Last week I watched “Julie & Julia” again. In case you don’t know, it is a story of Julie Powell, a New Yorker, who decides to cook each recipe from Julia’s Child cookbook ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and writes about it on her blog. I watched this movie many times before but this time it was different, it was special for some reason, hence inspired by it, I ordered my own copy of the “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and also “As always Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto”. The sound it makes is that of two housewives, each in her 40s, becoming pen pals and then ecstatic soul mates in the dreary 1950s. They let rip about all kinds of things, from shallots, beurre blanc and the misery of dried herbs to politics, aging and sex.
The moment my books arrived I was very much looking forward to the day when I can make my own boeuf bourguignon.
It finally happened yesterday and I promise you, it was worth waiting! We’ve made beef, chicken or lamb stews many times before but this beef bourguignon is something different, I tell ya! It is so much more than just another beef stew. That deeply savoury aroma of onions, beef and red wine is enough to make your eyes roll skyward!
Let me quote Julia: “ As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavour when reheated. “
Ok…let’s get cooking this classic French dish! 🙂
Here’s the recipe created by Julia Child that serves 6;
- 10-inch casserole dish, 3 inches deep
- 160g bacon
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1.5kg stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 sliced carrot
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 bottle of Chianti
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- bay leaf
Preheat oven to 230C.
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 160C.
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 3,5-4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
Julia says “Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux-St. Émilion, or Burgundy.”
Julia finishes her Bouef Bourguignon with pearl onions and mushrooms. I think there’s quite enough going on with this dish so I skip them 😉
I’ve also found this vintage episode of Julia’s cooking show “The French Chef” where she makes her famous beef stew. Amazing how richly enjoyable a personality she was.
My favourite moment, at around 9:20: “You just put the garlic into the garlic press and kind of go, errrg!”
PS. I would love to know what’s your favourite French dish?
Copyright © 1966 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted by arrangement with the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.