Boeuf bourguignon: a classic French dish for fall or winter

French boeuf bourguignon

There’s beef stew, and then there’s boeuf bourguignon.

There’s a reason it deserves the French pronunciation, and why it’s the dish that made Julia Child famous. Boeuf bourguignon is to beef stew as opera is to the accordion, as Molière is to Jerry Lewis (though the French like both). When prepared properly – as it always should be – boeuf bourguignon is a symphony in the mouth, a perfect harmony of flavor, texture and filling nourishment.

Creating boeuf bourguignon is a process that can take anywhere from three hours to three days. It’s a complex dish of beef (of course) browned in bacon fat, carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms braised in a red-wine and tomato reduction. With herbs, of course. Paired with a thick slice of crusty baguette, it is perfection itself.

The secret to truly great boeuf bourguignon is patience.

Each ingredient must be prepared separately: the beef is trimmed and marinated before being dried thoroughly and browned to achieve a crisp crust. Of course you will need beef stock, a bay leaf, and a bottle of good red wine (the rule is to never cook with wine you would not drink). The pearl onions are peeled, roasted and added to the carrots and braised beef before being slow-cooked in an oven until the meat is tender and the sauce is reduced. Sautéed mushrooms are added just a few minutes before serving. You can do all of these steps in one day, or spread them out over as many as three days to deepen the flavors.

Or, if you don’t have time to devote to the artistry of preparing this excellent dish, we know a place in Chicago where you can get it to go.

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