Hard to pronounce. Hard to spell. Takes forever to make. But this authentic French Beef Bourguignon recipe is good. Really good. This is a revised post. I was reading a book by Anthony Bourdain and he mentioned that this is one of his favourite dishes. So based on his comments, I modified the recipe and the result is outstanding. Making it at least a day in advance is the key to perfection.
When full beef tenderloins are on sale I find it hard to resist buying one. I usually get at least 10 decent steaks, a small roast and enough chunks from the ends and the “chain” to make a large stew. The chain is the long piece that’s easily pulled off the length of the tenderloin. You can use stewing beef in this recipe but if you’re making something that sounds this fancy, it deserves the premium beef!
Here’s a good link to learn how to trim a whole beef tenderloin yourself:
If you can’t pronounce this you can also call it Beef Burgundy because the dish originated in the Burgundy region of France. You need at least 3 hours of prep and cooking time so save this one for a weekend. Or a snow day. It’s actually best to make it one day and eat it the next day because the flavour just improves over time.
The experts say you should always cook with a wine you like to drink. I say take out a good bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass and use something more moderately priced for this! I don’t mean you should use cheap wine that you wouldn’t drink. The traditional wine to use in this recipe is a dry red made with Pinot Noir grapes from the Burgundy region. But seriously, any Pinot Noir or Merlot or really, any dry red wine will work.Click here to jump right to the recipe
Use a large heavy Dutch oven for this. OR….since we’re making a French dish, just get out your Le Creuset! If you’re lucky enough to have one. Me? Nope. I wish. Feel free to send me one.
Start by patting any extra moisture off the beef cubes with paper towel. This will help ensure they brown nicely. Season them with salt and pepper.
Cook the meat in small batches over medium heat. I’m using a bit of bacon fat for the added flavour and also because tenderloin has very little fat content. If you crowd them, they’ll steam instead of sear and won’t get the flavour from caramelization. It’s not necessary to fully cook the pieces, just give them a few turns. What’s left in the pot is call fond which is where all the delicious flavour comes from.
Add the garlic to the last batch of beef. Garlic can burn easily so just a quick sauté, then return all the meat back into the pot. Pour the wine over the meat and bring to a low simmer. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the pot to incorporate that flavour left from searing the beef. Now prepare the carrots, mushrooms and onions. It takes some time to peel the pearl onions but it’s worth it. They slowly cook and literally melt in your mouth.
Peel and chop the carrots, clean and quarter or half the mushrooms, depending on their size. I like to use a mixture of white and cremini mushrooms. Try to cut everything into bite sized pieces. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot along with the beef broth and season with salt and pepper.
Make a Bouquet Garni
Make a Bouquet Garni which is just a bundle of herbs tied together with string or thread. I’m using butcher twine so there’s no dye, wax or other weird stuff you don’t want in your dinner. It’s food safe.
The flavours of the herbs will infuse into the stew, then you just remove it before serving. I like the combination of rosemary, thyme and parsley. If you have a fresh bay leaf you can wrap it around the bundle and tie the string over it. I’m using a dried bay leaf so it will just go right in the pot.
Cover and bake in the oven for about an hour. Check to see how it’s doing, taste the broth to see if it needs more seasoning. It should be starting to reduce. Cook for another hour or two, up to three hours in total cooking time including the time simmering in the wine. The mushrooms release some liquid so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like you have enough broth. It will be quite thin at first but will start to reduce as it cooks and the taste will get better and better.
At this point you want to allow it to cool, then refrigerate until the next day. Or even the day after that. It just gets better!
How to Thicken Beef Bourguignon
When you’re ready to serve the Beef Bourguignon, thicken it while it reheats. You don’t want to thicken it too much, just enough to bring it somewhere between broth and gravy consistency. You can make it and serve it the same day but I highly recommend waiting if you can stand it.
Mix flour or cornstarch with a bit of beef broth and stir into the stew. As it begins to simmer, the liquid will thicken slightly. Flour gives you a more cloudy broth and you’ll need about twice as much flour as cornstarch if you choose that method to thicken. However, I like to mix flour with butter into a paste, then roll into balls. For two reasons. This method prevents you from getting lumps. And secondly, adding butter at the end adds a richness that just completes the dish. If you’ve ever wondered why food from a good restaurant always tastes so good, it’s the butter. They add it to everything!
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Beef Bourguignon is best served over mashed potatoes. You can raise the bar by making garlic mashed potatoes or roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
For roasted garlic mashed, peel some of the loose skin off a head of garlic. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over and wrap up in a foil bundle. Or use a garlic baker. Toss it in the oven while the beef is cooking. After about 40 minutes the garlic will be golden and soft as butter! Add it to a pot of boiled potatoes with a bit of milk and butter, salt and mash or whip it up. Yes, the entire head!
Or, you can even toss peeled cloves of garlic into the pot with your potatoes. They’ll become soft and will mash right up with the potatoes. The garlic flavour is a little more subtle this way. Use about half a head.
My brother Chef Kev recommends not to put pepper in mashed potatoes because it could turn them grey. He suggests adding pepper at the end. Good call!
Serve Beef Bourguignon over these yummy garlic mashed potatoes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and cracked black pepper if desired.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 1/2 lb Beef Tenderloin chunks or stewing beef cubes
- 1 Tbsp bacon fat or oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth lower sodium if possible
- 1 cup pearl onions, peeled about 25
- 2 cups carrots about 3 large
- 4 cups mushrooms, quartered or halved about 12 large
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- fresh rosemary sprigs
- fresh thyme sprigs
- fresh parsley sprigs
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- salt and pepper to taste
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- 1 1/2 lb boiling potatoes about 5 medium
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil if roasting garlic
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- salt to taste
- Pat beef chunks dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat heavy dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop. Add bacon fat or oil. Sear chunks of beef in small batches to caramelize, turning often. Remove to plate between batches. Peel and slice garlic cloves. Saute along with last batch of beef.
- Return all cooked beef to the pot and add red wine. Cover and simmer on low heat while you prep the vegetables.
- Peel pearl onions. Clean and quarter or half mushrooms. Peel and chop carrots into bite sized pieces.
- Prepare a Bouquet Garni by arranging a few sprigs of rosemary, thyme and parsley and tie with butcher twine or cotton thread. If using a fresh bay leaf, wrap around the bouquet under the string.
- Add vegetables and herbs to pot, along with the beef broth. Place in the oven at 350 degrees and bake for about an hour. Check and stir. Return to oven and bake an additional hour, up to 2 more hours until the stew is dark and reduced.
- Cool and refrigerate unless you are serving it immediately.
- Combine butter and flour into a paste and shape into a few balls. Heat stew on the stovetop to a simmer. Add flour balls, cover and simmer until thickened and heated well.
- Meanwhile, prepare garlic mashed potatoes. Peel and boil potatoes in salted water. If using roasted garlic, add after potatoes are cooked. If using raw garlic, peel cloves and add to the potatoes for entire cooking time. Use about half of a garlic head.
- Drain potatoes, add milk, butter and salt. Whip or mash to desired consistency.
- Serve Beef Bourguignon over garlic mashed potatoes.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and cracked black pepper if desired.