Thursday, August 23, 2012

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

Confession: I feel a little crazy putting this up on my blog. With the exception of myself, I'd bet that there are not very many foodies/bloggers/anyone that saw the movie Julia and Julia, that hasn't had their go at Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe. Last week, was Julia Child's 100th birthday, I put a little post up on my blog about it and really didn't plan on much more. Yet, the week continued and oddly, I just couldn't get Julia off of my mind, her memory is such an inspiration. Due to this "Julia-mania,"  I decided to dedicate a long Saturday to cook up Julia Child's hearty Boeuf Bourguignon for Todd. What you most likely have heard about this recipe is true: it is really phenomenal but it does, literally take all day to complete. I didn't think much about what I was signing up for when I first started browning my beef, even reading through the recipe it seemed no more labor intensive than other dished I've tackled in my lifetime, but don't be fooled. If one attempts this recipe, have a good 4-6 hours to dedicate to the kitchen. I even thought I'd be able to watch a horribly predictable Lifetime movie while cooking this, but the divide of my attention, my brain was spared and my focus was only on my dutch oven. Was it all worth it? In the words of Mr. Big, ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY. This is a recipe that I would love to know by heart and whip up on rainy days. Todd said it was his new favorite thing I have ever made and no, he really doesn't say that with everything I cook, this is only the second time he has been so moved. I served it over very simple mashed potatoes. I cant wait until the fall and winter to make this again (I know, I was totally seasonally inappropriate) for Todd or for lucky company-  this is the perfect dish to share and is even better on day two.

** Note that the recipe only calls for 3 cups of wine, you will have one left over for yourself, I think its mandatory to drink wine while cooking a Julia recipe. 

Boeuf Bourguignon 

This recipe is adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961)


One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Burgundy but I used a Bordeaux)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs of thyme
1 pound mushrooms, sliced


Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat oil in casserole dish until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.
In the same dish, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle of the oven for 4 minutes.
Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).
Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the 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.
Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herbs.
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 herbs and set onions aside.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.
 Brown lightly, remove from heat.
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 lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.
Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2. 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 stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice. 

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