“I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food…” – Julia Child
Apart from being a more then competent chef, Julia Child is a very amusing TV personality. Watching old clips of her cooking show The French Chef, she is very candid, funny and makes you feel right at home. But after watching Julie & Julia, it is clear that there is much more to Julia Child then her entertaining on-screen persona. She has a passion for life that transcends to her love for cooking, and it is completely contagious. Evidenced by my recent French cooking posts, I am very inspired by her enthusiasm, determination and bigger-then-life personality.
In Julie & Julia, Julie Powell is told that she will be having Judith Jones as a dinner guest. Judith Jones was the woman who first published Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The first recipe Judith tried from the cookbook? Today’s recipe of course!
Spoiler alert! Well what happens? Julie falls asleep through the timer, and over-cooks the stew! There’s more to it than that, but you will have to watch the movie to find out more!
So in honour of Julia Child, my fourth and final recipe for this series is the one we have all been waiting for. It’s the king of French dishes, the piece du resistance if you will. I present to you the fabulous boeuf bourguignon.
Boeuf bourguignon is a simple beef stew with one key distinction from your regular beef stew. The distinction – this stew contains one full bottle of red wine. That’s right – a FULL bottle. Not a splash. Not a cup. Not even a generous free-pour. But the whole nine yards. Don’t be skimping out on the wine, as it cooks down into a rich and delicious sauce that can’t be rivaled by any other stew you will ever have. The only downside to this arrangement is that it doesn’t really leave any wine for drinking, so you may want to make sure you have a second bottle on hand, just in case you get a little thirsty from all the cooking! Bourguignon means Burgundy, named for the region in France where this dish originated. If you want to be very authentic, you can use Burgundy red wine, however my understanding is that this is kind of an expensive option, so perhaps just opt for a bottle of red that you enjoy.
John tells me boeuf bourguignon is his favourite stew of all time, and I love to make it for the two of us on a nice Sunday evening where I have a few hours to spare. When this happens, there are plenty of leftovers, and any people who happen to wander to or even near our house for the next day or two will likely leave with some stew for lunch.
With all these leftovers, boeuf bourguignon is much more ideal to serve at a dinner party or family dinner (for more than two people.) One of the best things about this dish is that you can make it in advance and re-heat it right before you serve. You can go as far as making it the day before if that’s what best suits your schedule. It’s a great big dish that everyone can dig into, and your guests will likely be going for seconds.
Like the coq au vin, I have made some alterations to Julia’s more involved version of this recipe to make it a little more approachable. But if you are feeling more ambitious, go for it and try Julia Child’s full version – it is more complex with some extra steps, and it is all over the internet waiting for you to find it if you like. But if you’re like me and don’t feel like putting your stew through a sieve then my simpler version will work just fine for you (and did I mention delicious?)
If you want to cook Julia’s full recipe, click below to view The French Chef – the beef bourguignon episode. This also happens to be the very first show of Julia’s series. She also has directions on how to brown the onions and mushrooms, and how to separate and thicken the sauce right at the end.
- Julia Child suggests using chuck roast as the cut of preference
- You can make this dish in advance and re-heat right before serving
- Serve with mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, polenta or French bread
- Use a good bottle of red wine to enhance the flavour and quality of your stew, one that you actually like to drink
- The small onions are some extra work but simply delectable! If your timeline allows it, try them out. If not, don’t worry – I’ve made the stew numerous times without them and it is still outstanding!
Ingredient I can’t live without:
Wait … this was supposed to be an ingredient? My bad.
Boeuf bourguignon is the perfect dish to conclude my French Cooking Chronicles. I hope you have enjoyed reading these posts as much as I have enjoyed eating what’s featured on them. Be sure to treat yourself and give one or two of these French dishes a shot! Although this is the end of this series, I know that French cuisine will find its way back to my blog again.
(as Julia Child would say) Bon appetit!
Click here to view the printable Word version of the recipe:
4 slices bacon, cut into half inch pieces
3 pounds of beef, cubed
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 / 3 cup flour
3 cups dry red wine (1-750 mL bottle)
2 cups beef broth
1 and 1 / 2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp Tomato paste (add with mushrooms)
4 cups of quartered fresh mushrooms (halve them if they are smaller)
Butter and oil
18 to 24 small onions (whole)
(see instructions for braised pearl onions at end of recipe)
Serve with mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, polenta or French bread
- Preheat oven to 350, set rack to lower third of oven
- Sauté bacon in Dutch oven. Remove.
- While bacon is cooking, pat cubed beef dry with paper towel – this will allow the beef to brown properly.
- Add cubed beef to Dutch oven. Sauté in bacon fat and cooking oil, browning on all sides. For optimal results, cook only a few pieces of beef at a time as to not crowd the pan Remove beef from pot as they are browned.
- Add carrots, onion, garlic and sauté for a few minutes.
- Stir in flour, coat vegetables well and cook for one minute.
- Gradually stir in wine and broth. De-glaze pot by scraping the bottom of the pot as you add the wine, ensuring that all the bits stuck to the pot loosen up so they will cook into your sauce. Once you have added all the liquid, bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in bacon, beef, thyme, salt and pepper, bay leaf and parsley.
- Cover and bake at 350, stirring occasionally for 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a frying pan, sauté mushrooms in butter and oil.
- After the timer is done, stir mushrooms and tomato paste into beef mixture and cover and bake for another 30 minutes.
- If adding braised small onions (recipe below) mix them in once stew comes out of the oven
Do not freeze.
Bake for a total of 2 – 2.5 hours.
Julia Child’s Braised Small Onion – Optional
18-24 small onions
1 and ½ tbsp. butter
1 and ½ tbsp. oil
½ cup brown stock, beef boullion, dry white wine or red wine
Salt and pepper
A medium herb bouquet tied in cheesecloth:
– 4 parsley sprigs
-1/2 a bay leaf
-1/2 tsp thyme
- Heat the butter and oil so they are bubbling in the skillet. Add onion.
- Sauté onions over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions around so they will brown as evenly as possible. Try not to break their skins
- Pour in the liquid, season to taste and add herb bouquet.
- Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes, until liquid is evaporated and onions are perfectly tender but keep their shape.