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Sep 1, 2008 08:19 AM

Wines for Boeuf Bourguignon?

Thanks folks. I have a similar problem which I do not understand. I wish to prepare Boef bourguignon and in doing research for about as close as one can to this tradiitional dish od Burgundy ---I to my shock found it calls for Madeira but the puzzling thing is it also calls for Champagne brandy (?), I do not know if this is an error, or both my and a translators translation error or what this really is ---is white burgundy as oppose to the usual red. You can find this in Flammarion's collection published in Paris. in 1957. For those of you who do not read or speak French---there is a translation (in additiom to my own) called THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING published by Golden Press, New York.1962. I have used the English edition to check my translations against another translator but we both came up with the same thing.

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  1. Champagne brandy is surely cognac, which is a component of traditional boeuf bourgouignon. I think that traditionally the red wine used in the dish is Chambertin, which would certainly make a terrific bb. "Bourguignon," incidentally, is named for the region, not the wine.

    4 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        Cognac usually, used to flambe the beef after it's browned. Marc would be good; good to drink after dinner, too, right before you do the dishes.

      2. re: PSZaas

        Chambertin is a bit over the top for cooking, isn't it? unless you can print a few hundred 500 Euros bank notes each morning on your HP printer...

        1. re: froggio

          I didn't really recommend you use it, only suggested it's traditional. Would be tasty, though.

      3. If you are making a fairly strong reduction, which I do when making Boeuf Bourguignon (I use the recipe in Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook) I really think that the choice of wine is not overly important. I suppose if you wanted to be as authentic as possible a red Burgundy would be most appropriate. I do not think that Madeira sounds very authentic or traditional. This is peasant food, at it's soul, and peasants use what's local, cheap, and available.

        There are several major things which I disagree with most famous chefs about. One of them is that you have to use a good bottle of wine when cooking. After huge amounts of experimenting (I am a scientitian after all) I have concluded that the quality of the wine gets muddled and in the end product, it is much less influential than a host of other considerations... being a poor student, I would just as well save the $20 and use the cheap stuff. I don't even cook with my homemade wine, it's too good for that! =D

        Like I said, many people disagree. To channel LaVar Burton for a second, "Don't take my word for it".

        2 Replies
        1. re: The Chemist

          >>>There are several major things which I disagree with most famous chefs about. One of them is that you have to use a good bottle of wine when cooking.<<<

          I'm not sure this is the belief of "most famous chefs."

          Here's a good article on this, from The New York Times:
          "It Boils Down To This: Cheap Wine Works Fine."

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Thanks for the article.

            Yeah, some people are on side... but too often when you watch food TV and wine is involved, the celebrity chefs all seem so keen on recommending you to open some good stuff... which pains me to think of how much good wine has been wasted in clandestine attempts at chili or coq au vin (or if you're Emeril, Cak O Van) =D

        2. The "Champagne Brandy" is Cognac or another brandy made from a Champagne grape (the grape, not the region). Realistically, any mellow brandy will do. I've never used Madeira in my BB.

          As for wine, any medium-toned, pleasant red wine with softer tannins will do.

          PSZaas, If I *ever* saw someone pouring a good Chambertin into a sauce pan, I might get violent. ;-)

          1 Reply
          1. Precisely, what you call "Champagne brandy" is called
            Marc de Champagne.

            5 Replies
            1. re: bclevy

              <Precisely, what you call "Champagne brandy" is called
              Marc de Champagne.>

              Au contraire.... Marc and Brandy are not the same thing. "Champagne Brandy" is a roundabout way of saying Cognac.

              My Boeuf B recipe has Cognac in it, no Madeira. I've never heard of that, either.

              For wine, I generally use a Beaujolais or Cotes du Rhone in the stew, and we often drink a Cru Beaujolais with it rather than Bourgogne... It just depends.

              1. re: ChefJune

                Unfortunately, we are dealing with a translation here, and that translation may or may not be accurate. Until we read the original French, we're all just guessing.

                Ludwig123, what does the Flammarion recipe say, en français?

                Then, there's the question of whether or not the Flammarion recipe is traditional. Adding Madeira seems "outside" tradition. Adding Madeira AND "Champagne brandy" AND Burgundian wine seems like alcohol excess.

                Since the OP's goal was to find a recipe that is "as close as one can [get] to this tradiitional dish," perhaps the Flammarion recipe isn't it. Searching for a recipe codified earlier than 1957 would be a good beginning. I'd check "Ma Cuisine" (1934) and "Le Guide Culinaire" (1903), both by Escoffier, and "Le Cuisinier François" (1651, reprinted in 1983), by La Varenne, who was from Burgundy.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  I am not persuaded a traditional boeuf bourgignon recipe
                  would call for cognac. French cooking is highly regional.
                  A quick web search and I found a recipe (in French) that
                  called for "marc de bourgogne.'' Given that Champagne
                  (the region) and Burgundy are next to each other, I can
                  see marc de bourgogne and marc de champagne being used
                  interchangeably. On the other hand cognac sounds like an overly
                  sophisticated ingredient for what is really a very hearty
                  dish. I should also add that average French households just
                  stick to using red wine for boeuf bouguignon (no cognac, no
                  marc of anything).

                  1. re: bclevy

                    In the 2001 english translated version of the 2000 Larousse Gastronomique, the recipe for boeuf bourguinon makes the addition of brandy sound like an optional step.

                    Their version has one fry belly pork, then add the cubed beek which has been coated with flour along with shallots and onions, and continue to fry.

                    Then it says (similar to PSZaas' description earlier)
                    "... If desired, add a small glass of brandy and set it alight".

                    Then it goes on to add the red wine, stock and seasonings and simmer for 2 hours.

                    So in the households which follow this tradition, my guess is they use whatever is on hand and not crazy expensive. I use Courvoisier VS in most recipes that call for brandy simply because we have it and it falls into the category of drinkable but not overly expensive for cooking purposes. YMMV.

                    1. re: souvenir

                      I rarely cook with a Brandy I drink with, but (1) I agree it is an optional step; (2) I almost always do it because I think the dish tastes better, (3) I tend to do it at the end, (4) I use really cheap brandy. I'vealso heard that some bastardized preperations can be made using a whisky and that it can come out well...

              2. ChefJune is correct.

                Cognac = grape juice that is distilled after fermentation. Oh, and the grape is not a "Champagne" grape, but is typically ugni blanc.

                Marc = Grape pressing residue (seeds, skins, stems, etc) that is distilled (think grappa).

                Champagne brandy may refer to s premier sub-region within Cognac called Grande Champagne.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Brad Ballinger

                  Is "Grand Champagne" when refering to Cognac a sub-region or a period of aging? I.E. 2 years in barrel, 4 years in barrel, etc... Or perhaps a first pressing of the grapes?

                  1. re: Iowaboy3

                    The region of Cognac has seven sub-regions:

                    Grande Champagne is considered the finest, the "heart" of Cognac.
                    Petite Champagne is next
                    Fins Bois
                    Bons Bois
                    Bois Ordinaires

                    You may see bottles labeled "Fine Chamapgne" -- these are brandies that are a blend of Grande and Petite Champagne Cognacs . . . .