Serving beef on New Year’s Eve is a long-standing tradition in our family, and this Beef Bourguignon is the perfect fit for this year’s stay-at-home festivities.

Beef Bourguignon is cooked in liquid, low and slow, which means you can use a less tender cut of meat, like chuck beef. I typically purchase a boneless shoulder chuck beef roast from the butcher at my local Hornbacher’s store.

The base of this classic French stew is chuck beef, which is cut into 1-inch cubes. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
The base of this classic French stew is chuck beef, which is cut into 1-inch cubes. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The recipe I use is adapted from a version by Ina Garten, which claims that the total time required to prepare this dish is one hour and 45 minutes. However, I have never made it within that window of time. Even with Tony doing all my chopping, it usually takes me between two and a half to three hours, from start to finish.

The slow process of cooking Beef Bourguignon is critical to building the layers of flavor that set this stew apart from all others, and I have learned a few tricks along the way to save some time.

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Thick-cut bacon is the first layer of flavor in this flavorful French stew. Once the bacon is cooked, the beef cubes are browned in bacon drippings for added flavor. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Thick-cut bacon is the first layer of flavor in this flavorful French stew. Once the bacon is cooked, the beef cubes are browned in bacon drippings for added flavor. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

First, read through the recipe and prepare your ingredients and equipment before you begin. Do all the chopping at one time — the bacon, beef, onions and carrots, and garlic — and measure out the remaining ingredients so that all you need to do is assemble and cook as directed. Taking this time at the beginning reduces the chance for errors and makes the process more enjoyable.

While traditional recipes for this stew often require that you dredge the beef cubes in flour before browning, Ina’s version skips this step and adds the flour toward the end, mixed with a bit of butter. This ensures that the stew will still thicken while shaving several minutes off the prep time.

Before browning the beef, be sure to season it well with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Before browning the beef, be sure to season it well with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Beef Bourguignon’s incredible flavor is developed one step at a time, starting with three strips of thick-cut bacon. The bacon is diced and cooked in oil until brown and crispy and the drippings are used to brown the cubes of chuck beef. The beef drippings are then used to brown the carrots and onions — and next comes my favorite part.

Sliced yellow onions and baby carrots are cooked in the beef and bacon drippings until lightly browned. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Sliced yellow onions and baby carrots are cooked in the beef and bacon drippings until lightly browned. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

A generous splash of cognac is added to the vegetables and then set ablaze for 10 to 15 seconds so that the alcohol will burn off while the flavor remains. The cognac adds a wonderful warmth to the stew that lingers on the back of the tongue as you eat it.

Beef Bourguignon is a stew built upon layers of flavor, including a splash of cognac set ablaze to cook off the alcohol so that only the flavor remains. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Beef Bourguignon is a stew built upon layers of flavor, including a splash of cognac set ablaze to cook off the alcohol so that only the flavor remains. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Once the fire drama is over, the beef and bacon are returned to the pot, along with a bottle of dry red wine, beef broth, tomato paste, a bay leaf and fresh thyme. A Dutch oven or ovenproof pot is required for this recipe, as the stew then goes into a 250-degrees oven for 75 minutes before adding the flour mixture, pearl onions and sauteed mushrooms.

More great "Home with the Lost Italian" beef recipes to help you ring in the New Year:

The result is a savory dish filled with fork-tender morsels of beef, silky smooth gravy and incredible flavor in every bite. I always serve my Beef Bourguignon with egg noodles, but whipped potatoes would also be great. No matter how you serve it, make sure to have some good, crusty bread on hand to sop up the gravy.

This classic French stew is the ultimate in comfort food: hearty, elegant and filled with layers of delicious flavor. Just what we need to usher out this annus horribilis and welcome a brand-new year.

I wish you a happy, healthy and delicious 2021!

New Year’s Eve Beef Bourguignon

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Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced

2 ½ to 2 ¾ pounds boneless shoulder chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound baby carrots, rinsed and cut in half on the bias

2 yellow onions, cut in half and then cut into ¼-inch slices

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup cognac

1 bottle dry red wine (cabernet sauvignon, Burgundy, merlot, pinot noir)

2 cups beef broth

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 pound frozen or fresh whole onions (pearl-sized)

1 to 1 ½ pounds fresh mushrooms, stems removed, thickly sliced

Serving recommendations:

Egg or fettuccine noodles (1 pound)

Whipped Potatoes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and position rack in lower third of oven.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or large oven-safe pot. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the bacon is nicely browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate.

Use a paper towel to pat the beef cubes dry and then season them with a sprinkling of kosher salt and pepper. Working in batches, as needed, fill the pot with a single layer of beef cubes and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to a large plate and repeat until all the beef is done.

Add the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper to the fat in the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 more minute.

Add the cognac, stand back and ignite with a long match or lighter to burn off the alcohol. Let the flames go for 10 to 15 seconds and then cover the pot to extinguish the flames.

Remove cover and add the beef and bacon back to the pot. Add the bottle of wine (minus a glass for the chef to enjoy while cooking), the beef broth, bay leaf, tomato paste and thyme leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover the pot and place it in the preheated oven until the meat and vegetables are fork-tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

To prepare the mushrooms as the stew cooks: melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan, then add the sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with kosher salt and black pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter with the flour until well-combined. When the stew is removed from the oven, add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Return the pot to the stove, add the sauteed mushrooms and bring the stew to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add seasoning as desired.

Serve the hot beef bourguignon over noodles or whipped potatoes. The stew may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and reheated in the oven at 250 degrees until hot, about 20 to 30 minutes. Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.