Beef Bourguignon

Elevated comfort food for the soul

Almost every culture around the world has some version of braised beef, or more commonly known as beef stew. The Italians make theirs with potatoes, celery and tomato puree. The Mexicans make theirs with corn, cumin and chili powder. And the French call theirs Beef Bourguignon and it’s made with mushrooms, pearl onions and a bottle of red wine. There are countless versions around the world of variations on beef stew. But when I get that craving for a soul satisfying, mouth watering, hearty stew, nothing else will do except for the French classic, Beef Bourguignon, served alongside a big hunk of crusty rustic sourdough bread (buttered, of course) to soak up every drop of stewed deliciousness. It’s just about the best snowy night dinner to enjoy in front of the fire with a bottle of Bordeaux.

Beef Bourguignon

The style of cooking stew is called braising and something magical happens when you braise a meat and no one does it better than the French. Coq au vin, Cassoulet, Lapin a La Cocotte and yes, Beef Bourguignon are amongst my favorite slow cooked, French country meals. When you braise, the flavors have hours to develop and permeate every bite. When you sear or grill, you simply can’t produce the same depth of flavor as you can with braising.

This Beef Bourguignon recipe comes from Ina Garten and uses cognac and a full bottle of red wine that creates a rich, elegant sauce that will have you scraping every last drop from your bowl. The inclusion of mushrooms brings a second level of heartiness that complements the beef perfectly and the pearl onions and carrots pull the party together with their natural sweetness. Together, they make every bite the best bite, which is always the goal of a perfect recipe.

Feaster’s Tips:

• Rather than buy the pre-cubed stew meat from the butcher counter, I prefer to cut my own beef cubes from one large cut of chuck to ensure uniform sizes and can control the quality of the cuts.

• Always make more than you think you need when you make this dish. It does not go as far as you think because everyone will go back for seconds.

The Recipe

Beef Bourguignon
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Course: entree
Cuisine: French
Keyword: beef, stew
Servings: 4 people
Author: Ina Garten
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic 2 cloves
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 750 ml. bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
  • 1 can 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded caps thickly sliced
  • Country bread or Sour Dough toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley.
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
  3. Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
  4. Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  5. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
  6. To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.
chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

We have a screened-in porch and after ten years, we finally gave it some much needed attention.  We worked hard at some serious DIY projects and together, we added a pallet wall to the porch, hung hammocks, and built our very own farmhouse style table.  We turned it into the porch we always wanted.

Finally, after months of hard work, it was time for Feast & Merriment with friends and neighbors. The inaugural dinner was one I gave great thought to.  I wanted to create the feeling of being on a farm in France, enjoying intensely flavorful comfort foods, and sipping delicious wines with friends. (Granted, I have yet to make it to the country side of France, but this is what I picture in my head. So I’ll just roll with it.) I finally decided that the star of the evening would be Ina Garten’s Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic.

The evening, and the chicken, were simply divine. I recommend this recipe for a special occasion served with a rich and buttery chardonnay.

Feaster’s tips for this recipe:

    • This is a wonderful recipe, but before you commit to it, you should know that it is an intermediate level recipe and a good amount of work to prepare. You need to commit to it and be sure to carve out enough time.
    • Double or triple the sauce. You won’t regret it.
    • Factor in extra clean up time for after searing off all the chicken- it splatters, takes longer than you think and not something you want to do with company in your kitchen. Once you get past that step, you’ll be on your way!  I recommend searing the chicken, setting it aside, cleaning up, re-grouping, and then you’ll be on your way.

Ina's Chicken with Forty Cloves
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
  • 3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
  • 2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
  • 1.5 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs heavy cream
  1. Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

  2. Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.

  3. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork.

  4. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. 

  5. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. 

  6. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. 

  7. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

  8. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

  9. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot.

  10. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. 

  11. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful

  12. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Be sure to serve the chicken with a nice, crusty bread to soak up any remaining sauce. Trust me, you will want to.