bacon is used in the beginning and ending of this recipe which is more than enough fat content.
Beef bourguignon originated as a dish made by peasants that has become more of a gourmet dish for special occasions. Peasants probably could not get their hands on great pieces of beef, so they had to make do with tougher and drier cuts of beef and braising it in wine was a means of tenderizing the meat. It has since become a standard in French cuisine with a few changes over the years.
One of the most widely-known recipes for beef bourguignon was developed by the famous French Haute cuisine chef, Antoine Carême. Haute cuisine is French for high cooking and is a type of French cooking consisting of many elaborate dishes in one sitting. Carême’s techniques were further developed into its modern incarnation by Georges Auguste Escoffier, another famous French chef who was born in 1846.
I always thought of beef bourguignon as a kind of food wealthy people ate in gourmet restaurants with exorbitant prices. That was before I actually found out what it was. There is no mystery or expertise required to make this dish and can be done for a relatively low price that the average person can afford. It’s just basically a beef stew with wine instead of gravy.
I browsed around the Internet for recipes to make beef bourguignon and they ranged in complexity from much too simple and nowhere near real beef bourguignon to much too complex and expensive for my liking. While there might be better recipes that are closer to authentic beef bourguignon with all sorts of pricey equipment, I think the recipe I used and, of course, modified, turned out pretty well and I enjoyed the taste and that is what is most important to me when I am eating it. Be careful with the salt — I recommend adding it after the food is done cooking, so you can add it to taste.
For the bacon, I used a few slices of sliced bacon. This recipe would be better with smoky slab bacon diced into pieces.
For the beef, I believe I used chuck beef cubes. You don’t want a dry beef, so choose a fattier cut, like Chuck, but be sure it’s not too fatty; a little marbling is good. Most of the fat will break down by the time this dish is finished cooking, resulting in a tender meat.
I used a standard cooking red wine. It might taste different with better wine but I’m satisfied with what I got.
I used plain old white cremini mushrooms and the finished dish had plenty of that earthy mushroom flavor. I don’t think this would taste good with a stronger mushroom, such as shiitake, but Portobello might be another good choice.
Possible side dishes can include garlic mashed potatoes, like I used, or some kind of roasted potatoes with parsley and maybe another vegetable, like steamed spinach.
The finished dish was rich and delicious. I felt like I was eating in an high-priced gourmet French restaurant with a $50 plate of beef bourguignon. You can feel this way too or show off to your friends and family and act like you are a gourmet chef when you place this fancy looking dish in front of them. If anyone asks for a beer to drink with the bourguignon, don’t let it ruin the gourmet ambience — pour it in a fancy glass and pretend it’s from a $200 bottle of Dom Perignon!
1/4 pound bacon
1 pound beef, chopped into cubes
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 carrots, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Fry the bacon in a skillet until it is crispy and place in a casserole dish.
Coat the beef in flour and fry in the skillet with the bacon drippings until brown and place in the casserole dish on top of the bacon.
Sauté the vegetables in the bacon drippings until tender and pour into the casserole dish.
Pour the red wine over the meat and vegetables and stir. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours at 350° or cook in a crock pot on low for 7 to 9 hours.
Note: If too dry, add more red wine.