Julia Child was a pioneer in making French food accessible to Americans. I fondly remember watching her show on PBS as a kid. To be honest, I was too young to appreciate her talents at that age. But now, I am so thankful that she stuck to her guns and kept forging ahead with her cooking. Watching “Julie and Julia” made me really curious about this special dish called beef bourguinon. I wondered what the big fuss was all about. From all the different steps to preparing the ingredients to the long slow cooking process in a fancy Dutch oven that costs almost as much as my part of the rent.
My version does not use a Le Creuset Dutch oven, but I doubt that it made a huge impact on the flavor since I pulled out all the stops to develop flavor in the broth. The key to creating depth of flavor lies in all the browning, sautéing, and deglazing processes. So if you take the time with those steps, you should be good to go, fancy equipment or not. =)
With the busy holidays coming up, I’m not sure how many posts I’ll be able to make. So I will make this my main holiday dish post. Beef bourguinon is supposed to be a dish for special guests and special occasions. All the time and effort that go into the stew can be tasted with every morsel. I remember making this for my husband’s office a few weeks ago. They are a small company with close ties, and there was news of the sudden passing of one of his coworkers. Everyone was blind sighted by this, and struggled with get through the week. It also happened to be my husband’s birthday a few days later. In hopes of cheering folks up or at least providing some comfort, I made this stew for his office-mates. After all, what is more comforting than stew? I am really glad that I can offer comfort to those that I care about through my cooking.
I hope that this recipe is helpful to you when you are looking for that special dish that will uplift spirits and warm the soul. Happy Holidays everyone.
When working with a slow-cooker, always be careful in the timing of your cooking and be sure to place ingredients in at different times because if you put meat and veggies in at the beginning of a stew, the veggies will all disintegrate by the end of cooking. It is easy to overcook dishes when using a slow-cooker, which will result in dry meat paste. So for this dish, make sure you turn off the slow-cooker once your meat is just falling apart with the touch of a fork.
Make sure you sauté your mushrooms separately and then add them into your stew only at the very end of cooking. Otherwise, your mushrooms will disintegrate into the stew.
I’ve made this stew and served it with cheesy polenta/grits, which works equally as well as mashed potatoes. It’s a matter of personal preference. You can also just eat it with a nice loaf of crusty fresh bread.
Choose a red wine that you enjoy drinking rather than relying on “cooking wines.” I personally do not drink alcohol very often, so I usually just find a relatively cheap bottle of Pinot Noir in the $10 range.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
5 lbs beef stew meat, cubed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
5 large carrots
1 cup pearl onions
1 small can tomato paste
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp pepper, or to taste
1 cup dry red wine (Pinot Noir)
1 quart beef stock
1 quart water
4 stalks of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp butter
1 cup baby portabello mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp corn starch
4 tbsp water
1 spring of fresh thyme, stems removed
Cut beef into 2-inch cubes and season with salt, and pepper. Allow the meat to sit for 10 minutes.
In a heated oiled skillet, brown the beef. Add red wine and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper.
Place beef mixture into crockpot/slow cooker and add in beef stock, water, fresh springs of thyme, and bay leaves. Slow cook on high setting for 4 hours.
With one hour left of cooking, add in carrots and pearl onions. Allow too cook for 1 more hour or until beef is tender.
Meanwhile, heat a skillet on medium high heat and add in butter and olive oil. Add in mushrooms and allow to brown, with minimal turning. When mushrooms are beginning to brown, add in minced garlic and fresh thyme. Sauté for 1 more minute and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
When beef is tender, taste broth and beef for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix corn starch with cold water until corn starch is dissolved. Then add this to your stew to allow it to thicken ~5 minutes.
When stew is thickened, add in sautéed mushrooms and serve with mashed potatoes (recipe below)
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs potatoes, cut and peeled
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 tbsp butter
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
~ 1 tbsp garlic salt or sea salt
Boil 2 quarts of water. Place cut and peeled potatoes into boiling water. Boil until potatoes can be easily pierced by a fork ~20 minutes.
Heat heavy cream, milk, and butter in a sauce pan. Add in salt and mix well.
Drain potatoes and mash with a potato masher. When potatoes are mashed, add in cream mixture. Mix well into potatoes.
To create a smoother creamier texture, use handheld immersion blender to whip potatoes. Add in Parmigiano cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.