Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy is a nice traditional French stew which, perhaps unsurprisingly, includes Burgundy wine in the recipe. We made this last semester, and I don’t remember what wine we used, though I recall it was a California burgundy, and very inexpensive. A slightly nicer French burgundy would probably be better, but it is not a requirement. That said, never cook with something you wouldn’t drink.

This is a true stew, extremely thick, nicely reduced, absolutely bursting with flavour.

A link to the original French language recipe: Boeuf bourguignon.

Since it is in French, I’ll provide a brief translation. (I’ll approximate some measures – close really is good enough – it is stew, not rocket science.)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 small onion, sliced in half stem-to-root, then sliced the other direction (it is all going to break down anyway – you’ll want a white onion for this, not a sweet)
2 to 2.5lbs of stew meat (treat yourself, buy a bottom round roast, and cube it, into about 1.5″ cubes
3.5 ounces of bacon, diced
5 ounces of carrots, cut into rounds (I think we used about 2 good sized carrots)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp flour
1.25 cups Burgundy wine.
8oz package of button mushrooms (yes, buttons, they are champignon de paris, and are indicated here rather than the trendy “baby ‘bella”) sliced.
1.5lb of potatos, preferably a white or red new potato, peeled and boiled whole (to be served with the stew).
small sprig of parsley, Italian flat leaf please.
“four spice” (a French preparation of black peppercorns (1tbsp), whole cloves (2tsp), ground nutmeg (2tsp), ground ginger (1tsp) [grind the peppercorns with the cloves, and mix with the other two spices]. You could simply omit this if necessary.
herbes de provence

Method:
In a soup/stew pot, sautee the onions and the meat in the oil until the meat is nicely browned (this means brown, not grey – we’re talking medium or medium high heat, whatever it takes to get the job done, but avoid burning the onion.

Add the bacon and continue cooking for a few minutes, then add carrots, tomato paste, flour and mix well. Then add the wine, mushrooms and water to nearly cover the contents of the pot, but don’t drown it – just enough to let it have a good simmer.

Now add the spices/herbs (to taste – take it easy, and work up. It should have a nice herby smell and flavour when its all finished, but we don’t have to rush to get it there – that is why we reseason at the end of cooking) (I think we started with a couple tbsp of the herbs, and a pinch of the spices, plus some extra ground pepper, and worked up until we were happy with it – it still is not rocket science).

Simmer uncovered for around an hour or so, until the meat and veggies are nice and tender, and the broth has reduced to a nice, very thick stew consistency. Stir it often to keep it from burning, and feel free to adjust the liquid level during the simmer to keep it moist – we added wine and water a little at a time throughout, and ended up with a lovely, intensely flavoured dark coloured stew.

Serve the stew with the boiled potatos and some nice French bread.

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