Is it even Beef Bourguignon if you don’t follow Julia Child’s recipe?? Turns out, yes. This fabulous French beef stew featuring burgundy wine is famous for a reason! It is different from a regular beef stew because the wine sauce is richer and thicker, and great care is taken to ensure the vegetables are not overcooked. The result is truly transcendent! 

beef bourguignon recipe with beef, mushrooms, carrots, pearl onions, in a teal pot

This post is sponsored by Zoup! Good, Really Good® Broth, but all opinions are my own of course! Thanks for supporting the amazing brands that keep The Food Charlatan chugging along.

close up of beef, carrots, mushrooms, pearl onions, and parsley on a spoon

A few weeks ago Eric and I were folding laundry together. He said casually, “Karen, these days you fold my underwear even better than my mom!”

Why thank you! I will take a bow now. Let me just add this to my resume. And please make sure this fact ends up on my tombstone. Karen, the Greatest Folder of Eric’s Underwear. Even Better Than His Mom.

julia child beef bourguignon being lifted from the pot on a spoon

Honestly if I had a dollar for every time Eric has said to me, “Well that’s the way my mom always did it,” I’d be a very rich lady. Childhood habits tend to achieve a sort of godlike, noble status. Sometimes it’s kind of terrifying to think about what kind of impact I’m having on my own children’s psyche.

Another time recently Eric’s mom Kris was visiting. She was searching the fridge for the Worcestershire sauce and finally gave up and asked me where it was. I said, it’s in the pantry of course! Isn’t that where you store it? No, she said, her mom always put it in the fridge, so that’s what she does too. I said, well, my mom always put it in the pantry, so that’s what I do.

beef bourguignon stew on a plate next to mashed potatoes, with a fork in the background

We ended up checking the label, because who knows! We both were just doing what our moms did! (It’s shelf-stable, turns out.) But isn’t it so funny how sometimes you just do something because that’s the way your mom did it? What other way even IS there? Kris, I will show you the proper way to fold Eric’s underwear the next time you’re in town.

Speaking of dyed in the wool traditions…

What is Beef Bourguignon? (Also known as Beef Burgundy or Boeuf Bourguignon)

BEEF BOURGUIGNON. The sultan of swat. The king of crash. The colossus of clout! Or maybe the T-Rex of Stews? Does anyone else feel a wee bit intimidated by this iconic dish?? (Also, if you can name that movie, hat’s off to you.)

beef bourguignon in a white bowl with mashed potatoes and a fork

There sure is a lot of hullabaloo about this recipe. Julia Child taught Americans how to make it 60 years ago, and we’ve all been tripped up on her version ever since. (Kind of like how your mom folds your underwear a certain way??)

I recently read a book about an American mom raising her kids in France. Most French children eat on what she calls “the national feeding schedule:” 8am, noon, 4pm, and 8pm. Her French pediatrician didn’t tell her about the schedule (she found out when she enrolled her kid in preschool). She asked him why he hadn’t mentioned it, and he said that he knew she would take the schedule too literally instead of finding her baby’s rhythm.

what to serve with beef bourguignon: egg noodles on a plate with the stew

Sometimes we Americans get a little obsessed with rules. But simmer down you guys. It’s just a thick beef stew with some wine in it. If you want to make it a little different than Julia, I will still sit with you at lunch. She even says in the preface to the recipe in her book: “As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon.” Let’s go wild my friends.

Beef Bourguignon Ingredients

  • bacon or salt pork
  • high quality, well-marbled beef (high quality doesn’t mean expensive)
  • beef stock
  • wine
  • vegetables: usually carrots, onions, pearl onions, and mushrooms.

The rest is just details. Oh you like details? Here they are!

The Bacon (or is it Salt Pork?)

A good Beef Bourguignon starts out with pork. In France, they use lardon, which is kind of like thick bacon, except it’s not smoked. Most of the bacon and lardon here in the US is smoked, so Julia Child recommends blanching the bacon in boiling water for 10 minutes, to reduce the smokey flavor.

I tried it and felt like I was committing an actual crime. The resulting bacon (after draining and frying for a few minutes) is pale and flavorless. I kept trying to steal bites, like I do whenever there is bacon in my kitchen. I would eat it and think “why did I just put this flavorless fat into my mouth” and then spit it in the sink.

I’m sure it’s fine in a stew. You will still get lots of fatty flavor. But I just couldn’t do it.

salt pork on a cutting board, with the rind cut off
Here’s how to cut off the rind of your salt pork. Save it and add it to the stew while it’s cooking!

Instead, I used salt pork in my stew. This was my first time buying salt pork; it is cut from the same part of the pig as bacon (the belly) but is not smoked. Instead it is cured with salt, hence the name. It will give you that crispy, fatty flavor you want, minus the smokiness, which is closer to the flavor you would get in France. It’s delicious when fried and I couldn’t stop stealing bites.

Fair warning: it is indeed quite salty. I didn’t add any other salt to my beef bourguignon besides what I sprinkled on my beef before searing.

Can you just fry regular bacon and skip the blanching step? Absolutely! Your stew will have a smokey notes which is not traditional, but it will still be delicious! Who’s going to say no to bacon?

overhead shot of beef bourguignon recipe in a pot with a spoon

The Beef: what is the best cut of meat for Beef Burgundy?

Next up: the beef! We are cooking this meat low and slow. I love to use a simple chuck roast. It’s cheap, it’s reliable. Here are some other cuts:

  • Chuck roast
  • Brisket
  • Round. Either a rump roast or bottom round. Top round works too.

“But all these cuts of meat are cheap and lean and tough! Isn’t Beef Bourguignon supposed to be special??”

Here’s why tough cuts of beef are best for slow cooking and braising: all these cuts come from well-exercised muscles of the cow. They are lower in fat. But they are higher in connective muscle tissue called collagen. Collagen, when cooked low and slow, turns into gelatin, which tenderizes the meat and gives it that melt-in-your-mouth texture.

a slab of well marbled chuck roast on a cutting board

I like chuck roast best, because it has plenty of connective tissue but also a decent amount of fat. Best of both worlds! My next choice would be brisket.

Be careful with the packages marked “stew beef” at your store. I have used them successfully in the past, but just be aware that sometimes butchers throw in random scraps from other cuts. What cuts of meat end up in your pre-chopped stew beef really depends on your butcher. Ask them! MOST of the time, if cooked slow, stew beef will turn out fine. But if you have big plans for your beef bourguignon, just buy the cut of meat you know you want and chop it yourself. (Or ask your butcher to chop it!)

The Beef Stock

The better your beef stock, the better your beef bourguignon. Today I’m partnering with Zoup! Good, Really Good® Broth to tell you about their AMAZING broth selections! I love Zoup! Broth products and use them in my soups and stews all the time (like this Creamy Turkey Wild Rice Soup I made last year!)

pouring Zoup beef bone broth into a stew

Zoup! Good, Really Good® Beef Bone Broth is the perfect ingredient for this beef bourguignon. It is kettle cooked in small batches and you can tell, because the flavor is way more complex than what you get from mass-produced beef broth. It really is good enough to drink. It’s also low calorie, paleo-friendly, and free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, hormones, gluten, GMO’s, fat, trans fat, and saturated fat.

Their broths were developed by a 20+ year soup veteran and the team behind Zoup Eatery, a restaurant that specializes in soup. How cool is that? Soup is so underrated. If there is anyone I would trust with making a good broth, it’s a bunch of soup experts. Which is why they’ve taken their broths to the masses. You can find Zoup! Broth just about anywhere these days (I found it at my local Savemart), or you can always buy it online at ZoupBroth.com and Amazon. Use code 20ZOUP114 for 20% off your Amazon order! (good for 30 days.)

In addition to Beef Bone Broth, they now offer new seafood broth, new spicy chicken bone broth, plus all the usual suspects like chicken broth, low-sodium chicken broth, veggie broth, and chicken bone broth, plus organic chicken and veggie broth. Head over to ZoupBroth.com to learn more, and follow @ZoupGoodReallyGood on Facebook and Instagram, and @ZoupGoodReallyGoodBroth on Pinterest.

a bowl of egg noodles topped with Julia Child's beef bourguignon, next to a jar of Zoup! Broth

Best Wine for Beef Bourguignon

Do you see the little sticker here where it says, “BEST Pinot Noir!” I feel like this is that part on Elf where Buddy sees the sign that says “Best Cup of Coffee in New York” and congratulates all the employees for achieving such a feat. No, it’s NOT the best coffee in New York, and no, this is NOT the best Pinot Noir.

pouring pinot noir into a pan to be reduced for stew

I know because I went to the wine aisle in the store. Found the section for Pinot Noir. On the top shelf there was a bottle marked for $30. I thought to myself, H to the no. The next shelf had one for $18. Then I looked allll the way down on the bottom shelf where I saw this “Best Pinot Noir” for a whopping 5 dollars. I will take that one thankyouverymuch! Only the BEST for me!

Now listen. If you are a wine person, then buy your fancy wine and put it in your stew. Drop $30 on the top shelf. The rest of us will buy the cheap or moderate wine and still get a really amazing beef bourguignon. Usually I just use cooking wine, because hello cheap. But I felt like Beef Bourguignon deserved at least a little step up. (plus cooking wine has salt in it and I was worried about the salt level from the salt pork.)

how to make beef bourguignon, in a pot with a spoonful lifted out

Full disclosure: I do not drink alcohol. Obviously I’m not qualified to talk about wine selections. Use your best judgment! Here’s what Julia Child says: “Use a full-bodied, young red wine such as one of those suggested for serving.” Any red wine that you enjoy will be great in this recipe.

What if you want to skip the wine entirely? Now that’s when you start messing with the recipe in a real way. It’s a key ingredient. Can you replace the wine with beef broth? Absolutely! It will just be a regular beef stew though. The wine is crucial to the flavor of beef bourguignon.

The Vegetables

And lastly, the vegetables. Traditionally in beef bourguignon you see carrots, two kinds of onions for maximum flavor, and mushrooms. I’ve also seen recipes use potatoes, but that’s not as common.

The reason that this recipe gets fussy with extra steps is because of these darn vegetables. We want to give them as much flavor as possible (this means sautéing) but not cook them to death. Nobody wants mushy veggies. The beef needs to cook for 2-3 hours, and if you cook mushrooms and carrots that long, you will have a sad result indeed.

pouring carrots from a pan to a plate, sautéed pearl onions on a plate

So this recipe calls for sauteing most of the vegetables individually, then setting aside on a plate to add back into the stew later. I know, I know, so annoying! It’s part of the reason beef bourguignon has a reputation for being fussy.

But the result is worth it. You end up with a stew that has the most amazingly rich creamy sauce (that is able to thicken much more because of a lack of vegetables, which release tons of liquid). And of course, the carrots are perfectly tender and not mushy. The pearl onions are soft, but firm enough to give you these amazing bursts of flavor when you bite into them. The mushrooms are not reduced to a slimy mess, but instead are perfectly plump and textured; they rival the meat itself.

How to make Beef Bourguignon

I’ll walk you through the steps!

salt pork, sliced on a cutting board and then being added to a skillet for frying

Slice your salt pork into strips, then add them to the pan.

salt pork being fried in a pan

Look at how gloriously crispy and fatty it is. Hello flavor! Set the salt pork aside. Leave all that grease in the pan.

Now take some beef and fry it in the fat from the pork. Yum.

cubed chuck roast salted on a cutting board, then being seared in a pan

Be sure to dry your beef with a paper towel before adding salt and pepper. It won’t brown when you try to sear it.

seared beef in a pot, covered in flour

Add the salt pork back to the pot, coat with flour, and saute it for a minute or two. Set aside off heat.

Meanwhile, chop up some onions, carrots, and garlic, and saute in a 12 inch skillet. Set aside on a plate.

chopped onions and carrots on a cutting board, sautéing onions and carrots in a pan

In the same pan that you cooked the carrots, reduce the wine. This step is optional. Most recipes call for adding the wine straight to the beef, but I find that wine in stew can sometimes be sour, astringent, and overpowering if it’s not reduced a bit first. This is personal preference! Skip it if you like!

Add the wine and beef broth to the meat coated with flour. Add the tomato paste, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and add in the salt pork rind, if you have it. Bring it all to a boil. Then cover and cook at 300 in the oven for about 3 hours.

Halfway through cooking, add the carrots and onions to the stew.

Adding sautéed carrots to beef bourguignon

When your beef bourguignon is almost finished cooking (you will know because the aroma is enough to knock you out), prepare your pearl onions and mushrooms.

poaching pearl onions and then sautéing them in butter

Poach the pearl onions for a few minutes to make them nice and tender, then when the water evaporates, brown them in the remaining butter. You can add the frozen pearl onions to the stew (without sautéing) along with the carrots; but you would be giving up this beautiful browning.

sauteed mushrooms in a pan; sauce from beef bourguignon coating the back of a spoon

Same goes for the mushrooms. They are so perfect and tender when you brown them by themselves; but if you like, you can add them in raw halfway through the cook time.

You can see in the photo on the right how your beef bourguignon sauce should look. If it is too thin to coat the back of a spoon when you take it out of the oven, then strain all the meat and veggies from the sauce and cook it down until the sauce is thick. Beef bourguignon is not soup.

Once you have your sauce nice and thick, add all the vegetables into the pot and stir it together.

What to serve with Beef Bourguignon

I love to serve beef bourguignon with either these mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles. Traditionally it is served over boiled potatoes.

As for side dishes, I love to serve it with a nice big green salad! It’s nice to have something light to go with such a heavy dish. Try this Apple Gorgonzola Salad, or this Fancy No Chop Salad. You could also serve buttered peas (Julia’s suggestion) or anything else green. Brussels Sprouts, green beans, broccoli, etc.

It’s also nice to serve beef bourguignon with some crusty bread to mop up all the sauce. Try this One Hour French Bread!

beef bone broth in the jar, a jar filled with beef stew

One of my favorite things about Zoup! Broth is reusing the recyclable jars they come in. Every time I use Zoup, I immediately store some of whatever I’m making in the very convenient quart-size jars that the broth comes in. I either give some away to a friend or toss it in the freezer for a rainy day. Beef bourguignon is such a labor of love, it would be a shame not to share it with someone! Even if it’s just sharing it with your future self!

More beef recipes you will love!

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Beef Bourguignon (or Boeuf Bourguignon) Recipe

4.89 from 17 votes
Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6
Is it even Beef Bourguignon if you don't follow Julia Child's recipe?? Turns out, yes. This fabulous French beef stew featuring burgundy wine is famous for a reason! It is different from a regular beef stew because the wine sauce is richer and thicker, and great care is taken to ensure the vegetables are not overcooked. The result is truly transcendent! 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces bacon OR salt pork*
  • 3 pound chuck roast, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for searing beef and sautéing veggies
  • 1 tablespoon butter, for coating beef with flour
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound carrots, about 7-8 medium, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
  • 3 cups red wine, 750ml bottle
  • 2-4 cups Zoup! Good, Really Good® Beef Bone Broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • rind from salt pork, if using

For the pearl onion garnish

  • 14 ounces frozen pearl onions
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For the mushroom garnish

  • 1 pound mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Instructions

  • If using bacon: Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook over medium heat in a large oven-safe pot that has a lid. I prefer an enameled cast iron pot like this one from Lodge. Do not overcook the bacon. Set the cooked bacon aside on a paper towel lined plate; leave all the grease in the pot. (Turn off the heat if your beef is not ready for searing.)
  • If using salt pork: cut the rind off the end of the salt pork and set aside (we need it later). Slice the salt pork into strips about 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch by 1 and 1/2 inches. (see photos) Cook the salt pork in a large oven-safe pot that has a lid. over medium heat. Arrange the strips of salt pork in one layer in the pot, cook until browned, then turn each strip (just as you would bacon). The salt pork should be lightly browned when you remove it to a paper towel lined plate. Leave all the grease in the pot. (Turn off the heat if your beef is not ready for searing.)
  • Sear the beef. Chop your beef into roughly 2 inch pieces; they don't have to be exact. Use a paper towel to dry off each piece of beef. (If you don't do this, the meat will not brown.) Season the beef with salt and pepper. 
  • Turn on the burner to medium high heat to warm up the bacon/salt pork grease. There should be plenty of grease (at least 2 tablespoons), but if there is not, add additional olive oil. When it is very hot, add about 1/3 of the beef, one piece at a time. Leave 1-2 inches space in between each piece so that it has room to sear (otherwise it will not brown). Let the beef cook in the oil for 1-2 minutes, until well browned, then flip each piece over with tongs and brown the other side. Remove the beef to a plate and continue searing the rest of the beef in batches until all the beef is done, adding additional oil as necessary. Adjust the heat as necessary so that it doesn't burn.
  • Coat beef with flour. When the last batch of beef is seared, lower the heat to medium and add all the beef back to the pot. Add the cooked bacon or salt pork into the pot. Add a tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Stir to coat all the meat. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour over the top. Stir to coat each piece of beef with flour. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until the flour has absorbed and had a chance to heat up and cook (this gets rid of the flour flavor.) Turn off the heat and set aside. 
  • Saute veggies. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch high sided skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and chopped carrots. Let cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to brown.
  • Add 6 cloves of sliced garlic to the carrots and onions (add additional oil if necessary). Let the garlic saute for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant. Do not let it brown. Remove the vegetables to a plate or bowl and set aside. 
  • Reduce the wine, optional:** In the same 12 inch high sided skillet, add 3 cups of red wine, which is just about the entire bottle if you bought 750ml. Bring to a boil over high heat. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the vegetables. Lower to a rolling simmer and let cook until the wine has reduced by about a cup, about 10-15 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Bring the stew to a simmer on the stovetop. Once the wine is reduced, pour it on top of the beef in the pot. (Don't bother washing the skillet. We need it again.) Add enough beef broth to almost cover the beef in the pot. It should be mostly covered with just a few pieces sticking up over the surface. Set over medium high heat and bring to a simmer, making sure to scrape the bottom so it doesn't burn. 
  • Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1/3 cup chopped parsley, 6 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, and the rind from the salt pork, if you have it. Stir it all together. (Don't add the carrots yet.)
  • Once simmering, cover the pot with an oven safe lid. Put the covered pot in the oven with a rack set in the lower third of the oven. Cook at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes. 
  • After an hour and a half,*** add the sautéed carrot mixture to the pot. Stir together, cover, and return to the oven for another 60-90 minutes. Your beef should be cooking in the oven for a minimum of 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. We are adding the carrots halfway so that they don't get too mushy. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare the pearl onions. Add the frozen onions to the same 12-inch high sided skillet that you reduced the wine in. (No need to wash it out.) Add 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 2 tablespoons butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and let the onions simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When all the water has evaporated, let the onions saute in the remaining butter until they are browned on all sides. Remove the onions to a plate and set aside. 
  • Prepare the mushrooms. Clean the mushrooms and dry them very well. Leave small mushrooms whole, halve or quarter any large ones. In the same pan that you prepared the pearl onions, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. When it is very hot, add HALF of the mushrooms. Saute for about 4 minutes. First the mushrooms will absorb the fat, then after about 4-5 minutes they will start to release it again and brown. When they start to brown, remove the mushrooms to a plate. Repeat the same process for the second batch of mushrooms. (Yes, of course you can saute the mushrooms all at once if you prefer. Doing it in batches lets you sear the mushrooms rather than steaming them in a crowded pan. Fussy step? Yes! It's beef bourguignon! Take shortcuts when you start shaking your fist at the sky!) Remove all the mushrooms to a plate and set aside. 
  • When your beef has been cooking for a minimum of 2 and 1/2 hours, remove from the oven and test the meat. You should be able to break up the beef with a wooden spoon. If it is still too tough, put it back in the oven for another 20-40 minutes. 
  • Taste the sauce and thicken if necessary. At this point, Julia calls for straining the whole thing and cooking down the sauce some more, but I found it wasn't necessary. The sauce should be rich, creamy, and thick. It should coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thin, use a colander to strain out all the meat and veggies (catching the sauce in a bowl), return the sauce to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon.****
  • Remove the thyme stems, bay leaves, and salt pork rind, if using. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms to the pot and stir it together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • Serve the beef bourguignon over mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles. 

Notes

*Bacon is smoked, and smokey things don't belong in beef bourguignon (technically). Julia Child's solution was to boil the bacon for a while to get rid of all the smokey flavor. I tried this and unfortunately it just gets rid of ALL the flavor, so I don't recommend it. I prefer salt pork, which is cut from the same part of the pig as bacon (the belly) but is not smoked. It is cured with salt and is indeed quite salty, but nothing you can't handle. (I didn't add any salt to my beef bourguignon beyond what I sprinkled on the beef when I seared it.) If you can only find bacon, use that. Don't bother with boiling it. I won't tell Julia. Or the nation of France. 
**Reducing the wine is optional. I like to cook down the wine a bit before adding to the stew, to help the flavors develop a bit more, and minimize the sourness and astringency that wine can bring to a stew. Most beef bourguignon recipes call for adding the wine directly on top of the beef.
***At this point, you can add the (raw) mushrooms and the frozen pearl onions if you like. They will cook just fine. They won't be as tasty and tender as they would be if sautéed. Sautéing all the veggies is really what sets beef bourguignon apart. 
**** If your sauce is very thin, make a paste in a bowl of 2 tablespoons softened butter and 2 tablespoons flour. Stir it into the sauce, bring to a simmer, then cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Source: adapted, of course, from the Great Bambino herself, Julia Child.

Nutrition

Calories: 1013kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 59g | Fat: 65g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 29g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 227mg | Sodium: 900mg | Potassium: 1724mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 12775IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 8mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 1013
Keyword: Beef, bourguignon
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I recently went to a dinner party where this recipe was served with mashed potatoes and everyone thought it was fabulous, so I the host for the recipe.  I’ve made other Beef Bourguignon recipes from chefs including Julia Child and Anthony Bordain, but this recipe is by far the best I’ve made in terms of depth and complexity.  I really appreciate the detail of cooking the mushrooms and the pearl onions separately and adding them into the stew after the beef has cooked in the oven. This is not fussy and well worth the effort so that these vegetables are not over cooked.  Our house smelled like a French bistro and this was just a trial run.  I will make this recipe over and over again for friends and family over the winter months.  Sara from Santa Fe, NM

    1. I’m so happy to hear it was a winner Sara! When I set out to develop this recipe, I read a quote from Julia Child (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking itself) that said, “As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon.” That gave me a lot of confidence in tackling “her” recipe. (and many others, too!) Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  2. 5 stars
    I love Julia’s recipe but for years I’ve cheated by combing some steps or engineering my own version that comes out so darn good that no one would guess that I’m a big fat cheater. I love that the vegetables are added late in the slow cooking process but I combine the onions, carrots and mushrooms in a roasting pan and put them in the oven next to the Dutch oven that’s cooking the beef mixture – I put some butter in with the vegetables and stir it after 30 minutes then let them cook another 30 minutes- by this time the meat’s been in the oven for 3 hours. I remove both the vegetables and meat and unceremoniously stir the vegetables into the meat, cover the pot and leave to cool on the stovetop- I do this all a day in advance so after it’s cooked, it goes into the refrigerator and marinates in the fridge until I heat on the stovetop and if it needs thickening, I strain the juices into a big skillet and reduce until it’s glossy and thick. 

    I loved your version and I used it as a cheat sheet to remind me of the steps so I didn’t have to use my “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” – I’ve never boiled bacon btw, it seems so wrong. I use the salt pork and do not add any other salt – I too love using frozen pearl onions but could not find any here so I used fresh ones and 6 large shallots – this time I used fresh leaks instead of chopped onion. My hose smells like Julia has been in my kitchen all day! Can’t wait till tomorrow night to serve this with egg noodles and French green beans! 

    Love your recipes and will definitely be a regular 💜

    1. I love all your notes and hacks Pamela!! There is some great info here! You sound like a total pro. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s a good day when your kitchen smells like Julia’s 🖤

  3. I made this recipe yesterday for some friends I had over for dinner.  The finished product was very tasty and looked just like the photos.  However, I was exhausted from all of the steps.  If I ever make again I will use bacon rather than salt pork as I think it would have been simpler.  I also will not saute the carrots and onions and just add them to the pot after about 2 hours.  I used frozen pearl onions and prepared as directed.  I know they are traditional, but I did not enjoy them.  Personally I would rather have left them out entirely.  I have never cooked with fresh pearl onions so don’t know if that would change my opinion, but I don’t care for the frozen.  I think browning the mushrooms and adding towards end of cooking process is definitely a good idea.  My friends seemed to really enjoy the dish so I do rate it highly from a taste point of view, but I will simplify the process if I decided to prepare again.  

  4. This is a fussy, time consuming recipe. Lots of steps that do not translate to a tasty dish. Although I did not add all the recommended butter and oil,  I found it to be very greasy. There was no resultant gravy, just a layer of grease. 

  5. 5 stars
    I love beef bourguignonne. In fact I served it just 2 nights ago. It’s a good to in the colder months. I turn it into a full course if we entertain guests. It is certainly not your American beef stew. It’s akin to comparing a high end european sports car to a pickup.

    As there are many ways to skin a cat, I actually start by searing the beef cubes first before the bacon. A few reasons. The beef is much easier to remove vs the tiny bacon bits while leaving the rendered fat. The fat from the bacon ends up being completely absorbed by the beef vs having it coat everything and imparting its flavor thru out. (I coat the beef cubes in seasoned flour (salt pepper) before searing to increase the amount of fond left to then be deglazed and add flavor. I use a gal size zip loc and shake to coat them without any mess.)

    After bacon is cooked add beef back in and add with chopped onions carrots (I prefer mine to turn into a emulsifier during braising in oven to add flavor texture but not hunks of carrot that are going to be mush anyways given they are added before oven braise.) I also like to add fine chopped leeks as they were a Julia favorite and impart a unique flavor.. Again for flavor as they will dissolve braising. Sorry but there is no way reasonable sized cut carrots have any texture/firmness after 1-1.5 hr @350-400. If they are large enough then it’s a mouthful of carrot smaller and you might as well fine dice it so it dissolves into the gravy just as the chopped onions already do. People that may be off put by eating carrot will not be making it have a broader appeal yet still adding the flavor and sweetness they impart.

    Then add wine to deglaze the bacon beef bits. Add the beef stock and season…. herbs etc (garlic, thyme, bay leaf, pepper careful with salt as its a reduction and will concentrate). Bring to a simmer. Add a butter flour roux for thickening and flavor. A couple tbs of roasted tomato paste. In shallow pan add butter brown pearl onions and quartered destemmed baby bella shrooms. (I would not use frozen pearl onions. They do not taste or blend in flavor correctly, IMO) Then with everything in the pot and lidded, into a 350-400F oven to braise for 1-1.5 hrs. Check 3/4 way thru cooking if too dry add either a bit or water or wine. Clean the sides of the pot so not to loose flavor to burnt crusted fond that could be incorporated back into the gravy.

    (To peel fresh pearl onions blanch In boiling water for 15-20 sec and the skins will slip off similar to tomatoes.)

    If you really want to dress it up roll out 2 sheets of puff pastry sheet. One for base in a square or oval glass or cast iron dish. Once finished braising remove and fill the pastry sheet layered dish with bourguignonne then lay the second sheet on top. Flute the seam and trim. X score the center to vent. Back in the over for 20-25min till golden brown.

    Start with leek potato soup chive garnish (super easy to make especially if siding main plate with baby boiled potatoes and leeks were added to the bourguignonne.) Or a bone broth soup if you want to lighten things a bit and again very easy as its part of the main recipe. Green salad of some version. Main course plated with boiled or roasted baby potatoes (with taragon garlic butter parsley or chives) and young asparagus as sides. Have to have some color on the plate..some greens and garnish. I think something fresh with a bit of texture.

    If you choose to add enough wine to the bourguignonne to end up with plenty of gravy serve with a bread. A rectangle cut of say a focaccia is fitting. Topped with EVOO Herb infused with fresh herbs, garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, pin of crushed red pepper, parsley, salt, pepper. Or a simple baguette with butter. Perfect to sop up the gravy and help fork. Not really needed with the pastry pie version.

    For desert after such a rich hearty meal something refreshingly light,and pallet clearing. Sorbet pink grapefruit or blood orange?, fruit tart (lemon topped with berries?), slice of cold citrus chiffon pie?, cup of chilled keylime mousse or pie slice?, etc you get the idea.

    Full prep, cook and plate is a 3-4 hour kitchen cycle. Reasonable for a full 4 course meal.

    A impressive yet hearty meal to serve to family, friends, or honored guests. It a meal that I feel ends with moving to sitting in front of a nice fire in the hearth on a dark cold night chatting while sipping an espresso/cappuccino with maybe a touch of the irish added or a candle warmed brandy.

  6. Some stores offer pork belly, it’s the same cut as bacon but uncured & unsmoked.

    Cooking wine is loaded with salt, don’t use it. Almost any cheap wine is an improvement; there’s a reason for the saying “if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it.”
    Simmering uncovered on the stove will allow the wine to reduce, if you’re concerned about alcohol, it boils off at 165 degrees F. Cheers!

  7. Getting ready to have my first go at this iconic dish. I’m so glad I found your site. Your steps and commentary make it seem accessible and much simpler and takes all intimidation out of it!  Thank you so much for doing this and can’t wait to try out the stroganoff after this!

    1. I’m so excited for you Amanda! I hope it turns out amazing! I’m so glad the steps and commentary are useful!

  8. Just made this wonderful dish for the first time. Took 4.5 hours. Turned out wonderful! I will make again.

    1. It’s worth it in the end, right Adam? I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  9. I’m looking at both this recipe and Julia’s in Mastering the Art. Carrots are a discrepancy. Julia calls for one sliced carrot – this recipe calls for one POUND (7-8) of carrots. Why the really big difference? 

    1. Hi Michele! I just really like carrots! One sliced carrot is only like two carrots rounds per person! ;)

  10. Yes, a little bit fussy, but after you taste it you will forget that it took you all day long to make it. Totally worth it and I will most certainly make this again. The best I’ve ever eaten.

    ENJOY :)

    1. It’s so true right Bette?? Worth every second. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe, and thank you SO much for coming back to comment! Reviews help me out so much :)

  11. This looks delicious and I’m anxious to make this for friends I’m having for lunch. Do I dare make ahead of time and freeze it??  I like to do that so my time is spent visiting with friends and not cooking while they’re here. 
    Thank you 

    1. Hi Bette! You are in luck, Julie Child actually recommends making this recipe ahead of time! It gives the stew more time to develop flavor. How soon ahead do you need to make it? I would just leave it in the fridge, if possible. You can refrigerate it up to 2 days before serving! Heat on low on the stove top, stirring frequently. If you need to make it way ahead, then I think freezing will work. The mushrooms will get a little mushy when they defrost unfortunately. But it will still be delicious!

  12. There’s a difference between beef BROTH and beef STOCK which, early in my apprenticeship with French Chefs, taught me to use. Beef STOCK gains its depth of flavor from the browning of the bones and mirepoix from roasting as well as the scrapings from the roasting pan, giving it its deep color and flavor. That’s the classic way. Besides that, thank you for including the lardons, so many contemporary cooks omit that ingredient. Long live Julia! 😊

    1. Thank you so much for chiming in Chef! That is so good to know. And yes, long live lardon, and long live Julia!! ;)

  13. Not only are your recipes amazing, but you are such a great storyteller!  I get the best laughs from your stories.  You should seriously write a book and a cookbook…I’d be the first in line to get a copy!

    1. Vanessa, that is the sweetest thing to say! Thank you so much! I love writing stories for the blog, it’s my favorite part of this job. So glad you are enjoying it :) I do plan to write a cookbook once my kids are out of the house. It’s a lot of work and I don’t want to miss out on their little years! But trust me, if I ever do write it, I will be sharing about it on the blog loud and proud. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

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