There are so many fabulous versions of this, I’m guessing that I may never make the same one twice. Ina Garten has several, one on the Food Network that uses Cognac to deglaze the pot (and then you light it up to burn off the alcohol), and a quicker version in her book, ‘The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook‘, where she uses beef tenderloin filets and does all of the cooking on her stove top (Ma added her own spin to this by using port instead of wine, it was amazing). And then there’s Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignonne, a proper braised stew, with pearl onions browned and braised in beef broth separately, and mushrooms sauteed in butter, also separately, and then all are served together in one glorious finale. All can be made ahead, every one that I’ve tried is perfect (how can you ruin bacon, beef and wine?)…so below is my own outline, with a fun little twist that I borrowed from ‘Whitewater Cooks with Friends’, by Shelley Adams – sweet pickled pearl onions from a jar instead of the traditional kind. After braising, they’re perfect, uniform onions, you can’t tell they were pickled, and oh! the time you save not having to peel pearl onions!
3 lbs. stewing beef, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 c. flour, salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz. bacon, cubed – I used 6 slices of thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced and quartered into half-moons
1 jar (375 mL) sweet pickled pearl onions, well-drained
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
4 large carrots, thickly sliced on the diagonal
3–4 sprigs of fresh thyme AND 1 bay leaf
1 bottle red wine (that you’d enjoy drinking!)
3 c. good, strong beef broth
2 T. tomato paste
2 T. butter
1 lb. (454 g) mushrooms, quartered
salt and freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 and toss the beef and flour together in a large bowl. Give it all a good sprinkling of salt and a good grinding of pepper and toss again. Heat up a large Dutch Oven on medium-high heat and cook the bacon for as long as you need to to get it nice and crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a bowl to set aside, turn the heat up to high and use the bacon fat to brown the beef in batches, searing all sides – each batch will take a good 5 five minutes. Remove the browned beef to a plate and add in both kinds of onion, the garlic, carrots, thyme and bay leaf and cook and stir until all of the vegetables are slightly browned – if it gets too dry, add a touch of oil, but remember that the onions will release a lot of liquid.
When the vegetables are browned, add the bacon and beef back in, pour in the wine and broth and stir in the tomato paste – you want the beef covered in liquid. Bring it all to a simmer, then put the lid on and bake at 325 for 2 hours. After 2 hours, take it out and give it a stir, then if you’re serving it the same day, cook it with the lid on for 1 hour, stir, then decide if you’d like the sauce thicker – you can thicken it cooking it with the lid off, in the oven or on the stove. If you’re making it a day or 2 ahead, bake for about another hour and a half, allow it to cool completely then refrigerate it overnight. Skim off the fat (if there is any) before gently reheating it on your stove-top – my sauce was thick enough, but I added a touch more broth to loosen it up and help it to reheat evenly. As you’re reheating it or getting ready to serve, saute the mushrooms in the butter with some salt and pepper to taste and when they’re nice and brown (this will take about 15 minutes), stir the mushrooms into the beef pot before serving.
Any version of Beef Bouguignon is fabulous for company – we like ours with mashed potatoes – but if you’d like to fancy it up a bit, add some caramelized onions to your potatoes (and serve with a giant green salad, crusty bread and anything else that suits your mood!) – enjoy!
- Category: Beef, Make-ahead