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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boeuf Bourguignon Simplified ~ Classic Beef Stew with Red Wine Sauce

Julia Child was a great influence on my early cooking.  My Boeuf Bourguignon was inspired by Julia, and it is a classic, fundamental dish that never fails to please.  Hopefully, you'll find my simplified version of Julia's recipe encouraging.  It's wonderful as a hearty winter dish for family or as an elegant entree for guests, lunch or dinner. 
You can prepare a day ahead the base, mushrooms or sauce, or the whole stew and refrigerate.  This stew actually improves with flavor when made in advance; so it's great for cooking on the weekend to reheat for weekday meals, or for just preparing ahead for entertaining.  It freezes very well..many years ago, I adjusted the ingredients for large quantity, then prepared and froze this dish to serve 100 guests at our housewarming.

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As inspired by Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon, The French Chef Cookbook

Serves approx. 4...use a 2 1/2 qt. flameproof casserole dish. (Recipe may be doubled for approx. 8 servings...use a 4 qt. flameproof casserole dish.)


The Beef Stew Base
  • 3 oz. lean, unsmoked bacon (I used turkey bacon.), cut into about 1" long & 1/4" wide sticks (lardons)*
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2  lbs. lean beef stew meat (I used shoulder chuck.), cut into 2-3" chunks and well-dried on paper towels*
  • Approx. 1 c. +2 TB full-bodied, young red wine
  • Approx.  2 1/2 - 3 c. beef bouillon (broth--not consume), divided between the base and the sauce
  • 1/2 TB tomato paste
  • 1-2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Approx. 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
The Mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, cleaned & caps quartered (not sliced); stems cut on the bias*
  • 1/2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 TB salted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
The Onions
  • 1/ea. 15 oz. jar whole, small white or pearl onions--not pickled (I used Aunt Nellie's Holland Style...Kroger has).  Drain and reserve the juice for the sauce.
The Sauce
  • 3 TB salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 TB all-purpose flour
  • Reserved onion juice, as needed
  • Reserved beef bouillon, as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Bacon:  Optional.
  • Beef:  Lean, boneless chunks from the round, rump, or shoulder chuck...chuck is more flavorful.  Dry the beef chunks well with paper towels, or they will steam, rather than brown.
  • Mushrooms:  Clean by wiping with a damp paper towel.

Suggested Accompaniments
  • Wide egg noodles, or rice (garnish w/parsley)
  • French bread
  • Salad
  • Red wine (same as used for cooking) 

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The Beef Stew Base
  1. Preheat the oven to 300º.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the bacon lardons lightly with about 1 TB olive oil over medium-high heat, to render the fat.  With a slotted cooking spoon, remove the lardons from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add a little olive oil as necessary to film the skillet to about 1/16" inch and heat over moderately-high heat until hot, but not smoking.  Add the well-dried beef chunks and toss to coat with the oil.  Without crowding, brown the beef, adding more oil if needed.  Reduce the heat if necessary and turn the meat frequently to brown all sides.  Place the beef as it is browned, into a 2 1/2 qt. flameproof casserole dish.
  4. Pour the browning fat out of the skillet and add the red wine.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape all the flavorful brown bits from the pan into the wine, then pour the wine over the beef in the casserole.  Set the skillet aside for the mushrooms.
  5. Add the browned lardons to the casserole and enough beef bouillon to almost cover the meat.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring the casserole to a simmer on the stove.
  6. Cover the casserole and place in the oven.  Simmer for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork.  (Check the casserole after the first hour; and if necessary, stir in more beef bouillon for the liquid to come up the meat about half way.) 
The Mushrooms
  1. In the large skillet used for browning the beef, heat the oil and butter until the butter foam begins to subside.  Add the mushrooms and toss over medium-high heat about 3-4 minutes, or until the mushrooms are very lightly browned.
  2. Remove the mushrooms to a side dish until needed, then toss with the salt.  Reserve the skillet for the sauce.
The Sauce
  1. When the beef is done, remove the bay leaf and set the casserole cover askew, then drain the cooking liquid into a large liquid measuring cup.  Add the reserved onion juice...then, more beef necessary, to equal 1 1/2 c. liquid.  Pour the liquid into the large skillet you had used for browning the mushrooms.
  2. Skim off fat (leave a little for flavor) and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat on the stove.  Taste very carefully, then add salt and freshly ground black pepper as you like.
  3. In a small bowl, with a spatula, cream the butter and flour into a smooth paste.  Blend in several spoonfuls of the beef cooking liquid with a whisk.  Whisking constantly, blend this mixture into the rest of the beef liquid in the skillet and bring to a simmer.
The Finale
  1. Add the mushrooms and the drained onions to the beef in the casserole dish.  Pour in the sauce and cover.  To blend the flavors, bring to a simmer on the stove over medium heat, and cook slowly for 5 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to just simmer.
  2. Stir the casserole to baste the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
  3. If not serving immediately, cool, cover and refrigerate to reheat later.  Freezes well.
Serve over wide egg noodle or rice with a nice salad and hot French bread, and the same wine you used for the recipe. 
Bon Appetit Y'all...Enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  1. I'll take mine over the noodles as this sounds very tasty! Oh and please don't be stingy Bonnie!

    1. I'll make sure you get a nice, big serving...thanks, Regina!

  2. This is soooo good...I couldn't find onions that weren't pickled in jars so I used 5 sml peeled baby onions & kept to your recipe. No extra liquid was needed & this also worked in my pressure cooker 15psi for 1 hr...thanks Bonnie

    1. I'm so glad you like it! I'm sorry you couldn't find the jarred onions..they can be ordered on line if anyone has a difficult time finding them (and they have the time to order)...but now that you bring it up, fresh onions were used in Julia's recipe.

      Julia would've probably recommended about 10 small onions for the recipe above; but that would be to taste, and apparently you were happy with five. The reason I used the jarred onions was to eliminate the step of peeling and cooking the onions. For flavor and liquid, she used the pan juices from cooking the onions for making the sauce...I used the onion juice from the jar.

      Also, the amount of liquid used could be varied a little, depending upon how thin or thick someone would prefer their sauce. She said the sauce should enrobe the meat...I did use more butter and flour than her recipe; however, I found when I did that, the sauce just did enrobe the meat. I'm sure how much liquid accumulates while cooking the meat will vary, particularly depending upon the method of cooking...oven or pressure cooker, etc.

      I'm so glad you were happy with preparing it in a pressure cooker...I'm sure many would like to have that option. I've never tried a pressure cooker, and I said I need to...apparently they've made a comeback!

      Thank you so much for sharing, and please visit often!

  3. It's been years since I've made Julia's recipe, but here you are tempting me to make it again! Love the idea of jarred onions...I hate peeling the fresh ones! And our temps are going to plummet after the weekend so delicious comfort food like boeuf bourguignon would be perfect!

    1. Glad you like the idea of the jarred onions! Hope you find this comforting with the cold weather!

  4. I have been craving beef lately, and this french meal made simple seems like the perfect solution to my cravings! Thank you for sharing! I hope you are having a lovely week!

    1. Monet, an expecting mom definitely needs some protein...enjoy!

  5. Now this is exactly what I want for dinner on these frifid front of the fire with a glass of red wine like in your fact, I crave it! It looks spectacular, Bonnie..I'm definitely putting it on my list for dinner next week :) Even 'inspired' by Julia is more than worth it :) OH, as you can see - finally got to your page...hoping it doesn't happen again!

    1. Lisa, Curl up with your stew and red wine and enjoy that fire!

      I'm so glad you could finally access my site...someone else had the same issue recently. I spoke to one of my techies (my son-in-law) about the other person having issues at that time, and he said it was probably their computer. Geez, I hate computer issues...who has time for that...they just seem to be on-going! Thanks so much for your persistence, and please let me know if it happens again!

  6. ottima ricetta!! mi piace molto sopratutto una ricetta che riscalda, qua in italia è ancora molto freddo in questi giorni:) complimenti

    1. English translation: Excellent recipe! I like it very much especially a recipe that heats, here in Italy is still very cold in these days:) congratulations

      Your comments are very inspiring Angelica...thank you very much...enjoy!