Beef Bourguignon: a rich and delicious homage to Julia Child

Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France. I didn’t use Bourgogne wine, so really this dish should be called Beef Cabernet Savingnon. But that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. So we won’t.

I’ve owned Julia Child’s cook book for couple of years and because of my phobia of long and complicated looking recipes haven’t yet prepared this dish (nor many dishes from the book truth be told). Although spanning a terrifying 3 pages this recipe is very enjoyable to make. The pace of cooking is moderate because it’s slow cooking; you can pretty much do your ingredients preparation on the go and there are no complicated techniques to master. Just lots of steps, and much time to drink the excess red wine whilst the dish simmers away happily.

The recipe calls for small onion, however as I could only find larger onions I spent a good 15 minutes peeling the outer layers off them all so as to uncover the inner petite onion. You’ll see from the photo’s that I removed quite an excess of onion – rest assured that I used it over the next few days in various other dishes: no onions were wasted unnecessarily in the making of this dish!

Beef Bourguignon (Mastering the art of French Cooking – Julia Child)
Enough for 3-4 forks (depending on what you serve the dish with)

200 gm (approx 3 pieces) of streaky bacon, cut into 2cm x .5 cm strips
Olive oil
800 gm chuck casserole steak cut into 5 cm cubes (can substitute for bladebone, flank, topside, silverside or rump)
1/2 t (2.5 ml) (3 gm) salt
1/4 t (1.25 ml) (1.5 gm) pepper
1.5 T (22 ml) (15 gm) flour
1.5 cups (335 ml) of young Cab Sav. (can use Bourgogne, of course, but also Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Rioja etc)
1/2 carrot, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 C (240 ml) of beef stock or beef bouillon
1/2 T (7.5 ml) (7.5 gm) tomato paste or tomato puree
1 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) (.5 gm) thyme leaves
1 bay leave
6 small onions, brown-braised in stock
4000g mushrooms sautéed in butter (Champignons are perfect for this purpose)

1. Cut the bacon into lardons (Sticks, ¼ inch thick and ½ inch (5 mm x 15 mm) long) and simmer everything in 4 cups (1 litre) of water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry carefully with paper towels.
2. Dry the meat cubes carefully with paper towels.
3. Preheat oven to hot 450ºF/230ºC/gas mark 8
4. In a fireproof casserole or a frying pan, sauté the lardons in a tablespoon of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until they’re lightly brown. Remove them to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
5. In the same casserole/pan, sauté the beef until it’s golden brown. Remove it to the side dish where you keep the bacon and set aside.
6. Still in the same casserole/pan, sauté the carrot and the onion.
7. Return the bacon and the beef to the casserole. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then add the flour and toss.
8. Place the casserole/dish uncovered in the middle position of the oven for 4 minutes. This gives the meat a lovely crust.
9. Remove the casserole/dish from the oven. Stir in the wine, stock, tomato paste, mashed garlic cloves, thyme, bay and the blanched bacon rind.
10. Bring it to simmering point on the stove. Now, if you were using a frying pan, discard it and put the stew in an oven proof dish.
11. Cover the casserole/dish (If your dish doesn’t have a lid, use aluminum foil and stretch it to the edges of the dish in order to minimize the loss of juices) and place it low in the oven. Adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly, it has to go on for 3-4 hours.
12. While the stew is cooking, prepare onions and mushrooms. For the onions: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan and sauté the peeled onions until golden brown. Add beef stock until they’re almost covered and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until almost all the liquid disappears and they’re tender but keep their shape. Set aside.
13. Prepare the mushrooms as well: Wash quarter and sauté them in 2 tablespoons butter. Keep on stirring until they’re nicely brown. Set aside.
14. When meat is tender, put the stew into a sieve over a saucepan, wash out the casserole and return the stew to it. Put onions and mushrooms over the meat.
15. Skim the fat off the sauce. Put the saucepan on the stove and simmer it for 2-3 minutes. Skim additional fat if it rises. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. If not, boil it until it thickens. If it’s too thick, stir in some stock or bouillon to make it lighter.
16. Pour the sauce over the stew. Put the casserole on the stove or in the oven and reheat for 2-3 minutes. Serve it in the casserole with some sprigs of fresh parsley. Some goods sides are potatoes, noodles or rice. Or if you want to have a healthier meal serve it on a bed of broccoli or buttery peas.

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: You can keep leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you want to freeze it, it lasts up to 3 months.

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8 Responses to “Beef Bourguignon: a rich and delicious homage to Julia Child”

  1. Oh good, so it’s not just me with somewhat under-utilized cookbooks on the shelf :) Your photos also just made me realise that I didn’t put thyme in mine… oops…

  2. I have to say, I love that picture of the cutting board with the meat on it over the sink – it’s so exciting, just knowing the delicious goodness that is coming for that bacon and beef! I am also amazed at your patience for “making” your own small onions – that takes dedication! Beautiful job on the challenge.

    • Thanks – I almost didn’t take the time to prep the onions like that (was going to just quarter them to save time) but it was worth it: they were so beautiful whole. Your creation looks fantastic as well!

  3. I’m impressed that you made your own small onions! That’s dedication. Your final dish looks delicious & I really love the step-by-step photo slideshow.

  4. I also like the picture of the chopping board, its great to see something a bit different in food photography. Nice post!

  5. YUM! it looks absolutely delicious!

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