François de Mélogue graduated from the New England Culinary Institute and began his career in a number of highly acclaimed kitchens, including Chef Louis Szathmary’s The Bakery in Chicago and Joel Robuchon Gastronomie in Paris. He later opened Pili Pili in Chicago, which was rated in the top ten new restaurants in the world by Food & Wine magazine. Chef François has also appeared on many TV shows, including Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games,” where his love of food and outgoing personality helped him win. He is also a cookbook author and currently works for Foods in Season, America’s foremost foraging company in the Pacific Northwest.
Francois and his wife Lisa also host amazing culinary adventures to France, showcasing the hidden gems only locals know about. This June, they’re headed to Lyon and Burgundy. For more information, click here. Use code “feastly20” for 20% off!
Boeuf a la Bourguignonne is perhaps Burgundy’s most iconic dish: a rich beef stew made famous in America by Julia Child, prepared from marinated beef simmered in local red wine with a calves foot, pearl onions, bacon lardons, herbs, and button mushrooms. In truth, cooking proteins this way seems much more a regional style than a one-off creation.
Food in France is generally about regionality; dishes become classics and mainstays, more because of geography and adapting to one’s micro climate. Burgundy is widely known throughout France (and the world) for its excellent Charollais beef, which have been raised there since 800 AD, chickens from Bresse, freshwater river fish, the fertile lands for growing vegetables around Lyon, and their outstanding wines. This dish is truly the confluence where haute cuisine meets honest bourgeois cuisine head on.
- 2 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 calves foot, split
- 1 bottle of Burgundy wine or 1 low-alcohol Pinot Noir
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 tablespoon pork or duck fat
- 1/4 pound slab bacon, cut into large dice*
- 16 small pearl onions or shallots, peeled
- 1/2 pound button mushrooms**
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 2 fat, short carrots, diced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 head garlic
- Parsley, for garnish
*I use cultivated horse mushrooms.
**I advise staying away from strongly-smoked bacon as it imparts too smoky a flavor for a dish as subtle as this.
- Put beef into a glass bowl and cover with wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Let marinate a minimum of six hours, but preferably overnight.
- Heat pork fat in large pot and add bacon. Remove when lightly browned.
- Drop your peeled pearl onions or shallots in the pot and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and reserve with bacon. Do not worry about fully cooking as they will simmer in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Sauté mushrooms in fat for a few minutes, then add to reserved bacon and onions.
- Remove beef and calves foot from marinade and pat dry. Reserve marinade. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and sauté in pot.
- When the meat is browned, add celery and carrots and continue sautéing for 5 minutes.
- Stir tablespoon of flour into vegetables.
- Add reserved marinade, stock, and garlic, then simmer for two hours. The idea is to cook the beef about ⅔ of the way. If you need to add liquid as you cook, you can add water or more beef stock.
- Remove the beef and calves foot, dicing the meat and cartilage and throwing the bones away.
- Strain the sauce, discarding the carrots and celery and garlic.
- Remove any fat floating at the top, then return the sauce, beef, and diced calves foot to the pot. Continue cooking for another hour or until the beef is done. Add the mushrooms, bacon and onions back in.
Beef a la Bourguignonne is better the next day or even four days later. It really needs time to mature so the flavors can marry. When you are ready to serve, ladle out hearty portions and serve with a starchy side like fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, macaroni gratin, pasta, or even risotto. Sprinkle with parsley and for god’s sake, drink a great Burgundy with this.
For more recipes like this one, head on over to Pistou and Pastis.