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In the Kitchen: The perfect beef bourguignon

Beef bourguignon has roots in the Burgundy region of France, which in France, is known as “Bourgogne.” The region has long been known for its excellent wines and rich cuisine, among other things. 

Like so many other classic comfort food dishes, this rich and velvety beef stew was once a peasant dish that made its way into the heart and home of the wealthy and is certainly considered haute cuisine. 

Originally, beef burgundy was prepared using a whole roast of beef, but Julia Child used cut-up chunks of beef, simplifying the whole thing for the home cook. 

Even so, some recipes ask for long hours of marinating the beef — a few even recommend a two-day process to make the dish.

Never fear. This recipe is not difficult to make, but does have some important steps you should not skip. One important tip is to dry the beef cubes with paper towels before you brown them. Wet meat doesn’t sear well. 

Also, when you brown the meat, do so in batches so as not to crowd the cubes. Crowded beef cubes will steam instead of brown. 

Lastly, use a decent bottle of wine. I like to use a pinot noir, but any dry red wine will work. The general rule of thumb when cooking with wine is to use a wine you would want to drink —this ensures a properly flavored sauce. 

I know serving beef stew might not sound fancy, but I promise this meal is fit for your most special guests and loved ones. Serve it with some buttered egg noodles, a simple green salad and some good, crusty French bread. I am getting hungry just writing about this dish. Email me if you try it and let me know your thoughts. 

Beef bourguignon

8-ounces bacon, cut into small strips

Olive oil as needed

2-pound chuck roast, or stew beef, cut into bite-size pieces

Salt and pepper

1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal slices

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup brandy or Cognac

3 ½ cups pinot noir

1-2 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 bag frozen whole pearl onions

1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In an ovenproof Dutch oven, cook bacon strips with a little bit of oil until they are crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Dry beef cubes well with paper towels and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. 

In batches, sear the beef cubes with some more olive oil. Don’t crowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of brown. Remove to plate once all sides are browned. 

Add more oil as needed and add chopped onions and carrots, cooking until softened, about eight minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms have released their liquid. Carefully add brandy and raise heat a bit and cook until almost evaporated. 

Add pinot noir, beef broth, tomato paste and thyme, bringing to a boil. Add browned beef, any accumulated juices and the cooked bacon to the pot. If liquid doesn’t cover meat, add a bit more beef broth. Cover tightly and place in the 250-degree oven. Cook for one hour and 15 minutes, until meat is completely tender. 

Mash together butter and flour in a small bowl. Stir into the beef stew, along with the bag of pearl onions and the parsley. Return to oven and raise oven heat to 425 degrees. Cook another 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.