In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for the beef bourguignon recipe, there is an instruction towards the end I'm not sure if I'm understanding.

After the meat is cooked, you pass the sauce thru a sieve and reduce it. She then says

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it.

Does that mean that the small onion and carrot that cooked along with the meat are to be discarded? It was kind of a hassle to take them out. Should they be cut large so as to make that easier?

2 Answers 2


I agree the original instructions are unclear, but "return the beef and bacon to [the casserole]" implies that the "beef and bacon" includes the other ingredients cooked in the casserole - the onion and carrot. Sometimes recipes refer to mixtures by their predominant ingredients, and this recipe seems to do this, albeit a little vaguely.

Looking at similar techniques, while onion could be used to impart flavor and then removed, there isn't really a good reason to add carrot if it will be removed later. Unless browned, carrots don't tend to add much flavor after removed.

The instructions also say, "Pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan." This would include the sliced carrots and onions, and sliced vegetables should be large enough so as to not pass through a sieve, so it shouldn't be much of a hassle to separate them from the sauce.

Here is where I found the recipe online.

  • 1
    I agree with most of your answer. However, I think that after cooking for 2.5-3 hours, the carrots and onions would be cooked almost to pieces and pass through the sieve easily, thus becoming part of the sauce. Many recipes use this technique.
    – Cindy
    Mar 23, 2018 at 19:26
  • My reading is that the onion and mushroom have not yet been added at the point of sieving...they are prepared separately as per the note in the ingredients list and added to the beef etc after the sauce is drained to a saucepan for thickening.
    – Spagirl
    Mar 24, 2018 at 15:40
  • @Spagirl There are two additions of onions: one (with the carrots) to the liquid in which the beef is cooked and the second (the browned, tiny onions) added near the end (with the mushrooms) just before the reduced sauce. Mar 24, 2018 at 22:12
  • Since I asked this Q I have actually done it both ways and prefer to keep only the beef, discard carrot onion and bacon, and then have the reduced sauce, the beef and the sauteed mushrooms and pearl onions. It's more rustic to leave it all in, but I like this way best.
    – badperson
    May 8, 2019 at 17:46

I can't say exactly what she meant and wondered the same thing. I assumed that the carrot and onion were to be (mostly) removed.

When I move the beef and lardons back to the casserole, I generally flick off the pieces of carrot and onion without being anal about it. Thus, there are usually a few pieces transferred back.

I have yet to receive any complaints and it tastes terrific, so I don't think it's too significant.

  • 1
    Would give additional +1 for proper description of methodology of careful enough but not overly meticulous. Mar 23, 2018 at 17:26
  • @MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars I pick up the beef and lardons with a slotted spoon, inspect for carrot and onion chunks, pick them out, place them in the compost bin, and transfer the meat and bacon to the casserole. The ease and accuracy of removal is dependent on how big the chunks are, I always find I miss some (mostly clinging thin onion strips). I could be pickier I suppose, but I don't think it's too critical. Mar 23, 2018 at 17:48
  • lol thanks. Already gave +1. Was referring to you saying 'without being anal about it,' and was trying to be clever. Nice technique. Well said. Mar 23, 2018 at 21:43

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