It's the stuff of legends. The show did a wonderful tribute to Julia Child; leaving out a tribute to Julie Powell of the movie and blog, Julie and Julia fame. I would be bold enough to say that since the movie came out and with the dish being featured so prominently, Boeuf Bourguignon has taken on near mythic proportions.
But, as Clinton pointed out, in reality, it's beef stew. A really really good beef stew, but non the less, it's beef stew.
In France, the dish is considered a "peasant dish". This means it is a dish made from the less desirable ingredients left after the land lords were paid their rent with the best. So, easy to grow root vegetables, lesser fattier cuts of meat and what ever happens to be left becomes... Stew!
About the only luxury item would be the red wine that is used to braise the beef as it cooks. Even that, in days of yore (in France) was a peasant drink as table wine was almost mandatory because of the condition of the drinking water.
Even in the city, this dish can be made with the table scraps left over from the rich folks tables.
Kind of de-mystifies the snooty way to say "Boeuf Bourguignon". It's just beef stew.
The recipe Clinton uses is a classic. Beef browned in bacon fat and the meat slow simmered (braised) in red wine. You can see the recipe by following THIS LINK (click the blue letters) I did make a few small changes...
First, the recipe calls for a "bouquet Garni". That's kind of a tea bag filled with spices like bay leaves, thyme and parsley. I used some fresh Rosemary and left out the Thyme. As far as parsley, it is a very colorful garnish, but does not really add much to the taste. So, these bigger spices could just be laid on top and you can easily skip the time consuming step of making the "bouquet Garni". You just need to remember to pick these out of the dish before you serve it.
Next, the recipe calls for braising the meat on a bed of the vegetables. This is fine and correct, but...
I think Daphne Oz missed a chance to make this a tad more healthy. I simply doubled the amount of carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms... more veggies. These veggies take on the flavors of the wine, the beef and the bacon and are delicious. BUT, they also take on the color of the red wine broth. By doubling the amount of veggies, I was able to make my bed for the beef to rest on, plus, as you can see in the photo above, I was able to add some of the veggies on the top to be steam cooked. This adds a slightly different taste, but also allows for a more colorful presentation. Makes the dish look more worthy of the mystique.
My next change was to used canned peas. They were pre cooked, so adding them at the beginning of the 2-3 hour cook time would have made just liquid peas. Again, that is actually fine, but you lose the unique taste of the peas and the color contrast of the peas and carrots for your presentation. It's just prettier to add them during the last 10 minutes over the top (drain them).
BTW, in the last step of the recipe (follow THIS LINK (click the blue letters)), it is implied that you can and should stir the stew as it cooks. Especially if you add half the veggies on the top, there is just no need and in fact you would lose the flavor, color and texture contrast that my method achieves. Do not stir.
And finally, there is a HUGE hole in the recipe...
The broth left in the dutch oven you cook this in makes the most AMAZING gravy...
Gravy is easy... Remove the stew, leaving about 2 cups of liquid in the bottom of the dutch oven. bring to a simmer, whisk in flour about a TBS at a time (I needed 4 TBS for my gravy) to thicken to your desired consistency
Serve with mashed potatoes (or butter noodles is good too).
AND DO NOT FORGET THE GRAVY! Not as pretty, so you may want to serve in a gravy boat to be added individually, but the gravy is not to be missed!