A fascinating historical region in France first inhabited by various tribes of Gaelic Celts which eventually incorporated into the Roman Empire is Burgundy "Bourgogne" -- the birthplace of the world famous delectable stew, Beef Bourguignon.
So, why beef? Not chicken? Not pork? Burgundy was a region well known for its prized Charolais cattle, a huge, muscular beast with a full, creamy white coat. These bulls are fed with only grass, forage, and cereal; a diet to which it owes its extremely rich, flavorsome, and tender meat. A quality tagged as "Label Rouge" (red label).
So, why is it cooked with red wine? Burgundy is a terroir focused wine producing region. A geographically based wine making system which produces deeper and more complex wines makes Burgundy home to the most expensive wines in the world.
The main ingredients: wine & beef is in homage to the best of what the region, Burgundy, has to offer.
What was then a peasant dish in France has become today's hallmark of French cuisine. The king of chefs, Auguste Escoffier, in the early 1900's, first introduced this dish in the high society restaurants of Paris using a whole cut of beef. This, of course, entailed much longer hours and effort to prepare. It is in the 60's that the genius of the chef TV star, Julia Child, reinterpreted boeuf bourguignon by dicing the beef into cubes; a game changing process making the recipe less intimidating and more acceptable to American kitchens.
Now a favorite recipe of chefs around the world, this dish has been specialized and enriched in numerous interpretations. This recipe is my personal take on the dish. Oh! Don't leave the whiskey out...we're going to need it with the wine.
2 lbs. Beef (Cubed)
Guanciale or Bacon (thinly sliced)
2 tbs. Flour
1 Bulb Onion (Chopped)
1/2 Cup Carrots (Chopped)
1 Cup Tomatoes (I prefer Grape tomatoes for their sweet taste)
1/2 Bulb Garlic (Sliced)
8 oz. Mushrooms (I used champignons)
2 cups Red Wine
1 shot Bourbon (I used Benchmark)
As Needed Beef Stock
As Needed Olive Oil
As Needed Salt & Pepper
3 tbsp. Butter
2 to 3 Bay Leaves
Herb of choice for garnish
*You may add a tablespoon of tomato paste for a richer color, I didn't.
Pat dry the cubed beef and sprinkle them with salt & pepper, rest for about 5 minutes and dredge in flour.
Drizzle about 2 tbsp. of oil in the Dutch oven and brown the guanciale, remove with a slotted spoon-set aside in a dish.
Sear the beef cubes in all sides in the Dutch oven with the fat rendered from the guanciale. Remove when done and set aside with the guanciale.
In the Dutch oven, sauté the garlic, onions, tomatoes & carrots. Stir in the bourbon until it caramelizes.
Put back the meat & guanciale to sit on the vegetables and add in the wine and beef stock (just enough to cover the meat). Drop in the bay leaves & simmer on low until the beef and vegetables are very tender (this should take about 1 & 1/2 to 2 hrs). By this time the sauce would've thickened & have a pincage (dark) color. (You may add broth as needed, tomato paste or extra flour to thicken)
Add in the butter, salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer on low for another 30 min. Lastly stir in the mushrooms 5 minutes before serving.
Garnish with your herb of choice and serve with potatoes, bread, noodles or rice
Julia Child advised to have a glass of wine while preparing this wonderful dish, and the results will be rewarding; she said. Toeing the line with bit more punch, I enjoyed this 1792 Full Proof while working an appetite. Cheers!
1792 Full Proof Bourbon