Friday, July 29, 2022

Classic French Beef Bourguignon

Today I present to you one of the most delicious beef stews I have ever made, and folks I've made a lot of them and I've also tasted quite a few Beef Bourguignons in my time, and I reckon that this one is up there with the best of them. This dish is essentially just a beef stew, but not just any classic beef stew. Beef Bourguignon is one of the most well known French recipes acclaimed by everyone who loves French food and delicious food in general. The beef falls off the fork, and the rich red wine gravy and nutritious vegetables are perfectly balanced with the beautiful flavours of the thyme and bay leaf. This is a big bowl of Winter comfort food. We are only eating beef a couple of times a week now, and for that reason when I cook beef I want to do something really special with it. This dish is within the capabilities of the home cook, which is what I definitely am. I found this recipe on a talented French food writer's blog,  Audrey from "Pardon Your French". She modestly says she is a French home cook, and I think her recipes are to be trusted. I followed hers implicitly, well as closely as I could within the confines of what ingredients I could obtain, so here it is. Pretty darned good I reckon.

This is a perfect example of French long slow cooking and much of that time is needed for cooking it in the oven. If you go out to work each day, it is best cooked on the weekend where you can relax and enjoy the process without feeling rushed. This is a recipe which requires more time and patience than skill, the most skillful part is ensuring the largish beef chunks are browned off properly in batches and not stewed, leave that for the oven to do, and that is detailed later. 

This aromatic stew laced with good red wine originates from Burgundy (Bourgogne), a French region renowned for it's red wine as well as for breeding exceptional cattle for culinary purposes. It's Winter time here in North Queensland, so it's the perfect time to cook an earthy and indulgent stew, rich in flavours, and long and slow in the oven. 

I was nearly very tempted to add celery to the vegetable ingredients in the dish, which is normal for the stews I generally cook, but Audrey says that is a total faux pas in cooking this stew, oops. Thankfully there were plenty of wonderful flavours without the celery. Interesting though that the Mirepoix generally used in stews, which is the term for the trio of onions, carrots and celery originated in France, just not in Beef Bourguignon though.


Serves 4 very generously.

1.1 - 1/4 kg or 2.5 to 3 lbs chuck steak or other good stewing steak, cut into 4 cm chunks

2 tsp salt

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp (57g) unsalted butter, cut up into 2x2 tablespoon sections

5-6 slices bacon, or 8 ozs cured pork, cut in fine strips

4 sprigs thyme

3 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

10 pearl onions, peeled

4-5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cups (500ml) good quality and very drinkable red wine (see notes below)

2 tbsp (30ml) brandy (optional

2 cups (500ml) beef stock

2 tbsp (50g) tomato paste

1/4 cup (32g) flour

6-7 sprigs parsley, for garnish

For the mushrooms:

2 tbsp (28.5 g) unsalted butter

0.45 kg (1 lb) small button mushrooms (cremini if you can get them) quartered

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Equipment: you will need a large cast iron casserole dish or heavy based Dutch Oven which will move safely from the stovetop to the oven for cooking.

1. Preparation of meat: Around 2 hours before you plan to start cooking, remove the beef chunks from the frig, pat and dry with some paper towel, and then season with salt and black pepper, tossing the  cubes to ensure they are well seasoned. I like to dice up my own meat, I think it yields better results than buying it already cubed for example from a supermarket. Buying it already cut up often results in leaner meat, you need good marbled beef, with fatty streaks running through it to ensure it is tender. However if you are buying your beef from a favourite butcher, they should do it for you. Leave the meat covered, to rest at room temperature.

2. In your large oven proof pot, on the stovetop, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon strips and cook for about 6-7 minutes, keep an eye on them and stir occasionally, until fully cooked and slightly crisp. I found I needed to eat a couple of strips, just to check, who doesn't love crispy bacon. So good.

Pre-heat your oven to 163 deg. C or 325 deg F. with a rack in the middle.

 3. This is where we need to be on task for just a while. In 3 separate batches, add the beef chunks to the Dutch oven and brown them over medium-high heat, allowing about 3 minutes on each side. There should be a brown crust on both sides of the meat. Try not to overcrowd or overlap the meat cubes or they won't brown properly, and it's not a good idea to stir the meat as it's cooking, as tempting as it is, the meat will come off the pan once it is browned. Move each batch to a separate rimmed plate to catch any meat juices. 

This whole important process of browning the meat is called the Maillard reaction, when the beef proteins melt with natural sugar to create new molecules responsible for the roasted aromas, flavours and beef pan drippings. That's why this process is essential for building rich flavous in a stew. Please don't skip it my dears.

 4. Select the garlic, carrots, pearl onions, thyme, and bay leaves. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the pot and add the vegetables and herbs. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the onions are glistening and the beef pan drippings have coated the contents. This will bring so much delicious flavour to the finished dish.

5. Transfer the browned beef and bacon back into the pot. Add the tomato paste and sprinkle with the flour. Stir all the contents of the pot until no dry flour is visible. 

Now pour in the beef stock, red wine and brandy so the meat is just covered. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and carefully transfer the pot to the oven, and cook  for 1 hour 30 minutes.

6. While your French stew is cooking in the oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are just cooked and lightly browned. They will smell delicious.

7. Remove the Casserole pot containing the Beef Bourguignon from the oven, using oven mitts, remember it will be very hot. Stir in the mushrooms. 

8. Return the pot to the oven for another 30 more minutes. 

Take your cooked Beef Bourguignon out of the oven, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Mine was perfect and didn't need any extra salt or pepper.

Let the pot sit for 15 minutes before serving. If you aren't serving it until later, keep reheated in the oven at 100 deg. F

After all of that what do I serve with it on the side?

A Beef Bourguignon is served in France over mashed potatoes or with baby boiled potatoes. However these days, it is acceptable to serve it with rice, polenta or even buttered egg noodles. I chose mashed potato and steamed green sweet peas the first time we ate, the following day I steamed some broccoli.

Which wine should I use?

Firstly it needs to be a wine that is also very drinkable. I used a delicious South Australian Shiraz, I can't remember which one it was, but the Barossa Valley in South Australia is renowned for their Shiraz. However you could use a Pinot Noir (light-bodied), a Merlot (medium-bodied), a Cabernet Sauvignon which is full-bodied. I found that a Shiraz was perfect.

Cook's Notes:

  • Bring the meat to room temperature about 2 hours before cooking. Just write yourself a note to take it out of the frig. As soon as you take it out, season it well with salt and ground black pepper so that the salt can penetrate the meat. 
  • I've added brandy to the ingredients, however if you don't have it, just add 2 extra tablespoons of red wine. 
  • I chose chuck steak to cook this, perfect for slow cooking and still quite affordable if you call $22.00 a kilo affordable. Remember the days when it was only $12.00 a kilo, and not that long ago either.
  • I couldn't find pearl onions, so I just used the smallest onions I could find.

We ate leftovers the next night with broccoli and finely chopped parsley, delicious. 

I am such a fan of the classic French flavours based on using thyme, bay leaves, mushrooms and red wine. At the moment, thyme must be my favourite aromatic herb, I just love the smell of it growing in the garden. When I pick some for cooking, it brings back so many fond memories of visiting a nearby herb farm with my Mum when I lived at home, and it's the aroma of thyme which was growing along the pathways that I most remember.  This is a big succulent beef stew, and we just loved it. 

Your work is done, now sit down, eat and enjoy with a glass of red wine of course. Yum! I hope you enjoy this Beef Bourguignon as much as we do.

Best wishes,



  1. Such a classic! Yours turned out really fantastic, Pauline.

  2. Bœuf Bourguignon is one of my favorite dishes, even though you might not think that from my recent blog on comfort food. I absolutely adore it, and I have the recipe on my blog as well. But, as you also state, it’s not just a simple beef stew. It’s a very complicated and time intensive dish. And worth every moment of it! Good for you for taking it on! It is a perfect winter dish. And yours looks absolutely beautiful. have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thanks so much David, yes it was worth the time but I really enjoying cooking it and eating it.

  3. So good. It’s not quite cool enough for this yet, but it will be!

  4. Mimi I'm really enjoying cooking these dishes in our Winter, the heat will arrive all too soon. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. This is the ultimate comfort food and I love that it is celery free! It looks so delicious and perfect for those cold, winter nights we've been 'enjoying!'

  6. Thanks Sammie, we just couldn't get enough of this French stew, perfect for our Winter. yes definitely celery free.

  7. i have made beef stew once in my life and it turned out well. i made it for the FIL who loved it. Yours looks very tasty pauline.


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