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Vin Chicago Blog


Perfect Beef Bourguignon

Cold, damp November weather gets me thinking about red wines and “comfort” food. Recently, a close friend had her knee operated on, so we thought it would be fun to bring a meal over to keep her off her feet a bit. Beef Bourguignon is terrific when the weather is cold. 

I have a favorite restaurant that makes a great one and one day I was excited because they published the recipe in the local newspaper, but it didn’t taste the same when I made it. I wondered if maybe they left an ingredient out. I set out to find the recipe I liked by sorting through a dozen or so recipes and actually making about a half dozen of them. From that, I created the recipe we’ve used ever since (see the recipe below). 

One of the edits I made to the recipe is that I often make it with Zinfandel instead of red Burgundy/Pinot Noir. I found the result is more flavorful. That said, the resulting stew is still a great match for Pinot! When we had it this past weekend, I actually made it with a Castano Monastrell that sells for well under $10 (the recipe calls for a full bottle). We paired it with a Russian River Valley, an Anderson Valley, and Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. All worked very well, with the Russian River Valley getting the most votes for the best match. It was a big, bold, fruit-forward Pinot with high alcohol, but the Beef Bourguignon was so flavorful (including a bit of fat from bacon – which, BTW, I think was the ingredient left out of the recipe when published), that the alcohol didn’t show through at all. If you’re looking for a wonderful meal that pairs well with wine, try Beef Bourguignon!


Beef Bourguignon (serves six)

1 tablespoon olive oil                                  
2 bay leaves
2 ½ lbs. of beef stew meat, cut into 1” cubes 
4 strips of bacon                                        
3 tablespoons flour
1 12 oz. bag of baby carrots                        
1 bottle of Pinot Noir or Zinfandel
1 onion, chopped                                        
2 cups beef broth
2 ribs celery, chopped                                 
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cloves chopped garlic        
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (1/2 if dried) 
Salt & pepper      

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate covered with paper towels.  Cut into ½” to 1” pieces when cool.

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/bacon fat, turning to brown on all sides.  Remove the seared cubes to a separate plate and continue searing until all the beef is browned.  Set aside.

To the pot add the carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaves.  Salt and pepper them, then toss in the pot over medium heat until brown.  During the last minute or two, throw in the garlic (it’s not good to throw in the garlic immediately, because it may become too burned).

Return the beef to the pan and sprinkle with flour. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the flour is completely absorbed. 

Add the bacon, thyme, tomato paste, beef broth and bottle of Pinot Noir or red Zinfandel. (Note on the wine: don’t use a bottle you wouldn’t drink.  That doesn’t mean you have to use an expensive bottle though! Using Zin or even a Spanish Monastrell brings more intensity to the overall flavor. The subtlety of a red Burgundy/Pinot Noir can get lost with all the other ingredients). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Cover. Remove from the stovetop and transfer to the oven with the cover on the pot for 1 hour. Remove the cover from the pot and cook another hour until tender and the sauce has thickened to a desired consistency. Remove bay leaves. Place beef bourguignon over mashed potatoes and serve with a great Pinot Noir or Zin from Vin Chicago!

Meet 37-Year Vin Chicago Veteran Jim Buckley!
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