Killing Them Softly: Beef Bourgogne


EDITOR’S NOTE: My recent discovery of our families’ collection of 1970s era church cookbooks has been nothing short of a conversation piece around Al Dente HQ. The kind-hearted and well-intentioned women behind these recipes set cooking back years, all the while trying to kill their families with butter, shortening and lard. Not wanting to hog the glory and splendor for myself, it is my pleasure to share these classic culinary gems with you. These are the original recipes with very little editing. If you have one of these around your house or find one at your parent’s home, please contact me. I would love to get my hands on it.

RECIPE: Beef Bourgogne
AUTHOR: Ben Schwartzwalder
COOKBOOK: Cecilian Style, the St. Cecelia’s Roman Catholic Church Cookbook


For those of you that aren’t up on your Syracuse University or college football trivia, Ben Schwartzwalder was the football coach at SU from 1949 to 1973. He delivered the college its only national championship (1959). He coached Ernie Davis and Jim Brown. He was portrayed in the movie The Express by Dennis Quaid.

And he had nothing to do with St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church.

My father-in-law confirmed that over dinner a few nights back. As a matter of fact, by the time this cookbook was published, Schwartzwalder had retired from coaching and moved to Florida. He would move back to Syracuse…in 1993 to be buried following his death.

So, how does Coach’s casseroled version of Julia Child‘s classic make it into the cookbook? The football team’s longtime secretary was a member of the parish before she moved to Florida a few years back. The best we can figure is that she submitted the recipe with his name.

Beef Bourgogne

  • 3 lbs. chuck, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp. unflavored minute tapioca
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup burgundy
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1/8 tsp. thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. sage
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients, except carrots and potatoes into a casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for three hours. Add carrots and potatoes; cook for another hour.


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