Want to feel a little fancy without breaking the bank or spending hours in the kitchen? These make-ahead Beef Bourguinon Meatballs are outrageously delicious, work well for entertaining and will make an ordinary day quite special!
I created and tested this Beef Bourguinon Meatballs recipe in preparation for a culinary-inspiration trip to France (we're there as I write this post!).
After the recipe was perfected, I made it one last time and Scott delivered it to my friend, Gail who recently had surgery. We also sent our Ritz Paris Cookie Tart for dessert. I'm pretty sure that she loved the meal... this is the text she sent later that evening:
"OH MY GOODNESS! Every bite of this dinner was amazing! Thank you so much! And thanks to Scott for delivering it to us. We feel like we had a catered dinner from the best restaurant in WNC (Western North Carolina)!"
Gail's husband's text made me laugh but I think he enjoyed the meatballs and dessert as much as she did:
"I’d get a lobotomy if it would help me get a meal like the one we ate tonight! So good!"
Haha! I love his funny response but, seriously, I think your guests will have the same reaction when they taste these Beef Bourguinon Meatballs!
I love that this recipe can either be prepped or completely made in advance. You could mix up the meat mixture and form the balls in the morning, then proceed with the recipe later in the day. You can also make the recipe in its entirety a day or two in advance. It's even better after all the flavors have a chance to meld and marry!
Classic Beef Bourguinon vs Beef Bourguinon Meatballs
Although there's nothing comparable to a true Beef Bourguinon, preparing it is an expensive labor of love. Historically it's always been a fairly time-consuming dish - but not an expensive one. In fact, in days gone by this was a classic French peasant dish because cheap, tough cuts of beef could be used. When the beef was simmered for hours in red wine (also very reasonable for them with vineyards in France here, there and everywhere) it transformed into melt-in-your-mouth tender meat with a fabulous, hearty sauce.
These days, a good chuck roast (the traditional cut for beef bourguignon) can cost a fortune. That's why, I love this meatball recipe. It calls for one pound of ground beef which, even if you purchase super good quality meat, is quite reasonable. Also, this recipe calls for just one cup of wine in comparison to the entire bottle required for classic beef bourguignon.
The other difference between classic beef bourguignon and this recipe is the time it takes to prepare. As I mentioned above, making a traditional recipe is a labor of love. The bacon has to be cooked, the beef browned, the wine reduced, then it all gets simmered slowly for hours on end.
This Beef Bourguinon Meatball recipe can be made and on the table in just over an hour! Woohoo! 🙌
What to serve with these Beef Bourguinon Meatballs
I love to serve these meatballs with mashed potatoes but they're also wonderful with polenta or wide pasta noodles like pappardelle (that's how it was served for us recently, here in France.)
Of course, warm crusty bread to sop up the fabulous sauce is a must! We love to serve it with this Porridge Bread, these Scandinavian Carrot Rolls or this delicious No-Knead Brioche Bread. For lots of "wows" at the table, serve the bread with this lovely Beet Butter in a pretty bowl.
And to make it a complete French dinner, serve this Ritz Paris Cookie Tart for dessert. It's a recipe straight from the heart of Paris! Magnifique!
I hope I've convinced you to try these DELICIOUS Beef Bourguinon Meatballs. If you want to really impress your family and friends (in addition to the dish itself), tell them you're serving "Boulettes de Bœuf Bourguignon". You can practice the pronunciation HERE (click on the little audio symbol) so you sound like a pro. They will think that you've taken them on a magic carpet ride to France!
Cafe Tips for making this Beef Bourguinon Meatballs recipe:
- Since beef is the main ingredient in this recipe, I like to use a good quality, organic ground beef. We have several nearby farms that sell wonderful beef and make it available at our local grocery store.
- To make nicely shaped, consistent-sized meatballs, I like to use a retractable ice cream scoop. You can make the meatballs any size you prefer. I use the medium scoop from this set.
- I find that it's easy to roll nice round balls if my hands are just slightly wet.
- To save time, I use baby carrots for this recipe since they're already peeled. I look for fatter carrots vs. the little skinny ones.
- What kind of wine to use for this Beef Bourguinon Meatballs recipe? Use a wine that you would like to drink with the meal since you'll only need a cup. Any dry red wine (Merlot, Pinot Noir Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz) will work well.
- I like to sauté the mushrooms separately (as indicated in the recipe) until they're golden and super flavorful BUT, if you're in a big hurry, you can add them(without precooking them) to the sauce with the carrots and pearl onions.
- I like to use tiny (or baby) frozen peas for this recipe. Frozen peas are already blanched so they can be added right at the end to maintain the pretty color and prevent mushiness. If you prepare these Beef Bourguinon Meatballs in advance, wait until just before serving to add and warm the peas.
Thought for the day:
And they remembered that God was their Rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoythis recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
Want to feel a little fancy without breaking the bank? These make-ahead Beef Bourguinon Meatballs are outrageously delicious easy to put together, work well for entertaining and will make an ordinary day quite special!
- 1 pound lean ground beef 90%
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup milk
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 medium shallot finely chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
- 2 slices smoky bacon
- 8 ounces carrots
- 8 ounces mushrooms I like crimin but regular button mushrooms will also work
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon butter I use salted
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon butter I use salted
- 1 medium shallot finely chopped
- 3 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth divided
- 8 ounces frozen pearl onions optional
- 2 medium bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup thawed baby frozen peas optional
- mash potatoes or polenta or pasta of choice (pappardelle is delicious)
Line a sheet pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. With a large sturdy spatula or your hands, mix the mixture until combined. Don’t over-mix.
Form the ground beef mixture into 16 portions, about 1½ ounces (45g) each. (I like to use a retractable ice cream scooper to portion out the meat.)
Roll the portions into round balls between the palms of your hands. It’s easier to roll the meat mixture into nice balls if your hands are slightly wet. Place the round balls on the prepared pan.
Refrigerate the meatballs while you cook the bacon and prep the other ingredients. (You can prep the meatballs to this point and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before continuing with the recipe. No need to cover them unless it will be more than an hour.)
Preheat the oven to 375˚F (195˚C)
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until golden and crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon to a small plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
While the bacon is cooking, cut the carrots into ½-inch thick slices (on a slight angle. Finely chop the shallots. Set aside.
Once the bacon is cooked and removed from the pan, cut the mushrooms into ½-inch slices and transfer them to the large skillet that you cooked the bacon in (don't worry about cleaning the skillet) and add 1 cup of chicken broth.
Bring to a boil and cook for 6-8 minutes (uncovered), stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have released their water and most of the liquid has been evaporated. Reduce the heat to low and add 1 tablespoon of butter, the balsamic vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook until nicely browned then remove them from the pan and set aside.
Bring the meatballs out of the refrigerator. Drizzle them lightly with olive oil to coat then bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
While the meatballs are roasting, prepare the sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the same pan that you cooked the mushrooms in (again, don't wash the pan). Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomato paste darkens slightly in color.
Add the red wine, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil rapidly for 3-5 minutes until the wine is reduced down to almost nothing - it will have a thick, syrupy consistency.
Add 3 cups of the chicken broth (reserve the remaining half cup), the sliced carrots, cooked bacon, pearl onions, bay leaves, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
Add the 2 teaspoons cornstarch to the reserved ½ cup of chicken broth. Stir until smooth.
Uncover the pan and stir in the broth/cornstarch mixture until well combined. Allow the sauce to simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the mushrooms, meatballs, peas and remaining teaspoon of chopped rosemary to the sauce and stir gently. Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes until everything is heated through. Remove the bay leaves, serve and enjoy!
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.