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My First Beef Bourguignon... slowly in a Doufeu

A black cast iron Doufeu® casserole is the latest addition to my humble kitchen. It was on sale at BHV and I was sold when Monsieur said I could make a delightful beef bourguignon that was so tender, so juicy I would have my guests begging for the recipe. How could I refuse that?

If you are a new cook like me, you’re probably wondering what a Doufeu® is. Doufeu is Doux Feu which means “Gentle Fire or Gentle Flame”. Le Creuset*, the company that makes Doufeu ® calls it a “French oven”, but it is basically a “Dutch oven” with a special design. And what exactly is a “dutch oven” you ask? Well, it’s a cast iron casserole with a lid on. The dutch oven is probably the first primitive type of oven. The food was put in a heavy casserole and covered with an equally heavy lid and buried with burning coals. A Doufeu® casserole has a concave lid for ice cubes. We put ice cubes on the lid and the condensation from the ice cubes form on the bottom of the lid and keeps the food moist.

My Doufeu’s first recipe is beef bourguignon (berh-ghee-kneeon) or Bœuf à la Bourguignonne … I’m living up to the dream Monsieur BHV sold me. The recipe is an adaptation from Epicurious. Beef bourguignon is a very popular traditional French dish from the Burgundy or Bourgogne wine region in France. It is a beef stew with pearl onions, mushrooms and carrots simmered in red wine from Burgundy.

Many beef bourguignon recipes say to use a Côte de Rhone wines or any red wine. I don’t know how the beef bourguignon will taste with a Côte de Rhone, but I think we should try to stick to a Pinot Noir, preferably from Burgundy.

Wines from Burgundy are very particular and highly valued. Almost all Burgundy wines are produced from small family plots for personal consumption and made from a single grape variety. Pinot noirs are especially highly valued because it’s a difficult grape to grow and ferment**. There are many variants of the grape pinot noir (hundreds or thousands?) and thus pinot noir wines have very different aromas and flavours. I suggest choosing a reasonably priced appellation regional (wine made from pinot noir grapes in Burgundy region) Burgundy with “terroir” tasting note for a beef bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon or Le Boeuf à la bourguignonne


  • 1/4 pound thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3lb boneless beef chuck
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small piece of celery
  • 4 fresh parsley stems (no leaves)
  • 4 fresh thyme springs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bottle (750ml) Burgundy Pinot Noir wine
  • 1 lb small pearl onions
  • 1lb Paris mushrooms (halved or quartered if too big)
  • Cook bacon in boiling salted water for 3 minutes and drain.
    Wash beef and pat dry with kitchen towels. Season with salt and pepper. Put the beef cubes and flour in a sealable plastic bag. Shake to coat.

    Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the Doufeu®. When oil is hot (not smoking), add 1 ½ tablesoon of butter. Brown the beef well on all sides in batches. Do not overcrowd the pot.
    Add the remaining oil as needed.
    Transfer to bowl.

    Pour off any excess oil from pot. Pour one cup of wine to pot.
    Deglaze by boiling over high heat for 1 minute, stirring and scraping the brown bits.
    Pour this deglaze mixture over the beef.

    Tie celery, parsley, thyme, bay leave and cloves together with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni. Poke the cloves into the celery stick.

    Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the Doufeu® over moderately high heat until foam subsides.
    Saute the bacon for 2 minutes.
    Add finely chopped onions, garlic and carrots. Stirring until onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes.
    Add tomato paste. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
    Add wine, meat with juices, bouquet garni and simmer gently. Over with Doufeu® lid and place ice cubes on the lid.
    Add warm water to the lid whenever the ice cubes/ water has evaporated.
    Cook until meat is tender about 3 hours.

    Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides.
    Then sauté the peal onions, stirring occasionally, until browned in patches.
    Season with salt and pepper.
    Add two cups of water, then simmer, partially covered until onions are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
    Boil, uncovered. Stir occasionally, untl liquid is reduced to a glaze about 5-10 minutes.

    Heat remaining tablespoon butter in a large non-stick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides.
    Then sauté the mushrooms. Stir occasionally until mushrooms are golden brown and the liquid from the mushrooms are evaporated about 8 minutes.
    Season with salt and pepper.

    Stir pearl onions and mushrooms into stew. Cook for 10 minutes.
    Remove bouquet garni and skim any fat from the surface of the stew.
    Let cool completely. Put the stew in the fridge overnight.
    The next day, remove the hardened layer of fat from the stew. Heat gently.
    Season with salt and pepper and serve with sourdough bread, rice or fat noodles.

    Verdict: Absolutely delicious! So much so that I never got down to taking a picture of the dish. We’ve been smelling the beef bourguignon cooking for 3 hours and by dinner time, we couldn't wait to dig in. The meat falls off the fork, and is so moist and tender. The wine had reduced to a thick rich gravy that went down well with rice that I had three servings. Doufeu cooking however is something that takes time. Estimate between 2 to 3 hours for each casserole on low heat. Good things take time. Remember – Rome was not built in a day.

    *Le crueset means “the crucible”.

    ** The protagonist Miles talks with his soon-to-be girlfriend Maya about the pinot noir grape in the movie Sideways, winner of Academy Awards® Best Adapted Screenplay. Great scenes in vineyards in California.



    I was inspired by your post and I made beef stew using your recipe last night but modified a bit. Shame on me! 1. I don't have cast iron Doufeu casserole…. So, I used a slow cooker. 2. Horror of horrors! I used Shiraz instead of Pinot Noir and Australian too…. I had quite a few bottles left from my bday party… 3. No pearl onions. 4. Used leeks instead of celery. 5. Used white button mushrooms instead of Paris mushrooms. Turned out delicious too but then again, I won't know how it should be really.
    Thanks for the inspiration though.

    Glad the blog inspired you to try this dish. Using a slow cooker is fine too. Whatever works, works.
    The celery stick is just part of the bouquet garni, and gives a nice subtle fragrance to the dish. Not meant to be a main ingredient... so if you don't have it, I think it's okay.
    Someday you'll have to make a "real" boeuf à la bouguigonne... and see the difference and choose which you prefer. :-)

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