Drunken Beef Stew

Drunken Stew

Comfort food meets sophistication in this dish, formally called Beef Bourguigon.  I have dubbed it Drunken Beef Stew, because it calls for a full bottle of red wine and 1/2 cup of cognac. This turned out to be a great make ahead option….

resulting in a nice relaxed meal on Christmas day. Last year we decided to make Paella (the rice, sausage and seafood dish) with the thinking that it would be easy, because it’s a one dish meal (at least when it finally comes together.) It actually turned out to be a ton of effort, so I had to rethink the game plan for this year.  By making this stew a day ahead, I only had to rewarm it in the oven before serving. This not only made for a much easier meal, but actually deepened the savory, rich flavor as well. Serve this stew over mashed potatoes and pair it with a salad and some crusty bread, and you have a satisfying meal that comes together in a cinch.

If you’re not familiar with Bourguigon, it’s a style that originated in the Burgundy region of France, which means to cook in a red wine sauce with mushrooms and small whole onions. I prefer to use coarsely chopped sweet onion vs. small whole onions, but either way, you can’t go wrong with this delicious beef stew recipe.

Beef Bourguignon (Drunken Beef Stew)

Serving Size: 8-10 servings


  • 8 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 pounds well trimmed boneless beef chuck (from a 7 pound chuck roast - yes it does take this much meat to yield the trimmed amount), cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 pound boiling onions (or a large or 2 medium sweet onions chopped coarsely)
  • 3/4 pound large carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 Cognac or brandy
  • 1 bottle 750 ml red Burgundy wine
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried (I highly recommend using fresh)
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sauté bacon in a heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until brown and crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Leave bacon grease in pan for browning the beef.
  • Season beef generously with salt and pepper, coat with 1/3 cup flour, using all flour. Working in batches brown beef in same pot over high heat, about 5 minutes per batch (don't overcrowd pan or beef will braise vs. brown. I split the meat into 4 separate batches.) Transfer meat to a large bowl. Add onions and carrots to same pot and sauté until light brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to bowl with beef.
  • Add 1 cup of broth and Cognac to pot and boil until reduced to a glaze, scraping up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and brown sugar.
  • Return meat and vegetables and their juices to pot. Add wine, bacon, mushrooms and thyme and 2 cups of beef broth. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and bake until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  • Note - I baked the stewed initially for 1 1/2 hours and then refrigerated (after cooling uncovered on stove top.) Before serving, I skimmed the fat off the top and let the stew sit on the counter for 1 hour. Then I placed in a 325 degree oven, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over a nice creamy batch of mashed potatoes.


Adapted from Bon Appetit May 1994 issue.


3 thoughts on “Drunken Beef Stew

  1. Yes. I did leave the bacon fat in the pan to brown the meat. That adds a lot of great flavor. As they say, everything is better with bacon (fat!) I will update the recipe so that’s clear. Would love to have an update on what you thought of this dish, if you decide to make it

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