I’ve been deep into cooking as many years as I can remember – I was in the kitchen even before I could reach the stovetop. In our family neither my Mom nor my Grandmothers viewed cooking as a chore. They saw different foods and dishes as adventures, always up for trying something new and thankfully a trait they passed along to both Emily and me.
I read cookbooks like most people read novels. If you were to ask me what book is on my nightstand chances are it’s a cookbook. Boeuf Bourguignon is a dish I had worshipped from afar for years. It sounded intriguing, mystifying but intimidating until I did a bit of reading and research. And to my delight I discovered Boeuf Bourguignon is simply a luscious beef stew, one where the beef is cooked primarily in red wine with a touch of cognac. Intimidation factor lifted!
Many of the components of Boeuf Bourguignon are the same as you find in a classic beef stew. Chuck roast is a perfect cut of beef for this wonderful stew; it’s a cut of meat that benefits greatly from braising. Carrots and onions are the vegetables that lend their flavor profile plus a generous amount of garlic that mellows and sweetens as it cooks. To make the perfect braising liquid, thyme is blended with rich tomato paste along with a gorgeous bottle of wine and a splash of cognac.
Simmer this stew in your oven for a couple of hours, then top it with sautéed cremini mushrooms and serve with a side of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Hopefully you have a second bottle of red wine on hand!
God bless you Julia Child for unlocking the mystery of this classic beef stew!
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 lbs. chuck roast, cut into pieces about 1” each
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 ounces bacon, cut into pieces
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into 2” pieces, about 7-8 carrots
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
½ cup Cognac
1 (750 ml) bottle good red wine
1-1/2 to 2 cups beef broth
1 can tomato paste, 12 ounces
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 package frozen pearl onions, 14 ounces (optional)
1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms
Season the beef with 1 teaspoons kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper then let the meat set at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. In large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the meat cooking in small batches so that the meat has the room to brown and not steam.
As each batch browns transfer the meat to a bowl and continue cooking until all the meat is browned on all sides.
Add the bacon to the pan cooking until it starts to crisp and the fat has rendered.
Toss in the carrots and the onions, season with ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Slowly pour the Cognac into the pan and heat for a few minutes. Using a long match or long-reach lighter, ignite the cognac to burn off the alcohol.
Return the beef and any juices to the Dutch oven.
Pour the wine over the beef and vegetables then add enough beef broth to just cover the meat. Stir in the tomato paste and the thyme.
Cover and cook at 250-degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the meat and carrots are tender. While the stew is cooking prepare the butter-based roux and cook the mushrooms.
For the butter roux, combine 7 tablespoons of the butter with the flour in a small bowl.
Mix with a fork until it’s blended into a paste. Set aside.
For the mushrooms, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan. Cook allowing the mushrooms to release their liquid.
Continue cooking until the mushrooms are golden before seasoning with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.
When the stew is ready, remove from the oven and stir in the flour and butter roux mixture. Check for seasonings, adding any additional kosher salt or black pepper to suit your taste.
Add the pearl onions then simmer on low heat for an additional 15- 20 minutes until the stew is slightly thickened and the pearl onions are warmed through.
Ladle the beef bourguignon into large bowls, top with a spoonful of the sautéed mushrooms. Serve with a side of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and perhaps a glass of red wine!