Can You Prepare a Flavorful Beef Bourguignon with a Full-bodied Red Wine?

April 5, 2024

Dear readers, have you ever wanted to try your hand at preparing a delectable French dish? Well, look no further. Today, we’ll guide you on how to make a beef bourguignon, a rich and hearty French stew that is sure to delight your taste buds. This traditional dish is cooked slowly in a full-bodied red wine with onions, mushrooms, and bacon. The result is a fragrant and flavorful stew that never disappoints.

Let’s delve into this journey of culinary delight as we detail the step-by-step process of making this delicious recipe.

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Choosing the Right Beef and Wine

In starting this culinary adventure, your first step is to choose the right type of beef and wine. The quality of these two key ingredients will significantly affect the final outcome of your dish.

For the beef, opt for a cut with lots of connective tissue, like chuck or brisket. The long, slow cooking process breaks down this tough collagen into gelatin, which adds body and richness to the stew. Make sure to remove any excess fat before cooking.

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As for the wine, pick a full-bodied red that you’d enjoy drinking. The French often use Burgundy, but any full-bodied, fruity red like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot will do nicely. Remember, the better the wine, the better the bourguignon.

Preparing the Beef Bourguignon

Once you have your ingredients ready, it’s time to get cooking. First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). While your oven is heating, cut the beef into 2-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add the beef in batches, ensuring not to crowd the pot. Cook each batch until browned on all sides. Once done, set aside the browned beef.

Next, add the diced bacon to the pot and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside, but leave the rendered fat in the pot.

Adding the Onions and Mushrooms

Now, it’s time to add the onions and mushrooms to the pot. Cook them until they’re nicely browned and softened. This process will take about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir them occasionally to avoid burning.

Once the onions and mushrooms are done, return the cooked beef and bacon to the pot. Sprinkle in two tablespoons of flour and stir until the flour is absorbed, which will help thicken the stew.

Deglazing the Pot and Slow Cooking

Pour in your chosen red wine, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. That’s what we call deglazing, and it’s a crucial step as it brings out the rich, deep flavors in your stew.

Next, add in your beef broth, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and a couple of bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover the pot and transfer it to your preheated oven.

Let the stew cook in the oven for about 2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Make sure to stir it occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning.

Final Touches

After the stew has been in the oven for a couple of hours, take it out and check the seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. If you’d like, you can also add some chopped fresh parsley for a bit of color and freshness.

There you have it – your very own homemade beef bourguignon! We hope this guide has been helpful, and that you’ll find joy in the process of creating this classic French dish. Remember, the key to a great bourguignon, like any good meal, is patience and quality ingredients. Enjoy your cooking adventure!

Adjusting the Recipe: Inclusions and Substitutions

Now that you’ve created your first beef bourguignon, don’t be afraid to make some adjustments to the recipe to better suit your taste. You might want to consider adding pearl onions to lend a sweet, mild flavor to the dish.

Should you decide to add pearl onions, the best time to introduce them into the mix is when you add the mushrooms and onions. Simply peel and blanch about 15-20 small pearl onions before adding them.

You can also substitute the beef stock in the recipe with chicken or vegetable broth if you prefer a lighter flavor. And if you don’t have a full-bodied red wine, a dry white wine could work as well.

Oftentimes, olive oil is used in place of butter for a healthier fat option. Or you can use a mix of both, as Julia Child did in her iconic version of this recipe.

Another way to intensify the flavor is by using tomato paste. This ingredient adds a rich umami taste that perfectly complements the beef stew. Add about two tablespoons of tomato paste when you return the beef and bacon into the pot.

If you don’t have an ovenproof pot or a Dutch oven, you can use a slow cooker instead. But keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. For slow-cooking, you’ll need about 6-8 hours on a low setting or 3-4 hours on high.

Salt and pepper are essential in this dish. However, you can also add herbs like rosemary or oregano for additional flavor.

Serving Suggestions for Beef Bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is a hearty, stand-alone dish. However, it is often served over mashed potatoes. The creamy texture of the potatoes complements the rich stew, and they also serve as a vessel for the delicious gravy.

You can also serve this dish with fresh bread. A crusty baguette is a great choice to mop up any leftover sauce in your bowl.

For a complete French dining experience, pair your beef bourguignon with a glass of the same wine you used in the stew. The flavors of the wine and the stew will complement each other beautifully.


Creating a flavorful beef bourguignon with a full-bodied red wine is an achievable culinary feat. Remember, the secret to creating a dish that is bursting with flavor is patience and high-quality ingredients. As you’ve learned, this classic French beef stew requires slow cooking to allow the flavors to meld together beautifully.

With the tips that we have shared, from choosing the right beef and red wine, to the step-by-step cooking process, and even some recipe variations and serving suggestions, we hope that we’ve set you up for success in your beef bourguignon adventure. So, whether you’re making it for a simple family dinner or a special occasion, every spoonful of your homemade beef bourguignon will surely be a delight!

Remember, the journey of creating a delicious meal can be as enjoyable as the final product itself. So, embrace the process, and most importantly, have fun in your culinary adventure!