If you’re Franch, you might call this boeuf bourguignon. Yes, I did use the word “Franch” instead of French. And in my head I say it “frayanch.” Makes it classier that way. Anyhow, it’s basically beef stew with wine in it and it makes an economical piece of beef, or in this case the cheap stew beef, exultingly tender. Always in search of ways to use my slow cooker and not have to do too much work to make a good meal I tried out a recipe from my Cookinglight Slow Cooker Cookbook. I will say in advance that this either would need to be prepped the night before and then cooked the next day or start early the same morning and allot about 45 minutes to prepare everything.
The main ingredient in any beef stew: beef. This meat worked out beautifully and I liked that I didn’t have to cut raw meat up. Or spend too much money on it. And that it was natural. And lean. It’s from Trader Joe’s, obviously, but I know they sell stew meat at just about every market.

My husband loves pearl onions, I don’t know why. Maybe they make him feel like a giant? Who knows. Lots of places sell them in the frozen vegetable section already peeled. My Trader Joe’s was out of them so instead I bought these “boiling onions” at my local market. In order to peel, you drop them in boiling water for about a minute, drain, rinse in cold water and they’re supposed to just “slip” out of the skin. Yeah. Right. Perhaps they were slightly easier to peel but I still had to cut off both ends with a small knife and skin them. Worth it for the husband to feel like a giant? Totally.

This recipe didn’t call for carrots or extremely old celery but I’ve used other recipes that ask for carrots so I included them. As for the celery, it’s still pretty crisp but has lost almost all of its green color. I figured I had nothing to lose by using some of it up. And there are also more onions (the regular kind) and garlic here.

This recipe also didn’t include any type of pork product. What is the world coming to!? Oh, that’s right, it’s cooking “light.” Well I fixed that. Just browned up two pieces of bacon and then browned my beef in the bacon fat. Note here, that when browning meat for slow cooking, you are also tightening the muscle fibers and making the meat tough. If you just brown some sides of the meat and leave others raw, that water soluble brown deliciousness will still be in the sauce but you will have more tenderness. This step is not meant to cook the meat, only to get that brown stuff so don’t go too crazy.

I chopped up the bacon and threw it into the crockpot with the browned yet still pink beef.

Then throw all the vegetables into the rest of the bacon fat and beef drippings to cook them a little. When the onions are translucent, put in some flour. This will help the sauce thicken later. Next add beef broth or, what I did, water and then beef bouillon concentrate. Stir it all up and get those browned flour bits all scraped up.

Next, add the wine. Red wine. Burgundy if you have it. Just make sure it’s something you would also drink. If it’s a bad wine, mixing it into food is just going to make bad food.

Add about two tablespoons of tomato paste. You know this trick, right, where you open both ends of the can and then squeeze the paste out like a pushpop? I just used what I needed and then put the rest in a container and froze it. Stir this all up and let reduce a little.

Season your sauce with bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Try not to run out of thyme like me. Fresh or dried bay leaves work. These are previously fresh bay leaves that I put in a freezer bag and have been living in the freezer ever since.

Once the sauce has reduced a little you can mix in the vegetables or you can do this all in the slow cooker since you’ll need to mix it all together in there.

I left the mushrooms whole but I would say next time I would at the very least cut them in half, quarters or slice them. The surface was the only part with flavor and that could be helped by cutting them down a bit.

Throw it all together, stir it up with the sauce. This looks like there’s not much liquid but it ended up cooking down and having lots of liquid. In fact, I ended up cracking the lid about halfway through while this bad boy cooked on low for about eight hours. Alternatively, you could let it cook covered and then turn it up to high with the lid off until it’s reduced before you serve.

Serve over egg noodles if you’re a classic person or over mashed potatoes if you’re feeling like comfort food. This recipe could have handled more carrots, I think. Maybe even another half package of mushrooms, or so, to bulk it up a little. But the flavors were very good and it’s a keeper in my book. Besides, it made me feel classy and Franch. And it made my husband feel like a giant.

Franch Beef Burgundy

1 pound of stew beef or other roast cut into 1 in. cubes
2 pieces of bacon
2-4 carrots, diced
1-2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, sliced or diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of beef broth (or water and bouillon)
1/2 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
10 oz. of pearl onions, peeled
1 package of mushrooms, cut in half or quarters

  1. Render the fat from the bacon until bacon in browned then brown the beef about halfway in the bacon fat. Remove meat from pan, chop bacon and move all meat to slow cooker.
  2. Add carrots through garlic to the pan with the bacon fat and beef juice, cook about 3 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add flour to cooked vegetables and allow to brown slightly then de-glaze the pan with beef broth and add the wine.
  4. Season the sauce and allow to reduce slightly, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add pearl onions and mushrooms to meat in slow cooker then pour the sauce over everything. Stir until combined.
  6. Cook on low for about 8 hours and serve with egg noodles.
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