This is a dish that I’ve been making for years, in fact, it is one of the first recipes I learned when I started to get into cooking, and certainly played a part in drawing me to want to study French cuisine more seriously. It has become a staple of our winter recipe rotation, and each year when we make it we always make a double batch (sometimes a triple) so that we have plenty to freeze, and I would encourage you to do the same.
Few things in life give me greater joy than to see the bottom pull-out drawer of our freezer packed with nice, flat vacuum-sealed bags of this bourguignon, some chili, a bolognese, and a variety of soups. I love knowing that a delicious meal is ours for the making with nothing more than reheating required, or can be tossed into a cooler and brought north to feed us after a long day on the slopes. All this joy can be yours too with hardly any additional work on your part. If you have the freezer space, you’d be crazy not to double this recipe and put aside some for a rainy (or snowy) day.
A quick note about storage. For years I had been freezing soups and stews in gallon zip-loc bags, which worked well enough, but eventually left the food within them freezer burned due to air pockets in the bags. A few Christmases ago, my brother and his family bought me a FoodSaver Vertical Black brand vacuum sealer, and can I tell you, I LOVE the thing. With it, I can custom make bags to the size I need, and by removing the air from the bag before sealing, our food remains preserved perfectly in the freezer almost indefinitely. If you see yourself freezing this kind of stuff fairly frequently, I strongly urge you to invest in one.
OK….enough for the sales pitch, back to the food.
This is a down and dirty bourguignon, one requiring just a short list of ingredients and a single pot to cook them all in. That said, its rich flavor will instantly transport you to the French countryside, and will leave everyone at the table begging for more. There are many more complex (both in ingredients and technique) recipes out there, that require cooking the meat and each of the vegetable separately to ensure the proper degree of “doneness” for each of the components of the dish (Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon” version comes to mind), but for my money, this simple one pot approach gets the job done nicely.
Of course, given how big a fan I am of Keller’s cooking (yeah…I’d probably stalk the guy if he lived anywhere near me) I’m sure to try his bourguignon one day, and who knows, perhaps I’ll come crawling back to you all, humble pie in hand, to tell you that I was all wrong and that you should take this recipe and flush it in favor of a more elaborate take on this classic.
I guess time will tell, but for now…….let’s get cooking!
- 8 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped
- 3 pounds well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (from 7-bone chuck roast)
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 pounds boiling onions, peeled
- 3/4 pound large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 12 large garlic cloves, peeled (left whole)
- 3 cups canned beef broth
- 1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
- 2 750-ml bottles red Burgundy wine
- 1 1/4 pounds mushrooms
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Sauté bacon in heavy large Dutch oven over high heat until brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels.
- Season beef generously with salt and pepper; coat with 1/3 cup flour, using all of flour. Working in 3 batches, brown beef in same pot over high heat, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer meat to large bowl.
- Add onions and carrots to same pot and sauté until light brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to bowl with beef.
- Add 1 cup broth and Cognac to pot; boil until reduced to glaze, scraping up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Return meat and vegetables and their juices to pot. Add wine, mushrooms, thyme, sugar, tomato paste and 2 cups broth. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
- Cover pot and place in oven. Cook until beef is tender, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Ladle liquid from stew into large saucepan. Spoon off fat. Boil liquid until reduced to 2 3/4 cups, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour liquid back over beef and vegetables. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.) Rewarm over low heat before serving.
- Serve with a loaf of crusty bread, some boiled or mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots.