Need help with Christmas dinner - Beef Bourguignon

Joined Jan 15, 2015
I am planning Christmas dinner for 6 adults and 6 kids (between 9 to 15 years old). Right now, I am planning to make French classic, "Beef Bourguignon".
I thought that because it should be easy to make for those number of people.

But, what would be a nice option for the carbohydrate? Something cheesy and with lots of crust to compensate the stew-y texture of the beef bourguignon.
Anyone can suggest something?

And also, what would you suggest as first course? I need something simple to make and I can prepare at least 1 day in advance.

Now, back at the beef bourguignon, I have never made that, but I watched many times from video and television. One thing about this, it usually use dutch iron oven pan, and put it in the oven at a long time. I don't have such pan :) But, I am thinking to just simmer it at very low temperature on a stove. Would that work?

Joined Sep 5, 2008
Best accompaniment for Boeuf Bourguignon is fresh pasta IMO, along with a nice crusty freshly baked bread loaf.

If that's not what you're looking for then you could consider crusty roasted potatoes. Or for something fancier, fondant potatoes. Or if you really want crispy, some kind of hash brown variation? I wouldn't personally consider anything with cheese as I would be worry that the cheese would take away from the complexity and depth of flavor of the BB's braising liquor.

You can simmer Boeuf Bourguignon on the stove top, yes, it's fine. Are you going to make it along with all the traditional accoutrement? Little onions "glacés à brun", lardons, mushrooms, carrots glacées....

What I like to do to get a very tasty Boeuf Bourguignon:
- Take time searing all beef cubes in batches on all sides, not too quickly, to develop a nice caramelization.
- Singer: add flour and cook it.
- Bit of tomato triple concentrate: cook it.
- Roast big chunks of carrot, onions, some garlic, celery in the oven to a DARK caramelization to add to the braising liquid.
- Don't forget the thyme and bay leave.

Lately I've been experimenting with Harold McGee's recommendation for braising meat, braising uncovered in the oven at low temps... but that doesn't apply if you're going to braise on the stovetop.
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Everything I was going to suggest was written by FF...

If fresh pasta too intensive, a good quality dried egg noodle works well too. Cook in salted water, coat with a bit of butter, toss with parsley and pepper, and serve.

Salad for first course? Green salad, perhaps, with a homemade dressing? Fancy it up with a deviled egg... those old fashioned treats seem to have made a comeback. Top deviled egg with a poached shrimp for extra holiday treat. Or... a classic French grated carrot salad, which can easily be prepared the day before.
Joined Jan 15, 2015
Thank you for all the feedback.

FF, right on point for that cheese :) I will scrap that idea. And I will ask my guests which one they prefer, rusty roast potatoes or fresh pasta. Yes, I will try to use all those components, little white onions, button mushrooms and bacon (I found cubed bacon).

Green salads with deviled eggs and poached shrimps sounds delicious!
Joined Nov 15, 2012
You don't need anything but a big pot for the oven. Get it going on the stove then into the oven. Use a "drinkable" red for the wine, nothing too cheap, and it can be a Zin, Cab, the traditional Pinot/Burgundy, or really any red you like.

To save time of making a stock just cut some carrots to nice sized chunks or burnt carrot coins better, add cellery seed and some decent beef concentrate. But at least brown up some cipolinis or boiling onions and baby bellas to add at the end.

Roast potatoes is a great idea, especially as some of us don't eat wheat products.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I agree with everything that's been said. My family prefers buttered egg noodles. The recipe for boeuf bourgignon is straight forward but it's the details that will take it over the top, making sure you brown each piece of beef. I prefer beef chuck over any other cut for this.

Stay with the french theme and serve a delightfully bitter salad like frissee with a bright acidic dressing to counteract the deep complex flavors of the stew.
Joined Dec 18, 2010
... or go with both, roasted potato or noodles... it’s a holiday after all. Both wouldn’t be splurging too much... and both make useful leftovers. :)

I’d second the motion for chuck but that’s my dog’s name... ha ha ha. He quivers and growls if I say that out loud!
Joined Jan 15, 2015
I forgot to ask, what kind of temperature should I look for the braising part? As I am using stove, I might try to control it using thermometer as I am not sure with the lowest setting of my stove.

And FF wrote "Lately I've been experimenting with Harold McGee's recommendation for braising meat, braising uncovered in the oven at low temps... but that doesn't apply if you're going to braise on the stovetop. "

Does that mean I must use cover during the braising? Or partly covered? :)
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I like starting this type of meal on the stove and finishing in the oven. This way I don't have direct heat hitting the bottom of the pot when the liquid thickens. I am a person that loves egg noodles but, I think this is a stand alone entree. I would serve it with a salad and a good crusty French Baguette. Keep the main meal simple and serve a nice dessert.
Serve Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon with the dinner. ..............Good luck........ChefBillyB
Joined Nov 15, 2012
The meat itself comes out better if you don't overcook, but with BB I'm more interested in the concentration and flavor, not so concerned with meat texture here. After getting things hot on the stove I do 3 hours in the oven at 300-25F (I forget which one as it's been a while). Do boil off the alcohol from the wine, I know most don't give this advice but the alcohol does produce a solvent-distilation effect and I believe you lose some aromatics from this. Pot Roast is the name given to the best cut of chuck here, it's worth the extra buck/pound.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
We made our pre-thanksgiving meal since we don’t ever host thanksgiving. My contribution to tomorrow’s feast will be corn pudding which I’ll post tomorrow but the salad I made tonight would make an excellent accompaniment to anyone’s thanksgiving meal!

This is shaved Brussels sprouts and parmesan, dressed with lemon/honey/olive oil, and tossed with toasted hazelnuts. Lots of freshly grated pepper.
Joined Jan 8, 2010
I was thinking maybe garlic mushrooms as a starter...
The side for me would be maybe roughly mashed potatoes, or rice, maybe noodles.
You can easily make this on the stove. Just keep the fire low. It should be a slow braise.

Over time I have noticed that Americans seem to use the oven a lot more than Europeans....
Joined Jul 13, 2012
I concur on cooking the alcohol out of the wine separately. You can do it in a pot, or if you brown your meat and starter veg separately in a skillet you can deglaze with the wine, but you must bring it to a low boil and simmer for @ 30 seconds. Taste it to see if it's ready. Same goes for white wine when I use it.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
Roasted potatoes, in the English style, are excellent and go very well with any sort of beef. They should be very crispy and perfumed with garlic and rosemary. Heston Blumenthal has explained how to do them several times, and despite his proclivities they're not difficult.

I would avoid a mushroom side with boeuf bourguignon, because the stew will already have mushrooms in it. That would go better with a beef roast.

Brussels sprouts are a great idea. If you want to go rather classical, you could do braised lettuce, but it can get pricey as each serving is about 1/2 small head of tender lettuce (Boston lettuce is perfect), and a lot of Americans will be largely unaware that lettuce is good cooked, so you could have a reception problem. Same goes for butter-braised cucumber.

Myself, I think that a proper boeuf bourguignon is so hearty and all-encompassing that you don't want much of anything to accompany it. I'd just do the potatoes and perhaps a simple salad of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

For a starter, I suggest curing your own side of good salmon. It has to be done in advance, it's easy, and it's quite luxurious. Jacques Pépin has a great recipe for this that is done by weight, so you don't have to worry about timing the cure: just mix it up, cover the salmon on both sides, wrap tight, and leave in the fridge 4-8 hours. Rinse well, pat dry, re-wrap, and it's ready to be sliced at service. Garnish with thinly-sliced red onion, capers, olive oil, and a dollop of sour cream; if you want to gild the lily, put a dollop of salmon caviar on the sour cream. Serve with a Cava, Prosecco, or Champagne.
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