Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

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Hi there,

One of the chefs that I truly admire is Julia Child. Although she is not from my generation and her traditional cooking methods are rather time consuming for today’s lifestyle, after finding out more from her biography and watching old clips of her show, I thoroughly respect her for her humor-filled, no-fuss approach to French cooking that taught Americans to see cooking in a new light in the era of TV dinners and frozen food. Plus, her famed cookbooks, Mastering the Arts of French Cooking I&II were the first savory cookbooks that I learned to cook from.

As I said, her approach to cooking is very traditional and rather long-winded, as you will see in this beef bourguignon recipe that has never-ending number of steps, but I assure you that it’s worth it. And who says you can’t adjust and put your own spin on it? I surely did!

Beef bourguignon (boef bourguignon) is also known as beef burgundy since it’s a traditional stew from Burgundy, France.  If you are a big fan of red wine-braised, fork-tender beef cubes, and mushy melt in the mouth vegetables goodness (wait, that didn’t sound appetizing at all…) you will love this recipe.

Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients

  • 1 6 ounce piece chunk bacon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full bodied (traditionally a wine from Burgundy region is used)
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 20 small white onions
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 6 ounces bacon, solid chunk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
  • 2 -3 cups beef stock (Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more)
  • 1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dred thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh

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First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve. Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4″ thick and 1 1/2″ long. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water.Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.

Pre-heat the oven to 230°c.

Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9″ – 10″ wide, 3″ deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat. (I used my le creuset pot instead)

le-creuset

Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.

Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon. In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.

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Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.

(At this point, since I had something baking in the oven also, I could not fit the Le Creuset pot into it, so I had to transfer the content into a casserole dish, which was a real pain…)

Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.

Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for 4 minutes. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.

Now, lower the heat to 160°C and remove the casserole from the oven.Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.

Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours.The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

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While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet.Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart.

Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover.

Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated.Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.

For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.

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As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes.As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve).

Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.

You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.

Taste for seasoning.Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley.

If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.

20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Bon Appétit!

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