Let’s cook a French classic. What’s the recipe for Beef Bourguignon?

Why does Anthony Worrell Thompson stick celery in his and sprinkles it with parsley?

Why does Julia Child crumble bay leaf into hers?

Why does Jamie Oliver needs two bottles of wine?

Why does Nigel Slater use one bottle in his?

Why does the Belfast Telegraph shove a chicken stock cube into theirs?

Why does Gordon F***** Ramsey recommend Irish Soda Bread with it?

Why does James Martin say to have it with mash?

Why does AWT above say to have it with new potatoes?

Why do ‘all recipes dot com’ not use carrots in theirs?

Questions, questions, questions. You can see that when I went to find the definitive recipe for Beef Bourguignon I was left in a bit of a muddle. I do like to credit my sources but this lot, famous chefs or repositories of recipes all, can’t seem to agree on what goes into it or how to cook it. Why is that?

The obligatory gratuitous meat picture. If you are a vegan. Welcome to the dark side.

A friend who is himself a chief dropped in the other day. I showed him my photos for this post. He told me how he prepared his version. It bears only a passing relationship to my method or those of any of the above. Why?

I can’t answer these questions but I can show you why my Beef Bourguignon recipe is the one. It seems to be as authentic as anything that this lot are at. I have no fear of the process I use so I will tell you not only what but why.

The definitive set of ingredients. As is becoming one of my trademarks. I forgot a few of the ingredients. Must try harder.

You will need

  • 1.5 kilo of stewing beef
  • .5 kilo of carrots
  • .5 kilo of mushrooms
  • .5 kilo of shallots
  • .25 kilo of pancetta
  • 2 onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A bunch of thyme
  • 2 bottles of wine (No, I have not gone all Jamie Oliver. 1 for the stew. 1 for the chef).
  • .5 litre of beef stock
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • Oil for frying
  • Butter for frying
  • Salt and pepper

Brown the beef. Look a the bits stuck to the pot. They add the flavour.

In the big casserole dish heat some oil and brown the beef in batches.

Why? To caramelise the outside of the beef so it will add depth to the flavour of the stew.

They look so tasty, you might be tempted to make a sandwich out of them.

Fry the pancetta in a dry pan (It will release plenty of fat). Add the shallots a few minutes later and then the mushrooms a few minutes late again. Add a bit of butter if needed to keep things going.

Why? To concentrate the flavours in each of these ingredients before adding them to the stew and to caramelise the shallots a bit.

We sweat the onions and garlic to release the water and concentrate the flavour.

Chop the onions and garlic and put them in the big casserole with the lid, on a low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to gently brown them.

Why? To get a lot of the water out of them and then to create some natural sugars and to concentrate the flavour. This also fills the house with delicious cooking smells. Worth it for that alone.

The flour added. Stir it in, scrape the sides of the pot. Stir some more.

Add a tablespoon of flour to the onions and stir like a mad thing.

Why? To coat the onions and get all the brown bits mixed into the onions. This will prevent lumps of flour in your stew.

Stir in the beef. Stir some more. Scrape the sides some more. Repeat.

Add back the beef and mix it in.

Why? It’s a beef dish, for goodness sake.

Boiling. Note that the colour is pretty brown now.

Pour in the beef stock and the wine, add the bay leaves, the thyme and do a bit of seasoning. Stir it until it boils.

Why? Because we are making a stew.

Tip in the pancetta, carrots, shallots and mushrooms.

Why? To add their beautiful deep flavours to the dish.

Coming out of the oven. See the rich Burgundy colour coming through. This despite my using a bottle of Corbiere wine. My last bottle of Corbiere wine.

When it is boiling, pop it in the oven and leave it there for an hour. Then add the carrots and return it to the oven for another hour.

Why? To cook it, of course.

Boil some potatoes.

Why? Because I’m with AWT on this.

The finished dish. As the old song goes; “There are more questions than answers and the more I find out, the less I know”. But I know this is very tasty….

Assemble ‘votre famile’ and serve this French classic. Don’t forget to take advantage of the second bottle of wine in the recipe. You will have (as did I) earned it.

Why? Because it will be one of the best stews you will have ever tasted. But only if you stick rigorously to the recipe – My recipe. Don’t ask “Why?“.

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Latest comments
  • Looks like a good one!

  • I never tackle beef bourguignon because of the time involved. But judging from your photos, it’s more than worth the effort. Just starving now!

  • But did Anthony Worrell Thompson pay for the celery and parsley? I know Conor Bofin did! or is there a twist…

  • Hi Conor, I’ve made this only once and like you had a hard time figuring out the definitive recipe. Your recipe seems good though, so I might give it a try. I love how you explain why certain steps are needed, to me that is the sign of a good recipe. At what temperature did you have the oven? The problem with recipes like this is that the temperature to cook the carrots is too high for the beef. When I make this I should probably get Irish beef with nice marbling, otherwise the meat will end up too dry. I might try to do it sous-vide alongside conventional to compare the difference.
    I also run in the problem of photographing the ingredients, starting with the cooking and then realising that I forgot an ingredient on the photo but can’t go back because I already started with some of the other ingredients…
    Great post as always, love your wit!

    • P.S. I checked the French version of Wikipedia and it says that the only mandatory ingredients are beef and red burgundy wine. Usually it also has carrots, bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay leaf), mushrooms, bits of bacon, garlic, normal onions and pearl onions. Served with potatoes. So you are well within “traditional” according to Wikipedia, except for your choice of wine 😉

      • So, I got half the ingredients right? I must try harder. Though, my wine choice was limited to what I had to hand.

        • Well technically speaking you made Boeuf Corbierois 😉 But only a chauvinist Bourguignon (as in person from Burgundy) would really mind. You did use a French wine, so French chauvinists still love you 🙂

          • I’m curious – how did you conceive the Boeuf Corbierois idea? I know Corbiere in Jersey (CI) well, and can’t find anyone who knows what this means….unless you were to make Boeuf Bourguignon with Chateau de Jonquieres Corbieres 2014, or a similar wine…that might do it.

    • Oven at 190 or so. I do like my carrots to be al dente. I hate when they get too soggy. Every time I do an ingredients shot, even when I double check the recipe, I manage to leave something or many thing out. There is something strange going on there.

  • Wow, what a thorough post!! And bravo on continuing to make piles of raw, bloody meat look so sinful. I think I’ll give Julia Child the night off and make the Conor Bofin version ASAP

  • Looks like a keeper Conor! As usual, great presentation of a recipe! Will be bookmarking this one for later use…Like the steps that you show, and the reasons why you have to do it this way…Thanks and will let you know how mine turns out!

  • This is awesome, I will try this recipe with venison soon.Good job Conor!

    • Thanks Justice,
      It was very tasty indeed. It takes a bit of time but I love doing it.

  • That plate at the end looks professional – very professional – you’ve raised the bar here!

    • Don’t speak too soon. A question of getting lucky and not spilling the sauce over everything. I have a couple of posts ready. The ‘plated shot’ is by far the most difficult. Probably because I usually am in dire need of feeding while shooting it.

  • Mister made some tonight after being inspired by your recipe – ’twas lovely.

    • It also means you can discredit several of your pages views from today 😛

      • I thought my Ireland stats today were a bit on the high side. It’s all about the depth of engagement not just stats. Get Mister to send a photo. (Bet I got more views than you today anyway. Ha, Ha.)

  • Adding this to my to-do list!

  • Nice recipe… I like that your carrots still look bright and fresh still

  • Thumbs up! (I’m so hungry right now)

  • I think all your ingredients are prefect for my taste…sounds delicious.

  • Boeuf Bourguignon, mostly following your recipe above, is in the oven as we speak! Thanks for the idea to cook this again, I’ll let you know how it turns out (followed by a blog post later).

  • One of my all time favourites, as a classic dish it always delivers and has yet to disappoint me! Love the history of great chefs who have their own spin on this meal too! 🙂

    • Sadly, we still have the weather in Dublin to be cooking stews. Summer is evading us again this year. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Hi Conor,
    Thanks for visiting my new blog. As you can see, I am fairly new to this – still have to attempt decent images to go with my dishes. Appreciate the support and love the blog.

    • Hi Ciara, I am at it for just over a year now. Great fun, serious cooking education and lots of new friends. Keep at it.

  • If soggy carrots are a problem could I just put them in whole rather than sliced?Is 190c alright for a fan oven? Are certain wines better or any red will do? I know! questions,questions.
    I suppose dumplings are out of the question.?!
    Really enjoyed the read and all the replies,my wife is making it for my upcoming birthday.
    Many thanks

    • I’d be happy to throw the carrots in whole, or later, to get the desired crunch. 180 on fan should do it. Though ovens differ and dishes die. Give it a go. It will be lovely anyway.

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