Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bœuf Bourguignon

My favorite fellow foodie from work was gracious enough to invite me to her annual holiday party again this year. The last time, I was in the throws of Last Minute Holiday Panic and ended up bringing a store-bought cake (ugh). This year, I wanted to make up for that by providing something extra special that she and her guests might not ever make for themselves. I solicited the support of my very chefy counterpart, and after some discussion, we agreed on that classic French holiday party favorite: Beef Bourguignon.

Beef, wine, lardon, olive oil, and a bit of brandy - the basis for our dish

Like its chicken sibling, Coq au Vin, Beef Burgundy originated in French Wine country and was popularized in the States by the singular Julia Child. This traditional country stew is designed to give new life to middling cuts of beef. Basically, we are dressing up economical cuts of beef into something really quite special. And, chuck is an economical cut to be sure. Here are some of the things we considered when selecting our chuck:

Choosing Beef:
The Beef should come from the Chuck section of the cow. Meaning the top muscle section that supports the neck and connects to the back of the ribs.


In the actual Chuck Eye Roll, there are a combination of different meats, varying in toughness. The Tender top portion is the Chuck eye, and underneath that is a tougher bottom section.  This roast is not usually used for Dry Cooking, but is used for BBQ and stews.

Nicely marbled, corn-fed beef means you could skip larding the beef

We also researched several approaches, including the classic recipe from Julia Child, as well as the very brief entry in Larousse Gastronomique. My counterpart crafted a recipe that seemed to capture the essence of the dish. Here is his recipe with my photos.

All you need for beef burgundy

8 oz. (generous) Pork Belly
5 lbs Beef Chuck Roast or very thick chuck steak from the Chuck Eye. (“Beef Chuck eye Roll”)
Olive Oil.
White Flour for dusting
6 Cups of Burgundy Wine (1.5 liters)
3 Large (restaurant size) Carrots
2 Leeks
1 Large (restaurant size) Onion
Celeriac Root.
1 ½ Small Pearl Onions
2 lbs. Small  White New Potatoes
Bouquet Garnie, of Bay Leaf, Thyme, Sage, and a little oregano
Salt for seasoning the meat
1 Cup (8oz) Tomato Paste (Goya Latino, Salsa de tomato)
3 sprigs Thyme

Cook Pork belly in Olive Oil. To prepare the pork belly, freeze it until it is firm, and then slice it with a sharp knife. Cut it down into small strips and fry it in a heavy pot with a generous pour of olive oil.

Sliced pork belly fat is a good source of lardon

Fry it up until it is crisp

Cube beef and dry. Trim off any fat or gristle using a sharp knife or kitchen shears.

Season with Salt, Pepper, with a little ground Oregano and a little ground sage, then dust with white flour. 

Just dust it, do not bread it

Then, place it in a warm oven at 175 for a few minutes to dry.

A warm oven is a good way to dry meat

Fry in Pan, high heat, until Gratin (Brown Crust) is formed on the outside of the meat. Remove the meat and separate out the pork belly and discard.

Dried beef browned with lardon

Add 1 large onion, and Thyme. Continue to cook in the fat. Deglaze the pan with ½ of a bottle of Burgundy Wine.

Add Carrots, Leek, Celeriac to a Large Stewing pot, with the Bouquet Garni, 

Pour Beef mixture over vegetables in the stewing pot. Add a generous pour of brandy and flame it to burn off the alcohol.

Transfer to a large roasting pan and add the rest of the bottle of burgundy.

Add the entire bottle of wine

Bake for about an hour at 350, then add small potatoes. If you do not see the sauce bubbling, turn up the heat. Bake for 1 more hour, and then add pearl onions. Portion out some of the sauce and thicken it with sugar, a can of tomato paste, and some potato starch. Add the sauce to the pan and bake for 1 further hour. Total bake time is about 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.


  1. Wow! This was delicious, and I had no idea how much work it was! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Any time you get to set things on fire, they move into the fun category. And, this was really just more time-consuming than anything else. But it warmed up the house and made everything smell really good.