Beef Bourguignon

Looking for something celebratory? This is our take on the iconic French dish, Boeuf Bourguignon, popularized in America by Julia Child. Less of a stew and more of an event, classic beef bourguignon is beef stewed with aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices which are then strained off, reduced and finished with a butter-flour mixture to create a densely flavored, dark and silky sauce. Yes the sauce is a bit fussy, but truly it is worth it. We made this for the family the other day and not a drop was left.

(You can of course skip all the sauce straining fussiness and prepare this as a traditional stew, but then it would just be a lovely stew, not the dish everyone expects.)

We’ve included dried porcini mushrooms in this dish. They’re called cepes in France, and are frequently used in French stews. Dried porcini are available in many supermarkets, but don’t worry if you can’t find them. For this they’re optional and you’ll still have a fabulous dish without them.

As for the wine, if you can find it, use a Pinot Noir. It is the dominant wine used in Burgundy, France, and it is what gives this dish its name. Obviously you can use a real French Burgundy wine, but they tend to be far more expensive than a California Pinot Noir. Look for a bottle you’d happily drink.

Finally, the thing that usually stops me from making beef bourguignon is the pearl onions. Yes, blanching and peeling them is simply a lot of work. However, salvation may be at hand. According to my sources you can get frozen pearl onions already blanched and peeled. Apparently Trader Joe’s carries them. If you can’t find them, the following instructions include steps for preparing the onions.

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Beef Bourguignon Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6-8

We are using shiitake mushrooms for the fresh mushrooms in this recipe, even though they are not traditionally used for this dish, because they are just so meaty and good. Feel free to use any fresh mushroom you'd like. If you don't have access to salt pork, you can use bacon, but simmer it first for 8 minutes in water, then drain and rinse, to remove its smokiness. A word on salt. Salt pork is salty. Be sparing with salt as you make this dish until the end, when you can adjust. Commercial beef stock is also salty, so you very well may have enough salt for the dish just from these two sources.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ounces salt pork, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes, patted dry with paper towels
  • Salt
  • 10-12 shallots, chopped, about 2 cups
  • 2 large, peeled carrots, 1 chopped, 1 cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup brandy, plus 2 Tbsp
  • 1 bottle Pinot Noir, or other red wine
  • Beef Stock (low sodium), at least 1 cup, quite easily more
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 24 pearl onions, fresh or frozen
  • 1 lb fresh shiitake, cremini or button mushrooms
  • Beurre manie: 3 Tbsp flour blended with 2 Tbsp butter

Method

1 If you are using them, pour 1 cup of boiling water over the dried porcini mushrooms and allow them to rehydrate for 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and chop coarsely. Pour the soaking water through a paper towel (to remove any dirt or debris) into a bowl and set aside.

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2 In a large sauté pan, pour enough water to cover the bottom by about 1/8 inch. Over medium heat, cook the salt pork in the pan until the water evaporates, stirring occasionally. Once the water is gone, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook the salt pork until much of the fat has rendered out of it. Add a tablespoon of butter and continue to cook the salt pork unti the pieces are browned and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the salt pork pieces to a large Dutch oven or other large, thick-bottomed, lidded pot.

3 Increase the heat to medium-high. Working in batches so that you do not crowd the pan, brown the beef. Leaving space around each piece of sizzling meat ensures that it browns and does not steam. Don't move the pieces of beef in the pan until they get a good sear, then turn them so they can get browned on another side. Take your time. This will take 15-25 minutes, depending on how large a sauté pan you have. Once browned, remove the beef from the sauté pan and place in the Dutch oven with the salt pork.

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4 When all the beef has browned, add the shallots, the one chopped carrot, and the chopped porcini mushrooms if using. Stir in the pot to remove any browned, stuck-on bits in the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and the tomato paste. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

5 Add the brandy and stir to combine. Boil down by half, then add the strained mushroom soaking water (if using). Scrape any remaining browned bits off the bottom of the sauté pan and pour the contents of the pan into the Dutch oven.

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6 To the Dutch oven add the bottle of wine and enough beef stock to almost cover the beef; the beef pieces should be barely poking up out of the liquid. Add the parsley, bay leaves, thyme and cloves. Cover and bring to a bare simmer. After 1 hour, add the second carrot, peeled and cut into chunks of 1-2 inches. Continue cooking for another hour, or until the beef is tender.

7 Meanwhile, trim the tough stems off the shiitake, cremini, or button mushrooms and slice into 2-3 large pieces; small mushrooms leave whole. Prepare the pearl onions. Boil them in their skins for 4-5 minutes. Drain and submerge in a bowl of ice water. Slice the tips and root ends off the onions and slip off the outer skins.

8 When the beef is tender, use tongs to remove all the beef and the chunks of carrots; set aside in a bowl. Strain the contents of the Dutch oven through a fine-meshed sieve set over a medium pot. This will be the sauce. Boil the sauce down, tasting frequently. If it begins to taste too salty, turn off the heat. Otherwise, boil down until you have about 3 cups. Turn off the heat.

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9 Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add the mushrooms. Dry sauté the mushrooms over high heat, shaking the pan and stirring often, until they release their water, about 4-5 minutes. Add the pearl onions and 3 tablespoons butter and toss to combine. Sprinkle salt over the onions and mushrooms. Sauté until the onions begin to brown. Remove from heat.

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10 Returning to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the beurre manie. Whisk in a third of the paste, wait for it to incorporate into the sauce, then add another third of the beurre manie, and so on. Do not let this boil, but allow it to simmer very gently for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of brandy. Taste for salt and add some if needed.

11 To serve, coat the beef, carrots, mushrooms and pearl onions with the sauce and serve with potatoes, egg noodles or lots of crusty bread.

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Links:

Steak with Burgundy Mushroom Sauce - from The Pioneer Woman
Mushroom Bourguignon - from Smitten Kitchen
Anthony Bourdain's Beef Bourguignon - from Almost Bourdain
Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe posted on the Knopf Doubleday website

Looking for the original beef bourguignon recipe posted on Simply Recipes? We've moved it to here.

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32 Comments

  1. DSX

    What a delightful recipe! We enjoy picking one of Julia’s recipes each month to experiment with and this was our December dish. By unanimous consent we left out the onions, and it still tasted superb. It’s well worth the 24 hour marinade if you have the fridge space.
    One mistake we made though was in not purchasing a low-sodium broth. While still superb, it made the gravy a tad too salty.
    We’re definitely going to try your version and keep playing with it.

  2. Kerry @ Snark & Pepper

    I just made this last night for company! I mostly followed Julia’s recipe but altered a few things based on Ina Garten’s recipe. I wish I would have seen your method as I would have incorporated some of that. It was incredible and the SMELL! The house smelled out of this world for the entire afternoon.

    I agree the onions are a lot of work. That was probably the most annoying part of the whole process, but I can’t imagine frozen pearl onions working quite the same.

    This is totally worth the effort and my guests practically licked their plates!

  3. Janet Vandenabeele

    In the last sentence you say “shiitake mushrooms” but I’m assuming you mean porcini mushrooms? However, I was wondering if you could substitute shiitakes, dried or fresh. And thanks for the Trader Joe’s tip, I will definitely check them out.

    Hi Janet, this recipe calls for both dried porcini and for fresh shiitakes. You can sub the shiitakes with cremini or any other fresh mushroom you like, fresh porcini if you can get it. But we love the earthy meaty-ness of the fresh shiitakes. ~Elise

  4. Anne Maxfield

    I used frozen pearl onions for this and coq au vin. You can get them in any grocery store, and since they’re stewing, they taste just fine. Life is too short to peel pearl onions!

  5. Cork@CorksOutdoors

    This is truly my favorite recipes for slow and low–even tastier with bear meat…and when done, actually not as intimidating as inferred by so many past cookbooks.

  6. CathyC

    I finally decided to tackle this for New Year’s Eve dinner. I used this version and it was no way near as difficult as I had imagined. The meat was so tender. I did use fresh pearl onions that I boiled and peeled (it wasn’t too bad) and I used fresh crimini and shiitake mushrooms. All I can say is YUM! I will definitely make this again, and again.

  7. Ozzie

    Recipe totally wrong. After 2 hrs. cooking the meat was not done and the 2nd carrot still uncooked. Had to bring to boil for two more hrs. Onions raw and the mushrooms almost burnt. New years day noon meal was at 2:30 PM. tasted good but not great. Expensive!!! will not make again. Will look for julia childs recipe.
    Bon Appetit

    Sounds like you had an especially tough cut of meat, because two hours should have been more than sufficient to cook chuck to tenderness. Once in a while this will happen; the particular meat you got just needed to be cooked longer. FYI, Julia’s recipe in her Kitchen Wisdom book takes 1-2 hours to cook the meat to tenderness, in her Mastering book she calls for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. ~Elise

  8. Ozzie

    Elise, with all do respect, even if my chuck was especially tough, whw was the carrot still un cooked? “simmer with steam, little or no bubbles” was too low a heat! According to CBS news, Julia childs recipe says

    “While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

    Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

    Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

    Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.

    Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

    Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

    Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.”

    Sorry, I’m just trying to help the next person in cooking this. Respectively, Ozzie

    Hi Ozzie, I was thinking the same thing today (new years) as I was wondering what else might have been the problem. Yes, cooking at too low of a heat would keep the carrots from cooking. Also if you were cooking at altitude, the instructions wouldn’t work because water boils at a lower temp at altitude (don’t know if this was the heat was too low for you). In any case, I will adjust the instructions to say a low simmer. ~Elise

  9. Katherine

    Delicious! 2 hours of cooking was perfect for the meat and carrots and frozen onions work great. You can buy birdseye brand in the regular grocery store.

    I served with polenta. Not traditional, but very good with the sauce.

    Our children ate it up. Always a good sign.

  10. Jillian

    Absolutely wonderful! I make this about once a year and this version is now the family favorite. It is a bit fussy as far as regular dinners go, but well worth the extra effort. This is one that gets the family working together in the kitchen. Thanks!

  11. Laura

    Is there anything that can be used instead of the salt pork? I don’t use pork in my kitchen.

    Salt pork is pretty integral to the flavor of this dish, but you can leave it out if you must. ~Hank

  12. Jane

    I have always loved this dish – I learned to make it when I worked in a French restaurant as a chef in college. However, I am now allergic to beef/dairy. Do you know of an equivalent to this recipe? It’s been a while since I had it and it just sounds so good right now!

    Can you eat venison? This would probably be good made with venison. Skip the butter. Or make something like coq au vin. ~Elise

  13. Nancy

    What a gorgeous recipe! Made this last nite (no, wait, should say, made all afternoon and into the early evening) and it was perhaps the best thing I have ever cooked! Love that you strain out the initial veggies and salt pork/bacon. I would have definitely liked the BB less had I not strained it. I made some minor modifications, like used demi-glace and water instead of beef broth and I added some port along with the wine instead of using brandy (didn’t have any). Used some of the butter/flour mixture early, too. Thanks for this recipe. SOOOO delicious!

  14. Liz

    I just made this today and my husband and I had high expectations about this recipe….We were starving and couldn’t wait for it to be ready. Unfortunately, after the 2nd bite, we were both making terrible faces…we couldn’t take all the acidity in this dish….I followed all the steps but the result was terrible. :( I am a very experient cook so I know I didn’t mess up the basics of this dish…ugh.. I am frustrated. After the second bite, we were heating up the chinese leftovers from the night before. The Chinese kicked the French out the door.

    I’m looking at the recipe wondering where there was any acid in this dish, and the only place it could come from is the wine you used. Given that you use an entire bottle of wine in this dish, the dish is only as good as the wine. If you are using an acidic wine, the stew will be acidic. This is why we say to use a wine you like to drink. ~Elise

  15. Bernadette

    Oh my goodness! I have made beef stew-like dishes for the past 20 years and this one was the B.E.S.T! I followed each step exactly and even tasted the wine before I poured in the bottle. Beyond divine. Recipe should say clear time in your schedule with No Distractions! I could not wait until my grown son left. His childish comments got on my nerves: “How’s it going? Do all those onions go in there? From the smell of it, I don’t think I can eat it because I don’t like onions.” – GET OUTTA HERE! Go back to your own apartment. Whew, then it was much smoother going. Thanks for the wonderful (relaxing) Saturday afternoon project.

  16. Yvonne

    What a joy to cook this dish..we were staying with our son and like all good mothers decided to cook for him, his suggestion.I found it easy to follow and the meat was fantastic, we had french bread with this and good old mash potatoes..thanks

  17. Linda

    I have made this twice (in the heat of the summer) and LOVED it. Everyone loved it. The second time around I put much much less wine so that it was more of an accent than a flavor (more wine for me!—I mean, to SHARE with my LOVED ones) and it was still really good.

  18. Joanne

    Both Adam and I can’t stop watching Julie and Julia. Whenever we get to the part where she makes beef bourguignon we get hungry. We are going to have to try this.

  19. sippitysup

    This is exactly what I always dreamed mine would look like. You have inspired me to try again. GREG

  20. Linda

    So third/fourth time making this: I’ve realized it’s so much easier to ladle some of the broth into the beurre manie, mix vigorously, maybe add some more, THEN pour it into the broth. It side steps all the whisking, and I think it incorporates a little more easily.

  21. dame flo

    No tomatoe in mine ! I used dried porcini sometimes but i add potatoes

    to have a tender beef, one day before I let the beef marinated in a simple red wine 6 hours or more … red wine with salt pepper and herbs …

    dame flo

  22. Barbara Young

    I substituted thick bacon( 2 slices) for the salt pork. You mentioned salt in the ingredients but I never saw where to add it so I just added it with the broth and some pepper.I
    did not have pinot co I used a cab. Just can’t wait to eat it it smells GREAT.

  23. Ann Sweeney

    This sounds like an absolutely delicious recipe. Can you suggest workable substitutes for butter and flour that do not include any milk protein or wheat or gluten?

    Use olive oil to help brown the salt pork, skip the beurre manie, use a slurry of 1 tablespoon of corn starch whisked in a little water to add to the sauce for thickening. ~Elise

  24. Randall

    Great post for a great recipe. A change I would make would be the salt pork.

    Use pancetta instead (rolled European-style bacon). The concept here is to use a traditional european unsmoked bacon. Julia had people in America ‘blanching’ bacon because in the U.S. smoked bacon used to be all you could get. Blanching removed most of the smoke, hence the extra step.

    Pancetta is NEVER smoked, so blanching is out of the question/not necessary, and SO much tastier!

    Simply buy a one inch cut off the roll, take it home and unroll it… cut into lardons and fry. Remove and use this delectable bacon fat to brown your meat.

    Great idea, thanks! ~Elise

  25. Keith

    I made the dish for Christmas dinner this year. It was time-consuming, but since much of the time was spent in cooking rather than prep, it was not terribly laborious (except for the pearl onions). In any event, I was able to do the work a couple of days ahead so that Christmas day could be spent outside the kitchen. My wife appreciated me cleaning up afterward, too. :)

    I was able to find an unsmoked salt pork (Hormel brand) so I didn’t have to use bacon. One thing I did have to do was add a bit of baking soda to the sauce, as it was quite acidic due to the wine I chose. The soda reduced (but did not eliminate) the acidity of the sauce so that it was in balance with the rest of the dish.

  26. DD

    I saw a few posts about acidity. When you utilize tomato paste and wine you will have acid. The more it reduces the more acidic it gets. My suggestion would be to reduce the wine slightly before adding. It will get rid of the “winey” taste and reduce acid levels. If you want the tomato paste add later.

  27. Lourdes Knight

    It’s been a rainy night in Georgia, and I’m going to make this today! i guess i missed the part about the beurre manie. What are the proportions and ingredients? I can’t wait to make this for my dinner party tomorrow. By the way, any suggestions for making it the day before?

    It’s in the list of ingredients. Beurre manie: 3 Tbsp flour blended with 2 Tbsp butter. Great question on making a day ahead. I haven’t done so, so don’t have any tips to share. Perhaps someone else reading this who has made this dish a day ahead can share what they found. ~Elise

  28. David Anderson

    I made this beef bourguignon last night and had no problems whatsoever and it was really terrific. I omitted the pearl onions just because I bought the ingredients before I found this recipe. I used dried porcini mushrooms only and the soaking liquid. It adds a distinct flavor. I’m having it again tonight. Thanks for this recipe!

  29. Jan Jensen

    Let the pearl onions soak in water for half an hour and they are a lot easier to peel.
    The same goes for garlic.

  30. Janice Abbott

    Cover the pearl onions with boiling water for a minute or two and the skins can easily be removed!

  31. Janice Abbott

    Have made this dish today using veal, fantastico!

  32. Mike

    Elise–What are your estimates for prep and cooking times? This dish always seems to want 6-8 hours for everything when I follow Julia’s or other recipes.

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