beef bourguignon

Mmm, beef bourguignon, yummy.

This is one of my favourite dishes, and it’s very easy to make. It’s not strictly named for the Burgundy region of France, but rather a method of cooking popularly used in the area, where beef is cooked in a red wine sauce. Traditionally, the bæuf à la beef bourguignonne, to give it its full title, would be made with pearl onions, mushrooms and small pieces of bacon, but I generally follow the recipe set by our old friend Anthony Bourdain, which simplifies the shopping list and uses carrots to add a dash of variety and a splash of colour to the dish. To celebrate this choice, I’m going to write this entry in the style of Mr Bourdain. Ready, motherfucker?

Actually, I’m not. But the idea was amusing for a second.

First up, the meat. I was able to procure close to a kilo of Aberdeen Angus braising steak from my favourite butcher, the good people at Kent & Sons of St. John’s Wood.

After heating a tablespoon of olive oil in my faithful Le Creuset casserole dish until it’s almost smoking, I dump the seasoned meat into the base of the pan, one small batch at a time, ensuring that the flesh is well browned before removing and setting aside. In the picture below you can see the fond beginning to form in the pan. This is the sticky, concentrated residue formed by food as it cooks and caramelises, and is to be revered; it’s culinary nectar. Worried about cleaning it off the pan? Don’t be, and don’t bother. This stuff is packed with incredible flavour, and you want it to develop. With a little bit of de-glazing, its presence will enhance the flavour of any dish, and the pot will be easy to clean. But we’ll get to that.

With the meat removed, I add four thinly sliced onions to the pot.

Dropping the heat to medium, I cook this for about ten minutes, until it’s a lovely golden brown, then add a couple of tablespoons of plain flour. After mixing this in and cooking for a few minutes further, a large glass of burgundy finds its way into the pot. At this point your best friend is a wooden spoon, which you use to scrape all that delicious fond from the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure it’s well mixed in.

Bring the wine to the boil, whack the meat back in the pot, then add six sliced carrots, a couple of cloves of garlic, bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, tied together in a bundle, usually wrapped in cheesecloth), enough water to cover the ingredients comfortably, and a couple of spoonfuls of demi-glace. If you don’t have veal bones, an enormous stock pot, a spare couple of days and a lot of patience, a pretty reasonable demi-glace can be obtained from the More Than Gourmet company.

And then? Simmer the bugger for a couple of hours, taking time out every fifteen minutes or so to check that nothing is sticking to the pan. Discard the bouquet garni, serve up with a sprinkling of parsley, and add a couple of bay leaves to the centre of the dish if you happen to be taking a photograph. This small touch makes it look like you really know what you’re doing.



  1. Finally! It cooks again!!!

    Not sure about the carrots. I’d slice mine a tad finer but then I’m not keen on too much crunch in my root vegetables.

    Nice to see you using a lot of meat again, always a sign of good food if you ask me.


  2. Crunch? Not after a two-hour cook…

  3. Beef casserole! Beef bloody casserole! C’mon Fras you can do better than that. I’m still waiting for Koala soup or some other downunder delicacy…

  4. Gives me the urge to go all hon-hi-hon euh, bon alors, ça me plait beaucoup, etc. Although the Mrs would be frothing with disbelief at the lack of potato in the final serving. (If there’s no starch then it’s not a meal in her book; she’d have spuds with pasta all cooked in a pie and served in a sandwich if she could.)

  5. And new china aswell? Woo! (That onion doesn’t look that thinly sliced, young man)

  6. It’s not new, it’s my one white plate. I should use it more often.

  7. parsley? bay leaves? next you will be cooking tofu!

  8. Frankly, having been a reader for some time (although never having tried any of your dishes), I think you have misled us.

    At no point are we instructed to add the beef back into the pot…

    Which means that the pictures have been faked and that casts doubt onto the whole shooting match. Are we to believe that you really went to Korea and partook of dog soup, or was it just some clever photoshopping malarky?

    We, the people (well – mainly just me) demand the truth!

  9. You’re quite right. Beginner’s mistake. Anyone following this recipe would be creating a culinary disaster.

    I’ll add the meat back in, as it were.

  10. Looks nice.

    I’m a student and I could make that, if I could afford the beef!

    Alas I will have to make do with beef in pie tonight.

  11. It is nice with the pearl onions, but they are an absolute pain in the ar*e to peel. I did see it made once using a jar of picked onion, that had been soaked to get rid of all the vinegar and pickled taste.

    Easier certainly, but as good ? Perhaps not !

  12. I think the large bits of carrot actually make sense, if they were smaller then surely they’d become mushy after being left to simmer for so long. Looks bloody nice anyway, will have to give that a go – what a shame the girlfriend can’t eat beef (mwuahaha – more for me I suppose)

    btw, for anyone in or near the Angus area, the finest beef by far is available from Robertsons of Broughty Ferry…

  13. Sorry Fraser, that does not look at all appetizing. It’s the carrots. They’re ugly. It needs spuds or noodles.
    What wine did you use? And did you really waste a weekend, I mean, make your own demi glace? And how big were the spoonfuls? When did you deglaze? And what did you chop the onions with? An axe? Or a hacksaw? Come on Blogjam, we need answers.
    I like the More Than Gourmet website. They sell ‘the Cadillac of Veal’, which I guess it means veal that pensioners can enjoy.

  14. Oops. Forgot to mention that Bradt have just published a guidebook to Turkmenistan. You could be their first customer.

  15. You see, I was right about the carrots. Chunky veg aren’t popular with folk.

    PS: Those onions…you should be ashaimed of yourself.

  16. looks yummy. is it served with baguette? you are buying only the best meat etc. must be pretty expensive. bread and water for the rest of the week? go on, chef.

  17. You heathens. Just because the carrot has been tarnished with a school-dinners reputation doesn’t mean it can’t be a delicious addition to a decent recipe, and it certainly works beautifully with this. Spuds and noodles would both suffice, but I was following the Bourdain treatment, which calls for carrots. The wine I used was a Mercurey Font Gravier Philippe-Le-Hardi 1999, I used tablespoons for the More Than Gourmet demi-glace (I’ll be making my own for a future entry), de-glazed with the red wine as described, and chopped the onions using a rusting Black and Decker chainsaw.

  18. Ah, but how long had it been rusting for? Makes a world of difference to the flavour.

  19. I don’t get this carrot prejudice, though personally I’d have gone for whole baby ones, the big ones are for the guinea pigs (finely sliced ;-D )

  20. There’s nowt wrong with carrots.

  21. lovely dish. just needed… carrots. oh.

  22. Oh don’t get me wrong, carrots are yummy. Fraser just needs to learn to cut them into mildly more delicate morsals rather than the veritable bricks he has shown above.

  23. Hello Fraser,

    I can heartily reccomend adding a splash of cooking brandy to when you add the wine. It’s very good.

    Have a good christmas.


  24. Thanks for the recipe but that motherfer bit was really a turn-off. What was that all about? Not even cute at all.

  25. Marilyn Roosevelt

    Can someone help me? I thought classic Beef Bourguigon was made using pearl onions and sliced mushroom – Julia Child’s recipe. This was looks yummy, but is it authentic, or just a Bourdain classic.


  26. It’s pure Bourdain. Traditionally you’d probably add some lardons as well.

  27. This is more beef stew if you ask me.

    No mushrooms? No onion halves? No bacon?

    And the broth or whatever it’s called looks awfully liquidish. It’s supposed to be abit more creamy in my book :P

    Sorry, but that’s just not BÅ“uf bourguignon to me. You made a delicious beef stew tho.

    • Nope, what I made was a Beef Bourguignon in a manner different to the way you make it. There’s no right and wrong about it. What’s more, I’d probably make it differently if I did so tomorrow.