Elegant and Easy Valentine’s Day Dinner: Beef Bourguignon

February 10, 2010 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

One of the scariest words in the culinary world is “Beef Bourguignon”. Julia Child made her career when she showed people how to make this dish, demystifying it back then, even if the name itself is still as intimidating as ever. My take on Julia’s famous recipe is not just an amazing combination of rich, hearty flavors to warm you up on these cold February nights; it’s a window to romance. Who wouldn’t feel extra-special when served this delicious dish, with its romantic connections to France, fine dining, and fantastically snobby unpronouncableness?

Served over lightly seasoned egg noodles, this dish is something even the kids will eat. Rather than getting a sitter on Valentine’s Day and spending money on fancy restaurant, I like to cook up this dish and have two dinner seatings: the first for the younger generation and a later seating for just the grown-ups. The long cooking time on this dish is necessary to produce a tender meat, but your patience will be rewarded. The good news is this dish is “set it and forget it” meal once it goes into the oven. You need only check on it to make sure it isn’t going dry. In the mean time, set a romantic table, and treat yourself to a nice glass of wine.

Recipe: Beef Bourguignon


  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 ½ hours +


  • 1 lb beef stew meat, cubed into 1″ cubes
  • 2 slices bacon, cut into very small pieces
  • 4 oz. fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced large
  • 5 baby carrots, cut into thirds
  • 1 rib celery, diced large
  • 10 pearl onions, parboiled and peeled (frozen will work too)
  • 2 oz. tomato paste
  • 4 oz. red wine
  • 3 c. beef stock
  • 8 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of cooked egg noodles tossed with 2 Tbsp. butter and ¼ c. fresh parsley


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fry the small bits of bacon in a large, deep skillet on medium heat until they are fully cooked and crispy. Remove them from the pan, leaving the bacon great behind, and drain on paper towels. Reserve the drained bacon in a medium bowl.
  3. Sauté the mushrooms in the bacon grease until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, and add them to the bowl with the bacon.
  4. Lightly season the beef cubes on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear them in the bacon fat on medium-high, just until they are browned. Remove them from the pan and set them aside on a plate.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the skillet. Sauté the vegetable until the onions are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  6. Put the meat back in the pan with the vegetables. Add the tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  7. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour the red wine into the skillet to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine come to a boil and cook until the liquid in the pan is thick and syrupy.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme sprig, and reserved bacon to the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
  9. Once the mixture is boiling, add the garlic and cover the skillet with aluminum foil or a tight-fitting lid. Transfer the pot to the oven.
  10. Cook in the oven for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours. The longer it goes, the more tender and flavorful the meat will be and the thicker the sauce. Just keep an eye on the liquid levels, and add more beef stock if needed.
  11. 15 minutes before serving, stir in the reserved mushrooms.
  12. Just before serving, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Serve over hot egg noodles.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks

  • Use a deep skillet with a fitted lid if you have one so the liquids will stay in the pan and evaporate more slowly.
  • Be sure to choose a red wine for this dish that you wouldn’t mind drinking. While you don’t have to have an expensive
  • Buy dry egg noodles or a refrigerated egg fettuccini if you can. Nothing goes better with this dish than rich egg pasta, some crusty bread and the same red wine that you used in the meal.
  • Chocolate and red wine are really good friends, so a chocolate dessert can’t go wrong after this rich, satisfying dish.

Entry filed under: Menu Plan Monday. Tags: , , , , , .

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