Back in 2006, Mike and I were driving from Indianapolis, to Boston to visit our daughter Sarah. I had picked up a copy of Julie Powell's Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously and began to read it out loud. The reading went on for hours and the laughter was obnoxious. The book was originally a blog that details Julie’s goal of cooking Julia Child’s book Mastering The Art of French Cooking in 365 days. The blog was published, as a book, Nora Ephron wrote a screenplay and the wonderful Meryl Streep played Julia. I loved the book and I loved the movie, but I thought then and still think now that Julie Powell got the short end of the stick. The book was laugh out loud funny and brave. I know no one who has ever cooked that entire book. Without the blog there would have been no movie and much of the world would have missed out on knowing two remarkable women.
In a tribute to Julie Powell and to Julia Child today’s recipe is for Julia’s Boeuf Bourguigon.
- A six ounce chunk of bacon
- A 9 to 10 inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
- A slotted spoon
- 3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 sliced carrot
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 Tb flour
- 3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine, or a Chianti
- 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
- 1 Tb tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- ½ tsp thyme
- A crumbled bay leaf
- The blanched bacon rind
- 18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
- 1 lb. quartered fresh mushroom sautéed in butter
Remove rind, and cut bacon into lardoons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1-1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1-1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
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 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 325 degrees.
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 the heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
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 fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2-1/2 coups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
FOR IMMEDIATE SERVING: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
FOR LATER SERVING: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
I have made this dish several times over the years and I’m always tired when I finish it. Julia Child makes you work for your dinner, but the flavor and taste of this dish makes the hard work worth it. She also suggests that you serve it with a full-bodied, young red wine such as a Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St. Emilion, or Burgundy.
If you’ve gotten this far and would like a new copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking I have an extra. Just post a comment with your email address and I’ll send it to you. I only have one so first request wins! Life is good – enjoy!