Friday, April 09, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

I made something I've never made before: beef bourguignon. Although this looked mighty tasty back when I saw the movie Julie and Julia, I didn't actually consider making it. French food's a little intimidating to me. And there are so many versions of the recipe out there that I didn't have any idea which to use.

But last week we were at Costco (that bastion of fine and artisinal foods) and we tasted a beef roast with balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes that was really good. James suggested hopefully that I could make roast like that. I laughed, because I don't like roast and never make it, yet he never quits suggesting it. He likes nice traditional food. I like what has been called "weird food", although I tend to think of it as interesting food. I like strong flavors and new tastes. It occurred to me that maybe I could make a roast that was both strongly flavored and well, still roast.

I did want to at least try. James has been running even more than usual in preparation for an upcoming singing performance, but he's been making the extra effort to come home for dinner so that even though he's out late and I'm doing double-duty, we still have the family dinner time that we believe is so important. I was thinking of his extra effort when I made him his "bland fish" dinner he was so pleased with and thinking of it again when I bought a nice roast, not knowing exactly what I'd do with it.

I was thrilled to find a version of Beef Bourguignon in Everyday Food - now it wasn't intimidating at all. I know they call it "beef stew", but to me it's really roast with lots more flavor and the gravy already made. I will admit that while I was making it I was cursing the French ("leave it to the French to make roast this time consuming!"). It took a little longer than I had planned, but that's because I talked myself into also making mashed potatoes and a fresh batch of bread dough. Nothing about the recipe was difficult. There were no complicated techniques. The steps just took time to step through.

When we ate it I had to give the French their props: "Leave it to the French to make roast this good."

Anyone up for trying it?

The Everyday Food recipe is in the March 2010 issue but I have provided an altered version here. There are a few reasons I had to make changes: First, I believe it has a small error in that it tells you to drain off all but 1T fat after cooking the beef (there wasn't any to drain) and not after cooking the bacon (reducing to 1T would have been perfect). Also, 3 lb. of meat was just too much for our family. We want to have leftovers, but not so much that we get sick of eating it before it's gone! So, I cut the recipe in half (with slight alterations like keeping the full amount of garlic). Finally, I don't have a dutch oven so I used a skillet and then transferred everything to a baking dish. If you are trying this and you have a dutch oven, you can do everything in that one pot.

Recipe: Beef Bourguignon

1.5 T olive oil
8 lg. button mushrooms, quartered
1.5 lb. boneless beef rump roast, cut into 1" pieces
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
2.5 strips bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 T tomato paste
1 T flour
1.5 c dry red wine
1 c low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 lg. garlic clove, smashed and peeled
2 lg. carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
5 oz pearl onions
1T butter, cut into pieces
1T fresh parsely, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

In a heavy skillet, heat 1/2T oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 10 min. Remove and reserve until end of recipe.
Season beef generously with salt and pepper and add 1 T oil to skillet. Brown beef, in batches if necessary, and remove from skillet.
Cook bacon until crispy. Remove all but 1T fat. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 30 sec. Add flour and cook, stirring, 30 sec. Return beef to pot. Add wine, stock, bay leaf and garlic. Bring to a boil. Use the liquid to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, then transfer to a deep covered baking dish.
Bake 1.5 hours.
Add carrots and onions and cook until all is very tender, 1-1.5 more hours. Add mushrooms 15 minutes before cooking is complete.
Finish with butter (optional) and parsley.

Good made ahead and reheated on stovetop or in oven. Can serve with roasted new potatoes.


  1. Yumma-lumma-ding-dong! It looks GREAT!

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! We tried Beef Bourguignon from Central Market last week, and we loved it! I've been wanting to make it, but was a little intimidated. This recipe looks exciting but approachable. Thanks!!

  3. Oh, yay, I'm glad it will be of use to someone! We miss you guys, glad you are doing well! :)

  4. Your recipe and a sale on stew meat inspired me to try a slow cooker version of this recipe. I'll let you know how it goes.

  5. Oh, that sounds like a good idea! I would think it would adapt just fine. Even if "french cooking" and "crock pot" don't normally sound like they go together ;)
    Definitely let me know how it is!