Every food blog in creation is posting Thanksgiving foods and leftover dishes this week, so I’m going to be contrary and post something not even remotely related to the holiday!
A few weeks ago we got our first real cold spell here in Atlanta and I started craving something rich and warm and comfort-food-like. I started digging through the (way too many) pins I had on Pinterest, looking for something that would fit the bill and I found this Boeuf Bourguignon that I had pinned almost a year ago. I actually had everything needed for this recipe, so it became Friday night’s date-night meal.
Originally I had planned to just throw all the ingredients into the crock pot and let them simmer, but I wasn’t in any hurry, so I decided to take the time necessary to make this using the traditional techniques.
My slow cooker allows me to crank up the heat and brown/sear, before lowering it to slow cook, so I was able to do all parts of this in the one pan. I started out searing the cubes of meat, making sure there was plenty of space between the cubes. It took 4 batches to get all the meat properly seared, and time to deglaze with a little wine between each batch, but it was worth it.
I followed the rest of the instructions and then put everything into the crock and set it on low for almost 7 hours.
Near the end of the cooking time, I used my cast iron skillet to brown the mushrooms, using the same technique as with the cubes of meat – not crowding the pan and leaving lots of space between pieces for evaporation. It took 3 batches to cook a pound of mushrooms, which I added to the crock about 15 minutes before I served it over egg noodles.
I wish I could describe how incredibly good this was. Taking the time to cook the elements separately, to deglaze the pan between each batch of meat, to sear the mushrooms before adding them to the stew … it made an enormous difference to the dish. I’ve made beef stews before with similar ingredients and, don’t get me wrong, they’re good! But this … this was superlative. Cooking the main ingredients separately and letting them get a nice sear on them helped each ingredient stand out a little from the whole. It gave the meal a depth of flavor that you don’t get in a regular stew. Z raved over it and said it was quite possibly his 2nd favorite thing of mine, which is high praise indeed.
I do have a few comments and thoughts for next time.
- Don’t skimp on the bacon for this. The bacon grease adds quite a bit of flavor that you won’t get with olive oil.
- If my slow-cooker hadn’t had a sear setting, I’d have started out with my cast iron skillet, which is what I cooked the mushrooms in near the end. I would not recommend using a non-stick skillet as you need the browned goodness that comes from searing meat on a standard or cast-iron skillet to really make this work.
- I wish I’d had pearl onions as traditional Boeuf Bourguignon calls for; next time I’ll have them and I’ll brown them after the mushrooms, before they’re added to the dish.
- The recipe from the pin said to use less liquid for the slow cooker version, but I found that there wasn’t quite enough liquid for my taste. It’s possible that the egg noodles absorbed some of the liquid, but either way, I thought it needed a little more. Next time I’ll use enough beef broth to almost cover the ingredients in the crock.
- The recipe also said to use chicken broth over beef, but I used my homemade beef broth in this. I just couldn’t see using chicken broth in what is essentially a beef stew. YMMV
- This recipe says it serves 6, but those must be HUGE portions. We ate it for dinner on Friday, lunch for 2 more days, and I had it for dinner again on the 4th day. After that, I froze what was left (at least 2 more servings). I’ll update with how that turned out when I thaw and eat it later.
Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon
(as adapted from the recipe originally posted on thekitchn.com)
- 8 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
- 3 lb beef round roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 cups beef broth (enough to barely cover the ingredients when all in the cooking pot)
- 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lb pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
Put the bacon in a large skillet (not a non-stick one) and render it down over medium heat until you have crispy little bits of bacon and a good amount of hot bacon grease. Drain the grease into a container keep it handy. Set the bacon bits aside for later.
Turn the heat up under the skillet to medium high and begin browning the cubes of meat in about 1 tbsp of the bacon grease. Do not crowd the skillet or dump all the meat in at once. Leave a good bit of distance between each cube and sear them on each side. You’ll know that they’re properly seared when they release from the pan without having to be pulled free. It may take you 4 or 5 batches to get all the meat seared off and that’s ok. Between each batch, deglaze the pan with about 1/4 cup of the wine, making sure to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom and pouring it over the meat you’ve already seared. Then add more bacon grease and sear the next batch of meat.
Once all the meat is seared, put it aside in a bowl and turn the heat down to medium again. Put the onions, celery, and carrots into the pan and cook them until they’re soft and beginning to brown ever so slightly. Add the garlic and the tomato paste and give it a good stir to mix thoroughly. Cook for another 3-5 mins.
Move all the cooked ingredients (meat, vegetables, and all the juice) to your slow cooker. To that add the thyme, bay leaf, the remaining wine (if there is any after the deglazing), and enough beef broth to just barely cover the ingredients. Cook on low for at least 6 hours.
About 30-60 mins before you’re going to serve, heat up your skillet again, and begin searing the mushroom slices in a little bit of the bacon fat. As with the meat, do this in batches, leaving plenty of space between each slice so that the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates quickly. You want browned mushrooms, not steamed ones!
If you include pearl onions, do the same with the onions, browning them over high heat, but then add a little bit of beef broth and simmer them until they’re tender and cooked through (you don’t want raw onions in the dish).
Add the reserved bacon bits (from way back at the beginning of the recipe), the mushrooms, and the onions to the slow cooker and let them simmer for at least 15 mins before serving.
You can serve this as a stew, in a bowl with crusty bread as a side, or you can serve it over egg noodles, or over mashed potatoes. Garnish with some chopped parsley if you want.
Makes 8-10 servings. Per serving (at 8 servings): Calories: 407| Protein 37g | Fat 21g | Carb 11g | Fiber 2g