The movie Julia & Julia is about a young woman Julia Powell blogging her journey as she leaves work at the end of each day and is spending her evenings cooking her way through every recipe from cover to cover in Julia Child’s (her idol) Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie switches back and forth between Julia, the blogger, in the present and Julia Child in France taking classes and how she came to write her cookbooks. I highly recommend the movie. It’s darling!
Julia Child’s famous recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon is featured in the movie. As the story goes you learn that the reason Julia Child wrote her highly respected and popular books was to simplify French cooking for the rest of us lay cooks. There are a number of versions of her famous dish on the internet, some have made changes to the ingredients, other recipes were created using less steps and less pots for those with time constraints. But if you have the time, and want to be more authentically Julia, it’s not really a lot of trouble to do them all (per her goal of making French cooking relatively easy!).
Doing it Julia’s way, you’ll be cooking the beef, the buttery pearl onions and the mushrooms separately, and then combining the three and pouring the strained sauce (boiled down if necessary) over them.
Use a good burgundy or Pinot Noir wine. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I found a French Pinot Noir on sale for $9.99 at Total Wine or More. The European wines are processed in a more natural way and have less sulfites which are known to cause some people to get headaches.
- 6 slices of bacon, cut in 1/2″ strips
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- 2 pounds stew meat or chuck roast cut in 1 1/2″ pieces (You’ll be starting with a bigger roast to get the 2 pounds once the fat is removed.)
- 1 cup sliced carrots (2 small)
- 1 1/2 cup sliced yellow onion (cut in quarters and sliced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons white flour or tapioca flour
- 1 1/2 cups French Pinot Noir, a dry red wine from Burgundy
- 2 14.5 ounce Swanson’s Beef Broth boiled down to 2 cups (use 1/2 cup for pearl onions)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed (Lay the blade of a large knife over a clove and press down with the palm of your hand, remove skin, roughly cut.)
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme, tied in a bundle with kitchen string
- 2 bay leaves
It is recommended that you use the French practice of ‘mise en place’ which means to have all the ingredients prepared and ready to go before you start the cooking. It allows you to concentrate on the cooking and removes a lot of stress, you won’t over cook something or miss a step or an ingredient. I’ve made a habit of always doing ‘mise en place’ because it makes cooking more enjoyable for me, but it’s especially good to do it for more complex recipes that have a lot of steps to them.
Preparation: Start the beef stock boiling down. Slice the bacon. Have the meat cut, if necessary, and patted dry so it will brown. Cut up the carrots and the onion. Have the tomato paste measured in a spoon or small dish. Smash and cut the garlic. Tie up the sprigs of thyme and set the bay leaves on the bundle. Measure the salt and pepper and the flour. Wash and trim the mushrooms, leaving some of the stem, and cut them in half or quarters depending on size. To peel the pearl onions, cut off each end and place them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then plunge them into ice water to completely stop the cooking. Make a slit down one side with a paring knife and slip them out of the outer skin. Lastly, measure the wine. Pour 1/2 cup of the beef stock into a measuring cup and set aside for the pearl onions.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large dutch oven (Le Creuset size 28 – 6.25 quart) on medium high heat and add the oil and then the bacon pieces and cook until they are lightly browned, stirring often. Tilt the pan and move all the pieces towards the upended side, pressing the grease out of the pieces and then scooping them up and placing them in a large bowl. Place half of the beef pieces in the pot, brown on both sides, removed to the bowl with the bacon. Let any liquid in the pot cook down and then repeat with the remaining beef pieces. Add the carrots and onions to the pot and cook 5 minutes until browned, stirring a few times. Return beef and bacon to the pot, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the flour and stir. Place the pot uncovered in the oven for 4 minutes. Stir and then cook for 4 minutes more. Remove the pot from the oven. Turn the temperature down to 225 degrees. Add the wine and 1 1/2 cups of the beef broth to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste and add the thyme, bay leaves, and garlic. Cover the pot tightly and cook for 3 hours.
While meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. When meat is tender, remove the meat and carrot slices from the pot using tongs. Strain the juices, pressing the vegetables to remove all the juice. The juices should measure about 1 3/4 cups and be like thickened sauce. If the juice hasn’t become a thick sauce during the cooking process, boil it down to thicken it. Combine the meat, mushrooms and onions and pour over the sauce. The dish will be a very rich, dark color. (My pictures have been lightened so you can see the ingredients.)
Serve with mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower for low carb or paleo, sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves.
- 8 ounces pearl onions
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- 1/2 cup beef broth (from above)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley
- half of a bay leaf or small bay leaf
Following the instructions above for peeling the onions and below for cooking them, you should have a nice presentation of whole (not falling apart), fully cooked onions.
To peel the pearl onions, cut off each end and place them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then plunge them into ice water to completely stop the cooking. Make a slit down one side with a paring knife and slip them out of the outer skin.
Heat the butter and oil in a 8″ enamel pot on medium hight. Add the onions and lightly brown. Add the 1/2 cup broth and herbs. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 10 more minutes. There should be a couple tablespoons of the juices left.
- 16 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet (a scan pan works great). Add the mushrooms and cook until they have shrunk to half their original size and are browned. Remove to a plate or add to the cooling onions.