Boeuf bourguignon may sound a little fancy, but when it comes down to it, it’s really just a beef stew. A greatbeef stew and basically the original one, at that. It likely started as a peasant’s dish in the middle ages and it has persisted and evolved through the years. It’s a quintessential French dish, hailing from the Burgundy region of France, but it’s known – and cooked – throughout the world, in no small part thanks to Julia Child and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Some versions take two days and Julia’s version involves boiling the bacon before it ever hits the pan, but we don’t think a successful beef burgundy needs to be quite so complicated. While it does taste better if you give it a chance to sit overnight, our version takes just a few hours to come together. It’s low and slow enough that the flavors have time to develop and the meat has a chance to become fall-apart tender, but you don’t need to go to the trouble of an overnight marinade or a bouquet garni. (Throwing a sprig of thyme and bay leaf in the pot is more our style anyway.)
You begin by browning the bacon and then searing the beef in the drippings. You want to make sure all of the beef gets well browned, so work in batches and take care not to crowd the pan. After sauteeing all of the veggies and adding the liquid and meat back to the pot, you let the whole thing simmer until the meat is delicate and fork-tender. You can simmer on the stovetop if you wish, but the oven does a little bit better job of keeping a steady, low temperature. (And you don’t really have to watch it if it cooks there.) The pearl onions and mushrooms are cooked at the end and stirred in just before serving. The flavor is rich and deep, and it’s just about as comforting as food can get. Bon appetit!
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