Bœuf Bourguignon, a recipe from Burgundy
As per its name (Bourguignon means from Burgundy), this is a dish from Burgundy, hence three basic points:
Point #1, no olive oil, as there are no olive trees in Burgundy, which is in the North part of France, but neutral oil and/or the fat from the bacon or the beef.
Point #2, of course, a BURGUNDY WINE (red), a cheap one for cooking, or possibly a Pinot noir.
Point #3, Burgundy is also a very famous region of beef breeding, with the Charolais breed for instance. This dish was and still is for the housewives and home cooks a way to recuperate and recycle the cheap beef parts/cuts, a bit chewy and fat. Therefore, it requires time to tenderize the meat and melt the fat and transform it in great taste. So, time to marinate first, time to cook second, and even better, time to recook, third, as this is this kind of stew which is better 1 or 2 days after.
This is then a cheap dish price-wise and an expensive one time-wise!
You will need:
- Cheap pieces of beef, paleron (shoulder cut), chuck, cheeks (the best for me, but difficult to find in the US), or the likes, that you cut in cubes of around 1”,
- Bacon (better using slab bacon cut in small “lardons”),
- Mushrooms (champignons de Paris, i.e. baby bellas),
- Pearl onions,
- A “normal” onion,
- Garlic cloves (or shallots),
- Herbs, (i.e. thyme, bay leaves, cloves), parsley, black pepper, parsley, salt,
- A little of flour,
- A little bit of sugar,
- Wine (1 or 2 bottles bottle for the marinade depending on the quantity, it should cover the meat).
Hereafter is my "usual" recipe of the Bœuf Bourguignon that I completed with some optional and/or personal variations or improvements:
- Marinate the meat with the wine, 3/4 of the normal onion roughly chopped, and 1/4 where you will stick your cloves (except if you like fishing cloves in the marinade), the crushed garlic, the herbs (except the parsley that you will add at the very end), the carrots cut in thick scallops. Let it rest, covered, around 2/3 hours at the room temperature or 6 hours, if not overnight, in the fridge.
- When the meat is marinated, recuperate the meat, let it strain above the marinade pot, and mainly, don't pitch the marinade. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven-type pot, very lightly brown the bacon (burner medium +, it would be an onion, we would say sweat it), with a little bit of (neutral) oil if necessary. Reserve and do the same thing with your meat, in different batches if need be, so that each piece is seared on each side.
- When it's done, remove all the pieces, deglaze with half of ladle of the marinade, and put back all the meat together. Add the flour and stir the whole so that the flour coats all the meat pieces (it is call “singer” in French that would literally translate by “monkeying” or “mimicking”, but it is probably not the English term).
- Put back the bacon, mix the whole, and pour the marinade with all the carrots, herbs and other seasonings. Let it come to temperature, and before it starts to shiver, decrease the temperature (possibly burner 2/3), cover and cook for # 2 hours or more.
- Let it rest and cool down. The best thing is to put it in the fridge, or when it's cold, outside, so that all the fat comes to the surface and cures. Recuperate it with a spoon and keep it. You can use it to sauté potatoes or cook other vegetables (or here, deep fry the delicious carrot leaves).
- Final cooking. If you were able to rest it for a while... or a day, but back in temperature lid on. Then, or if you didn’t rest, uncover, increase the temperature (4/5) so that you can reduce your sauce. Add the mushroom and the pearl onions that you would have previously iced by cooking them in water and sugar*.
- What I like to do then, is to place a straining basket with peeled fingerling potatoes in order to steam them above the pot. They will take a fantastic flavor. Cook like that during around 1 hour, checking that it doesn’t burn (play with the temperature and stir smoothly “bottom-up”). The sauce should reduce and become unctuous. If you are in hurry add a little bit of flour (outside of the pot, in a ladle with a little bit of sauce, and then incorporated slowly to avoid lumps), but it’s better to let it reduce progressively.
Some personal and optional twists:
- I added a veal or pig foot to bring extra collagens to the sauce. In fact, I followed my mom's tip which consisted in adding a veal foot, but I didn't find any. So, I replaced it by a pork foot, which was not as efficient as the veal.
- I cooked the carrots separately. To be exact, I put carrots to simmer with the meat, in order to bring their flavor, but they are generally very mushy at the end of the process. So, I cooked separately some carrots in the fat recuperated from the broth, added with a bit of water and some sugar to obtain some kind of icing.
- Pinot noir is very chocolate-friendly. One day as I was also making a chocolate mousse, I added some chocolate leftover and incorporated in my sauce. I loved it. Although very subtle, it brings some additional roundness to the sauce, and it perfectly matches the chocolate aromas of the Burgundy pinot noir. I do it now quasi-systemetically… even if I have no chocolate mousse to prepare!
- I deep fried the carrot leaves in the recuperated fat, which, on top of being delicious, adds a color note and some crispiness to the dish. One of my guest even asked me to fry some more for her!!! I also use those leaves, chopped, in lieu of the usual parsley... Super inspiration!
To serve in a plate, with the potatoes and covered by the sauce. Instead of steamed potatoes, it is also excellent with fresh tagliatelles for instance. Of course, it is served with a bottle of Burgundy red.
And don't forget, this is a stew, so it's better the day after. Cook it one day in advance...
* To ice (or glaze) pearl onions,you just need sugar and water... on top and above the peeled pearl onions! The principle consists just caramelize them without coloring them. Around 1 tablespoon for half a pound. One of the techniques (there are several ones) is to melt butter and roll the onions into it, then cover them with water, add a couple of pinches of salt and the sugar, and let simmer the onions till almost all the water evaporate to caramelize them WITHOUT coloring them. This is what is called "glacer" in French. Some people add vinegar. You may also wish to cover the water with a parchment paper lid with a hole in the middle so that it is more efficient.