Beef Bourguignon started out as a way for peasants in the Burgundy region of France to tenderize tough cuts of meat by stewing them in wine. Considering that the temperature here has been hovering in the single digits, having a pot of stew in the oven and then on the stove was quite welcome. Previously, I made Julia Child’s beef bourguignon recipe and it was amazing. I decided for the sake of comparison, I’d make Ina Garten’s recipe this time. I can safely say that I’m equally pleased with Garten’s simpler version. I did leave out the step in Garten’s version where Cognac is added and ignited then blown out mainly because I didn’t have Cognac in the house and wasn’t venturing out in the cold at that point. I didn’t feel like anything was missing in the end result, but I’ll have to make it next time including this step and report back.
Unlike Julia Child’s recipe, this makes use of frozen pearl onions. This alone was a huge help, because fresh pearl onions aren’t available in any of the three grocery stores I visited. The stew simmers for a little more than an hour as opposed to the three to four hours called for in Child’s recipe, and the beef here was sufficiently tender after a little more than an hour in the oven. The depth of flavor in the results of either recipe was the same. All things considered, I’ll be sticking with Garten’s recipe because it proves that just because a recipe is less involved doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing flavor. This is a favorite, so I’m thrilled to have an easier recipe to work with. Almost as thrilled as I was to put this over egg noodles (it’s also great over mashed potatoes) and enjoy it on a freezing cold night.
Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon
- 1 Tbsp. good olive oil
- 8 oz. dry-cured, center cut, applewood smoked bacon, diced
- 2 1/2 lbs. chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
- 2 yellow onions, sliced
- 2 tsp. chopped garlic (2 cloves)
- 1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine (I used a Beaujolais but a Pinot Noir would work well)
- 2 C. beef broth
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 lb. frozen whole (pearl) onions
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, stemsdiscarded, caps thickly sliced
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot.
Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned.
Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place it on a large plate.
Pat the cubes of beef dry with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper (if you do not dry the meat, it doesn’t brown).
In a single layer (you will need to do this in batches- don’t crowd the beef in the pot), sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning so it browns on all sides.
Remove the beef with a slotted spoon onto the same plate with the bacon and continue until all beef is seared.
Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Put the beef and bacon back into the pot with the juices.
Add the bottle of wine and enough beef broth to almost cover the meat.
Add the tomato paste and thyme, and stir to combine.
Bring the stew to a simmer and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Place the pot into the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
In a small bowl, mash together 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew.
Add the frozen onions to the pot.
In a medium skillet, saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes over medium heat until lightly browned and then add to the stew.
Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Serve over egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or toasted crusty bread.
Makes 6 servings.
Source: adapted from Ina Garten