Beef Bourguignon is a classic French stew with beef in a red wine sauce. This has been a favorite of mine for years. As I have gotten into pressure cooking, I have developed this recipe for Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon.
It appears some form of Beef Bourguignon has been around for years. I found a good discussion of the history at this site. However, apparently most Americans were introduced to it by Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This book was first published in 1961. We have a DVD of old Julia Child TV shows where she demonstrates how to make Beef Bourguignon. You can buy that episode at Amazon for $1.99.
Our main Julia Child cookbook is The Way to Cook, published in 1989. In this cookbook she has a master recipe for what she calls Zinfandel of Beef. The Beef (or Bouef) Bourguignon is a spinoff from this recipe that adds mushrooms and braised pearl onions.
Most Beef Bourguignon recipes also call for bacon. Julia Child, in my cookbook and her French Chef video, does not use bacon. I like the flavor bacon adds so I definitely use it.
It seems that beef, red wine, pearl onions and mushrooms are the most common ingredients in Beef Bourguignon. However, like many recipes (including one from Julia Child) I like to add carrots.
I will also add potatoes and on occasion I admit to leaving out the mushrooms. Personally, myself and two out of three of my kids, are not mushroom fans. I only add them when I am cooking for a mushroom loving audience.
In her TV show, the French Chef, Julia Child went to great pains to show how to peel and braise pearl onions. That is a major pain. I simply pie frozen pearl onions and add them to the pot.
In France Beef Bourguignon was generally made from Burgundy red wine. Julia Child suggests Zinfandel or another young red wine. I am somewhat cheap when it comes to adding red wine to cooking. I go with a $3 Charles Shaw Merlot (formerly known as 2-buck Chuck).
Thrillist had a sommelier test Charles Shaw and he gave a high rating to the Merlot saying:
If I hadn’t seen the labels of all eight beforehand, I’d take this for a cheap impersonation of a Loire Cabernet Franc.
When it comes to the beef stock our family is a big fan of Better than Bouillon. You simply stir the desired amount into hot water. One jar makes 38 cups.
In terms of what meat to use, Julia Child recommends chuck. I will use chuck but have also found a nice pre-cut stew beef from Costco. This is a select cut which I think actually works better in a stew as it is leaner. We have had great results with this cut and it is only about $3 a pound.
Julia Child emphasizes drying the beef before browning. I take it a step further and coat the beef in a very light flour mixture. Flour helps with the browning process by drying out meat.
Our recipe is for Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon. This cuts down on the 3 to 4-hour cooking time. However, more importantly in my opinion is it provides for more intense flavor.
Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon can be a one pan dish. However, I have found that it is easier to use both a skillet and the Instant Pot for browning the bacon and beef. Julia Child stresses not crowding the pan when browning. You can either do this by cooking in batches or cooking some in the Instant Pot and some in a skillet on the stove.
One thing about Instant Pot cooking is that you need to add additional time for the pressure to build. I have found that with Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon it can take 30 to 40 minutes to build to the pressure where the official 35-minute cooking time starts.
The main liquid is red wine and beef broth. Julia Child uses a combination of about 5 to 6 cups total. I lower that to 4 and it comes out with plenty of liquid. Depending on how strong you like the red wine taste you can adjust the ratios. You can also add a paste mixture of flour and water if the sauce is too thin (I have never had to do this).
Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon is great for leftovers. It actually tastes better the next day when flavors combine. You can figure on getting about one serving per half pound of meat. Personally, for the Instant Pot I would probably not go over 5 pounds in one batch. The classic way to serve this is over egg noddles.
Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon
This is a classic beef stew in red wine sauce inspired by Julia Child
- 3 pounds chuck brisket or stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 strips bacon cubed
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 4 carrots cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks (optional)
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 12 oz pearl onions
- 2 pound potatoes cut into 2-inch cubes (optional)
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms optional
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoon masa harina or flour combined with equal amount of water optional
Combine flour salt and pepper in a bowl. Pat beef cubes with paper towel to dry. Add beef cubes and stir to coat.
Set Instant Pot to Sauté. Add oil and heat. Add bacon slices and beef and cook about 5 minutes until brown. Cook in batches if pan is too crowded. Turn off Pot.
Add wine and beef broth and stir to deglaze.
Add remaining ingredients. Seal and cook at high pressure for 35 minutes. Allow to natural release for 10 minutes.
If sauce needs thickening add a mixture of equal parts water and flour or masa harina until it reaches desired consistency.
Serve over noodles.