Beef Bourguignon (The Magic Of Braising)
Of the dishes I cook, the one that gets the most raves is my braised beef short ribs. Also called beef Burgundy or beef bourguignon (pronounced “bore-geen-YONE”), it’s basically a French stew. It started out as a peasant dish, but over time it’s become a standard of French cuisine.
It’s a simple recipe. The cooking method is called braising, where a cut of meat that would have been too tough to eat if cooked in a traditional way is slowly cooked in wine and broth along with onions, carrots, mushrooms, and bacon (lardons) for flavoring. This tenderizes the meat and breaks down all of the connective tissue. The classic beef bourguignon calls for stew meat, but I like to use beef short ribs that are well marbled. I think the short rib bone imparts a flavor that enriches the dish and gives it more of a distinctive flavor.
I like to order this from the butcher to be picked up the day before the scheduled dinner. I ask for the meat to be cut so there are two ribs per piece. I also ask for the ribs to be nice and meaty.
The recipe says to turn the meat several times during the cooking process. I’ve found that if this isn’t done carefully, the meat will become detached from the bone. When it’s time to plate it, I use a slotted spoon, but despite all of this care, I often end up with some bare bones. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think the dish presents better if the meat is still on the bone.
Serve it with Julia’s ‘Shrooms (see recipe), smashed red potatoes, and a vegetable. A big Cab or a French Burgundy pairs well with this dish.
The result is fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking describes beef bourguignon, as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.”
Beef Bourguignon (The Magic Of Braising)
5-6 lb.Beef short ribs (serving size around 1 lb. per person)
Meat RubLight dusting
Salt and PepperTo taste
EVOOAbout 3 Tbsp
4 TbspTomato paste
6 cupsWine (red or white)
3 cupsBeef or chicken broth
1 TbspBeef demi-glace
The day before pat meat dry, apply rub, then salt and pepper meat. Wrap and let rest in refrigerator overnight.
Enter Target Time _______________
Time: __________ (5 hours prior to target time)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place rack to lower middle of oven.
Chop onion and mince garlic. Slice carrots.
In the steep-sided 12” skillet over medium to med-high heat add two tablespoons oil.
Dredge meat in flour (light coat) and cook without moving for 4-6 minutes until browned (be careful not to burn).
Turn meat and cook on each side until well browned. Transfer to a Dutch oven or the six-quart brasier (depending on servings) and add carrots, thyme, and bay leaf.
Pour off fat from skillet. Reduce heat in skillet to medium, add a bit of vegetable oil, and then add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. If onions darken too quickly, add a bit of water.
Add tomato paste and cook stirring constantly until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes
Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
Add broth and demi-glace to a separate sauce pan. Heat and stir with whisk until demi-glace melts and dissolves
Increase heat under Dutch oven to medium-high, add wine and simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until reduced by half, around 8-10 minutes.
Add contents of skillet and saucepan to Dutch oven or brasier. Be sure liquid covers the meat. If you need more liquid, add it in the 2:1 ratio of wine:beef broth. Cover with lid, and bring to simmer with medium heat on the stove.
Transfer Dutch oven or brasier to oven and cook using tongs to turn meat twice during cooking time. I’ve found if this isn’t done carefully, the meat will become detached from the bone.
Cook at least 3 hours at 300 degrees, then turn down to 275 degrees for at least 1 hour, and finish at 250 degrees until ready to serve.
Towards the end of the cooking process, remove excess fat with basting syringe.
Remove the Dutch oven or braiser from the oven and place on a trivet.
When plating the short ribs, I use a slotted spoon, and carefully add a serving of beef to each plate.
But despite all of this care, I often end up with some bare bones. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think the dish presents better if the meat is still on the bone. The onions and the carrots can also be added depending on the sides you have chosen and the desires of your guests.
I also like to plate the accompanying side dishes in the kitchen. When all of your guests’ plates are prepared, do the presentation at the table, and then seat yourself.
Note: Be ready. You will get compliments, especially with this dish. Be gracious, be humble, be accepting, and above all, enjoy some well-deserved praise. You’ve earned it.