One of my birthday gifts from my in-laws was this stunning Le Creuset 9.5 quart french oven.
For at least the last two years every time I’ve walked in to Williams Sonoma I have eyed this gorgeous vessel, so I knew its maiden voyage had to be special. I decided to make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. (Scroll down for her original recipe.)
I started by gathering my ingredients and cooking tools. Little did I know I’d end up using practically every bowl, pot, pan, cutting board, and cooking utensil that I own!
Tip: If you’re going to make this, start with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher. You will need your entire kitchen for this undertaking.
Gathering the ingredients…
The recipe calls for 3 pounds of lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch pieces. I’ve used the pre-cut stew meat before and I hated it. It was too lean; very tough and lacking flavor.
So, I consulted the butcher and he steered me toward a 2.67 pound boneless chuck roast. It turned out to be the perfect cut of meat; not too fatty yet full of flavor.
I invited my instructor to join me in the kitchen. Watching how she prepared the pearl onions and the mushrooms was invaluable.
One of the most important lessons I learned from Julia is that you must pat the meat dry in order for it to brown properly. She suggests using a kitchen towel but I used paper towels and it worked beautifully.
After browning the beef I removed it from the french oven and put it in a bowl with the bacon and rind I had already boiled then browned.
From now on I’ll skip blanching the bacon. Apparently they have very different bacon in France; it’s very salty and can overpower your entire dish. Now, if you are subbing salt pork for the -American- bacon, you may want to go ahead and blanch it as instructed.
Next, I browned the sliced onion and carrot in the same oil. You can see all of the browned bits left from browning the meat; it all combines to make the most wonderful flavor.
Next, with your oven pre-heated to 450, everything goes back in the french oven, along with your salt, pepper, and flour (I used an all-purpose GF flour). Put it uncovered in to your oven for four minutes.Toss the meat and return it to the oven for four more minutes. This will brown the flour and form a nice little crust on the meat.
Remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 325. I stirred in 3 cups of a Pinot Noir that Todd really likes, and 1.5 cups of beef stock, along with the garlic, tomato paste, parsley, thyme, and a crumbled bay leaf.
Because the wording of the recipe confused me a bit, I also added the browned, sliced onion to the mix. Based on the way it turned out, from now on I’ll go ahead and add the carrot at this stage, as well.
Next, bring it to a simmer on your stove, then cover it and put back in the oven at 325 for 2.5 to 3 hours. Based on the size of the roast I used, I cooked it for 2 hours and 45 minutes and it turned out perfectly.
While the meat and sauce were simmering away in the oven, I went to work on the pearl onions and mushrooms. I bought a bag of pearl onions in the produce department and it contained 24 adorable little onions.
I followed Julia’s instructions from watching her first-ever episode of her cooking show, The French Chef, featuring Boeuf Bourguignon, and brought a pot of water to a boil. I added the pearl onions, and once it came back to a full boil let them cook for 20 seconds then removed them. I then cut off the tops and bottoms and they were rather easy to peel at that point.
From there I was able to brown the onions in a little butter, olive oil, and beef stock until they had caramelized nicely.
Now, on to the mushrooms. The recipe calls for a pound, but I used half of that since Todd hates mushrooms. Per Julia’s instructions, I quartered them, cut the stems on a bias, and sauteed them in a little olive oil and butter.
Mushrooms have never looked so good…
When the meat and sauce had finished in the oven, I added in the pearl onions and browned, sliced carrots, and stirred gently.
The recipe calls for this to be served over buttered noodles or small potatoes. This time we chose to serve it over pasta (Jovial GF brown rice fusilli), and it could not have been more delicious!
As you can see, this is no small undertaking. It took about 5.5 hours and just about everything in my kitchen including ALL of my counter space, and it was WELL worth the effort. I can’t wait to make it again! In the interim, we’re looking forward to having the rest of it for dinner tonight.
For a slightly different perspective on this magnificent dish, I thought you might enjoy reading the experience of another blogger. Turns out our findings and technique are rather similar although I think she does offer a few additional helpful tips.
And, if you’d like another video experience, the Cooking with Jack Show did a really nice job and I found it to be very helpful.
I can’t finish this post without giving credit and much thanks to my doting and supportive husband who so graciously cleaned every pot, pan, bowl, and cooking utensil that I left in my wake. I think he ran the dishwasher at least twice in order to get our kitchen put back together. As always, it was a great team effort.
Stay tuned for my next adventure with Julia! I plan to get Todd in on the action.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 851
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 32g
Total Carbohydrates 36g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish, 3 inches deep
- Slotted spoon
- 6 ounces bacon
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
- 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 sliced carrot
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine, such as a Chianti
- 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- Crumbled bay leaf
- Blanched bacon rind
- 18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
- 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter
- Parsley sprigs
- Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 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 stewing 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 heat so the 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 melt 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 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it 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. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
- For immediate serving: Covet 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.
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