Boef Bourgignon aka Boeuf à la Bourguignonne is a classic French dish originating, as its name indicates, from the Burgundy region, as do a number of other dishes incorporating red wine, such as coq au vin and oeufs en Meurette. I’ve been meaning to try the latter ever since our last trip; I’ll try and blog that one soon.
So back to the beef: this hearty stew is characterised by a slow braise of beef in red wine, which renders the meat tender and succulent, and the addition of bacon, pearl onions and button mushrooms. Most recipes use stewing steak and combine beef stock with red wine for the braising liquid.
I decided to use beef cheeks (also known as ox cheeks), as I love the way these break down with slow cooking. I used shallots instead of pearl onions. And I substituted some dark ale for the beef stock, just because. These variations on the traditional version turned out extremely well!
This is a very easy dish, though you’ll need some time at the start, to prep all the ingredients and separately brown the beef pieces, mushrooms and shallots.
The amounts are flexible, to make it easier to do your shopping. These minor variations really won’t make a difference to the final result! Even if you’re cooking for one or two, I recommend making this recipe in the quantities below and freezing the extra portions for another time.
Kavey's Beef Cheeks Bourguignon
- 1-1.2 kg beef cheeks (also known as ox cheeks) , trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
- 2-3 tbsp seasoned flour
- vegetable oil for cooking
- 200 g bacon in cubes or short strips
- 200-300 g button mushrooms , cut in half if large
- 300-400 g shallots
- 2 medium-large onions
- 1 bottle full-bodied red wine
- 250 g dark ale
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 2-3 bay leaves
Dredge each piece of beef in seasoned flour.
In a large lidded casserole dish – big enough for all the meat, onions, mushrooms, wine and liquid – heat a little cooking oil and fry the floured beef pieces until the surfaces are crusty and brown with caramelisation. Do this in batches so the meat doesn’t steam. Set aside the browned beef.
Add more cooking oil if necessary to brown the mushrooms in the same pan, then set aside.
Now do the same for the shallots, and set them aside with the mushrooms.
Again, add more oil to the empty pan, if necessary, and fry the bacon and onions until the onions soften and the bacon takes on a little colour.
To the bacon and onions, add back the beef pieces plus the bay leaves, thyme, red wine and dark ale.
Leave to simmer for 3 hours, with the lid on.
Add the mushrooms and shallots back to the dish and cook for another 30-45 minutes, uncovered, on a gentle simmer. The time depends on the size of your shallots, as you want to ensure they are cooked through and soft. Leaving the lid off will also allow the sauce to reduce a little further.
Serve with buttery mash potatoes, or plain steamed potatoes if you want to be more traditional.