Jill & Julia’s Bison Bourguignon

I have made a couple of variations of this amazingly delicious, classic dish but after reading Julia & Julia a few years back, I had to check out Julia Child's recipe in Mastering The Art of French Cooking. My modifications to Julia’s recipe were based on using 100% grass-fed bison, my personal taste, and the steps I thought unnecessary.

Specific changes made: I omitted the bacon, as I feel the smokiness overwhelms the dish and added butter for additional flavor and fat. I also used homemade Buffalo Broth, but in a pinch have used organic beef or chicken broth/stock and added celery and brandy. Although a bit more extensive, I thought it was worth the extra steps. Recipe can be made ahead and reheated for entertaining convenience! Fabulous!

Note: I have provided one-pot shortcuts throughout the recipe.

Buffalo Bourguignon

Ingredients for Bourguignon (Serves 6 to 8):

  • 2 - pounds Wild Idea Buffalo Stew Meat
  • 1 - teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 - teaspoon salt
  • 3 - tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 - tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 - carrot, quartered
  • 1 - onion, quartered
  • 1 - celery stalk, quartered
  • 1 - ounce brandy
  • 4 - cups red wine (Bordeaux, Burgundy or Chianti)
  • 1 - cup Buffalo Broth, or organic beef or chicken broth
  • 1 - teaspoon thyme
  • 1 - teaspoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 - teaspoon basil leaves
  • 2 - bay leaves
  • 3 - cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 - tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 - tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch, or more per your thickness preference
  • ¼ - cup sherry
  • ¼ - cup parsley, chopped fine

Ingredients for Mushrooms & Onions:

  • 18 - small white onions
  • 1 ½ - tablespoons each butter & olive oil
  • ¼ - cup buffalo or other stock
  • ¼ - cup red wine
  • 4 - parsley sprigs
  • 1 - bay leaf
  • ½ - teaspoon thyme
  • 1 - pound mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 - tablespoons butter
  • 1 - tablespoon olive oil

Preparations for Bison Bourguignon:

    1. Pre-heat oven to 325°.
    2. Rinse bison meat and pat dry, removing all dampness with paper towels. Season meat with salt and pepper.
    3. In a heavy stockpot, over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
    4. Increase heat to medium high and brown the meat in 3 to 4 batches. Do not hurry to turn, allow the meat to brown. This was tedious, but worth it. Add additional olive oil before each batch as needed.
    5. Remove the last batch of meat from the pan and drain any oil left in the pan. Add the butter and the quartered vegetables and sauté vegetables for 4 minutes.
    6. Add the brandy to stockpot and carefully tilt to flame. Or, cover the pot for a minute if you do not want the brandy to flame.
    7. Return browned meat to stockpot and add 3 cups red wine, stock, herbs, garlic and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer. Cover and place in pre-heated oven.
    8. Braise bison for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
    9. Remove stockpot from oven and discard vegetables. Return meat with juices to the stove top over medium high heat and bring to a simmer.
    10. Mix the remaining cup of red wine with the thickening ingredient and whisk until smooth.
    11. Slowly stir into the Bourguignon. Adjust thickness as desired.
    12. Season sauce to taste and stir in the sherry right before serving.

      Preparations for Onions (prepare while Bourguignon is in the oven):

      Shortcut: Add the onions and mushrooms directly to the stockpot in step 5 and omit the quartered onion. Do not discard the onions & mushrooms when discarding other quartered vegetables in step 9.

        1. In an oven proof sauté pan over medium heat, add butter and oil and let come to a bubble.
        2. Add onions, tossing to brown evenly. 
        3. Add the stock, wine and herbs and bring to a simmer.
        4. Transfer the sauté pan with the onions to the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until liquids have evaporated.
        5. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to serve. Reheat if needed.
        Shortcut: add to the Bourguignon after cooking.

          Preparations for Mushrooms:

            1. In saucepan over medium heat, add butter and oil and let come to a bubble.
            2. Add quartered mushrooms. Toss the pan, browning the mushrooms on all sides, about 5 minutes.
            3. Remove from heat and set aside. Reheat with onions if needed before serving.
            Shortcut: add to the Bourguignon after browning.

              To Assemble: Plate the prepared pasta, potatoes or rice and ladle on the Bourguignon, then place the onions & mushrooms on top and sprinkle with parsley. Julia recommends accompanying with minted, buttered peas, but most often I serve a nice green salad, before or after the Bourguignon.

              If you like this recipe, take a peek at a French classic with a bison twist, Blanquette de Bison (Bison in Cream Sauce) here

              Photo Credit: Jill O'Brien

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              • This was delicious! Followed the short cuts and it came out perfect. Adding to the recipe box. Thank you

                Kelly Leigh
              • Made this tonight. At first I thought I failed to braise the bison until tender enough. Company was on the way so the choice was to order pizza or figure out how to save. I popped it back in the oven (after adding the thickening agent and remaining wine) while the pasta cooked. And it worked. Delicious. Everyone cleaned their plate. Thanks for the recipe that simplifies Julia’s version and for the awesome bison. I love that it is leaner. Looking forward to making some stroganoff next month. A classic stroganoff with the tenderloin tips is also amazing.

                Pamela van Giessen

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