This red wine beef stew, called Beef Bourguinon, is a French classic that Julia Child considered "one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man."
We're getting into the depths of winter here in Vermont. The time of year when the snow starts to pile up and it becomes too cold and bitter to venture out for long. These are the days to make hearty meals that cook slowly through the course of a lazy weekend. Think stews that warm the air with gentle heat and meaty aromas. This kind of cooking brings a sense of comfort that helps me get through some of our longest winter days.
how do you spend your winter?
I admire those folks who make the most of this time of year and get out there to ski and run. Myself, I lose motivation after that first whack of cold air stings my face. If I’m going to exercise, it’s going to be inside somewhere with heat. The brisk two-minute walk from my car to the office this morning was longer than I’d like to spend in negative temperatures.
While I’m keeping warm, I’ll plan my garden, which is in need of a rebuild this year as the wood in my raised beds is starting to rot. Maybe I’ll watch enough YouTube videos to learn how to construct a new patio and walkway for a faraway spring. I’ll also sit down and finally complete those various online courses I’ve signed up for over the years, so I can learn how to use Lightroom like a pro, master the top 100 shortcuts to Excel, or re-learn Italian. Not to mention, I need to get going on my goal of reading 34 books in 2019.
No doubt, there is much to get done even on the dreariest of days. And if a stew can cook away at the same time, even better.
Beef stew is such a comforting classic, it’s hard to go wrong. Just keep in mind that the slower the cook, the more tender the beef. A stew is a perfect way to take advantage of a cheaper cut of meat that in many other cases would prove tough and dry.
a red wine beef stew
Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon is one of my favorite stews. Yet, like many of the recipes in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” it comes across as more complicated and time-consuming than necessary. Julia made French cooking accessible to American home cooks when her book was published in the 1960s, but it doesn’t always feel practical for everyone these days.
I always try to approach cooking with integrity and practicality, especially if I expect anyone to recreate what I post in their own kitchens at home. So that’s what I’ve done with Julia's recipe here. I certainly don’t pretend to know any better. I've just found that most people I know don’t like to bother with anything that appears fussy.
For the most part, the ingredients remain the same, with adjustments in the amounts and methods. What’s most important to the dish is the red wine. I don't think you need to love wine to appreciate the flavor of this stew. However, you can't leave it out. The carrots, bacon, pearl onions, and mushrooms help balance out the wine and meat.
When I plan to make a stew like this, I like to head to The Vermont Butcher Shop. They have a small shop here in Rutland where I can get fresh, mostly local meats. And they're usually happy to cut up the beef for me, too.
Whether you make this for a quiet night in or while having friends over for dinner this winter, this is the stew that will remind you that the best part of the cold is the opportunity to warm up.
no time? make it in your Instant Pot
If you don't have all day to let this cook, that's ok! I tried this recipe out in my Instant Pot on a weeknight recently and it turned out great. I cooked the bacon, browned the meat, and sauteed the vegetables all in the one pot using the saute setting.
Instead of cooking it for 2 ½ hours in the oven, I cooked it for 50 minutes at high pressure. Other than that, I didn't change any of the ingredients. I just made sure not to go above the max fill line and kept the amount of broth at two cups.
I think this works well if you don't have the time for the longer cook. But if you do, the meat turns out a bit more tender when cooked low and slow.Print