Classic Ways with Beef – Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon – My First ‘French’ Dish:

As a teenager I used to spend a month every summer staying with a French family.  The intention of course, was for me to improve my French.  The reality was that I spoke very little French (although to this day I can follow a conversation without too much problem).  But, I did learn about food, French style.  I’ve already talked about my mother’s dislike of cooking.  Here’s the other side of the story.  The French family I stayed with were from Troyes, near Paris.  But they spent the summer in Savoie, in a tiny village near Chambery where Mme Le Rudulier’s parents still lived.  And, our daily routine started with a cycle ride down the hill to the local boulangerie to buy brioche for breakfast.  It came filled with a cherry confiture and we ate handfuls with large bowls of steaming coffee.  And fresh peach juice made from the peaches that grew outside the door.

Versant Merlot for boeuf bourgignon

Next we drove to local farms, to the market and returned home with provisions.  We ate a light lunch. Sometimes leftovers from the night before, sometimes cold meats and salad.  And then went off to swim or occasionally to have tea in Chambery while Grand-mere prepared the evening meal.  In all honesty I don’t remember eating Boeuf Bourguignon.  But I did go home and buy Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking (my copy is the 1970 edition!).  And I think it was those weeks in the French Alps that gave me a love of food.

I have made Elizabeth’s recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon before now, it calls for salt pork or bacon and beef or veal stock.  But, my own, hybrid version has evolved over the years.  I add in a few vegetables to add depth of flavour rather than beef or veal stock.  I generally leave out the bacon unless I’m making the dish for a dinner party.  And, I don’t marinade the meat.   It should really be made with a Burgundy wine or at the very least a Pinot Noir, but I didn’t have any in the house.  So, I used the remains of a Cabernet Sauvignon in the cooking and opened a rather nice bottle of Merlot from Foncalieu,  which I’d been sent to review, to drink with the meal.  It is a rich fruity wine with slight tobacco notes and works well with all meat dishes.  But, I’m quite glad I saved it to drink with a special meal!

Classic Beef – Boeuf Bourguignon

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 4 hours
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Region French


  • 500g Stewing Beef (Cut into largish chunks. About 2 inches square)
  • 2 Medium Onions (Peeled and finely sliced)
  • 1 Medium Carrot (Peeled and finely diced)
  • 1 stick Celery (Cleaned and sliced)
  • 300g Button Mushroom
  • 300g Shallots
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 350ml Red Wine
  • Salt and Pepper to Season
  • 1 Bouquet Garni (I use a handful of rosemary, bay and thyme)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (Crushed or finely chopped)


Step 1 Heat about two thirds of the butter and oil in a heavy based pan that can be put into the oven. Pre heat the oven to 160c
Step 2 Soften the onions for 5 to 10 minutes. Then add the garlic, carrot and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Step 3 Remove the softened vegetables from the pan and set to one side
Step 4 Raise the heat and brown the meat in batches
Step 5 Return the vegetables to the pan and add in the wine and bouquet garni
Step 6 Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, put the lid on and place in the oven.
Step 7 Cook for 3-4 hours, checking very occasionally stirring and adding a little water if necessary.
Step 8 Half an hour before you want to eat, heat a little more butter and oil in a frying pan. Brown the shallots, then the button mushrooms, before adding both to the casserole and continuing to cook in the oven.
Step 9 To serve, check and season with salt and pepper to taste and remove the bouquet garni

This Boeuf Bourguignon IS a recipe that seems to work no matter what you do with it.

It is best made the day before you want to eat it and then reheated gently (you can add the shallots and button mushrooms at this stage).  It also  freezes really well and will work  with cheaper cuts of meat, just make sure you cook it for longer if necessary.  And, the version I made with the Scotch Beef I was given recently was utterly delicious.



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  1. says

    Ohhh, I want to summer in France, too! It sounds like you have the loveliest memories, and food is such an important part of them! Steaming bowls of coffee and cherry confiture…YUM.

    • says

      I have such wonderful memories of those summers. Moments of childhood. I don’t think I’d want to try and go back because it could never be as great as I remember.

  2. Helen Moulden says

    Great recipe – I’ve never tried cooking Bouef Bourguignon myself, but I’m going to try it now!

  3. james elliott says

    This is my favourite dish so a new method to make it might just cement it at my top spot!

  4. says

    That looks divine.
    I have fond memories of staying on a fabulous campsite in Versailles a few years back and cycling every morning to pick up fresh croissant and baguette. Such a simple pleasure :)
    Janie x

  5. Carrie Mack says

    beautiful traditional french dish keeping it simple but using as good a red wine as you can afford is my trick to the best beef boirgoinon

  6. Caroline Virgo says

    This recipe sounds delicious. I will have to try it. I normally add cream to mine but you know what they say…. a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, so I think I will do without from now on. 😀

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