Julia Child's Boeuf BourguignonEver since watching the movie Julie and Julia, I’ve wanted to make the signature dish from the movie – Boeuf Bourguignon. My parents were visiting from Pennsylvania this weekend, and when Foodbuzz chose me as one of the bloggers to participate in their 24, 24, 24 event, I knew this was the perfect time to try it. My mom and I decided to throw a French dinner party with the boeuf bourguignon as the main event. I have absolutely no experience making something so “fancy” or complicated, but since I had my mom’s help, I knew we’d get through it. I love learning new things about cooking, so this seemed like it would be a great experience.
Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon
Let me just say that I have never cooked anything this complicated in my life. It took forever! Add in the 3 other new recipes we used to round out our meal, and we were cooking all day. Literally. We started at 8:30 in the morning, mixing the dough for French Bread, and didn’t finish until our company showed up at 6:00 for appetizers!
This is where my mom spent pretty much the whole day. Washing dishes in front of the sink. She called herself my “sous chef”, which pretty much meant that she cleaned up behind me. It was great :)
  
We did as many of the side dishes as we could in advance, to make things easier. It was a good thing we did, because when we finally started the boeuf bourguignon recipe, we realized just how complicated it was. There are so many steps. First up was simmering the bacon, and then browning the beef.  Then you add in some seasonings, caramelize some flour on the meat, add in the wine and beef stock, and eventually put the whole thing in the oven to simmer for hours.
When the stew was finally in the oven, we thought we got a brief reprieve. But not yet. First there were onions to be braised, and mushrooms to brown.
Finally everything was combined into a thick, delicious stew. My mom and I both had  a “Julie and Julia” moment when we tasted the broth and said “yum…” (Oh and of course the movie was playing in the background while we cooked).

The whole menu included baked brie as an appetizer, bouef bourginon served over buttered noodles, french bread, and asparagus with goat cheese as the main course, and chocolate mousse as dessert.

Our guests had a great time, and the food was a huge hit! Everyone raved about it, although my mom and I still weren’t quite sure it was worth all the work!
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks, Foodbuzz, for allowing me this opportunity. I had a great time, and I definitely learned a lot in the process. The recipe for bouef bourginon is below, and I’ll include the recipes for the rest of the meal in future posts. They all turned out amazingly well, which was a slight miracle. Other than the fact that it took all day to cook, I’d remake this meal in a second!
Mike rated the boeuf bourguignon a 4.75. If you follow Mike’s ratings, you know that that is one of the highest ratings he’s ever given. Maybe all that work was worth it after all!

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Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients:

6 ounces bacon (*I just used 6 oz already sliced bacon)
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti (*I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf (*I didn't crumble the bay leaf, I've heard it's safer to leave it whole and remove it after cooking)
Blanched bacon rind (from bacon, above)
18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock (recipe follows)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter (recipe follows)
Parsley sprigs

Sauteed Mushrooms:
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, or quartered if large

Brown-Braised Onions
18-24 peeled white onions, about 1 inch in diameter
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup brown stock, dry white wine, red wine, or water
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth

Directions:

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate 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 sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté 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 sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position 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.

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.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

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. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Sauteed Mushrooms: Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 minutes. During their saute, the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2-3 minutes, the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Sauteed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, and reheated when needed.

Brown Braised Onions: When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so that they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet.

from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child