Dish Spotlight: Boeuf Bourguignon

The name might sound like a mouthful in its own right, but boeuf bourguignon (or Burgundy-style beef) is a dish that is surprisingly easy to make, once you’ve started learning to cook. Its rich, delicious flavors are great on a cold day, and are guaranteed to impress everyone who gathers around your table. To make the dish, you’ll need to learn a number of different cooking techniques.As you master them one by one, you’ll be able to combine everything you’ve learned to make this legendary dish.

Boeuf bourguignon actually started as a staple dish among peasants in the Burgundy region of France. Using modest cuts of beef that the well-heeled citizens didn’t want, a few humble vegetables and the ubiquitous wines of the region, people with the most meager incomes created a dish that is now considered one of the best in the world.

Julia Child brought the dish to a new level of prominence in her renowned book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” In the book, she showed countless home cooks that French cuisine – including boeuf bourguignon – was not as impossible to achieve as they thought.

In short, the dish is essentially wine-braised beef, but that description doesn’t quite capture its deliciousness. It also incorporates bacon (the fat from which is used in sautéing and browning the beef), mushrooms, pearl onions and a variety of herbs, like bay leaf and thyme. The wine used to simmer the dish is traditionally a Burgundy variety, but if you don’t have that on hand, any young, full-bodied red will do (think cabernet sauvignon, syrah or malbec).

The dish does require a bit of time and attention, so plan on making it when you won’t be rushed. As you gather cooking advice and watch online cooking lessons, keep in mind that each technique you learn will help to make you a well-rounded cook. Try your hand at a classic boeuf bourguignon, adapted from Julia Child’s recipe. In no time, you’ll be able to try your hand at more complex dishes that really show off your skills.

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