Thursday, August 16, 2012

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

In celebration of the fabulous Julia Child, on what would have been her 100th birthday yesterday, I braved one of her most popular and favoured dishes - Boeuf Bourguignon!

Beautiful, dark, rich stew, served with boiled potatoes.

I was a little nervous going into the recipe, I mean there's a lot of steps and a lot could go wrong! But heeding a little advice from Julia herself, I decided to Be Fearless!

While reading up on the recipe - literally studying it as if it were an exam, I read through several versions floating around the internet. The version I found most comprehensive came from Julia herself in PDF's of pages straight from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Thanks to the KNOPF for posting these! I've re-typed the recipe below, but I'll admit it was fun reading directly from the book with Julia guiding me step by step.

-> Make sure you have cheesecloth, twine and a sieve or strainer of some sort on hand 
-> Allow 45 mins to an hour to prep (depending on your cooking level, you may need more or less)
-> Prep all veggies, wash all herbs & pre-cut and dry your meat before you start
-> In this clip of Julia's very first episode of The French Chef, Julia reveals the easy way to peel the small onions at the 11:16 mark (wish I had found this prior to cooking the Bourguignon!)

Ingredients: Boeuf Bourguignon
    Chunk Bacon cut into lardons
  • 6 oz Chunk Bacon (also called Slab Bacon)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil or Cooking Oil
  • 3 lbs Lean Stewing Beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 sliced Carrot
  • 1 sliced Onion
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 3 cups Full-bodied, Young Red Wine ie: Chianti
  • 2-3 cups Brown Beef Stock or Canned Beef Bullion
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf, crumbled
  • 18-24 Brown-Braised Onions (see recipe below)
  • 1 lb Sauteed Mushrooms (see recipe below)
  • Parsley to Garnish


1) Remove rind of 6 oz chunk of bacon, and cut bacon in lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

2) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

3) In a 9 - 10 inch fireproof casserole, saute the bacon in oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.

4) Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

5) In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot & sliced onion. Pour out the sauteing fat.

6) Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees F.

Flour-crusted beef

7) Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

8) While the beef is cooking, prepare the brown-braised onions and sauteed mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.


Ingredients: Brown-Braised Onions
  • 18-24 Small White Onions about 1inch in diameter, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 cup Liquid (Brown Beef Stock, canned Beef Bullion, Dry White Wine, Red Wine or Water)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Medium Herb Bouquet (4 sprigs parsley, 1/2 Bay Leaf, 1/4 tsp Thyme tied in cheesecloth)


1)  When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderated heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

2) Pour in the liquid, season to taste with salt and pepper, and add herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the bouquet. Set Onions aside until needed for Beef Bourguignon.
Herb Bouquet

Ingredients: Sauteed Mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 lb Fresh Mushrooms, washed & well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large.


1) Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Action shot!


9) When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Just out of the oven!

10) Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

The swirlies are the fat

(*) Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For Immediate Serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rices, and decorated with parsley.

For Later Serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Note: Some of these pics have been lightened to show detail, the final product looks like the very first photo.

And that's it folks! What a delicious dish! Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Food Diva

Oh and Bon Appetit!!

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