In the Old Country, you often couldn’t afford your ideal cut of beef. Young and succulent was rare. The solution? Slow cooking your meat in juices and wine to release the flavor in a beef stew, as we do for the French boeuf bourguignon. (Even if you don’t care to “waste” the wine!)
Fast forward to the 21st century, and that classic boeuf bourguignon has become simpler than ever. A quick beef stew in Instant Pot that the whole family will enjoy.
Shortcuts to the traditional recipe
The traditional beef bourguignon has been around for centuries. The very similar Coq au Vin (Chicken Stew) has been dated back to early Roman times, if you can imagine Asterix & Obelix cooking it. Both dishes have always been a go-to for busy families looking to put a meal on the table. Toss everything along with some spices from the traditional French pantry in the slow cooker and wait.
Over the years, there have been a few tried and true shortcuts established. The traditional french beef bourguignon recipe doesn’t include steamed potatoes in it, but as an aside. In the Instant pot, however, you can just toss it in, and the stew becomes even more flavorful.
I also actually prefer adding presliced frozen carrots and onions to the mix instead of the fresh ones. Because the cooking time is so long, the vegetables hold up better, instead of disintegrating. My recipe below includes chopping time, but if you can find the veggies frozen, I say go for it!
I also often toss in frozen spinach to increase the vegetable quotient. For a family meal, where you are trying to get the kids to eat, it works wonderfully.
The typical cut of meat that is used in boeuf bourguignon is not the tenderloin, but the more affordable beef chunk. I suppose you could use tenderloin if you really wanted, but it is rather more expensive and becomes overcooked in a bourguignon. The tenderloin is better reserved for a filet de boeuf on a frypan, that you can serve medium or rare.
In France, you can actually just go to your local boucherie (butcher) and ask for the type of meat for a “bourguignon”.
☞ READ MORE: Classic French Recipes remade in the Instant Pot
Cooking Beef Stew without alcohol
Boeuf Bourguignon is traditionally from the Region of Burgundy (Bourgogne) in France. So it stands to reason that they would want to combine the two delicacies that they are most famous for: Burgundy beef and Burgundy wine.
The slow cooking time is meant to assure that any alcohol has long been cooked off, and locally I see that French parents don’t hesitate to serve it to their kids. Nevertheless, for various reasons you may not want to cook with alcohol.
In this case, I would recommend adding about 1 cup of tomato sauce, or 1/2 cup of tomato paste if it is concentrated. In addition, add about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, for that extra little kick.
☞ READ MORE: Easy Guide to the French Wines
Frequently asked questions
What to serve with a boeuf bourguignon?
In France, Boeuf Bourguignon is traditionally served with grilled bread or baguette that has been lathered with garlic butter. But it can also be served with steamed potatoes, mashed potatoes or tagliatelle pasta.
As I mentioned above, if you want steamed potatoes, a quick fix is to add baby potatoes directly into the Instant pot, instead of cooking them separately. But there are many other accompaniments that go very well with beef stew, such as brown rice, white rice, green lentils, polenta, or even bulgur. If I am making rice, I tend to use a rice cooker, so it is simple enough to “set it and forget it”.
What drinks to serve with it?
A meal like Beef Bourguignon should only be served with wine. For a traditional dinner, French etiquette dictates that there are no apéritifs or other drinks during the main course. Those are reserved for the apéro hour (happy hour).
To keep the flavors consistent, pick a dry red wine from the same region as the wine you have added into the recipe. A light red from Bourgogne will keep well with the theme.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, this is one of those recipes that tastes better the next day. You can easily put aside portions in an airtight container and put in the freezer.
- 1 Kg of Beef Chunk cut into medium-sized portions
- 1 cup of lardons (or 6 strips of bacon sliced into small pieces)
- 1 cup of sliced white or button mushrooms
- 1 onion chopped up
- 1 carrot sliced
- 1/2 bottle of dry fruity red wine (Bourgogne or Pinot Noir)
- 2 cubes of beef stock (bouillon) mixed into 2 cups of water.
- 1 garlic clove chopped up
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 4 sprigs of parsley
- 1 chopped celery stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- (Optional) 6-8 Baby Potatoes
- Add the beef, bacon, and butter in the Instant pot and sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (except the flour), and set the Instant Pot to High Pressure for 45 minutes.
- Once the countdown has finished, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
- Mix in the flour with a tablespoon of water to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the Instant Pot.
- Press the Sauté button again for 5 minutes to let the sauce thicken.
- Let the Boeuf Bourguinon rest for 10 minutes on the Keep Warm function.
- Taste to add salt and pepper if necessary.
The alcohol usually cooks off by the time it is served, but if you don't want to use wine, replace it with:
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup tomato sauce (or 1/2 cup tomato paste)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1106Total Fat: 64gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 270mgSodium: 335mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 79g
Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for informational purposes only.
☞ READ MORE: ABC of French Cuisine (the Food Dictionary)
If you enjoyed that, check out our other classic French recipes that you can make in an instant pot.
Bon appétit and à bientôt !
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