Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgandy)
After reading My Life in France and buying Mastering the Art of French Cooking I thought I should dive right in and try making the Boeuf Bourguinon. It was totally fun especially because Keith did it with me and it felt special and fun to try it. A real labor of love though make sure you have plenty of time (like at least 5 hours) to pull this wonderful dish together. So following will be the original recipe and my comments or our changes to the recipe in italics.
Boeuf Bouguignon (Beef Stew in Red Wine, With Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms)
As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concosted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.
Vegetable and Wine Suggestions
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a failry full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St. Emilion, or Burgandy.
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 ot roast Other choices: Chuck pot roast, Sirloin Tip, Top Round, Bottom Round [Well I admit I don’t really know the difference between all these cuts and we went to Costco to get our roast. We even asked for help and well ended up buying the generic roast that was already cut into beef cubes for stewing.]
a 6-ounce chunk of bacon
remove rind, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thing and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1.2 quarts of water. Drain and Dry. [So I don’t even know where to get a chunk of bacon that looks like this description — I used a pound of bacon cut up instead.]
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
A 9 inch to 10 inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
1 Tb olive oil or cooking oil
A slotted spoon
3 lbs lean stewing beef (cut into 2-inch cubes) [I ended up buying the already cut up beef cubes from Costco–pretty lean]
1 sliced carrot [I used 3 carrots]
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tb flour
Saute’ the bacon in the oil over medium 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 saute the beef.
Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. [This was something I never knew before...] 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.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle positiion 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.
3 cups of a full-bodied young red wine such as one of those suggested for serving or a Chinati [I used a $14 Chilean Pinot Noir…the wine helper at the store said I just needed a full-bodied red and an inexpensive Pinot should do the trick…]
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic [I used 5]
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf [I tried to crumble and still keep in one piece.]
The blanched bacon rind [I never had this to start]
18 to 24 white onions, brown braised in stock [I just sauted them butter and some stock- mostly because it was getting so late and I was running out of time]
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter [I used 1/2 pound of white buttons mushrooms and 1/2 pound baby Portabello mushrooms and sauted them in the pan after I finished the onions]
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. [I actually stopped cooking everything at this point — it was 10:30pm at night at the point the meat was done cooking in the oven. I have to say though the last 3-3 1/2 hours the house had this incredible smell to it– the aroma of the meat and wine cooking was really amazing. So at this point I separated the meat, bacon and vegetables using my spider from all the juice and put that in a covered container. Then I poured all the liquid in a covered container and popped it all in the fridge I didn’t even have time to let it cool.]
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed. [I actually did this step the next day while I was heating up the beef and gravy stock]
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.
For Later serving: [which is what I did] When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15-20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occationally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
Serve it in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with boiled potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Post cooking and eating report – the stew was really tasty — in fact the meat was really great cold before I heated it up. We ended up having incredible lunches this week and sharing some of the stew with friends at work. I wish I had a restraunt version of the stew to compare with just because while it was really good, it was a lot of work – a labor of love, I don’t know how close I came to the mark. But another added surprise was that today Keith bought me a 6 quart enameled dutch oven and said oh, we’re making that more – it was great. The only thing I really think was missing was a piece of a good baguette to really soak up the sauce!
One more thing to share so when I plated the Boeuf Bourguinnon for my picture I put it on a plate so that you could see the meat and vegetables but Erin promptly told me I was doing it all wrong it the movie they served it in a bowl like a soup–hence my second picture of it in the bowl! I wouldn’t want to do it anyother way than how Julia did it!
Try it and let me know what you think!