Editors' Picks

Deb Perelman's Mushroom Bourguignon

October 31, 2012

Every week -- often with your help --  FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A bourguignon you can make when you get home from work tonight (or anytime at all).

mushroom bourguignon

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It just isn't fair, in the long, dark weeknights of winter, that boeuf bourguignon can't reasonably happen when you get home from work, wind-whipped and blue. 

Or can it?

Julia Child's is the standard -- save it for Saturday. Don't get me started on Thomas Keller's, which may have taken a year off my life -- see Excel spreadsheet here.

Clotilde Dusoulier, translator of Ginette Mathiot's I Know How to Cook, has pointed out that these aren't the stews anyone is making at home in the hills of Burgundy, but even Mathiot's excellent, humble version will not be ready before you have starved your family. 

deb perelman  smitten kitchen cookbook

But Deb Perelman, of the internet's favorite food blog and the brand new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, has designed a version that will do everything a bourguignon needs to do, and will do it in time for dinner tonight. There is no beef in it. You won't care.

As Perelman told me, "I was really looking closely at Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon (one of my mom's go-to dishes, still) and tried to include as many matching cooking processes as made sense to coax the mushrooms into as much stewy beefiness as possible."

Vegetarians (and friends of vegetarians) will like it because it's a celebratory meatless main dish, one that honors vegetables and the people who eat them, without a scrap of meat. (Perelman's new book has a whole chapter of these thoughtful mains for vegetarians, because she used to be one of them.)

I am not a vegetarian. I like it because it's a bourguignon you can make on a weeknight. Or whenever. Where's the boeuf? Who cares?

There's a fair amount of chopping and slicing up front, but by the time you start cooking, you're nearly done, and it will feel like a dance where you know all the moves. 

First you sear the pearl onions and mushrooms -- take your pick: cremini is cuter, portobello more steak-like. With my medium-sized Dutch oven, I like to do this in a few batches so they can sizzle without steaming -- plus this builds up a good layer of toasty mushroom residue to deglaze later.


Next you scoop the mushrooms and baby onions out and set them aside so they don't cook down too much during the parade of other vegetables. They're doing the work of beef and mushrooms both, so you want to make sure they don't melt into the sauce too much. 

Carrots, onions, thyme. Stir, stir. Garlic, stir. Red wine. Now the mushrooms and pearl onions go back in, with some broth and a knob of tomato paste, to simmer for 20 minutes. (This is a good time to tell someone to go set the table and drop your egg noodles in to boil. Farro or buttered potatoes are equally good.)

Swirl in a little butter and flour paste (a.k.a. beurre manie) and, 10 minutes later, the sauce is richly concentrated, thick, and glossy.


In only 30 minutes of simmer time, you get an amazingly warming and complex stew, thanks to some stand-up red wine, a few aromatics, and our old friend umami. Mushrooms are loaded with it.

In another nontraditional but brilliant move, Perelman serves this with a spoonful of sour cream, which, along with the egg noodles, is a nod to another beefy classic: stroganoff.

She explained, "My cooking influences are neatly divided between Americana/seasonal, French, and Eastern European/Russian. Pretty much whenever I try to stick with one (in this case, French) the other ones sneak in." 

Well, sour cream, sneak on in, stay for dinner, tell the boeuf it can come for supper on Saturday, and not before. 

Deb Perelman's Mushroom Bourguignon

Adapted very slightly from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (Knopf, 2012)

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead, as well)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
Egg noodles, for serving
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by Linda Xiao



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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • LoveAgent7
  • GSmodden
  • JanieMac
  • vivanat
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


LoveAgent7 April 13, 2013
Looks wonderful!
GSmodden February 7, 2013
I appreciate the vegetarian recipe, but I'm gonna need me some boeuf. So, while I chopped and peeled the veges, I pressure cooked some beef chunks for 15-20 minutes and then quickly browned the meat after the veges. Followed the recipe closely besides that. This was really tasty.
JanieMac January 2, 2013
A wonderful dish, especially for Sweetie who loves mushrooms in every form. Used shallots instead of pearl onions and still worked well.
vivanat December 30, 2012
My skeptical spouse commented on how beefy it was. Made it for dinner when I had vegetarians over, but if I didn't have to be veggie, I might saute the mushrooms and onions in bacon fat instead.
DAVILCHICK December 23, 2012
Is this something I can make a day ahead or will the mushrooms and onions get all soft and icky?
vross December 23, 2012
I had leftovers, and they were just fine, so I would expect you'll not have trouble.
witloof December 12, 2012
Here is a way to up the genius quotient and avoid using canned broth. While sauteing the onion, add a couple of tablespoons of the most delicious brewer's yeast you can find. Use water instead of broth. While the stew is cooking, toss in some parsley stems, a half of a carrot, a bay leaf, a half of an onion, and a large piece of kombu. Fish these out right before serving.
Kathy N. November 4, 2012
Made this tonight - it was delicious! It will definitely become part of the permanent repetoire in our house!
Kelly T. November 4, 2012
This looks absolutely wonderful. Thank you !
BlueKaleRoad November 4, 2012
On our menu for dinner this week. Thank you for sharing such a fabulous recipe! This is an ideal autumn dinner with the wind blowing and leaves swirling to the ground outside.
vross November 4, 2012
Sounds fabulous, & I'll try it soon!
dldavis November 4, 2012
Absolutely delicious! Thank you!
debelder November 1, 2012
I have made this many times, and it's amazing every time. Great for pre-Thanksgiving week meat heavy dishes, for taking to friends, and makes a fabulous pre-marathon meal too. Wonderful flavors!
PhillyLuv October 31, 2012
I just got the SK cookbook and noticed this, but your article made me push it near the top of my list to try ASAP!! Thanks
Bevi October 31, 2012
Deb, congrats on your book! I am waiting for it to arrive in the mail!
jbban October 31, 2012
Just fyi that the link to the recipe is bad.
Kristen M. October 31, 2012
Thanks -- it should be fixed now!