Beef Bourguignon | Weekends with Maeve

It’s been one month since I returned home from the hospital with a 7 pound redhead, a newly minted carseat, and a sheet of paper entitled, “Instructions for your Newborn.” To be fair, I should tell you the sheet was double-sided and typed in small font. There was a surprising amount of useful information on it. However, I didn’t read it. That would have been a sensible approach and I was certainly not in my right mind. Instead, I struggled on my own to read the signs, expressions and cries of this strange little being. Only recently did I find the instruction sheet as I was searching about looking for Maeve’s immunization record. And, in reading it, I was sort of relieved. Yes, the fussiness is normal. Yes, the baby acne is to be expected. Yes, your child will cry for all sorts of reasons at all sorts of hours.

However, I’m not going to tell you that it’s all butterflies and rainbows around here. That would not be true. I will say life gets easier everyday. I will also say that I couldn’t be more in love with this darling girl whose smiles and cuddles brighten every moment of my day.

I am also learning lots about her, with or without the use of an instructional handout. For example, my little bun takes after her parents. She doesn’t like to be holed up inside the home. No, being housebound is just about the worst thing. She loves walks, fresh air, and riding around in a baby-carrier. This makes our lives so much more fun. Weekends are wondrous again. Indeed, last weekend we managed to hit the park, the beach, and a museum. There were no tears and, apart from a diaper disaster at the museum requiring both parents to coordinate efforts in the women’s restroom, it was relatively blissful.

I’m feeling quite grateful, but I know it’s not this easy for everyone. Certainly, this post is not intended to suggest parenthood is at all easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I can imagine, but it’s also the most rewarding.

And, in case you were wondering, I am managing to cook on a more regular basis. While I originally thought I couldn’t cook a thing, I now realize it’s all about the timing. Maeve rests frequently. Although I am unable to predict when those naps will occur, I find I can scramble about the kitchen in those quiet moments and prepare food for dinner. Or, on the other hand, K entertains Maeve with lots of questions and kisses while I cook.

Over the weekend, in addition to our outdoor activities, we managed a wonderful meal. This is admittedly a meal that was long overdue. If you’ll recall, I made two resolutions last year. First, I wanted to make a baby and, second on my agenda, was to attempt Julia Child’s classic Beef Bourguignon. I only managed to make good on one of those resolutions in 2010. So now that we find ourselves squarely in the new year with a baby in tow, it only seemed right to fulfill last year’s final resolution.

So I did it and now I have no unfulfilled resolutions or regrets.  Beef Bourguignon is absolutely wonderful. The flavors are full and deep. The richness is unimaginable and makes you feel like you should be waltzing around in red velvet with a crown on your head. It’s the perfect dish for this cold snap when you’re indoors for hours and you have the time to attempt a more complex dinner affair. But don’t get me wrong. The complexity of this dish is due to the time it takes to cook and the preparation involved. The techniques are neither difficult nor laborious. In fact, with a helper in the kitchen, this is an easy meal to prepare for your family. Just be sure you have time on your hands to wait for the meat to cook slowly. You won’t be sorry. The slow cooking process is what allows all the flavors to really come together.

I certainly hope you do find the time to attempt this Beef Bourguignon recipe. The reward is superb. The meal will impress even your snobbiest foodie friends and the leftovers will feed you for days. And, while this isn’t your easy mommy meal, it’s certainly possible with a little time and patience. I swear.

Beef Bourguignon

6 oz. uncooked smoked bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
4 medium sized yellow onions, ( 1 sliced and the remainder cut into 1/2 inch chunks)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
3 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Fry bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the dish with the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and 1 sliced onion until tender. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes.

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the remainder of the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, stirring them so they will brown as evenly as possible.

Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to foam, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve or strainer set over a saucepan.

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes or noodles. Or, enjoy with a good crusty bread. Garnish it with parsley.

Adapted* from Julia Child.

*Adapted? Yes! Although my little one likes to go to the store, her mama likes to make one trip and must be satisfied with the ingredients available to her at the local market and those inside her cupboards.

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  • January 27, 2011 - | Permalink

    Beautiful. The photos, the baby, the food! You inspire me and I am so happy for you and your little blessing.

  • January 27, 2011 - | Permalink

    You amaze me.

    The recipe, though it takes some time…is a classic and so delish. Thank you for that reminder!

    Your daughter is an amazing little life!
    How wonderful that she loves to be outside and out on the town.

    Take care, xo e

  • January 27, 2011 - | Permalink

    Beef Bourguignon and a baby? Two amazing resolutions and both accomplished in due time. Congrats again on the little one, she is absolutely beautiful!

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  • January 27, 2011 - | Permalink

    I have to ask, how on earth did you get the insides of your pot so clean? After simmering a stew for so long mine would be splattered like crazy! I’m sure it’s just some photo editing or staging, but if you’ve got the magic secret I want to hear it! Looks lovely and I love a good boeuf bourguignon.

  • January 27, 2011 - | Permalink

    Love this recipe! I made it for the first time last year! I agree, its so full & rich!

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    That beef Bourgignon looks so tasty and comforting! Beautiful. I love that 2nd picture.



  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    Your managing quite well! Lovely to see and the beef looks great. I’ve never made this dish, but one of these days…….

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    Oh she is just a doll!!!

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    I think the beef industry was very happy about that movie. Julie and Julia. The duck people sure wish they had put some duck in it. I too have made that dish and it is amazing.

    Adjusting to life with a newborn… Goodness it is a big adjustment. I had a hard time with the no sleep bit. Every stage brings about something different to adjust too. Its all good though, right? Because every stage has something wonderful too.

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    Oh my, it’s been a month already? I’m currently fighting off a cold I hope to conquer before this baby is born. Don’t want to go into those tough first days with a cold!

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    Oh, this looks delicious! I really want to try it. It would certainly be a more ambitious endeavor for me!

    Thank you for posting more pictures of Maeve! She is so stinkin’ cute.

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    She’s such a cutie. So glad to see you’re back to cooking. Good to know it’s still possible with a new born!

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    Oh Robin. What a sweet post! Love those photos! It sounds like you are doing fabulously well. I don’t think I left the house for that first month and I know I didn’t cook. Both my kids had terrible acne and cradle cap. It goes away in a few months. Can’t wait to meet her!

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    Love the museum pictures…so glad that you’re able to get out and about! I’ve never attempted this recipe before…but always wanted to. Perhaps I’ve found my weekend project? :)

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    This is our go-to beef bourguignon recipe as well. Is it terrible that we even have a “go-to beef bourguignon recipe”?? Regardless, it’s one of the more manageable French classics, and as you know, filling and delicious. Restorative, too, if you ask me… much like the art museum. I barely know you, but you have no idea how happy the photo of you, Maeve and the classics made me! Culture is so important, especially when you start young, and in front of an Impressionist piece (van Gogh or Monet?).



  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    Oh, I love this sweet post. The meal, the pics of you, K and little M at the museum. Beautiful.

  • January 28, 2011 - | Permalink

    She’s adorable! I’m with you, parenting isn’t that easy but it’s manageable :)

  • January 29, 2011 - | Permalink

    Way to go for making Beef Bourgignion with a newborn to care for, you’re my hero!
    It’s nice to have a baby who is ‘portable’, it makes life with a newborn much more enjoyable when you can get out of the house. I was lucky that way too.

  • January 29, 2011 - | Permalink

    I love your photos just as much as your writing. Love it all. I’m glad that you are enjoying your little one. She is jsut to cute

    Glad that you got your 2 resolutions done with. Win win

  • January 29, 2011 - | Permalink

    Boeuf Bourguignon is quite a feat with a newborn on your hands! I’m happy things are going well with your little one.

  • January 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    She grows more beautiful every time we see her, Robin. I’m glad that things are going well and how wonderful to have completed all your resolutions from last year :). I can’t yet imagine either the joy or responsibility of having a child but hope to one day.

  • January 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    Nice work! I’ve never seen a new mom, only a month in, make beef bourguignon. I’m so pleased to hear everything is going so well.

  • January 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    Yup. Just as I suspected. She’s absolutely perfect.

    (Oh, and the beef looks lovely, too.)

  • January 30, 2011 - | Permalink

    Your little bundle is just gorgeous! I love the red hair. I agree, parenting is not all wine and roses but it is indeed so rewarding :) And you are a goddess for making beef bourguignon at just 1 month! At that time I was nowhere near as organized…

  • January 31, 2011 - | Permalink

    Much like parenting, Julia’s beouf bourguinon soup is a labor of love. I’ve made this before, and while there are several steps, it is doable and well worth the effort. I hope your family is doing well. I’m taking much delight in seeing how quickly Maeve is changing. Take care.

  • February 1, 2011 - | Permalink

    The beef bourguignon looks wonderful. Maeve is a cutie!!

  • February 1, 2011 - | Permalink

    Maeve is just lovely!

  • February 1, 2011 - | Permalink

    my sister also had a baby, just last week, and your life sounds a lot like what she tells me on multiple emails and skype conversations… as long as you’re happy parents i think it’s all good! and i see you nurture yourself well, very well in fact!

  • February 1, 2011 - | Permalink

    Maeve is beautiful. And, congratulations on the boeuf bourguignon! It’s a staple in our house… especially good for tiding over the winter months. And because there’s just two of us, we can usually stretch it for about 3 days.


  • February 2, 2011 - | Permalink

    Hey Robin (and K)! First, I just want to tell you that I hope your completely new life is growing on you (smile). It must be so hard and so wonderful all at once.
    Ooh, and I knew you’d find time to cook, Robin. Your beef bourguignon looks amazing. That is temptation food right there, even for this vegetarian;) Yum!

  • February 3, 2011 - | Permalink

    A perfect winter meal, it sounds like heaven. And your family is absolutely darling.

    Also, by casserole, do you mean dutch oven? I can’t imagine lifting my dutch oven AND pouring liquid to strain into a saucepan. At least not without a giant mess and me most likely in tears. ;)

  • February 10, 2011 - | Permalink

    Perfect winter food. I find the whole adjustment to having a new born at home amazing. For me, kitchen time got more predictable once she was on a semi-regular nap schedule. :)

  • May 1, 2011 - | Permalink

    I love the comment you made that you want to make two things this year a baby and julia childs recipe,, you made me smile,,do you suppose that one day in the future you will be the grandmother reading some beautiful young womans blog because she reminds you of your daughter and you can relate to the contents of the blog because of a lovely grand daughter quite close in age,, well thats me right now.I love to read your blog,, it touches my heart,,

    • redmenace
      May 3, 2011 - | Permalink

      Hi Laurie,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I meant to tell you that earlier. It really made my day! Maybe even my week? You’re delightfully sweet and I appreciate it dearly!

  • December 30, 2012 - | Permalink

    maeve is a peach! and this bourguignon looks incredible. i was just thinking that i need to braise something soon…

    • redmenace
      January 14, 2013 - | Permalink

      Thanks for your sweet comment. I hope you’re well. Have you come and gone from Seattle already? What did you think?!

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