Tag Archives: Julia Child

Premier Recipe: Julia’s BOEUF BOURGUIGNON

The first thing I think of whenever I see this recipe is “how did they manage to put so many vowels in those words?”, and I usually have to look at it to type it or I’ll spell it wrong. This recipe is not for the faint of heart – there is an ample amount of animal fat, oil, and butter. DH and I are intending to begin a new regime this week, so we figured we may as well get the last culinary “hurrah” before we have to lay off the fat stuff for a while.

I’ll preface today’s post by saying that the majority of recipes I intend to blog about won’t be nearly as rich and complicated, primarily because I just won’t have time for long posts like this on a regular basis – and, because most of us don’t have time to make recipes like this frequently – I suspect I’d lose you. But since the inspiration for me began with the story of the blogger taking a culinary journey with Julia – it seems only appropriate to begin our journey with the famed French recipe for Beef Stewed in Wine.  It’s not difficult. It’s just got a few steps, and takes a little time. Save it for the weekend, when you can be doing laundry or playing with kids between steps.

For the recipe, I’m paraphrasing here from Julia Child’s version in the “French Chef Cookbook” (her version is a little wordy). I simplified it a bit but tried not to lose any of the integrity of the real deal.


• 3 lbs. stew meat, or a chuck roast cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
• 6 oz. of lean salt pork, pork belly, or fresh (not smoked) bacon, cut into 1×1/4 inch pieces. If you must, you can substitute thick-sliced smoked bacon, cut up.
• Vegetable oil
• A few tablespoons of butter, we’ll divide it up as we go
• 3 cups of a good tasting Pinot Noir (doesn’t have to be expensive
• 1-2 tbl. Of tomato paste
• 3 cloves smashed garlic
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 lb. fresh mushroom, quartered and stems trimmed
• 18 white pearl onions, peeled (or a 10-oz. box of frozen pearl onions, already peeled – much easier!)

DO THIS:The Big Finish

Once all you have your ingredients ready in one spot, preheat your oven to 325F. Over medium-high heat, fry the lardons (bacon pieces) in a large skillet (I like non-stick for this) until browned. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Then add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet so you’ve got a good covering of fats on the bottom. In two batches, brown the meat on all sides a couple of minutes. Then place each batch of browned meat into an ovenproof casserole dish, ideally one that has a cover (or you can use foil).

When the meat is browned and transferred to your casserole, drain the excess fat from the skillet but don’t wipe it – leave the brown bits at the bottom. Put the pan back on the heat and pour in the wine, scraping up any bits and goodness at the bottom. Pour the wine from the skillet into the casserole, and add enough beef stock to almost cover the meat. Then add your tomato paste, mashed garlic, thyme, bay leaf. It didn’t say exactly whether or not to mix it in, so I just gently loosened up the paste in the broth and moved it and the thyme around the liquid a bit. Save the skillet for the next step.  Bring the stew to a simmer on the stovetop. Then cover the casserole, and put it in the preheated oven for at least 2-1/2 hours. I did mine for 3-1/4, but I like it falling apart.

While the stew is cooking, sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon each of butter and vegetable oil. Season with salt, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside. In the same skillet, add one more tablespoon of butter, the peeled onions, and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, cover the skillet, and cook the onions until nice and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Now, I could go on with another couple of steps that were in the original recipe, but in my estimation, it would have taken twice as long for the same result. I’m sure a French culinary authenticist would argue, but I have a family, and extra steps for the sake of tradition are just not in my schedule. So, here’s what I did to finish the dish and the sauce:

About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the prepared onions and mushrooms to the casserole. Gently mix them into the cooking juices and return the casserole to the oven until they are just heated through, about 5-10 minutes. Then, pour the cooking liquid from the casserole into a gravy separator, if you have one. Add enough stock to make 2-1/4 full cups of liquid. Spoon off excess fat or let it stay in the separator when you add the rest to the sauce.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add 3 tablespoons of flour, whisk and cook until blended about 1-2 minutes. Then, slowly whisking, gradually add the de-fatted cooking liquid, a few tablespoons at a time, until all is incorporated. Bring to just a boil until beginning to thicken, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Season well with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, and taste. Since you haven’t added any salt and pepper to the stew yet, the sauce will serve as the seasoning.

When the sauce is done, make sure the rest of the fat has been drained out of the casserole, and then add the sauce to the cooked stew. Mix around gently and heat on the stove top for a minute or two. Taste again and adjust seasonings. Keep warm until serving. IT’S DONE!


Was it worth it?

Definitely!  Actually, I was surprised. Any kind of beef stew is not really my favorite meal. This was absolutely spectacular.  I wouldn’t have done anything differently, than what I mentioned above.     According to my French husband,  I passed the test of authenticity test, spot on. Yay for me!  I’ll be honest, though. It will probably be another year before I make it again, and I would invite company to appreciate it for all the time it took.  Oh, and did I mention, the dish has romance written all over it, especially if your guy is a “meat and potatoes” man.  So, if you’re looking to hook one in, this might be a contender…

I’ve always exposed my kids to everything I cook, so they can tolerate more flavor than most kids that are accustomed to a weekly mac and cheese diet.  They still didn’t gobble it up – so this will not get a ‘kid-friendly’ recipe tag.  My husband and I, however, had no problem. I served it with parsley buttered boiled potatoes, and a green salad and crusty artisan bread – traditional as told to me by both the book and my husband.

What I would change:

First, you should know that DH and I had ordered part of a cow this year for our supply of red meat, (the most delicious I’ve ever tasted!) so I used a chuck roast – trimmed the meat off the bone as close as I could, and then cut it into large stew chunks. I kept used the smaller bone pieces to retain the flavor from them and discarded the longest one because it didn’t fit nicely in the pan. If you don’t know this, the marrow from the bone of the cow is succulent (some gourmet restaurants even serve it as a dish). So don’t throw the bones away until after you cooked the stew with it!

I thought I was lucky to find pork bellies in my grocery store – which is the original ingredient used in place of bacon.  But, it turned into a lot of wasted time. I found it to be difficult to cut up – ended up using kitchen shears, and mid-way through frying them, I realized they needed to be smaller in order to brown, so I frantically was cutting them smaller while they were in the pan.   I would stick to ready-made fresh bacon, if you can find it, that isn’t smoked – or use regular bacon and simmer it for a few minutes immersed in water to get the smoky flavor out (as recommended by Julia).  Then dry it with a few paper towels, and fry it up as you would.  If you are just not up for the extra step – I’ve used smoked before in other recipes for this with fine results – it’s just not as traditional, and truly, the flavor is not as completely delicious.

I had already begun this recipe before I realized the only wine left in the house was a simple Columbia Crest drinking merlot, not the finer pinot noir (or burgundy) that it calls for.  But, unless I wanted dinner to be served at 9pm – I had to proceed, and at least it was a younger red.   So in went the merlot and after the casserole was already in the oven I had DH run out and get a proper wine to at least drink with the dinner.

Another thing I changed is to reduce the wine to 2 cups, and replace it with another cup of stock, which by the way, I only had chicken stock in the house too.  This toned down the wine flavor just enough so that the kids would taste it without making a face – because 3 cups really is a lot of wine flavor, even for me, and I have a very high threshold for wine consumption 😉 .  The chicken stock was perfect –  a bit lighter and allowed the flavor of the true beef to come out instead of being masked with the heavy taste of beef stock. Perhaps were I not using top quality beef from a butcher, it would have needed the extra beef flavor.

Rating with Recipe Reviewer’s Changes: 5 Stars


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Follow Me on a Culinary Journey!

I’m beginning this blog for a number of reasons.  But mainly, what I’ll do is to write about new recipes, and review them – every week.  I’ll tell you if you shouldn’t bother, or if you should invite the neighborhood to dinner.  Feeling brave? Send me one of your own.  I might try it – just be sure you’re ready to hear the truth – good or bad.

I’ve been inspired, recently, by watching the movie, “Julie and Julia”.  If you haven’t seen this, and you love to cook – it’s a must.  Not only did I love the movie for its content – the loosely depicted biography of Julia Child, Meryl Streep in all her glory, humor throughout – but I so strongly identified with the character Amy Adams’ character Julie,  who blogged about her culinary journey – that I was compelled to do something similar.  The French cultural reference is also near and dear to me, since I’m married to a French native who appreciates all my kitchen adventures.  But I’m not here to blog solely about French food – that’s much too limiting for me.

Like the character Julie in the movie – I, too, never seem to finish anything significant.  I have a happy marriage, two beautiful boys, and I work at home. Before that, I had relative success with mid-level careers. Those are the long term things. But I’ve also attempted writing a low-carb cookbook, a custom recipe-creating service,  a parents’ website, a free-lance writing career – all of which I didn’t complete, or haven’t been consistent about.

Life is crazy for my little Midwestern family. The economy is in the crapper, our business income has declined, healthcare costs are unmanageable, and, like a lot of parents, I’ve been trying to find the perfect part-time job that will accommodate my family lifestyle. I’ve diagnosed myself with adult ADD, and in my constantly sidetracked, overwhelmed perfectionist state of mind, the only thing I seem to be able to focus on is a short term task. Our life is very stressful right now.  I’m just trying to get through the day. Every few months I say to myself, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”  I still don’t know the answer. But, there is one thing that I am consistent about throughout my life:  COOKING SOMETHING NEW.

Whether I am single, married, younger, older, childless, parenting, dieting, binging, entertaining, working, staying at home, richer, or poorer – I take great joy in burying myself  in the creation of Giada’s Osso Buco, or Martha’s Greek Chicken Cutlets, or re-creating the look of some fabulous food photograph I saw in the latest cuisine magazine.  I look for ways to make them easier, yummier, more budget-friendly, more kid-friendly.  It’s something I do almost every day, and something I can write about, because I also love to write.  Cooking has held my interest all these years, because the act of completing a recipe is short term, so I’m able to focus on it. It gives me a sense of control and accomplishment, quickly – the needed fix for someone who is normally in a state of perpetual self-doubt. It can change with me, no matter what’s going on in my life.  I need cooking something new like a band-aid needs a cut. (huh? can someone give me a metaphor here?)

And so, for now, I can write about what I love, and maybe some readers will enjoy it.  Perhaps I can inspire you to try something new and break out of your ‘Wednesday is spaghetti night’ habit.  Or maybe, a reader will even challenge me.  Weekly recipe rotation is non-existent in my home.  And, even the family standbys are re-worked, revised, or improved every time I make them.

Come and take a culinary journey with me! Every week will be a new adventure.  I’ll try recipes from books, magazines, websites, my family, well-known chefs, and myself.  This is meant to be fun, but I’ll give you the truth, no matter what.  That may include ripping an occasionally recipe to shreds, if it’s deserved. But for the most part, you can count on reading about something great to make – with a few hints or tweaks from me to make things easier or better than what is written!

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