Sunday, October 17, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon - aka Fancy Pants Beef Stew

Bon Appétit!
Anyone who has seen "Julie & Julia" knows the significance ascribed to this dish. It just might be my favorite stew recipe ever.  It sounds fancy (shout out to my friend Kelli, who's adorable kids have dubbed me "fancy cooking pants" - this post title is for you guys!) and takes a long time to cook, but it's actually not that complicated and it tastes simply A-mazing.  The wine makes the meat incredibly tender and flavorful, and all of the butter sautéed veggies and the tomato paste add an incredible richness, while the thyme creates a woodsy heartiness.  So many layers of flavor, so incredibly delicious!

This recipe is not Julia's recipe, but the recipe that my Mom and one of my Aunts have always made.  This particular Aunt has a very discerning French husband, and this dish receives his seal of approval! It would be very French to serve it with a toasted buttered baguette, but I like it over a big scoop of mashed potatoes, a la American.  The final French touch, is a condiment - put a dollop of dijon mustard on the side of your bowl to dip the meat into - really brings out the flavor.

This makes quite a bit of stew - I would say it easily serves 6 people, so  have people over, plan for some delish leftovers, or halve the recipe.  SO without further ado - Boeuf Bourguinon.  Bon Appétit!!

  • 2 lbs stew beef, trimmed (if it's in really large chunks, cut it into more bite sized pieces)
  • 3/4 lb baby carrots, cut in half on the bias (aka diagonally)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 bottle of nice red wine (nothing sweet)
  • 2 cans reduced sodium beef broth
  • 16 oz white button mushrooms (2 packages) cut into thin slices.
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/3 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup of frozen pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen baby green peas
  • 2 whole bay leafs
  • 3 cloves garlic, mince
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • All purpose flour
  • S&P
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
In a large dutch oven* melt 3 T butter and 3 T EVOO over medium high heat.  Season your stew meat with a bit of S&P, and working in small batches, brown the meat but don't worry about cooking it through.  The reason you do this in small batches is so that the meat doesn't get too crowded and steam which leads to gray meat.  When you give the meat more room to cook, it browns up to a beautiful color.  Remove the batches as they complete, and sprinkle them with some flour. Toss to coat.  The flour helps to thicken the stew later on. Set aside.

In the same pot, add another 2 T of butter, and add the carrots. Season with a bit of S&P. Sauté them for about 2 minutes and then add 3 T of flour to the pot.  Turn the heat down to medium.  Stir constantly and keep scraping the bottom of the pot with a flat bottomed wooden spoon.  If the pot gets too dry, add some more butter. (This IS a French recipe, after all... so there's bound to be butter!!) Some of the flour will coat the bottom of the pot, that's okay, and it's okay to let it get to a nice brown color, but don't let it burn (aka turn really dark brown or black).  If it starts to brown too quickly, turn your heat down and take the pot off the heat for a moment. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another 3 minutes.

Take the bottle of wine and pour 1/2 to 2/3 of it into the pot.  This deglazes the pot, which means that the liquid releases all of the caramelized flavor goodness from the cooking process back into the dish. Scrape the bottom of the pot very well with your wooden spoon until all of the flour coating is loosened and incorporated into the stew.

Add your stew meat back into the pot.  Next, add the beef broth, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and 3 shakes/dashes of Worcestershire sauce.  Stir well so that the tomato paste incorporates, then cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

As this point, the hard works is done!  While the stew is simmering, sauté your mushrooms.  Tips on the perfect sauteéd mushrooms are here.  I like to do these in butter with S&P and a sprinkle of dried thyme, I also like to cook them down over low heat for quite a bit of time so that they get really nicely browned and delicious.

After the 30 minutes have passed, add the pearl onions and simmer covered for another 30 minutes.

Have a glass of wine (not required, but recommended).

Finally, add the mushrooms and peas, and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  Taste to make sure your seasoning is right, adjust if necessary.  Serve and enjoy!!

* I use dutch ovens ALL the time, I couldn't live without them. If you don't have one yet, I highly recommend getting one - click here to view my favorite. The 5/12 quart size is ideal, and cobalt is super pretty.


  1. I'm gonna try this one here, soon. I do have a slow cooker now, but not a Dutch Oven *Still need to purchase that, which may have to wait w/ all the $ we spent on the remodel* so I guess I'll brown my meat and sautee in my cast-iron skillet, and throw everything in the slow cooker on the side on the countertop. Maybe this will be a good "Family Dinner" for my first inaugural dinner post-remodel.

  2. If you don't have a dutch oven, you can definitely do the browning and wine de-glazing in a cast iron skillet, and then dump it all into a stock pot. You might need higher heat than what a slow cooker provides, but I'm not really sure since I'm not very well versed in slow cookers. So excited for you to christen the new kitchen!!

  3. which red wine would you recommend?

  4. You can pretty much use any red wine that you would enjoy drinking. I find that a pinot noir, merlot, or burgundy works really well.