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Recipe: Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

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After Julie Powell's online rendezvous with Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, everyone started talking about Child's Beef Bourguignon. Before Powell, and then Meryl Streep, breathed life back into this traditional French beef stew, only professional chefs and skilled cooks had this recipe in their repertoire. Now, everyone wants to try it,. Forget that it is April and temperatures are hitting near 80 degrees. A friend wanted Beef Bourguignon for their celebratory birthday dinner. So, of course, we obliged.

We made a few changes to the original recipe such as removing the mushrooms for allergy reasons and using boiler onions instead of pearl onions. The original recipe also calls for bacon with the rind, which we were not able to easily find. Instead, we used thick-cut bacon.

The recipe, after the jump.

Recipe: Beef Bourguignon

  • 6 ounces of bacon
  • Olive oil
  • 3 pounds of lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 cups of full-bodied young red wine
  • 2 - 4 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of mashed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf, crumbled
  • 18 - 24 small white onions
  • Herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, and ¼ teaspoon of fresh thyme tied in cheesecloth
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut bacon into sticks about ¼-inch thick and 1 ½ inches long. Sauté the bacon in one tablespoon of olive oil until it is lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry.

    Next, dry the beef with a paper towel to make sure it will brown evenly. Sauté the beef a few pieces at a time in the bacon fat and olive oil until brown on all sides. Then add it to the bacon. In the same bacon fat-and-oil mixture, sauté the vegetables.

    Place the beef and bacon in a nine-to-10-inch, three-inch-deep fireproof casserole. Toss the beef and bacon with salt, pepper and flour. Put the uncovered casserole on the middle rack of the oven and cook for four minutes. After four minutes, remove the casserole and toss the beef and bacon again. Then, return to the oven for another four minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven, and turn it down to 325 degrees.

    Stir in the red wine and enough beef stock to barely cover the beef. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Then, bring the mixture to a simmer on the stove. Once it begins to simmer, cover the casserole, return it to the lower third of the oven, and cook for about two-and-a-half to three hours, until the beef is fork-tender.

    While the beef cooks, prepare the onions. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons each of butter and olive oil in a skillet until bubbling. Add the peeled small onions and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add ½ cup of beef stock, salt and pepper to taste, and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes, until the onions are tender.

    When the meat is tender, strain the stew over a saucepan. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and pour the onions in without the cooking liquid and discard the herb bouquet. Simmer the strained sauce in a saucepan until you have about 2 ½ cups of sauce. The sauce should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Then, pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

    Cover the casserole and simmer for about two to three minutes. Serve immediately with potatoes, rice or noodles.

    This is a pretty time-consuming recipe with lots of steps, but it's worth every minute. It's also great for leftovers. In the words of Julia Child, bon appétit!

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