This French classic may seem intimidating, but with a little prep and a slow cooker, you’ll easily be eating tender, fall-apart-on-your-fork Boeuf Bourguignon.
For the past couple years, the Rustbelt Farmer’s bagpipe band performed in a beautiful, historical church downtown. After the last reverberations of those powerful pipes, we’d ditch his cumbersome bass drum and explore downtown Pittsburgh. We’d settle into a velvety booth to sip speakeasy cocktails in the basement of an ornate hotel. It became a tradition, one I enjoyed, but it wasn’t a tradition we crafted simply because we loved all those elements. Since then, the Rustbelt Farmer retired his kilt and relinquished his drum, which meant we could usher in 2018 however we pleased.
With all the options at our disposal, we chose… to stay home!
I like to spend the close of the year quietly, reviewing the past year, relishing the comfort of home and each other. It’s when I raise my hibernation flag and sing my introvert’s anthem. (Plus, they don’t let Julep drink at the speakeasy, even though her name is Julep.) But we chose to stay home with a special twist: a slow-cooked meal and a gussied up table.
Before I made the leap to self-employment, weekends were sacred and typically, when I would spend time immersing myself in slower, complicated and intimidating recipes like Boeuf Bourguignon. I had two splurge purchases of America’s Test Kitchen magazine as my spirit guide, their many kitchen gurus holding my hand as I tied tenderloins, shaped Parker House rolls and proverbially dipped my toes into the ocean.
Fast forward and my entrenchment in the food world and a chaotic freelancer schedule means I tend not to carve out as much time simply to enjoy cooking (quel dommage!). Boeuf Bourguignon was a recipe I made on those distant food adventures, so it felt symbolic to feast on this fall-off-your-fork roast for a quiet and celebratory night at home.
The best part of investing the time and effort (which is really less than you think) in this Boeuf Bourguignon recipe is it keeps on feeding you. From our fancy New Year’s Eve table, to watching Fargo on New Year’s Day (it felt appropriately cold outside to revisit that classic film) and for a few days after that, we had warm bowls of comforting stew to nourish us and torture the dog with its aroma (poor baby, but no wine broth for her).
Stay warm and nourished, friends.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Prep Time 1 hour 15 mins | Cook Time 4 hours 15 mins | Yield: 8 servings
About this Recipe: An hour and change of prep is highly worth the resulting rich and tender stew. To take advantage of my VitaClay cooker, I transferred the prepped mixture to the slow cooker for the low simmer portion of this recipe, but you can continue using the stovetop if you don’t have a slow cooker or don’t want extra cleanup. For the bacon, I’ve sampled several varieties, and so far, nothing beats Whole Foods’ Black Forest Bacon. Use a good quality, free-range meat source for the chuck roast. This recipe pairs well with a celery root mash or mashed potato to soak up all the juices.
4 slices bacon (1/4 pound), cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, large pieces of fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks, patted dry
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup whole grain teff flour
1 large onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
6 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch slices
1 bottle dry red wine (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
a mix fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme (optional)
Roasted Mushrooms & Pearl Onions
1 1/2 pounds small cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed (halved if large)
8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) thawed frozen pearl onions
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
In a 6-to-8-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cook bacon uncovered over medium-low heat until browned, 10 to 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside. Reserve bacon fat.
Season beef generously with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess. Raise heat to medium. Working in 2-3 batches, brown beef in bacon fat on all sides, without crowding, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer each batch to a bowl.
Pour 1/2 cup water into pan; bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, to loosen browned bits, until liquid has reduced to a few tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until slightly softened, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook 1 minute.
Add carrots, meat (with juices), wine, thyme, fresh herbs and reserved bacon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over low, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, but not falling apart, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Optional: Alternately, transfer mixture to a slow cooker on the low setting for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Note: If after this step the sauce is too thin, continue cooking until it thickens a bit. Or, if sauce is too thick, stir in a little water.
Meanwhile, prepare the Roasted Mushrooms & Pearl Onions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms with onions and oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and browned, stirring halfway through, about 30 minutes.
When the beef is ready, skim fat off surface of stew; discard. Stir Roasted Mushrooms and Pearl Onions into beef; season with salt and pepper.
Serve, or refrigerate, covered overnight.