February 19, 2018 – She said it was the best dish I’ve ever cooked. She might be right.
The beef was so tender. The broth so delicious. All other ingredients performed their supporting roles perfectly. It was as Beef Bourguignon should be. Memorable.
Beef Bourguignon originated in the Burgundy region of France, just southeast of Paris. It’s a region known for great wines (as in burgundy) and Charolais cattle. The meat of the Charolais is known for its remarkable flavor and low fat content.
Beef Bourguignon had its beginning among French peasants hundreds of years ago. As with many dishes we know and love today, this slow-cooked beef stew was made to utilize tough, less desirable cuts of meat. People in those days were in no position to throw away anything that could be turned into food.
The great French chef Auguste Escoffier first began the escalation of Beef Bourguignon to haute cuisine status when he wrote the recipe around 1903. Later Julia Child refined it in her classic book, Mastering The Art of French Cooking. It is her recipe that serves as the basis for Beef Bourguignon today.
I had a chuck roast on hand, a cut of meat that lends itself well to slow cooking. I decided to make Beef Bourguignon. My way, with guidance from Escoffier and Julia.
Traditionally, one would start by sautéing bacon and then browning the chunks of beef in the bacon fat. I love bacon but my roast was well larded. I thought perhaps bacon fat would be too much. I replaced the bacon with andouille sausage, one of the greatest contributions to the world of food from my native Louisiana.
I don’t often use beef stock. It seems to me that beef stock can be too much, especially when slow-cooking meat that will also be making its own stock. I opted instead to use some chicken stock I made from the carcass of a chicken I had roasted a few days earlier. It was a good choice, especially since, in the spirit of adventure, I had added a little cinnamon to the chicken stock as it simmered. The hint of cinnamon seeped into the beef stew, providing a very pleasant, exotic element. Difficult to identify but definitely a positive addition to the flavor of the beef.
Here, then, is my take on Beef Bourguignon.
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 links andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces pearl onions
8 ounces wild mushrooms
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a heavy, oven proof braising pan or Dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the beef until all pieces are well browned.
Add the andouille and onion. Sprinkle with the flour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Increasing the heat to high, continue sautéing, stirring constantly, for four to five minutes, until the onions begin to soften and the sausage is beginning to brown. Toss in the garlic for the last minute or so. Use the third tablespoon of olive oil if the mixture seems too dry.
Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, and rosemary. Bring to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan to release the fond.
Cover the pan and place in the center of the oven. Bake for about an hour and a half.
Remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stove top burner, removing the lid. Swirl the butter into the stew. Add the pearl onions, mushrooms, and crushed red pepper. Simmer over medium low heat for about 15 minutes.
Adjust seasonings to taste.
Garnish with chopped green onions, chives, or parsley, if desired.