Revised and Dissected, But Always Respected: Julia's Beouf Bourguignon 2023

For years I've been cooking and loving Julia Child's classic recipe of Beouf Bourguignon from her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I even use my French Le Creuset Dutch oven to keep it authentic, but the procedure has bugged me for years. The problem? I don't have the staff or Paul Child hanging around my kitchen washing the many dirty pans. 

A few weeks before Christmas I decided to replicate the smell of Beouf Bourguignon that came from the kitchen of Les Baux de Paris located on the the oldest street in Paris, France, the rue Mouffetard. Two of my traveling companions ordered the Beouf Bourguignon and as the plates came to our table you could smell the perfume from the Pinot Noir. Even the life-long vegetarian at our table was entranced with the heady aroma.

If you notice in Julia's recipes, she uses several pots and pans. I have briefed a few things in the recipe and especially kept it to no more than the main pot (a Dutch oven) and a bowl or pan to hold the prepared ingredients. Here are the ingredients that are directly from Julia's recipe. My adaptions are in red. 

oz chunk of bacon, cut into lardons (6 strips of bacon, cut into lardons)

tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (you may need to use up to 3 tbsp.) 

pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks

large carrot, sliced into large chunks (or two carrots if you love carrots)

large white onion, sliced (or large yellow onion)

1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (coarse Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper)

tbsp all-purpose flour (use up to three-four tbsp if needed)

cups red wine, like a Chianti  (keep it authentic and use Burgundy aka Pinot Noir)

2 to 3 cups beef stock

tbsp tomato paste

cloves smashed garlic (lightly minced)

1/2 tsp thyme (stay authentic and use Herbs de Provence)

1 crumbled bay leaf (say no to crumbled, use whole bay and pull it before serving)

18 to 24 small pearl onions (use frozen and thaw)

pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered

After reading Julia's instructions, here is my take on how to make Julia's recipe easier and faster - and in one pot. 

1.) In the Dutch oven, add a few tablespoons of butter or half butter/half olive oil. Saute mushrooms until done and lightly brown. Set finished mushrooms aside in a bowl or pan. 

2.) In the Dutch oven, add a few tablespoons of butter or half butter/half olive oil. Saute the sliced white onions until clear. Add finished onions to bowl. Add more olive oil or butter and saute pearl onions until they become caramelized. Place finished pearl onions aside in the bowl. To both onions while cooking I add salt and pepper. Toss carrots in the Dutch oven and saute for a couple of minutes just to add some caramelization. Add to bowl. 

3.) I do not simmer the bacon (lardon) in water. I skip the simmering in water and just fry the bacon as per the recipe. Keeping the fat in a pan, set bacon aside in the bowl with the mushrooms. 

4.) I do not cook the meat in the oven but cook it on the stovetop using the rendered bacon fat (in the same Dutch oven). Instead of tossing in the flour while the meat is cooking, I lightly coat each piece of stew meat with flour before frying. It gives the meat a nice crust, while the excess flour still gives the stew the body it needs. I also season the meat before I flour it with the salt and pepper amount (or more) as per the recipe. Fry the meat in bacon fat, but just enough to brown it. It doesn't have to be 100% done, as it will continue to cook later. 

5.) Leave the meat in the pot. After the sauteeing of vegetables and meat, Julia wants you to take the pot and clean it before combining all of the ingredients. Don't! Your pot is now seasoned. Add the leftover flour and the tomato paste to the pot scraping the faun from the bottom of the pan. 

6.) All of the sauteed vegetables and bacon that were set aside, add to the pot. Pour into the pot the wine, 
stock, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer. If the sauce is too thin, you may gently boil it down to the preferred consistency or slowly add a small amount of slurry prepared from flour and/or beef broth or wine. 

7.)  Complete the cooking by placing the pot in the oven and letting it cook for a couple of hours in a 225-degree oven.  
Or what I do is prepare the dish the day (or two) before serving, let it cool, and place it in the refrigerator. Finish cooking the day of serving in the slow oven. (Also, keeping the pot in refrigeration and finishing cooking the following day allows you to remove the fat that has floated to the top - if you are looking to lower fat in your diet). 

Check for the desired consistency. If the sauce is too thick then add more stock. Season as desired with salt and pepper. 

Extra Tips: When choosing the wine to cook with, don't use the most expensive or the cheapest wine. Save the good stuff to drink and enjoy with your meal. 

One other tip that Julia does not mention. If you read her Coq au Vin recipe, she marinades the chicken parts in wine. On occasion, and especially if I plan ahead, I will also marinate the beef in the wine. Combine the beef and wine (use enough to cover the beef) in a resealable plastic bag or in a container with a lid. Marinate the beef in the wine for 3-8 hours, giving the beef a stir every now and then so it marinates evenly. Strain the beef from the wine, reserving the wine to add later as per the recipe, and pat the beef dry before browning. 

Serve with your favorite starch such as boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, or polenta.  

It may seem this famous dish is a lot of work, but it sure is worth the time. 

Bon Appetit! 


Popular Posts