In a previous post, I mentioned I had finally gotten to watching Julie & Julia. I was pretty ambivalent about it…. however much I sincerely did enjoy Julia Child’s story was essentially offset by how annoying I found Julie Powell’s character to be. Hopefully she isn’t so self-absorbed in real life.
One of the storylines I found to be the most delicious though was when Julie makes Julia’s original Boeuf Bourguignon for the original editor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Judith Jones of Knopf Publishing. Judith didn’t show up for Julie’s meal (schadenfreude alert) but it still looked dang delicious and I decided I had to try it. Besides, boeuf bourguignon is just really fun to say.
A funny thing about this recipe…. it takes 4 hours to make. Yeah, you heard me. Four. So my advice, don’t be a dum-dum like me and start cooking this at 8pm when you get home from work. Maybe save this one for a weekend. Although, my boyfriend and I did kind of enjoy this decadent meal as a midnight snack (after which we immediately passed out).
Also, this really is more than just a recipe. It’s actually three recipes. Luckily, though, the other two (oignons glacés à brun [above] and champignons au beurre [below]) are very easy and can be made while the beef is stewing away in the oven.
But before I scare you all off from making this dish, let me please explain… it’s just sinfully good. Absolutely worth every minute of prep and cook time. And the best part, it tastes even better the next day. My mouth is watering just thinking about it- and I just had some leftovers for lunch on this snowy cold day!
And one last note- I have basically left this recipe untouched with very few notes or personal additions- 99% the verbiage comes from Julia’s original recipe. She had such a unique style of writing that I felt it only right to leave it as is. Any of my notes are in (parentheses).
So, if you’re up to the challenge- channel your inner Julia and get your noms on!
Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
For the boeuf bourguignon:
- 6 ounces bacon (Julia calls for an actual chunk of bacon- I just used 6 oz. sliced and chopped it up)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
- 3 pounds 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 (I used a Cabernet)
- 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- Crumbled bay leaf
- Blanched bacon rind (I did not have this, but in my opinion, not essential)
- 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock (recipe follows)
- 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter (recipe follows)
- Parsley sprigs
For the champignons au beurre:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp oil
- ½ lb fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
- 1 to 2 tbsp minced shallots or green onions (optional)
- salt and pepper
For the oignons glacés à brun:
- 18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
- 1½ tbsp butter
- 1½ tbsp oil
- ½ cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water (go for the red wine here!)
- Salt and pepper to taste
1) Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into 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. (If you don’t have a slab of bacon, and just have slices, like me, skip this step.)
2) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3) 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 before you sauté the beef.
4) Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté 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 vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat (if there’s anything left).
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 preheated 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 light crust. Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
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 onions and mushrooms:
A) Heat butter and oil in a skillet. When the butter and oil are bubbling, add the onions and sauté over moderate 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.
B) Pour in the liquid, and season to taste. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Set aside until ready to add to the beef.
C) 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 sauté 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.
D) Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Set aside with the onions until ready to add to the beef.
(Meanwhile… back to the beef!)
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.
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. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
For immediate serving: Covet 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 rice, 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.
So there you have it! I should start a new category called “epic noms”…this would fit the bill.
If any of these steps seemed confusing, please drop me a line at totalnoms (at) mallorydash (dot) com or leave a comment below- This recipe is a real doozy but totally worth it!