Beef Bourguignon

Bowl of Beef Bourguignon

Bourguignon, Oui ou Non?
There are very few things as satisfying as a well-made Beef Bourguignon. Well, in my mind anyway. Like the scene in Julie and Julia when Judith Jones tastes Julia’s for the first time, a good Bourguignon will make you moan out loud. Of course, since it takes some time to pull together, it may just be from hunger…

The time it takes is worth it, though this is definitely a weekend meal. Patience is the key, but I confess I struggle in this area. For example, it is essential to dry the beef before browning. It is equally essential not to crowd the pan when browning in order to achieve that glorious brown crust. (I tend to want to throw it all in at once.)

The result of your hard work and patience is a meal that will transport you to the banks of the Seine whilst the gentle melody of La Vie En Rose strolls through your mind. Grab a glass of wine and Bon Appetit!

Beef Bourguignon Recipe
Adapted from Julia Child’s The French Chef Cookbook
Yields 6 to 8 servings

In 1961, as a recent graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, Julia Child launched her career of educating Americans in delicious ways with food. In 1963 she began her own cooking show The French Chef. This recipe was published in The French Chef Cookbook.

Julia Child’s beef bourguignon may be an all-day adventure, but being one of the most delicious beef dishes known to man makes it worthwhile.

6 slices bacon
3-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 large carrot, sliced
1 large white onion, sliced
1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups red wine
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves smashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
18-24 small pearl onions
3-1/2 tablespoons butter
1 herb bouquet (4 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf)
1 pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered

Prep the bacon

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

Preheat oven to 450 ºF.

Sauté the bacon in the oil in a Dutch oven set over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown it lightly. Remove the bacon to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set the casserole aside.

Prep the beef
Reheat the Dutch oven that you sautéed the bacon in until the fat is almost smoking (before adding the beef).

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels—so it will be dry enough to brown. Sauté the beef, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until it is nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

Prep the vegetables
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Brown the flour
Return the beef and bacon to the Dutch oven and toss it with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the meat lightly with the flour. Set the Dutch oven uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove the Dutch oven, and turn the oven down to 325 ºF.

Add the flavorings
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.

Simmer the Bourguignon
Then, cover the Dutch Oven and set it in the lower third of the preheated oven. Regulate the heat, so the liquid simmers very slowly for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

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

Strain the juices
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 the fat
Skim the fat off the sauce. Simmer the sauce in a saucepan for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises.

You should have about 2-1/2 cups of sauce that is thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Add the sauce back in
Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

(The recipe may be completed in advance to this point.)

For immediate serving
Cover the Dutch oven and simmer the Bourguignon for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in the Dutch oven, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and sprinkled with chopped parsley.

To serve later
Allow the Bourguignon to cool, then cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring the Bourguignon to a simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

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