Beef Bourguignon
We’ve got about two feet of it right now with another two feet threatening to fall tomorrow night. Over the weekend, record amounts of snow fell from Virginia up to mid-New Jersey. There were two options in the days before the snow when people were calling for 'Snowmaggedon' — panic or plan. I uncharacteristically planned. (Not that characteristically I would panic. I usually ignore the reports and try to wish away bad weather.)

I planned to bake and cook for two days, and to make something I have never made before — beef bourguignon. I didn’t chose to make Julia Child’s version of the classic French dish; I thought I’d try one from allrecipes that had good reviews. I figured if I were successful with it, next time I’d attempt Julia’s. Next time, I am attempting Julia’s.

This is a dish that you need to prepare for. There are many ingredients, and the directions call for marinating the meat and some vegetables in wine for 48 hours. I only marinated mine for 24 hours, and I’m curious if the extra day would have made a difference. Even with only 24 hours, this was absolutely delicious.

This dish is time-consuming, a bit expensive, and messy (but you’ll have three hours while the dish is cooking to clean the mess up). But, it's oh-so worth the effort. If you’re cooking Valentine’s dinner for someone special this upcoming weekend, this is a dish you might want to consider. It can even be made the day before.

I used beef cubes and bacon from a local source — Hillacres Pride. This is not a dish to skimp on the quality of ingredients, especially the beef. Get good beef from a source you trust and a good wine that you would enjoy drinking.


For the marinade – 48 hours before you plan to start cooking

  • 3 cups Burgundy (or any good red blend) wine
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds cubed beef chuck roast
For the day you plan to cook
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 pound bacon, cubed
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (10.5 oz) can beef broth
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
Time Estimates

Prep time: 40 min 

Cook time: 3 hrs 

Total time: 3 hrs 40 min 


Makes 4-6 servings

Directions: Read all directions carefully a couple of times before you begin.

  1. For marinade: In a large bowl, combine the wine, brandy or cognac, onions, carrots, parsley, bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns and salt. Mix well and add the beef. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°F and spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Strain the meat from the vegetables and marinade. Reserve the marinade.
  4. Dry the meat with paper towels.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown the meat for 10 minutes in the oil, turning to brown all sides. Transfer the meat with a slotted spoon to a new large bowl.
  6. In the same skillet you just cooked the beef in, add the bacon and sauté until lightly browned. Transfer the bacon to the bowl with the beef, then drain the skillet.
  7. Return the skillet to the heat and add one cup of the reserved marinade to it to deglaze it, scraping the beef and bacon bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour this liquid back into the reserved marinade.
  8. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. While it is heated drain the carrots and onions from the marinade, but DO NOT throw the marinade away.
  9. Saute the onions and carrots from the marinade along with the new onions for 5 minutes.
  10. Add the sautéed vegetables to the bowl with the meat and bacon.
  11. Add the flour to the skillet with the remaining oil and stir until well mixed and brown, about 2 minutes (I found I didn’t have enough oil left in the skillet for this so I added some of the reserved marinade for more moisture).
  12. To the flour mixture, add the tomato paste, garlic, beef broth, reserved marinade and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and whisk to remove any flour lumps (this could take a while, but the lumps will disappear). Add to the meat and vegetables bowl.
  13. Transfer the entire mixture to the prepared 9x13 baking dish.
  14. Bake at 300°F for three hours, covering for the first hour. Once you remove the cover, check every 20 minutes or so to make sure it isn’t drying out. If it begins to dry out, add water or beef broth.
  15. About 15 minutes before the meat is done baking, melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms for 5-10 minutes.
  16. When the meat is done, add the mushrooms and mix well. Let sit for about 15 minutes.
  17. Serve as is, or place over mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.

My notes:

  • If you don’t have a cover for the bowl you are using for the marinade or for your 9x13-inch dish, you can use aluminum foil. Cut an extra large piece of foil for your bowl – large enough that you can reuse it on the 9x13 inch dish.
  • I served this over mashed potatoes and it was so good. I think that serving it over garlic mashed potatoes would have worked really well.
  • The slow cooking time is important. You could probably up the temperature and cook it faster, but as the liquid slowly thickens the flavor intensifies. The beef ends up very tender. Don’t rush this.
  • I can’t emphasize reading the directions thoroughly before beginning enough. If you don’t and you do something like accidentally discard the marinade after removing the vegetables, the dish is ruined.
  • This is a no-brainer when trying to pair it with wine. Just buy two bottles of the wine you plan to use for the marinade and open the second bottle to drink with the dish.
  • Crusty French bread to sop up the sauce is almost a must for this dish. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Seasonal recipe: Beef Bourguignon
A special dish for a Valentine’s Day or a snowed in weekend.