What IS Boeuf Bourguignon, Anyway?
I THOUGHT, is it because you have to make it with a wine from the Burgundy region? A sort of natural assumption, don't you think?
MY TRUSTY 1961 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique (The encyclopedia of food, wine and cooking, by Prosper Montagné [with Preface by Auguste Escoffier]) supplied the answer.
FIRST, let me tell you that there is no listing for "boeuf bourguignon" in the index. But there are two for "à la bourguignonne". The first one refers you to the article on "Burgundy" (on page 185), which I quote:
The cuisine of Burgundy is of the same level of excellence as its wines: it is all at once powerful and delicate, created for healthy appetites and strong stomachs. "This cuisine is not concerned with dishes made out of nothing except for the charm of an ingenious seasoning, exquisite but misleading works of art. What it needs first and foremost is a substantial and strong foundation, which demands rich accompaniments and vigorous sauces." (Report in Touring Club.)
We are, however, beholden to this excellent cuisine for a method of preparation called à la bourguignonne.
It is used mainly for large cuts of braised meat (also for eggs, fish and poultry). Its main features are a red wine sauce and a garnish composed of mushrooms, little onions and lardoons (the latter are omitted when preparing fish.
The second listing, on page 449, in the section on Garnishes, reads as follows:
A la bourguignonne I – Small glazed onions; whole or quartered mushrooms, sautéed in butter; salt (pickled) pork, diced, blanched and browned.
Uses: For large cuts of meat, especially beef.
A la bourguignonne II – Exactly the same as the previous garnish, but without the pork.
Uses: For braised fish.
Now we both know.
NOTE: there's a brand-new edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia, Completely Revised and Updated