This dish goes great served over a hot bed of freshly cooked egg noodles, but can just as easily be served over rice, chewy French bread (that actually sounds really good right now) or even act as a standalone type of stew if you want. Personally however, I will always prefer it served over egg noodles because that is how it was served to me years ago when I had my first taste of this incredibly delicious meal. The rich flavor of the Burgundy compliments the beef perfectly, and I am being absolutely honest here. Seriously, I can’t stop taking one spoonful after another as it simmers on the stove, making sure it tastes just right. After all, there’s usually a little bit of flavor juggling as I call it going on while this dish cooks. It isn’t anything complicated, but since the beef is going to be simmering for about an hour, some of the water is going to boil away leaving the dish tasting too intense. But don’t worry, it will work out fine as I will show you later.
So when I mentioned the water slowly evaporating as the beef simmers in the sauce, what I was talking about is something known as a reduction. If you aren’t familiar with the term, don’t worry I will discuss it more in depth in just a minute. If you are familiar with reductions, well you might just want to skip this next paragraph. Before I talk about what a reduction is however, I want it to be known that we aren’t specifically trying to use the technique in this dish, it just so happens that we well be simmering the beef in a mixture of water and beef bouillon. As the water evaporates, the flavor will become more intense as there will be the same amount of beef bouillon but less water. This is how I was taught to make it, but if you really want to just plain make things easier on yourself, simply saute the beef and garlic first and then throw them in a pot of water to simmer for an hour. Don’t even mess with the beef bouillon at this point if you don’t want. You can always add it later when it comes time to pour in the Burgundy…
Sorry, I seriously just went into the kitchen and ate some cold leftover beef Burgundy. It was delicious and I apologize. Anyway, getting back on track here, when it comes to cooking, a reduction is the process of intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup or sauce. But don’t think you are limited to only that, because all sorts of stocks and wines can be reduced as well. Reductions are performed by boiling or simmering a liquid until the desired flavor is reached. This process not only intensifies the flavor, but it usually thickens the liquid as well. Water vapor must be free to escape, so lids can’t be used. Think of it as a sort of distillation process, where the goal is to get rid of the components with the lowest evaporation points, and capture the components that have the highest.
Just so I don’t make this post ridiculously long, I think I’m going to do everyone a favor and save the whole reduction discussion for a separate post. Let’s get back to the business on hand. Now would be a good time to say something else about the beef. One of the great things about this dish, among many, is the fact that there is no special cut of beef you need to purchase. At least not for this recipe. If you want to go out and buy an expensive piece of meat and use it for this recipe, well that’s up to you, but I wouldn’t recommend it since it’s going to get boiled until tender. So if you don’t feel like shelling out a bunch of money for that New York strip, do your self and your wallet a favor and settle on some basic chopped up stew meat. It will taste excellent regardless.
I like to chop the onions up into squares roughly half inch by half inch; large enough that they have some substance to them after simmering for a while, but not too thick as to be overpowering. Purchasing sliced mushrooms from the produce section (please make sure you don’t accidentally grab canned mushrooms as that will disqualify you and the dish from being awesome) will save you some time. Once the beef has been simmering for an hour or so and the mushrooms and onions have been lightly sauteed, be prepared for your neighbors to start knocking on your door wondering where the delicious smells are coming from. And that’s only for starters, because once the beef bouillon and the Burgundy get thrown in the mix you’re probably gonna make a bunch of new friends. Well hopefully anyway.
If you decide to simmer the chunks of beef in the bouillon, you will need to adjust the amount of water accordingly as it evaporates. So think of the recipe below as more of a guideline. After all, what you find tastiest is what goes. Oh and before I go, there are a couple of things I would like to go over about the roux that will be used to thicken the sauce. Before adding the roux though, taste the sauce and make sure it is just a touch more flavorful than you would otherwise feel it should be. That’s because the roux is going to tone it down just a little, and with any luck that is exactly where you want it to be.
This isn’t Cajun cooking either, so there is no need to blacken the roux. If you are at all unfamiliar with roux (rhymes with goo) just know that it is used as a thickening agent. If you want to do things by the book, you should save the grease from the beef after it’s been sauteed. But that won’t provide enough to thicken the entire dish, so you will need to use additional oil. Vegetable oil works just fine. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and then add the flour keeping in mind that it needs to be stirred often or it will burn. Some sort of rubber whisk works best in this situation so you don’t scrape up the bottom of your pans. The mixture shouldn’t be clumpy, if it is you will need to add a little more oil until it smooths out. Keep stirring the roux while maintaining heat but don’t let it burn. If it does, you’ll know it.
The roux needs to reach a certain temperature before it starts working, so as long as your Beef Burgundy sauce is simmering when you add the roux, it should thicken up pretty quickly for you. Be careful with the roux though, it gets quite hot and can cause some painful burns if you are being careless.
By: Semiserious Chefs
- 1 lb. beef (chopped in squares)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4-5 cups water (depending on method of cooking)
- 2 tablespoons “Better Than Bouillon” beef base (if using powder, more may be required)
- 1/2 medium onion chopped in squares
- 3/4 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup Burgundy wine – or more if you want : )
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup flour (all purpose)
- Begin by chopping the 1lb of beef into cubes if they aren’t already precut from the store. Definitely keep them no larger than an inch cubed.
- Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to your skillet over medium-high heat and saute the beef for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the 2 cloves of minced garlic and saute for 1-2 more minutes.
- Place sauteed beef and garlic in a large sauce pan and add 4 cups water. (you can add more if you want more sauce)
- Simmer on medium heat for at least an hour. You can simmer the meat with or without the 2 tablespoons of beef base, but either way you will probably end up adding more water as it evaporates. It really comes down to your personal taste. Just check it periodically and add more water or beef base as you see fit.
- While the beef is simmering chop 1/2 a medium onion into squares and measure out 3/4 cups of sliced mushrooms.
- Add the other tablespoon of vegetable oil to a medium skillet and saute the onions over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes and then add the mushrooms and saute for an addition 1-2 minutes.
- When the beef is nice and tender, after about an hour or so of simmering, add 1 cup of Burgundy wine and taste to see if there is too much beef base. If so add more water to thin it down some.
- Stir in the sauteed onions and mushrooms and get ready to make the roux to thicken it all up.
- In another skillet heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium heat and then add 1/2 a cup of flour. If it is too clumpy, continue to add a little more vegetable oil until it smooths out. Cook the roux mixing often so it doesn’t burn and carefully pour it into the beef and Burgundy sauce. Use a spatula and try not to splatter.
- Stir the Beef Burgundy until it thickens. If you are finding that it isn’t thickening as much as you want, you can always add a little more roux.
- If it doesn’t taste quite right you may need to adjust the flavor by adding more Burgundy, water, or beef base.
- Serve over a bed of egg noodles and enjoy!