Sunday, 19 February 2012

Beef Cheeks Bourguignon: A Hearty Stew

Boef Bourgignon aka Boeuf à la Bourguignonne is a classic French dish originating, as its name indicates, from the Burgundy region, as do a number of other dishes incorporating red wine, such as coq au vin and oeufs en Meurette. I've been meaning to try the latter ever since our last trip; I'll try and blog that one soon.

So back to the beef: this hearty stew is characterised by a slow braise of beef in red wine, which renders the meat tender and succulent, and the addition of bacon, pearl onions and button mushrooms. Most recipes use shoulder or stewing steak and combine beef stock with red wine for the braising liquid.

I decided to use beef cheeks, as I love the way these break down with slow cooking. I used shallots instead of pearl onions. And I substituted some dark ale for the beef stock, just because. These slight variations on the traditional version turned out extremely well!

This is a very easy dish, though you'll need some time at the start, to prep all the ingredients and separately brown the beef pieces, mushrooms and shallots.

The amounts are flexible, to make it easier to do your shopping. These minor variations really won't make a difference to the final result! Even if you're cooking for one or two, I recommend making this recipe in the quantities below and freezing the extra portions for another time.


Kavey's Beef Cheeks Bourguignon

Serves 6

1-1.2 kilos beef cheeks, trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces

2-3 tablespoons seasoned flour
Vegetable oil for cooking
200 grams bacon in cubes or short strips
200-300 grams button mushrooms, cut in half if large
300-400 grams shallots
2 medium-large onions, diced
1 bottle full-bodied red wine
250 ml dark ale
1 sprig fresh thyme or teaspoon dried
2-3 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme or teaspoon dried


  • Dredge each piece of beef in seasoned flour.
  • In a large lidded casserole dish – big enough for all the meat, onions, mushrooms, wine and liquid – heat a little cooking oil and fry the floured beef pieces until the surfaces are crusty and brown with caramelisation. Do this in batches so the meat doesn't steam. Set aside the browned beef.
  • Add more cooking oil if necessary to brown the mushrooms in the same pan, then set aside.
  • Now do the same for the shallots, and set them aside with the mushrooms.
  • Again, add more oil to the empty pan, if necessary, and fry the bacon and onions until the onions soften and the bacon takes on a little colour.
  • To the bacon and onions, add back the beef pieces plus the bay leaves, thyme, red wine and dark ale.
  • Leave to simmer for 3 hours, with the lid on.
  • Add the mushrooms and shallots back to the dish and cook for another 30-45 minutes, uncovered, on a gentle simmer. The time depends on the size of your shallots, as you want to ensure they are cooked through and soft. Leaving the lid off will also allow the sauce to reduce a little further.


Serve with buttery mash potatoes, or plain steamed potatoes if you want to be more traditional.


Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

Am literally fighting my way out of the door to get to your house. Don't hold me back. This stew is heaven in a bowl and nothing can stop me!

Anonymous said...

Geez that looks good. Bring on winter here, I want to make this!

Gary Phillips said...

I love ox cheeks, they're my favourite cut of meat at the moment. Yesterday I made Chinese sticky beef with them. (It's on my blog).

Anonymous said...

Heh, I randomly made something similar last night, just with braising steak as my butcher didn't have anything more unusual and only with ale (plus stock). Very good, though, as was the buttery horseradish mash.

Ute@HungryinLondon said...

Delicious! the best for long and cold winter nights, I think I will have to give it a try.

S said... the sound of this dish so much- can never have it in restaurants bec of the addition of bacon. made it at home a few times - but have been slapped on the wrist for calling it a bourguignon- without pork, it is not a true bourguignon, i am told :) lovely post, Kaves. x s

German said...

Very nice, Ox cheeks are a real delicacy in Spain as weel

Swedish Mike said...

This looks ace. I've just recently cooked ox cheeks for the first time myself and treated right they are just great.

I think I'll try your recipe the next time.

Thanks for the inspiration!

// Mike

James Brewer said...

Oh yes, never tried beef cheeks before - but I want a bowl of this now! I like your twist on it as well.

MartinBlackwell said...

I had 12 hour beef cheeks at Chez Guy in Gevrey-Chambertin. Absolute heaven.

Vanessa Kimbell said...

I mean to go to bed right now.. but have spent the past 20 minutes with eyeballs hurting reading your blog!.