Beef stew is a great cold weather dish. And Julia Child’s beef bourguignon is the best beef stew period. Hands down, no contest.
It is also a pain in the butt to make. Start early, because it’s a 4-5 hour process. Once prepped, beef bourguignon takes at least 3-4 hours to cook in the oven; so again I’m stressing the need to plan. But so worth it!!!
It is not so utterly difficult that the average cook cannot make it. But you do have to read through the directions beforehand and plan accordingly. And then make sure you follow the directions. I have made a few shortcuts that I think do not take away from the dish itself.
This dish is traditionally served with potatoes, rice or noodles. I opted for roasted potatoes; a few go a long way for complementing the flavor of the beef bourguinon.
For this recipe, you will need:
6 oz. pork belly
3 1/2 T. coconut oil
2.5 lbs. lean stewing grass-fed beef, cut into 2-in. cubes
1 big carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 t. salt and pepper
3 T. tapioca flour
2 c. red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 c. beef stock
1 T. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed or minced garlic
1/2 t. thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
3 1/2 T. ghee
Herb bouquet (parsley, thyme, and bay leaves)
1 lb. mushrooms, fresh and quartered
1 lb. assorted baby potatoes (red, golden and purple)
When shopping for the ingredients, you may ask yourself “Which red wine should I get?” A good rule of thumb is to choose a red wine that you would enjoy drinking.
Cut the pork belly into 1/4 – 1/2 in. thick pieces (lardons).
Simmer the lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water.
During this time is when I do some of my vegetable prep work – slice the onion and carrot, and twine the herb bouquet.
Drain the lardons and pat dry with a paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Saute the lardons in a skillet with 1 T. of coconut oil to brown them.
Once browned, remove the lardons with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large casserole dish (I sprayed the bottom of the casserole dish with a little bit of coconut oil first). Do NOT discard the oil and rendered fat.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels. They will not brown if they are damp.
Using the coconut oil and pork belly fat in the skillet and medium-high heat, brown the beef cubes on all sides. Be sure to not crowd the skillet.
Add the browned beef cubes into the casserole dish with the lardons.
Using the same skillet, brown the sliced onion and carrot.
Toss the beef and lardons with the salt, pepper and tapioca flour, to coat lightly.
Place the casserole dish in the oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and lardons again, and place in the oven for another 4 minutes. This step browns the flour, creating a “crust” on the beef and lardons.
Remove the casserole dish from the oven and turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.
Add the wine and beef stock – the beef and lardons should be just covered with liquid.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, 1/2 t. thyme, crumbled bay leaf and herb bouquet, and bring to a simmer on the stovetop.
Add the vegetables (browned, sliced carrot and onion) to the casserole dish, cover, and place in the lower third of the oven.
Set the timer for at least 3 hours, up to 4 hours, so that the liquid slowly simmers the meat and vegetables.
About 45 minutes before the casserole dish comes out of the oven, half and roast the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
About 10 minutes before the casserole dish comes out of the oven, quarter the mushrooms. Brown the mushrooms lightly in the ghee.
When you pull the casserole out of the oven, remove the herb bouquet and check the thickness of the liquid.
The sauce should coat a spoon lightly. If it does not, separate the liquid from the meat and vegetables, and cook down the sauce to thicken in a saucepan. You can do this by boiling the liquid for several minutes.
If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.
This is also the time to tweak the sauce with any extra herbs or salt and pepper. Don’t worry, you can do the same to the stew if the liquid is the perfect consistency; just add and gently stir.
You can serve the beef bourguignon in a bowl by itself or ladle over potatoes. Garnish with the mushrooms and a small sprig of parsley.