One of my memorable trips ever was an offer extended by French Chef Katherine Frelon to visit her cooking school for a week in Burgundy. I’m always up for learning about new types of cuisine and new techniques. I, along with eight other student chefs, spent the week with Katherine learning how to shop for proper French ingredients in the markets and how to prepare authentic French cuisine. Read more about my experience in this post from 2014.
Our first night at La Ferme de la Lochere, Katherine served the region’s namesake Beef Bourguignon. It was the perfect comfort food for the weary travelers, paired with my first exposure to Burgundy wines. A most memorable (or not so memorable thanks to copious amounts of wine mixed with jetlag) evening as we met new friends and learned about our syllabus for the week.
Today, when I make Beef Bourguignon, I’m instantly reminded of what a wonderful experience that trip was. It’s the perfect winter comfort dish, but also a very impressive presentation to make for guests. And you might be surprised how easy it is to make.
Katherine’s recipe for Beef Bourguignon is in her cookbook, Shop.Cook.Eat., so I highly recommend you order the book to try her classic recipe. I’ve simplified and Americanized a version of the recipe as follows:
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces pancetta, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
3 carrots, sliced
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Cognac
1 bottle Burgundy red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 stems of fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large over-proof pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and sauté until crisp. Remove the pancetta to a plate. Season the beef with salt and pepper on all sides, and add it to the pan with the pancetta grease, browning it on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan.
Add the carrots and onions to the same pan and sauté them for about 10 minutes until they are just tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and deglaze the pan (scrape up the good bits on the bottom) and cook at medium-high heat for about 3 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the pancetta and beef back to the pot with the veggies. Stir in the wine, beef broth, thyme and tomato paste. Cover and bake for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Classic Beef Bourguignon recipes call for pearl onions and mushrooms, but I have a couple of picky eaters (who I won’t name although they’re both men) in my family so I don’t always add these ingredients, or I add them to a smaller portion of the stew.
Here are some tips from Fine Cooking for making perfect Beef Bourguignon.