Find out why Anthony Bourdain’s boeuf bourguignon is one of our most popular recipes ever – The Washington Post

We don’t always know exactly why. Sometimes, it’s something very search-friendly. In one case, it’s a quirk of Internet indexing. In any event, Anthony Bourdain’s boeuf bourguignon is one of those entries, repeatedly breaking into our most-viewed recipes of the year. The secret sauce? I’m guessing some combination of a famous personality, a classic dish and, well, a darn good sauce, coaxed into rich, silken luxury over two-plus hours of cook time. At close to 200 ratings, with an average score of 4½ stars (out of 5), this is one of our highest- and most-rated recipes.

The recipe first appeared in the Food section in 2004 in a piece by former Post staffer Judith Weinraub about three cookbooks focused on French bistro cooking: Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris,” Bourdain’s “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook” and Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon.” “Garten’s book is a collection of accessible recipes for meals to serve family and friends. Bourdain’s is a thoughtful guide to classic dishes. And Keller’s is a daunting but inspirational road map to a higher culinary plane,” Weinraub wrote. She had the clever idea to examine the differences in each book’s approach through the lens of boeuf bourguignon, a classic dish featuring beef braised in red wine (i.e. Burgundy) and often including onions and mushrooms.

Garten’s quicker version includes some home-cook-friendly shortcuts, while Keller’s requires more than two dozen ingredients, some prepared multiple ways. Bourdain’s falls neatly in the middle, with the shortest ingredient list, leaning more on time than excessive preparation. The emphasis is on the meat and the sauce — ideally served with some potatoes or bread to help you savor every last drop.

The brief intro at the top of the recipe is exactly the kind of summary you’d expect from Bourdain, the globe-trotting and outspoken chef, TV host and author who took his own life in 2018. “This dish is much better the second day. Just cool the stew down in an ice bath, or on your countertop (the Health Department is unlikely to raid your kitchen). Refrigerate overnight. When time, heat and serve. Goes well with a few boiled potatoes. But goes really well with a bottle of Cote de Nuit Villages Pommard.” Informative, funny and a little snarky.

I’ll add a few more tips of my own. As far as the wine, don’t be turned off by the Burgundy denomination. Burgundy (in this case red) refers to wine made in the Burgundy region of France. Red Burgundy is made with pinot noir grapes, so feel free to grab a bottle labeled as pinot noir that fits within your price range. Make it something you will drink — only 1 cup is used in cooking, and you’ll want to sip the rest while you enjoy the dish. Pat your meat as dry as you can before cooking to limit the amount of splattering while you sear. You’ll want to stay within reach during the 2 to 2½ hours of braising time so that you can stir and scrape occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot.

Like most stews, this one lasts several days in the fridge, improving over time. It also freezes well, meaning you can put in the initial investment and reap the rewards in the days or weeks to come. Or dare I say years, as proved by the lasting power of this recipe.

Recipe notes: Demi-glace is a concentrated sauce typically made with a meat stock and sometimes wine; it is available in the soup aisle of large grocery stores.

For best flavor, ideally, this dish should be made one day in advance. The stew will keep up to three days in the refrigerator and two to three months in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave and finish heating through on the stovetop.

Scale and get a printer-friendly, desktop version of the recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless beef shoulder or neck (chuck), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup red Burgundy wine (such as pinot noir)
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bouquet garni (a tied bundle of herbs, typically thyme, bay and parsley)
  • Water
  • Demi-glace (optional; see headnote)
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Step 1

Thoroughly pat the meat dry with paper towels and generously season it with salt and pepper.

Step 2

In a Dutch oven over high heat, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Working in several batches, and without moving the meat much, sear the meat on all sides until well browned, adding more oil as needed. (If you try to cook too much meat at once, it will steam and turn gray instead of brown.) Once the meat is well browned, transfer to a plate.

Step 3

Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the onions and any remaining oil to the pot. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the onions have softened and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and, using a wooden spoon, stir, scraping up all the browned bits (fond) off the bottom of the pot.

Step 4

Once the wine starts to boil, return the meat and its accumulated juices to the pot, and add the carrots, garlic and the bouquet garni. Add 1 1/2 cups of water (and about 2 tablespoons of demi-glace, if you have it). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the meat is tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, skimming off any foam or oil that might accumulate on the surface. Check on the stew every 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching or sticking. As you check on the stew, continue adding 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water, as needed, up to 2 1/2 to 3 cups total — to ensure there is enough liquid to cook down and concentrate. If the stew begins to stick, reduce the heat to low. The onions should fall apart, creating a thick, rich sauce that coats the meat.

Step 5

When the stew is done, discard the bouquet garni, taste and season with more salt, if desired. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.

Nutrition Information

(Based on 8 servings.)

Calories: 414; Total Fat: 29 g; Saturated Fat: 10 g; Cholesterol: 81 mg; Sodium: 129 mg; Carbohydrates: 12 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 21 g.

Adapted from “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking,” by Anthony Bourdain with Jose de Meirelles and Philipe Lajaunie (Bloomsbury USA, 2004).

Scale and get a printer-friendly, desktop version of the recipe here.