Back when I was single, I’d often cook myself beef liver for meals. It was cheap and I loved it, especially with eggs, which were also affordable. I had no other meat experience. Nor with vegetables, other than salad.
So I marry at 25 and know I need to learn how to cook and put daily meals together for my husband and myself. Plus, my husband didn’t eat liver.
Fortunately I was fearless in the kitchen. I jumped into this set of cookbooks from Time-Life – called Foods of the World – that my mother gifted me when we married, and proceeded to cook. My naïveté helped me.
Peking duck? Sure! Tempura? Of course! Rogan Josh? Certainly. Nothing intimidated me, except crazy desserts and pastries, which still do…
When it came to the Provincial French cookbook, I dove in with the same enthusiasm I had for every other cookbook, with glorious results.
Take this boeuf bourguignon. Every aspect of this dish is prepped separately prior to being added together at the end.
I learned how to use salt pork, a new ingredient for me, poaching it first to get rid of all of the salt. I learned how to respect mushrooms, those water-gorged fungi. I peeled pearl onions, not my favorite chore. And I quickly learned how to use good wine in cooking, not one that turns everything purple.
So if you’re willing to spend a little more time to create an outstanding French Burgundian specialty, you will be so happy you did. Nothing is hard, well, except for those darn pearl onions. This recipe just takes a bit of time.
Beef Stew with Red Wine
To serve 6 – 8
To ensure that no one element in your boeuf bourguignon is overdone, cook the onions, mushrooms and beef separately before finally combining them. Although the different steps may be taken simultaneously, it is easier to deal with them one at a time.
1/2 pound lean salt pork, cut into strips about 1 1/2” long
and 1/4” in diameter
1 quart water
1 tablespoon butter
18 – 24 peeled white onions, about 1” in diameter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To remove excess saltiness, the salt pork should be blanched by simmering it in 1 quart of water for 5 minutes; drain on paper towels and pat dry.
In a heavy skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over moderate heat, and in it brown the pork, stirring the pieces frequently, until they are crisp and golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels.
In the rendered fat left in the skillet, brown the onions lightly over moderately high heat, shaking the pan occasionally to roll them around and color them as evenly as possible.
Transfer the onions to a shallow baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer, and sprinkle them with 3 tablespoons of pork fat. (Set the skillet aside, leaving the rest of the fat in it.) Bake the onions uncovered, turning them once or twice, for 30 minutes or until they are barely tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, whole if small, sliced in large
While the onions are baking or after they are done, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat in a skillet. When the foam subsides, cook the mushrooms, tossing and turning them frequently, for 2 or 3 minutes, or until they are slightly soft.
Add the mushrooms to the onions and set aside.
3 pound lean boneless beef chuck or rump, cut into 2” chunks
Bouquet garni made of 4 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied together
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup very finely chopped carrots
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup hot beef stock
2 cups red Burgundy
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Make sure the oven is preheated to 350 degrees F. Pour almost all of the rendered pork fat from the skillet in which the onions browned into a small bowl, leaving just enough to make a thin film about 1/16” deep on the bottom of the pan.
Over moderately high heat, bring the fat almost to the smoking point. Dry the beef with paper towels, then brown it in the fat, 4 or 5 chunks at a time to avoid crowding the skillet.
Add more pork fat as needed. When the chunks are brown on all sides, remove them with kitchen tongs to a heavy, flameproof 5-6 quart casserole. Bury the bouquet garni in the meat.
After all the beef if browned, add the chopped shallots and carrots to the fat remaining in the pan and cook them over low heat, stirring frequently, until they are lightly colored. Stir in the flour. (If the mixture looks dry, add a little more pork fat.)
Return the skillet to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour begins to brown lightly, but be careful it doesn’t burn. Remove from the heat, let cool a moment, then pour in the hot beef stock, blending vigorously with a wire whisk.
Blend in the wine and the tomato paste and bring to a boil, whisking constantly as the sauce thickens.
Mix in the garlic, thyme, sautéed pork strips, salt and a few grinding of black pepper, and pour the sauce over the beef, stirring gently to moisten it thoroughly. the sauce should almost, but not quite, cover the meat; add more wine or stock if needed.
Bring to a boil on top of the stove, cover tightly, and place the casserole in the lower third of the oven. Let the beef cook, regulating the oven heat so the meat simmers slowly, 2 – 3 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
Then gently stir the browned onions and mushrooms, together with any juices that may have accumulated under them, into the casserole.
With a large spoon, gently mix the beef and vegetables with the sauce in the casserole. Continue baking for another 15 minutes.
To serve, remove the bouquet garni, and skim off any fat from the surface.
Taste the sauce and season it with salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle the beef with parsley and serve it directly from the casserole.
In the past I’ve served this luscious stew over fresh pasta, but this time I was lazy and cooked some fettuccine.
It’s also wonderful, as you can imagine, over any kind of potato – mashed, roasted, a gratin…
The full flavors of this beef stew are so intense. It’s rich in a way, but rich with flavors of wine and thyme. The onions and mushrooms add delightful texture as well.
Use a good wine – something you’d serve with this dish.
You can serve the stew as you would chili, in a warm bowl without toppings, of course, but I prefer a base of pasta or potatoes.
One of my favourite dishes and I love the way you’ve made it, Mimi :)
Thank you Kay. I love this recipe so much I’ve never looked at another one!
My speciality and most requested recipe when I used to ran my cookery school.
Tip: use frozen pearl onions from Trader Joes
Really? I had no idea. I’m going to the city today to go to Whole Foods, and now I’m going to also hit Trader Joe’s. Thanks!!!
We want to dive right in! Boeuf Bourguignon is one of our favorite Sunday Suppers. Cooked with love and so delicious with a glass of red. Pearl onions are a true pain. The only way we get around this is to do a quick blanch and then they come off pretty easy after you cut that one side off. However, pearl onions are so delicious and worth the extra pain. Thank you for all the fantastic step by step photos. Wishing you a super week ahead.
Thank you Bobbi. I never knew that about blanching the onions, so good to know. My thumbs have gotten a bit arthritic lately, which is not fun for someone who constantly cooks, and so I’ve been embracing shortcuts that I wouldn’t have in the past!
hi Mimi , Just found your blog via Stefan gourmet and went right away to ”boeuf bourguignon ” to see if there is a better recipe than the one I cook since the years 70s .
What a surprise to see you have the same book ! .( But this book is the most recipes stained I have and I think this page is the worst with the coq au vin a la bourguignon ( the page before ) It is really the best I tried and received compliments from everybody who tasted it .
Blanching the pearl onions is the way to go and make a cross with a knife at the base before will facilitate the processus of expulsion of the peel in my opinion . I just adjust the amount of flour for the consistancy of the sauce cause I add a little bit more wine to get more sauce . I will look forward to your blog from now and take care … Joyeux Noel Francois ,from Montréal
Isn’t that really funny?!! Those are great books, however. I have made the coq au vin as well but not as often. Just perfect recipes!!! Joyeux Noel!
A properly made Boeuf Bourguignon is a thing of beauty and well worth the care that goes into making it. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a better beef stew. Glorious, Mimi.
I agree with you. I don’t, in fact, make any other beef stews. This one is too good!
I make a tomato-y, Med-inspired one that I like but BB is my favourite!
Mimi, I know you have shared a recipe before from your Time-Life cooking series. My parents also had this series and I wish I had kept it! Your dish certainly looks rich and full of flavors. I used to first marinate the beef overnight in the wine. Australia doesn’t sell pearl onions, but they are easy to find in the US. Nadia, thanks for the tip on buying frozen ones from Trader Joes!
Isn’t that a wonderful thing to know about pearl onions? I need to scope out the freezer section more often at my grocery store! I’m sorry you still don’t have the series. To me they are invaluable.
It has been decades since I made Beef Bourguignon . I used Julia Child ‘s recipe. I love your recipe and hope to make it soon.
You will love it, of course. It’s just loads of rich flavors.
I think my mother used salt pork in dozens of dishes!
Oh interesting! I like the blanching step, so it’s not just SALTY!
Oh, I think she was after the salt!
I made Julia’s version for our dinner club last winter! SOOooo good! Yours looks just as amazing!!
I’m sure that is excellent as well, since she knew French cuisine so well. Involved recipe, and so worth it!
Mimi, this sounds absolutely fantastic and worth every step. Thank you for such detailed instructions and gorgeous photos from beginning to end! xo
You are so welcome. It’s really spectacular- especially for basically a beef stew!
I have this set of books, too. Also from my mom, who happened to LOVE Boeuf Bourguinon. What a beautiful and delicious dish and so perfect with those noodles you’re serving it on. :-) ~Valentina
Thank you. They are still important cookbooks to me, and obviously, I still cook from them!
One of my favourite recipes of all! It’s been so long since I’ve made any, I really need to make it again soon. Yours looks so good.
I hadn’t made it in years. My husband requested it occasionally for his birthday.
This is the perfect dish for when the nights are cooler :)
And you feel like eating a lot of meat!
This is a great classic dish and your version is fabulous. Now that you have a chamber vacuum sealer you could try to cook the beef sous vide (24 hours at 165). It makes it easier to ensure that the beef is tender and doesn’t dry out. https://stefangourmet.com/2017/04/01/boeuf-bourguignon-sous-vide/
PS To make it more decadent you could use boneless short ribs instead of lean beef.
Short rib meat just isn’t as “pretty” to me, but it is my favorite cut of beef. For the sake of the blog post, I wanted to use this recipe as is, but certainly the chamber vacuum sealer has been so much fun and allowed me to do so many different things in terms or marinating as well as cooking that I couldn’t do before.
Those pearl onions are such a pain! I still use the ones from the produce department sometime, despite the chore of peeling — they definitely are the best. Frozen ones aren’t bad, though, and I’ve been using them more and more. Anyway, this is one of my favorite dishes, and you did a great job with it. Thanks.
Thanks, John! I just looked at my grocery store yesterday, and there they were! Frozen pearl onions! It’s certainly an option…
Gosh, I’ve never made Boeuf Bourguignon properly…it’s so complicated. But what a delicious look dish. It’s breakfast time and my mouth is salivating! Great job!
Ha! I understand that! It’s not complicated, just a bit involved and time consuming. And, so worth it.
Mimi, this is such a glorious dish! Beautiful! It was such a thrill in those days being newly married and cooking all those amazing meals from cookbooks for the first time. One of my first cookbooks, besides the Betty Crocker book I got as a wedding gift, was a huge Cordon Blue cookbook that had lessons from beginner to advanced. I had never eaten French (or fine) food and I absolutely fell in love with the food and cooking and cookbooks. It also gave me a lot of self confidence to be able to create those meals. Thanks for the reminder of those days, my friend!
Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…. What you said brought back that very old song to mind. You must be older than I think you are. Of course your face if hidden by flowers!!! Yes, that was a good time, and really the only way to learn how to cook.
Mimi – this is a fantastic version of Bœuf Bourgignon! And, I absolutely love that you love beef liver! I do, as well – such a comfort food for me. Back to the beef… I really appreciate that you use salt pork instead of bacon. I was shocked when Julia Child suggested bacon in her recipe. Perhaps she was discussing French lardons?
Did she? She only cooked French, right? So maybe she did mean lardons, but then, I’m surprised she wouldn’t actually say lardons… I have her first cookbooks, but never cooked much out of them. Not sure why. I think I’ve read every book about JC. Liver saved me in college, because I could get 4-5 meals out of a 99 cent carton of liver! Plus, I did love it, and it is good for you… Probably not everyday though 🤣
A favorite cool weather dish in my family! I will be making this soon…
Definitely a warming and hearty dish!!!
A classic recipe, and for a very good reason: it’s fabulous! I like that you do cook the onions and mushrooms separately, so many recipes omit this critical step. It makes a *huge* difference in the flavor and especially the texture of the veg. And I do agree about those pesky pearl onions. Such a chore to peel but mercifully you can buy them pre-peeled in some places around here. And I have been known to resort to frozen ones… just don’t tell anyone.
Right, well I just found that out. I was at Whole Foods recently, in a nearby city, and saw the frozen pearl onions! And, I saw cut up butternut squash, and din’t hesitate to throw a few of those bags in my cart!!!
One of my favorite dishes. Your version sounds amazing. I always cook my onions and mushrooms separately too. I agree about using frozen pearl onions. Once they are browned, I can’t tell the difference.
I am so happy to have discovered this!! Thanks!
By the way, I have those same plates. Love them.
Oh! I love them too!
What a beautiful meal! The extra lengths you went to paid of in spades I am sure! I loved reading about your early cooking experiences with a fearless attitude!
Aw, thank you very much! Happy Thanksgiving!
It’s raining in L.A. and this boeuf would be da bomb! GREG
It’s so good, but yes, it’s not suited for hot summer days for sure! Happy Thanksgiving Greg!