Julia Child is considered to be the chef that brought French cooking to America. She is most notably known for her book Mastering The Art of French Cooking, co-authored by Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. One of the most famous recipes, and staples of any respectable French household is Boeuf Bourguignon – beef stew with red wine, bacon, onions and mushrooms.
There are many recipes for Boeuf Bourguignon, and given Julia’s accumulated accolades over the years, we felt it appropriate to (broadly) follow her recipe. Not least because Julia suggests pairing with wine from our favourite region: Bordeaux, St. Émilion.
Of course we have made a few tweaks of our own, and we will highlight this throughout the recipe, so whether or not you own a copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking, you’ll know where we deviate.
This recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon takes from four hours to cook, so start early or prepare a day ahead if you can. Here portions serve enough for three people, served with boiled new potatoes and green beans or peas would be ideal.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
- 450 – 500g lean steak – cut into 4cm cubes
- 3 rashers of thick cut bacon
- 1 large carrot – peeled and sliced
- 1 medium onion – chopped
- 250ml red wine, ideally a Chianti or a full-bodied Beaujolais, St. Émilion claret, or Burgundy
- 500ml beef stock
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 cloves garlic – crushed
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 250g mushrooms
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- Olive oil (not extra virgin)
- Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC.
- Cut the bacon into lardons and sauté in a large, shallow, oven-proof casserole with a large glug of olive oil, for 3 minutes or so until lightly brown.
- Remove from the pan, and set aside. Meanwhile pat the beef dry with kitchen roll, then sauté in the leftover bacon fat and oil. Add a little more olive oil if needed, but don’t add the beef until the oil is properly hot.
- Brown the meat on each side in batches. Attempting all the beef at once will mean there will be too much to manage in the casserole pan. Remove the beef and set aside with the bacon.
- Add the chopped onion and slice carrot to the casserole, and brown for a couple of minutes until the vegetables soften. This should not take more than 4 – 5 minutes over a medium heat.
- Re-introduce the bacon and beef to the casserole, toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle the flour and carefully toss to coat the beef.
- Place the casserole uncovered in the middle of the oven for 4 minutes. Gently stir the meat again and return to the oven again for a further 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. This process helps to cover the meat in a light crust.
- Turn the oven down to 150ºC.
- Add the wine to the casserole, and top up with enough beef stock so that the meat is nearly covered. Add the tomato purée, garlic, thyme and bay. Gently stir together over a medium heat on the stove until the liquid reaches simmering point (lightly bubbling).
- Clamp a lid on the casserole – or if yours doesn’t have a lid, fashion one out of tin foil wrapped around the edges of the dish. Cook in the oven for 3 – 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. As an extra tip here, beyond the Julia Child recipe, we suggest checking the casserole every hour briefly, if the liquid has almost dried up, add a little more stock.
- Whilst the casserole is cooking, Julia Child recommends preparing brown-braised onions, but as we’re not that much of a fan, we left these out. We skipped this step and went straight to the mushrooms.
- Quarter the mushrooms and sauté in plenty of butter. Leave them aside until needed.
- Once the casserole has had it’s time, Julia recommends sieving the contents and skimming of any fat from the sauce. If you find there is a lot of fat then by all means please go ahead, but we used bacon with little fat, and little other fat throughout this recipe, so we did not need this step.
- Equally if you have a lot of sauce, strain it into a saucepan and boil it down until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then re-introduce the sauce, meat and veg, and the mushrooms.
- At this point, if you are preparing the dish ahead of time, you can leave to cool and keep in the fridge up to 24 hours. Else if serving immediately, sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled new potatoes and a green vegetable.