Over the years, I have made Beef Bourguignon on many occasions. The recipes have varied, and so have the results. On a recent French cooking adventure, I decided to adapt the recipe featured in The Little Paris Kitchen.
For starters, I cut my beef a bit smaller (it cooked faster than the 3 hours stated in the recipe), lightly thickened the sauce with flour, and increased the amount of onions and mushrooms. I also improved the recipe by tying up the herbs and spices in a sachet instead of just tossing them into the stew. This makes it much easier to remove these components, which wouldn't normally be eaten anyway.
The result is incredibly fork-tender beef which has absorbed incredible flavors from the wine, herbs and spices. The sauce is just thickened enough to coat the meat and veggies rather than being a more soup-like broth. I prefer my Beef Bourguignon with a slightly thickened sauce, and this works out perfectly. The mushrooms and pearl onions are the perfect counterparts to the beef and add great depth of flavor.
The baguette dumplings are definitely a novelty. Full credit goes to Rachel Khoo for conceiving these. It's essentially like using chunks of baguette to dip in the broth, but even better, perhaps, because these have lots of added flavor from parsley and spices. A crisp exterior yields to a chewy and soft interior that is a perfect vehicle for absorbing lots of delicious sauce.
I definitely recommend preparing the Beef Bourguignon a day in advance and then reheating with the mushrooms when you're ready to serve it (there is a note at the end of the recipe on how to do this). Not only does it save time right before the meal, but the flavors are definitely heightened.
I can easily say this is now my official go-to recipe for Beef Bourguignon and I can't wait to make it again on an upcoming cold winter's day! I served it with a deliciously creamy Potato Gratin Dauphinois, recipe coming soon!
Beef Bourguignon with Baguette Dumplings
Serves 4 to 6 as a Main Course (or 6 to 8 if served with a hearty side dish)
(Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen)
2 pounds beef shin or stewing beef, cut into chunks--the size will dictate how long it cooks (I used 1-inch-thick eye of round steaks and cut them into 2-inch pieces)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 ounces lardons, cubes of smoked bacon, or pancetta
12 frozen pearl onions, thawed and blotted dry
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cups red wine
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
A handful of parsley stems
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
10 black peppercorns
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and halved or quartered depending on size
7 ounces stale baguette or other bread, including crust
1 cup milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, for frying
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Season the meat and dust with 2 tablespoons of the flour. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat and fry the meat in batches until browned. Remove each batch, then fry the lardons, onions, and garlic in the same pan until golden brown. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and stir for a minute until it starts to cook. Slowly add the wine, water, tomato paste, and sugar, stirring to make sure the flour dissolves evenly into the liquid, and scraping up any caramelized bits in the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan.
Make a sachet by wrapping the bay leaf, parsley stems, thyme, rosemary, cloves, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth and tying it with kitchen string. Add this to the pan as well and bring it to a simmer. Cover, place in the oven, and cook until the meat is fork tender and almost falling apart, about 2 hours (the time will depend on the size of your meat).*
Cut the baguette into small cubes and place in a bowl. Bring the milk to a boil and pour over and stir so that it is absorbed evenly, then cover and rest for 15 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper and add the parsley, egg, and 1 tablespoons of flour. Mix to combine. If the mixture is too wet (it should be moist and only slightly sticky), add the remaining tablespoon of flour. Wet your hands a little to help stop the dough sticking to them, then make dumplings just smaller than a golf ball (I got 24).
About 20 minutes before the stew is ready, remove the bouquet garni, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and fry the dumplings on medium-high heat for 5 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve the stew with the dumplings.
*Make the stew a day ahead to give the flavors time to develop. Add the mushrooms before gently reheating. The dumplings can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 hours before frying.