A Southern Rhône Adaptation of Beef Bourguignon

While classic Beef Bourguignon is made with red Burgundy, our version is quite a bit bolder and more intense. A friend of ours who dines somewhat frequently at our home calls this dish his “last meal wish on death row.” Dramatic imagery aside, it really is that good and it’s perfect for a cool autumn evening.

As in many situations, the secret to this dish is the wine. There are many different styles of red wine from the Rhône Valley due to the variation in grape varietals and the proportions allowed and used in the final blends. What this dish requires is a hearty Cotes du Rhône Villages or one of the 13 crus from the Southern Rhône Valley family, such as a Rasteau. Look for one with a good portion of Grenache.

Thirty minutes or so of prep work and 90 minutes of kicking back and enjoying the evening while the house fills with delicious aromas. That’s a meal to be savored on many levels.


  • 2 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  • 1 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 6 tb olive oil
  • 1 bottle of Cotes du Rhône Villages or similar wine such as a Rasteau
  • 2 tb dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 strips of nitrate-free bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 15 small pearl onions, peeled, trimmed, and left whole
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 15 small baby potatoes, preferably red, scrubbed clean
  • 1 package frozen peas
  • Parsley, finely chopped


  1. Season the beef on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Dredge the beef in the flour and set aside.
  3. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot (e.g., Le Creuset French oven) over medium to high heat and add half the oil. Add half of the beef in one layer and sear on all sides until browned. Remove and place on a plate. Add the rest of the olive oil and sear the remaining beef. Set aside on the plate.
  4. Add a small amount of the red wine and scrape the browned bits left from the beef on the bottom of the pot. Keep scraping until they are all removed, adding more wine as necessary. This can take a while but these bits are very important to the flavor of the final dish. Add the remaining wine in the bottle and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the browned beef pieces and the juice accumulated on the plate, along with the thyme and the bay leaf, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.
  6. While the beef is cooking, fry the bacon pieces until crispy in a fry pan. Set aside, leaving the bacon fat in the frying pan.
  7. Add the pearl onions to the frying pan with the bacon fat and cook until lightly browned. Add the garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat for 1 minute or until golden, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  8. After the beef has cooked for 45 minutes, add the seared pearl onions and garlic, the sliced carrots, and the whole baby potatoes to the pot with the beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the vegetables and beef are tender. Remove the bay leaf.
  9. Add a bag of peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the crispy bacon slices at the end. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Plate the dish and garnish with parsley.
  10. Serve this dish with a high quality crusty French baguette (such as that made at the Petite Boulangerie in Wellfleet) and a glass of red wine from the Rhône Valley. A simple green salad completes the meal nicely.

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