“Keep It Simple” Beef Bourguignon
My inspiration to make beef bourguignon came from a bottle of damaged wine. A few months back, we moved apartments and the movers somehow thought that 2 bottles of our best wines should be kept in the FREEZER. Alas, a few days after the move, I opened the freezer and, lo and behold, 2 solid popsicle bottles of wine stared back at me. Although we had our belongings (including our wines) insured before the move, it was sad to see these bottles go to waste, especially since it has moved with us from France to New York, to Tokyo and Hong Kong. Hence, although it wasn’t at its prime for drinking anymore, I decided to use it in my first ever attempt at beef bourguignon hoping that it would add a bit of magic to the dish.
I’ve reviewed several beef bourguignon recipes (including Julia Child’s) but felt most were too cumbersome, with too many steps and, overall, a draining process. Hence, I’ve adapted my own version which is a lot simpler. Hope this dish brings you a little bit of magic as well!
What you’ll need (serves 6):
- 1lb cubed stew-quality beef (I like brisket)
- 1/2 cup of pancetta (or lardon / bacon)
- 1 tbls canola oil
- 3 onions (roughly chopped)
- 6 carrots (4 of which should be roughly chopped, 2 reserved for puree)
- 2 cloves of garlic (finely diced)
- approx. 15 pearl onions
- approx 2 handfuls of mushrooms (roughly chopped)
- 1 bottle of young, bold red wine
- 3 cups of beef stock (I use instant stock)
- 6 bay leaves, 1 tbls of thyme or herbs of provence
- salt & pepper
I would cook this in a heavy-based pot as it retains heat well and distributes it evenly (my trusty Le Creuset is perfect for this). First, fry the pancetta in 1 tbls of oil on medium high heat until it turns golden (around 3 minutes).
Add the cubed beef to the pot and brown evenly. In a separate pot, start heating up the beef stock.
Spoon the meat out and set aside. Using the rendered oil from the pancetta and beef, saute the garlic, onion and carrots together until the onion start to slightly caramelize. Please note to only use 4 of the 6 carrots, reserve the rest for later to make puree.
After sauteing the vegetables for around 5-8 minutes, add the meat back into the pot. At this point, season with salt and pepper, as well as the herbs, to taste. I would suggest around 1 tsp of salt depending on how salty the stock is.
Now it’s the fun part – empty an entire bottle of wine into the pot. Add 1 cup of stock.
Bring the pot to a boil, then switch to a low heat setting and simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure the pot doesn’t run dry, and keep hot stock handy to add.
After around 2 hours the beef should be very tender. Now add the pearl onions and allow to simmer for another 8-10 minutes. Add the mushroom at the end, as they cook the fastest, and should only take around 2-3 minutes.
Most traditional recipes call for butter and flour to thicken the sauce at the end, but I want to keep the stew on the lighter side so I add pureed carrots (remember the 2 carrots reserved from earlier-boil them for around 15 minutes and then mash them up in a blender or with a fork). This really thickens the sauce, adds vitamins and flavour / sweetness, without adding loads of calories!
This is a great recipe to make over the weekend and pack in the fridge for the upcoming week. It keeps well and tastes even better the next day!