Boeuf bourguignon represents all the best things about French cooking: making the most of high-quality, local products and masterfully combining them into a memorable meal.
Its homeland, the Burgundy region situated between Paris and Lyon, is famous for two things: beef and wine. Boeuf bourguignon (translated as Burgundy beef) is the result of a near-perfect gastronomic marriage if there ever was one, slow-simmered to tender, juicy perfection in a rich sauce you’ll want to sop up every last drop of.
The roots of boeuf bourguignon
Boeuf bourguignon has its roots as simple peasant fare. Though a version of the stew has been made for hundreds of years, its first recorded mention only popped up in the late 19th century.
Those with more refined palates initially turned up their nose at boeuf bourguignon, then considered to be a way for working-class cooks in Burgundy to use up the previous day’s dry, leftover beef. It wasn’t until the early 20th century, when French cook Auguste Escoffier popularized a recipe using fresh meat, that the dish really began to take off in France.
Today, boeuf bourguignon has been elevated to the ranks of haute cuisine, appearing on the menus of some of Paris’ best restaurants despite not being native to the city. Julia Child herself lauded it as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man” in her iconic book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
But don’t let that intimidate you—boeuf bourguignon takes time, but other than that is quite easy to whip up in any home kitchen.
The secrets to a perfect Burgundy beef
To make this easy boeuf bourguignon recipe come out perfectly every time, you’ll need a cut of beef that’s suited for slow cooking. Here, we use chuck, but many top chefs have different preferences (Gordon Ramsay and the late Anthony Bourdain prefer shin and flat iron respectively). Make sure it’s not too lean: some fat is necessary to ensure that the sauce gets perfectly thick and rich.
The wine, of course, is traditionally a Burgundy. If you don’t have any on hand, think along the lines of a young, bright pinot noir to get a similar richness in the flavor.
While the meat and the wine are the stars of the show, don’t forget about the aromatics! You can substitute dry herbs in a pinch, but to really get the most out of this easy boeuf bourguignon recipe, try and go with fresh if possible.
Easy boeuf bourguignon recipe
- 1.5 pounds (700 grams) stewing beef, such as chuck, cut into 1.5-inch (4-centimeter) pieces
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1–5 cloves of garlic (to taste), thinly sliced
- 1.5 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup (235 milliliters) red wine (traditionally a Burgundy)
- 4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pieces
- 1 beef bouillon cube (optional)
- Fresh herbs, such as thyme, bay and parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pat the beef dry with paper towels to help it sear better. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Coat the bottom of a heavy pan with olive oil. When hot, add the beef in small batches to avoid overcrowding and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. You want it to be nice and brown, but not gray. When fully seared, remove from the pan and set aside. Continue until all the pieces of beef have been seared.
- Add the onions to the empty pot and give them a good stir. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so that they don’t burn.
- When the onions are browned but not burnt, add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the flour once the garlic is fragrant. Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring constantly.
- Pour in the wine and stir to ensure that all the bits on the bottom of the pan have been mixed in. Bring to a boil and add the meat, carrots, bouillon cube (if using) and herbs to the pot. Pour in enough water to cover the meat by about half an inch (1 centimeter).
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and partially cover. Let simmer for 2–3 hours, stirring every 15–20 minutes so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Serve over rice or potatoes with a glass of red wine!
Note: This easy boeuf bourguignon recipe is even better the next day, as the flavors will have had more time to concentrate. Make it in advance (it’s easy to reheat) or plan for leftovers!