Sunday, January 30, 2011

Beefy le Boeuf

For me, the art of cooking is something of a work in progress.  I've been making great strides since getting married, having someone to cook for seems to help.  This past Tuesday, I had ten someone's to cook for.  At work, the project that I (and Fred) have been working on for two years has finally come to a close.  Celebrating the completion of monumental tasks seemed to call for some monumental food.  I felt like something special was in order, and a friend suggested something comfort-food like and seasonal, so we chose Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. 

Boeuf Bourguignon is a fancy French way of saying Burgundy Beef, or beef stewed in wine.  It actually wasn't toooo difficult, although it does take a lot of time.  We made a double batch to accommodate the giant team of burly dudes we were cooking for.  The oven rack groaned under the weight of two dutch ovens and six pounds of meat.  But in the end, it was so worth it.  Check it out before serving:

Surrounded by boiled potatoes and topped with the pearl onions and mushrooms which are made separately.  Since (sadly) I don't actually own Julia Child's lovely cookbooks, I followed the recipe below from  The guests seemed pleased:

 Sorry for the goofy picture, it was hard to get everyone to sit still with the meat, salad and wine already on the table.  This photo is missing our friend Giancarlo, who helped plan the menu but more amazingly the dessert.  The dessert we had was this:

This is definitely not my photo because the dessert was so good we annihilated it before I could take a picture.  Like ravening dogs really.  Dogs armed with forks. 

The inspiration (and photo), came from here, but our version went something like:
- Thaw a frozen pecan pie
- Buy and mix a couple boxes of brownie mix (or a box of chocolate cake mix) according to the instructions on the package
- Pour the mix in a springform and invert the pecan pie into it
- Bake the sucker until it looks done
- Demolish

It was unbelievably delicious.  It came from an article entitled "Take it to 11", which it definitely did.  I'm a little ashamed of eating something so decadent but I don't regret it!  We were celebrating!

The meal and celebration were incredible.  In case you'd like to follow in the footsteps of the inimitable Julia, this was the recipe I followed for

Boeuf Bourguignon a la Julia Child

For the Stew

  • 6 ounces bacon, solid chunk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
  • 2 -3 cups beef stock (Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more)
  • 1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dred thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh

For the braised onions

For the Sauteed Mushrooms


Prep Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 5 hrs
  1. First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve.
  2. Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4" thick and 1 1/2" long.
  3. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water.
  4. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
  6. Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9" - 10" wide, 3" deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat.
  7. Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
  8. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
  9. Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
  10. Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
  11. In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
  12. Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.
  13. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.
  14. Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
  15. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
  16. Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven.
  17. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.
  18. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind.
  19. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.
  20. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours.
  21. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
  22. While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.
  23. For the onion, if using frozen, make sure they are defrosted and drained.
  24. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet.
  25. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart.
  26. Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover.
  27. Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
  28. Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.
  29. For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.
  30. As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes.
  31.  As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
  32. When the meat is tender, remover the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.
  33. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve).
  34. Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.
  35. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.
  36. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
  37. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.
  38. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
  39. Taste for seasoning.
  40.  Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
  41. If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  42. Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley.
  43. If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.
  44. 20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
And as she always says, "Bon Appetit!"


  1. It all looks so fantastical and totes adorbs! :)

  2. Looks amazing! I don't even have a platter that big to serve such a magnificent dish! But I do have 1 volume of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French cooking, I'll have to see if the recipe is in my volume! I keep meaning to pick up the other half, so many incredible recipes! :)