Beef Bourguignon is always a good comfort food standby that looks like a lot of effort, but it’s really easy, all about the fresh ingredients and a slow cook in the oven.
It is a classic dish I think first brought to the consciousness of the American cook from the Grand Dame of America’s Culinary heritage, Julia Child. I was always fond of her cooking shows as a kid and remember the others like Jacques Pépin, the Galloping Gourmet and other shows on PBS, but she stood out. Maybe it was her stature, her accent, her ability to have fun in the kitchen all the while being serious about the method and technique at the same time.
In my version here I will be using a bottle of Pinot Noir I was given and because I don’t drink, will put it to good use in this dish. The Cipollini onions are a favorite of mine and will substitute for the small pearl onions usually used in this dish. And while any kind of bacon is good, I am using pancetta here since I was recently at my favorite deli Mona Lisa and picked up a pound or two. Let’s get cooking!
I prefer to render the pancetta and brown the beef cubes in my cast iron skillet to get a really good crust on them. It may add one more pan to clean, but I prefer that extra touch.
And whatever you do, don’t overcrowd the pan to brown the meat. Take your time, it’s worth it. You want these browned, not steamed. Give them some room in that pan!
Add olive oil to casserole pot and sauté the sliced onion until golden in color then add the diced shallot and crushed garlic. Cook for several minutes.
With my trusty wooden spoon I scrape up all the little bits on the bottom of the cast iron skillet from the pancetta and beef. You want all of those to add a deep and rich flavor to the finished dish. If using a cast iron skillet scrape all into a casserole pot/dutch oven, deglaze a little with some beef broth.
Next, add the browned pancetta and beef to the sautéed onion and shallot, sprinkle with flour and using a wooden spoon mix and cook for several minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir again to mix in.
Pour the red wine and beef stock in and stir to mix thoroughly. Place the bay leaves and tied thyme bundle in the spot and stir. Cover and place in oven to bake for 2 hours. At this point take a break and relax! Or you can prep your garlic bread to sop up all that delicious red wine sauce you’ll be eating later.
I love the small Cipollini onions. They are Italian and a version of the pearl onion. Their creamy flavor makes it a perfect addition to the rich, red wine and pancetta sauce.
To quickly and easily peel these, I immerse them in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and then rinse under cold water. I then cut the root part off and squeeze the other end and the onion slips right out.
After 2 hours check the liquid level in your baking casserole and if more is needed to just cover the meat, add some beef stock. At this point add the mushrooms and onions to the pot and stir to mix in. Cover and continue to bake for 2 1/2 more hours.
When time is up remove from oven, remove thyme bundle and stir. Serve with your choice of potato, rice or over pasta. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with some crusty, garlic bread to sop up the delicious red wine sauce.
- 8 oz pancetta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 lbs lean stew beef
- 3 tbsp flour
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 large shallot
- 3 cloves mashed garlic
- 5 sprigs of thyme, tied
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 bottle red wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 bay leaf
- 30 Cipollini onions
- 1 lb fresh Crimini mushrooms
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Cut the pancetta into bite size cubes and beef into 2-inch cubes. Set aside.
- Heat a casserole and render the pancetta low and slow over medium heat. Remove browned pancetta and set aside.
- Add beef cubes to rendered pancetta fat and brown on all sides. Season with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Set aside.
- Add olive oil to pan and sauté the sliced onion until golden in color then add the diced shallot and crushed garlic. Cook for several minutes.
- With spoon scrape up all the little bits on the bottom of the pan from the pancetta and beef.
- Next, add the browned pancetta and beef, sprinkle with flour and using a wooden spoon mix and cook for several minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir again to mix in.
- Pour the red wine and beef stock in and stir to mix thoroughly. Place the bay leaves and tied thyme bundle in the spot and stir.
- Cover and place in oven to bake for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours check liquid and if more is need to just cover meat then add beef stock. At this point add the mushrooms and onions to the pot and stir to mix in. Cover and continue to bake for 2½ more hours.
- When time is up remove from oven, remove thyme bundle and stir.
- Serve with your choice of potato, rice or over pasta. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Adaption from Julia Child’s classic.