I love cooking because I love eating. I also love feeding the people I care about. If I’ve fed you, then I probably have a soft spot for you. One of the things I love to cook is Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon. It is a labor of love, literally.
If you haven’t tried making Julia Child’s famous boeuf bourguignon recipe, then you’re really missing out. The recipe is a very long one, but nothing too complicated. Anyone can reprint the recipe and show you what the finished product looks like, but I’m here to tell you what it’s like to actually make this recipe.
Julia will tell you to boil the bacon first. Who in their right mind boils bacon? I was tempted to skip this step, but Julia must have foreseen my objection and explains that boiling the bacon will get rid of its smokey flavor, which you don’t want in a traditional French dish. Fair enough. I’ll boil the bacon first, then sautee it.
Then you’ll notice there’s just one carrot and one onion and two garlic cloves in this recipe. Hey, what’s going on here? Why are we being so chincy with the veggies and garlic, Julia? After following Julia’s instructions to the letter, I learned that the beef is the star of the show. One carrot and one onion and two garlic cloves are mere supporting elements of this stew. Go ahead and sautee these guys in oil and set aside. And then get used to browning. You’ll be doing lots of it.
Julia will insist that brown your beef in small batches so that each piece develops a nice crust. I like to use an organic chuck roast which I cut into cubes. Doing this in small batches so that each cube is perfectly browned on each side is going to take a long long time. A cube has six sides and you’re doing 3 pounds of beef cubes. That’s a lot of cubes. Just stick with it . . . for an hour or so.
Things will get very very greasy. Be prepared to wipe grease off the stove, off the microwave, off of any appliances sitting next to the stove, and off of the countertops. And then you’ll have to do the same thing with the pearl onions and the mushrooms. That’s another hour. A good part of this recipe entails a lot of cleanup, since sauteing and bringing out flavor is not a clean, tidy process. Thank goodness for Windex.
Three hours into the recipe, you now have your perfectly sauteed mushrooms and the boiled pearl onions in beef broth with the herb bouquet, and you are finally ready to marry all these wonderful ingredients into your dutch oven. You’ll then measure out three cups of quality wine (not the cheap 2 buck Chuck) and some beef broth into the pot. Experienced wine drinkers will know that this requires one whole bottle of wine. I never made a recipe that required an entire bottle of wine. And I used a good, expensive wine. I really had to trust Julia on this one. To be perfectly honest, everything looked like a red, winey soup. Not very appetizing. Would 3 1/2 hours in a hot oven turn this soup into heavenly goodness? Julia said it would.
Fortunately, Julia was right. The results were heavenly. I had a few friends over to try out my boeuf bourguignon. It was one of those dinners where people don’t talk a whole lot and they don’t hesitate to take second helpings. Admittedly, I wasn’t forthcoming about offering leftovers to my guests either.
The last time I made this dish, I didn’t have a chance to take pictures of the finished product because I was so distracted by sheer pleasure of eating the darn thing. So, here’ s a picture of someone else’s final product. It looks just like mine, I swear!
So, if you have about 6 hours on hand, try making Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon recipe. You can find it here. It’s a very worthwhile effort.