Beef bourguignon is considered peasant food. Really delicious peasant food. The Barefoot Contessa’s Beef Bourguignon is my go-to recipe when the temperature drops.
When the weather gets cold, year after year I have tried to make a succulent, melt in your mouth beef stew or pot roast. I’ve used the stovetop, slow cooker, and oven. Nothing has been even close to what hubby and I wanted. In fact, he suggested that I stop trying. Sadly, he was right!
Then I remembered I had seen The Barefoot Contessa make Beef Bourguignon on TV. I adapted it a bit omitting mushrooms and serving over mashed potatoes.
But, after I made it, hubby said this would do over any pot roast recipe I could ever try. That’s how good it is! It’s a very rustic, peasant dish that is full of flavor and just sounds impressive when you say, Beef Bourguignon.
Before I get to the recipe, a few notes. Use a bottle of wine you would drink. Being in the wine business with my husband, I’m an advocate for using what YOU like. My personal favorite is a pinot noir.
I used a 6-quart Dutch oven from Lodge, the makers of cast iron. It’s an enameled Dutch oven, but any 6-quart one will do.
If you’ve never flambeed a dish before, igniting the cognac is intimidating, there’s no doubt. Here’s my method, I pour in the cognac, wait a minute or two, stand at the ready with the lid, and make my hubby light it! He uses one of those flame wands.
The flames will be high. The flames will be many. Panic inside but remain calm. Oh, did I mention I also have my fire extinguisher nearby?
You need the alcohol to burn off. If it gets too much for your nerves, cover the pot with the lid. I have an enamel-coated Dutch oven that works well. Don’t use a glass lid either. You wouldn’t want it shattering under the heat.
Can I leave out the wine and cognac?
Yes, you can. But you will need to substitute something else. If you’re concerned about the alcohol content, it will burn off. The stew cooks long enough for the alcohol to burn off and by flaming the cognac, the alcohol from it will also burn off.
What can I substitute for wine and cognac in Beef Bourguignon?
The wine and cognac bring a lot of flavor to the dish so you want to substitute with flavorful ingredients. Substitute all or part of the red wine with beef broth or stock. Homemade or store-bought is fine. You could also do have broth and half with and unsweetened juice such as pomegranate or cranberry.
If you choose to substitute all broth for the wine, you also need to add a bit of acid back in. You can do this with a bit of red wine vinegar. No red wine vinegar? Use balsamic or cider vinegar.
Tips for Making Beef Bourguignon
- Use chuck roast.
- Cut the beef into bite-size cubes of similar size.
- Pat the cubes dry before browning.
- Carrots should be no smaller than 1″.
- Use a bottle of wine you would drink.
- Use a 6-quart Dutch oven or larger.
Don’t try to use any other cut of meat than chuck roast. It has much more fat or marbling than I like, but the fat melts away during cooking. Just like magic, making the meat melt in your mouth.
What can I serve with Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon?
Since this stew is loaded with vegetables, I like to serve it over mashed potatoes but you can also serve over crusty, toasted sourdough bread, garlic toast, or even buttered noodles. This no-knead sourdough bread from my friend Karen’s Kitchen Stories would be perfect, especially if you have a sourdough starter.
Beef Bourguignon Wine Pairing
Since the recipe includes wine, it’s perfectly acceptable to serve the wine you used. I can’t say it enough, use a wine you like to drink. I’m not suggesting you use an expensive bottle if you can’t afford to because there are great bottles of wine under $10.
If you use a pinot noir in the recipe, serve a pinot noir with it. It does not need to be from the same winery, though that is better. I wouldn’t suggest using a pinot noir and serving a cabernet sauvignon. They have very different flavor profiles.
Usually, I’m not a stickler for red with red meat and white with poultry and fish but in this case, because there is wine in the dish, you need to serve a red wine alongside it.
If like me, you are a fan of the Barefoot Contessa’s (aka Ina Garten) recipes another favorite is her zucchini pancakes.
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 8 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
- 2 ½ pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
- 2 yellow onions, sliced
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
- ½ cup Cognac
- 1 (750ml) bottle good dry red wine such as Pinot Noir
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 pound frozen whole pearl onions
- Mashed potatoes or crusty bread, toasted, for serving
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
- Dry the beef cubes (it helps them brown) with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
- Toss the carrots and onions and 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. (See comments above about doing this.) Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting, oven-proof lid and place in the oven for about 1 1 /4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven to stovetop.
- Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
To serve: If serving over bread, toast in toaster or oven. Rub each slice with a cut clove of garlic. Spoon stew over slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.
If serving with mashed potatoes, spoon a serving of mashed potatoes onto plate and spoon stew over potatoes. Serve hot!
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This post was originally published January 5, 2014 and update December 28, 2020.