From America's Test Kitchen Season 8: Favorite Slow-Cooker Classics
Leave it to the French to make beef stew into an elegant affair. Unfortunately, when translated to the home kitchen, classic, intensely flavorful beef burgundy, also known as boeuf bourguignon, tends to lose its appeal. We’ve seen too many versions of this rustic French dish with tough meat or a dull sauce and no flavor complexity. We wanted to bring this dish to its earthy, robust, warm potential: satisfyingly large chunks of tender meat draped with a velvety sauce brimming with the flavor of good Burgundy wine and studded with caramelized mushrooms and pearl onions.
We started by rendering salt pork until crisp, then browned large chunks of beef chuck roast in the rendered fat. For the braising liquid, a combination of chicken broth and water, enhanced with a small amount of dried porcini mushrooms and tomato paste, provided balanced, well-rounded flavor. Using anything less than a full bottle of red wine (preferably a Burgundy, but a good Pinot Noir will suffice) left the sauce lacking and unremarkable. We deglazed the pan twice, used a roux to thicken the sauce, and then added the wine. Wrapping the aromatic vegetables in cheesecloth made it easy to remove them from the braising liquid. While the liquid reduced to a velvety sauce, we simmered pearl onions then sautéed them briefly with mushrooms to create the perfect garnish for our rich, tender beef.
Serves 6 to 8
Make sure to use the low setting on your slow cooker; the stew will burn on the high setting. Serve with boiled potatoes (the traditional accompaniment), mashed potatoes, or buttered egg noodles.