For as many years as I've been making this traditional French recipe, I'm still excited at how wildly popular it is! I still have memories of ordering this at the "Cafe de Paris" at the Lexington Hotel in Minneapolis during a fun French Club event - you can only imagine all of us pre-teens being dressed up and dropped off at a fancy downtown hotel, and required to order and speak only in French during the five-course meal. We started off with a wonderful French Onion Soup, and I ordered Boeuf Bourguignon (or "Beef Burgandy"). Each course was more wonderful than the last, and this savory beef dish and the menu from that night remain a personal favorite to this day!
Beef Bourguignon is a classic French beef stew, rich with onions, carrots, garlic, mushrooms, all cooked together low and slow in red wine from the French Burgandy region. It's best made the day before you plan on serving, so that all of the flavors mingle. But even with a fancy name, there's nothing fussy about this recipe. Just layer upon layer of wonderful flavor that slowly develops over time!
Because you make this savory stew a day before you plan to serve it, it makes it a fabulous dish to prepare ahead of time for a special dinner or party. I like to serve it with roasted potatoes or over buttery mashed potatoes, some crusty bread to soak up all of the savory goodness, and a big tossed salad for a meal that everyone will go crazy over! And it just gets better with age - the day after that it is even BETTER!
And if you decide to start your dinner off with a bowl of melted-and-cheesy French Onion soup, everyone will be impressed with your French cooking skills! HAH! We'll never tell them just how simple it really is!
This melt-in-your-mouth stew gets off to a great start when you cook bacon in your heavy Dutch oven, and then brown the boneless beef chuck in the bacon fat. Add lots of fresh onion, carrots and mushrooms, and simmer the most delicious beef & wine sauce until its perfectly tender.
And don't get all worried and crazy about the wine. When you visit the wine shop to pick up a bottle of "Burgandy" wine, march right over to either the French or Italian Pinot Noir section like you own the place and grab a couple bottles of something nice and wonderful. ("Red Burgandy" is just wine made in the Burgandy region of eastern France using 100% Pinot Noir grapes. That's right, Red Burgandy is just a Pinot Noir! White Burgandy is also made in Burgandy, but, since it is white, it is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes.) For this recipe you want a good red. That's it - your wine primer for today!
A good rule of thumb is that you want a red wine (or blended red wine) that YOU ENJOY drinking all by itself. It doesn't have to be expensive, it just needs to be something that YOU enjoy! (I hope that Julia Childs doesn't hate me for telling you that some of the Italian and California Pinot Noirs are pretty darn good in this too.) And the chef always should enjoy a glass of wine while making this, don't you think?