Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Classic. French. Comfort Food. I’m talking Beef Bourguignon. I’ve made beef stews before but never attempted to conquer the one and only Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. I have a few of Julia’s wonderful recipes under my belt now, including her epic Coq Au Vin, so I feel ready. Before beginning I recommend in no particular order: Gather confidence, prep everything and get it all laid out on the counter, and pour yourself a glass of nice red wine.

Step 3 ©EverydayCookingAdventures 2014

Don’t get discouraged by the long list of ingredients and directions nor by the author of this recipe. It is classic for a reason and that is because so many many people before you have made this meal, and therefore I tell you, so can you. It is perfect for wintertime when you want warmth and hearty meat and potatoes, stick to your ribs food. It would be nice for upcoming Valentine’s Day too because you can put your heart into preparing it for your mate, or make it together and cheers to the accomplishment.

Step 3 ©EverydayCookingAdventures 2014

Now here are my tips/notes to hopefully make this process easier for you. Before you even put the stew in the oven you will have about 45-55 minutes of prep and cooking so time yourself accordingly. I’ve included the original “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” recipe below but at the very end also wrote down the ingredients and direction changes if you are making this for just the 2 of you.

Step 5 ©EverydayCookingAdventures 2014

Next, here’s what I didn’t do and I don’t really think you need to either. Bacon rind? What does that mean? I feel like this is a bit outdated or not practical for normal grocery store shopping anymore. Maybe if you go to a specialized butcher shoppe you can get your bacon fresh on the rind, but really just take 4 or 5 slices of bacon (or 2 slices if you make it for just the 2 of you), and fry them up in the ovenproof, stovetop-proof casserole dish. I recommend a Le Creuset covered casserole. (Thanks mom and dad for mine this Christmas!)

Step 6 Brown Braised Onions 2nd Batch ©EverydayCookingAdventures 2014

What I do think is a very important step not to skip is the Brown-Braised Onions (see step 6 below and the photo above). This was my favorite part of the finished product. They were incredible, mouth-watering, sweet and savory at the same time. And I’m not even a big onion fan! I did skip the mushrooms however because I don’t enjoy those little fungi. Sorry Julia!

Julia Child Beef Bourguignon ©EverydayCookingAdventures 2014

I swear I’ll let you get to the actual cooking here in a second, but one more thing, removing the beef and bacon from the cooked onions and carrots was a little time-consuming (use a small spoon and fork) but it was worth it. Once reheating the sauce it thinned a bit and was the most beautiful consistency and deep brown color. It slid over the beef and braised onions so smoothly and made the dish presentably more appealing than with mushy carrots and old onions. I didn’t feel the sauce needed any fat removed though, but maybe that can change depending on the meat or bacon used each time.

Julia Child Boeuf Bourguignon ©EverydayCookingAdventures 2014

The verdict? Worth it. Very worth it. I was in bourguignon heaven. The meat can be eaten with a plastic spoon it falls apart so nicely. The sauce is rich and slightly sweet from the red wine. The onions, my personal favorite, are earthy and melt-in-your-mouth. I felt such pride making it again and serving it to my mom when she came to visit recently and each time I take my first bite of it, I feel a little like Julia is looking down, saying “Bon Appetit!

Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms)

Recipe from: “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck

Serves: 6 people (for 2 people scroll down below this original recipe)

Ingredients:

  • A 6 ounce piece chunk bacon
  • A 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole 3″ deep
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • A slotted spoon
  • 3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2″ cubes* (See Note on Cuts of Beef Below)
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine (Chianti, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St. Emilion or Burgundy)
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • The blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 peeled, small white onions, 1″ in diameter, brown braised in stock (see step 6 below)
  • 1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter (see step 6 below
  • Parsley sprigs

Directions:
1. Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4″ thick and 1 1/2″ long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry. Preheat oven to 450ºF.

2. Sauté the bacon in the 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. 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.

3. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat. 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.

4. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325ºF.

5. 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.

6. While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Brown-Braised Onions: Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter with 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon or red wine, salt and pepper to taste and herb bouquet of 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp. thyme tied in cheesecloth. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Sauteed Mushrooms: Wipe out skillet and heat 1 Tbsp. oil and 2 Tbsp. butter over high heat. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat. Set aside until needed.

7. 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. 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.

8. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Cover 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 rice, and decorated with parsley. Bon Appetit!
IF MADE AHEAD: 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: Cuts for Stewing: The better the meat, the better the stew. While cheaper and coarser cuts may be used, the following are most recommended. Count on 1 pound of boneless meat, trimmed of fat, for 2 people; 3 if the rest of the menu is large. First choice: Rump pot roast. Other choices: Chuck pot roast, sirloin tip, top round, bottom round.

FOR SERVING 2 PEOPLE ONLY: 
Ingredients:

  • A 2 ounce piece chunk bacon
  • A 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole 3″ deep
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • A slotted spoon
  • 1 lb. lean stewing beef cut into 2″ cubes* (See Note on Cuts of Beef above)
  • 1 sliced small to medium carrot
  • 1/2 sliced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup of a full-bodied, young red wine (Chianti, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St. Emilion or Burgundy)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 clove mashed garlic (or 2 if you love garlic like me!)
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • The blanched bacon rind
  • 8 to 12 peeled, small white onions, 1″ in diameter, brown braised in stock (see step 6 below)
  • 1/3 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter (see step 6 below
  • Parsley sprigs
DIRECTIONS: Follow directions above in Original Recipe but reduce cook time to 1 hr 45 minutes. For onions, you only need to braise them 30 minutes. And you will only have about 1 cup of sauce. Bon Appetit!
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4 Responses to Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

  1. True Agape

    This sounds like it is full of flavor!

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