Friday, August 14, 2009

celebrating Julia…with Boeuf Bourguignon

”How like autumn’s warmth is Julia’s face.”
~ Paul Child, August 15, 1945

Tomorrow I am celebrating Julia Child’s birthday by following my passion. To honor the day, I am going to my favorite Farmers Market (Chicago’s Green City Market) to photograph food, speak to the vendors about food and choose some fresh fruit and veggies for cooking meals and making ice cream later in the week. I can imagine that Julia would love this vibrant, busy and beautiful market set in a verdant park by the sparkling blue Lake Michigan.

Moreover, I am pretty sure that she would approve of the fact that I am follow my passion for food.

After seeing the movie Julie and Julia, last Friday, I have been re-watching my DVD’s of the Julia Child’s original black and white series from PBS, "The French Chef". On her first show of the PBS series, (some of them have been lost, I have read) Julia teaches us to make the staple of French bourgeois cuisine, Boeuf Bourguignon.

Although I have not blogged about it before, I have made this dish from Mastering the Art of French Cooking dozens of times. It has been my delicious go-to French-comfort-food, party meal and anytime supper. Today I thought that making this wonderfully tasty meal would be another perfect way to pre-celebrate all that Julia had shared with us. Boeuf Bourguignon takes 2 and ½ hours to cook, so I let it bubble away as I watered my garden and cleaned house.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking


6 ounces of chunk bacon

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes

1 carrot for the stew and 6 more to sautée separately to add later

1 onion, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups full-bodied red wine, (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy. I used a mid-priced French Burgundy.)

2 to 3 cups brown beef stock (I used homemade Veal Stock from Julia’s recipe, but that is another post.)

1 Tbsp tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic about 2 dozen small white onions, (I used Chipolini onions)

1 ½ lbs fresh brown or white button mushrooms, stems removed and quartered

4 tablespoons butter

Make an Herb Garni tied in cheesecloth that consists of:
4 sprigs of parsley 1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dry thyme
4 sprigs of fresh thyme


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

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry beef in paper towels. This is important, as it will not brown if it is damp.

Heat a bit more olive oil in the remaining fat in the casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Then sprinkle on the flour ( I used a gluten-free flour mix) and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking in the oven, prepare the onions, carrots and mushrooms.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. Do the same with the carrots.

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 lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions, carrots and mushrooms on top.

Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
If too thin, gently boil it down. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock.

Taste carefully for seasoning...

Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with buttered potatoes, (or noodles or rice) and decorated with parsley. I served my simply on plates with a fresh salad greens and tomatoes warm from my garden. A glass of red wine (the same wine I used in the Boeuf Bourguignon) accompanied the meal perfectly.

À votre sautée…Bon appètit...!

On August 15, 1912, Julia Carolyn McWilliams was born in Pasadena, California as the Tournament of roses was already planning its 24th Parade.

Decades later, (in 2004), Julia McWilliams Child has had a warm yellow floribunda rose named in her honor. Aptly it has a glowing buttery color with sweet licorice perfume

The Julia Child rose

Joyeux Anniversaire, chêre Julia…!

Merci beaucoup for making the world a more delicious place.


jeanette, mistress of longears said...

I just stumbled on an interesting article "The Expense of Eating with Celiac Disease" in the NY Times published on Aug. 14th. THought you might enjoy the links and info.

Anonymous said...

Joyeux Anniversaire, Julia! After seeing your and her lovely recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon, I realized that I fix it pretty much the same way. Julia must have learned in France!
Have a lovely weekend!

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

I just wished my grandaughter a happy birthday and told her that she shares the day with Julia.
I must make this dish when the weather cools. Much too hot in Florida right now for lovely slow cooked dishes. I make them all winter long and freeze the ones I can to eat later.

A Brush with Color said...

She was such an amazing woman--and that's such a famous recipe. Your description of it was making my mouth water all over again. I haven't made that in some time. You'll make me want to again here.

Anonymous said...

A classic Julia Child dish - turned out gorgeous! said...

Happy Birthday, somewhat belated, Julia.

we must talk of this bacon... rinds? What rinds?

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci mille fois chêre Jeanette, Dedene, Karen, Sue and Natasha for your great comments on my efforts to celebrate our dear Julia.

Salut John merci beaucoup and welcome to my blog...!
Please flickr mail or email me about lardons (bacon) for the boeuf bourguignon.
Hope you visit again...

Culinary Cory said...

Oh how much I loved going to the Green City Market. So refreshing to see the crystal blue water of Lake Michigan in one direction, and then the Chicago skyline in the other. I'm sure the veggies are ripe with color right now.