My Favorite Beef Bourguignon Recipe

The Return of a Great Classic

BEEF BOURGUIGNON was one of the first things I cooked in my first restaurant, back in the '70s, back in the days when the sauce was served on top of the meat, and not under or around it! 

The classic recipe we served must have been pretty darn good: the customers kept asking for it, and we ended up having to print it out. No wonder: boeuf bourguignon (a.k.a. beef bourguignon, beef burgundy, or beef à la bourguignonne) is one of the most satisfactory culinary inventions, and it's no surprise that this unassuming ragoût has survived the centuries! 

Now, thanks to a blog, a book and a movie, a whole new generation is discovering this great classic dish. Others are remembering to put it back on the menu.

As for me, to this day, when I want to make beef stew, the first thing that comes to mind is Beef Bourguignon.

In spite of the French name, it's really not complicated and every French housewife can whip it up at a moment's notice. Apart from the beef itself (French housewives tend to buy their meat daily), the ingredients are of the sort that she will probably have around the house – and so will you if you're as interested in good food as I think you are.

The following is the recipe I served in my restaurant.

Gina's Favorite Beef Bourguignon Recipe (Burgundy Style Beef Stew)

For 4 people

NOTE: the small numbers in parentheses refer to a Tip or Technique, below
  • 2 lbs (1 kilo) of stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch (4 cm) cubes (I sometimes use boneless cross-rib pot roast, but a cut with finer texture, like the shoulder or the shank, are preferable)
  • The fat trimmings from the beef
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped, or 1 1/2" thick (4 cm) slice of salt pork belly (1), cut into lardons
  • 1 small onion and 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped very coarsely (2)
  • 1 celery rib, chopped very coarsely
  • The stems of 12 small mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup (250 ml) of red wine (I use a Pinot noir)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) brown beef stock (homemade or canned)
  • 12 small round onions, fresh or frozen
  • 12 small mushrooms, tails removed and used above
  • 8 small potatoes, peeled and evenly shaped
  • Herbes salées or chopped parsley
  • Butter
  • Flour
    MELT the fat trimmings (if any), brown the bacon or salt pork in the rendered fat, remove it, brown the meat in the same fat, remove the meat with a slotted spoon, caramelize the onion/carrot/celery/mushroom stem/garlic mixture in the same fat, over slow heat, while scraping the pan.  
    ADD THE WINE and boil it until the colour changes (3); then add the beef stock and the thyme.  
    TRANSFER the meat to an oven-proof dish (4), pour the sauce over the meat, place the bay leaf on top, then a piece of parchment cut to fit on top of the stew. Cover the dish tightly and slip it onto the middle rack of a 300-degree F (150 C) oven.  
    COOK the beef bourguignon for two hours or until the meat is very tender.  
    CHECK every half hour. I like to turn the meat over then. DO NOT let the sauce evaporate. If it reduces too quickly, turn down the oven temperature. Add some boiling water if necessary.
    WHEN the meat is done, take it out gently with a slotted spoon and place it in the serving dish. Strain the sauce (5) and discard the vegetables. Put the sauce into a clean pot. Off heat, add beurre manié (6) made with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon flour, stir vigorously with a whisk, put the sauce back on the fire and simmer it for a couple of minutes while continuing to whisk constantly.  
    AT THIS POINT the sauce will have thickened and taken on a beautiful sheen. Taste it and adjust the seasoning, then pour it over the beef.  
    WHILE the meat is cooking, sauté the stemless mushrooms gently in butter just till they are golden and still very firm, take them out and caramelize the little onions in the same butter.  
    BOIL some nicely turned small potatoes, then roll them in a bit of butter with herbes salées if you have any (7). Or cook some noodles, preferably homemade, then toss them with a spoonful of butter, salt and pepper. (Mashed potatoes are another delicious alternative.)  
    GARNISH your beef bourguignon with the mushrooms and baby onions and serve it with the potatoes or noodles.  
    DELICIOUS!  And even better the next day.


1. The French variations for this are so wildly different in beef bourguignon recipes (the pork is salted, or not; if it's salted, it's blanched, or not; the bacon is boiled, or not) – so just use what you like, or have on hand.
2. It's important to chop them coarsely so they'll be easy to strain out later.
3. Always make sure that this colour change has taken place or you may end up with a sauce of an unappetizing purple colour.
4. The dish should be wide enough so that the all the meat will fit in a single layer, two at the most.
5. If the sauce is very fatty, you could degrease it at this point. I like a fat separator cup for this.
6. Beurre manié (kneaded butter) is a classic way of thickening French sauces and it is added at the very end. It's just equal parts of butter and flour, mashed together with a fork until a smooth paste is obtained. (A flat plate works better for this than a bowl, especially if the butter is a little cold.) It is then dropped into the hot liquid, off the heat, whisked vigorously till smooth and put back on the heat 2 or 3 minutes – just long enough to cook the flour. If the sauce is to be reduced, the reduction should take place before the addition of the beurre manié.
7. A combination of celery, onions, carrots, parsnips, parsley, chervil, savory, leeks, chives and spinach, preserved in salt. Unless you live in Québec, you won't be able to buy them, but you can make some using our recipe – or just use chopped parsley.

NOTE: Do not attempt to make this or any standard beef bourguignon recipe in the slow cooker! Instead, use this recipe which has been developed especially for slow cooker / crock pot cookery.


Do you have any questions about this recipe? Do you have a favorite beef bourguignon recipe?