Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon

Who doesn’t love Julia Child? She is one of the most beloved chefs still to this day. Her love for butter, cream and portion control 🙂 makes it so easy for me to enjoy food and have fun preparing it in the kitchen.

I enjoy watching her old shows on YouTube, they are filmed before technology made everything perfect, so you are able to see that real chefs make blunders too. It gave her a certain authenticity that I, like so many others could relate to. I remember when I bought her cookbook “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” I was so excited, I wanted to cook just like Julia. The first recipe I tried was boeuf bourguignon. I have to admit that the first time I tried the recipe, I wasn’t all that impressed with the amount of pots and prep that was involved – a bit too much for my liking. So, I have tried to make adjustments over the years where I can, to cut down on the number of pots I use and the prep time required for this dish. I have also watch Julia prepare it a few different ways, with a few different techniques or ingredients but the results are always the same – divine!
This recipe that I am sharing with you today, takes different elements from each of the various ways I have watched or read on how to make it. Julia taught so many of us to enjoy food because it is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life. So, I hope you will try this recipe and let me know how you like it.

One of my favorite cookbooks
My version of Boeuf Bourguignon served on mash potatoes with homemade dinner rolls

There are a few things that I did differently to make my version of stew. I didn’t remove or simmer the rind of bacon for 10 minutes. For me this is too much work but, I did make sure that I used good quality bacon from the butcher who, sliced it for me 1/4 inch thick. The other thing I didn’t do was cook the small white onions and mushrooms separately. For me, this was using too many pots and I really didn’t taste a difference in Julia’s original method to cooking them all together. Lastly, instead of adding the flour before the pot goes in the oven, I thickened the sauce after the stew was cooked. I watch Julia do this in one of her cooking shows where she made a paste from flour and butter and added it in at the end of the cooking time. These shortcuts are reflected in the “How to make it” section below.

Here is what you will need:

  • A 6 ounce chunk of bacon (sticks 1/4 inch think and 1/2 inches long)
  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 3 lb of stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbs of flour
  • 3 tbs of soft butter
  • 3 cups of a full bodied young red wine such as a Chianti
  • 3 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tbs of tomato paste
  • 2-3 cloves of mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • 1 crushed bay leaf
  • 18 small white onions
  • 1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms
  • 8 potatoes to make mash potatoes

Here is how you make it:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°
  • In the casserole pot, saute the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Reheat until the fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
  • 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.
  • In the same fat brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sauteing fat.
  • Add the wine to the casserole to deglaze the bottom of the casserole pot.
  • Add the beef, bacon, mushrooms, white onions, tomato paste, garlic, herbs and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered (you should still see the tops of the meat and veggies).
  • Cover the casserole and set in the lower third of the preheated oven. The beef will simmer in the oven for 21/2 – 3 hours. The meat is done when the fork pierces it easily.
  • While the beef is cooking, prepare the thickening paste. In a bowl. add the 3 tbs of flour and the 3 tbs of butter, stir until a paste forms. The amount of butter and four you use is dependent on the amount of sauce that is left after it has reduced. For this recipe, it is about 2 – 3 cups of sauce once the stew is finished cooking.
  • Just before the stew is finished cooking in the oven, prepare the mash potatoes and set aside.
  • When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into into a sieve set over a saucepan big enough to hold the remaining liquid. Return the contents from the sieve back to the casserole pot and set aside.
  • Skim any fat off the sauce, you will want to leave some of it for flavour. On low heat simmer the sauce and add the thickening paste to it and whisk until well bended. You should have about 21/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly. If too think, mix in a couple of tbs of stock. Taste the sauce and season with the salt and pepper.
  • Add the sauce back to the casserole dish and simmer the casserole for 2-3 minutes to make sure everything is heated and flavours have incorporated.
  • To serve, place mash potatoes in the center of each persons dish and ladle the stew directly over the mash potatoes and decorate with chopped parsley if desired.

I hope this recipe inspire you to be creative in your kitchen – enjoy!

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