Believe it or not, I first heard of Beef Boeuf Bourgignon from one of my favourite films, Julie and Julia. And, despite being a devout lover of stewed beef, my first encounter with this delicious French stew was when I moved to Scotland. Needless to say, I missed out big time.
I learned to make this well-known French paleo dish from The Domestic Man’s recipe. It was absolutely incredible, to the point that Pat, a former beef hater, requested it often. The only problem was that if you cook the dish traditionally, it takes about three hours, making it a weekend-only meal.
When my mom came for a visit in October, I wanted to make Boeuf Bourgignon for her, but, with so much sight-seeing and visiting, I didn’t have time to spend three concentrated hours cooking. So I improvised. I attempted a slow cooked version with my favourite slow-cooking beef cut: brisket. And wow, did it work! The meat was pull-apart tender, the flavour was outstanding, I felt satisfied and thoroughly warmed, and best of all, Mom loved it. Pat too.
Brisket is the chest area of the cow. It’s full of connective tissue, making it a difficult cut to oven roast, but an ideal one for slow-cooking. Any butcher will sell brisket; here in Scotland, it’s already trimmed of the connective tissues, and then rolled. If your butcher doesn’t sell brisket like this, just ask for it to be done upon buying it.
This particular recipe allows you to make a weekend meal in the middle of the week (if you want), with a little preparation and organisation. This dish is also fantastic after a long day racing, or spent outside on a cold day. It’s the perfect way to end a day.
Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket Bourgignon
*adapted from the Domestic Man’s Beef Bourgignon, Revisited
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 8 hours
1 kg beef brisket, trimmed and rolled
2 slices smoked bacon
I large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste (puree)
2 cups bone broth
375 mL red wine
2 tbsp butter
8 white mushrooms, chopped (if larger)
Sea Salt and pepper to taste
- Place your brisket on a cutting board or large plate; pat it dry with paper towel (kitchen roll). Season generously with sea salt and pepper.
- Line the bottom of your slow cooker with the strips of bacon. On top, add the chopped onion and carrot, then the garlic, Bay leaves and thyme. Finally, add the tomato paste. Pour the bone broth and red wine over top.
- Place the seasoned brisket on top of this mixture. Place the lid on your slow cooker and set to low. Cook for 8 hours.
- Thirty minutes before serving, melt the butter in a stock pot. Fry the mushrooms in this; season with sea salt and pepper. Turn off your slow cooker. Remove the beef and spoon out only the liquid into your stock pot of frying mushrooms. Bring the liquid to a boil, and reduce it in half. If you’re not sure the liquid has reduced, look at the sides of your stock pot: there should be layered lines on the inside edges. Ideally, you want about half an inch of reduction.
- As the gravy is reducing, cut off the string from the brisket and, using two forks, shred the mixture. Discard the thyme stalks and bay leaves. Return the meat to your slow cooker and turn to ‘Keep Warm.’
- Once your liquid has reduce to a gravy, return it to your slow cooker, making sure to coat the vegetables and beef.
Serve with mashed potato, cauliflower mash, or my personal favourite, mashed pumpkin.
If you’re making this mid-week, prepare your vegetables and herbs the night before – I went so far as to do up to step 2, apart from adding the liquid – we keep our house cooler. First thing in the morning, add everything to your slow cooker, as per the order above. Then, let it cook while you’re working all day. All you have to do at night is reduce the cooking liquids to a gravy, and make a mash and green veg of some kind for an accompaniment.
This dish is paleo, primal, low-carb (if serving cauliflower mash), gluten-free and dairy-free. If you use only bone broth for your liquid, it’s Whole30 compliant.