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Thursday, December 20, 2012

[Boeuf Bourguignon] Julia Child's Signature Recipe with kind step by step photos

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Julia Child's most popular recipe is Boeuf Bourguignon.

And it's actually my favorite recipe of Julia's.

I am a big fan of Julia. I have her cookbooks, tried several recipes from the cookbooks, read <My life in France> which I strongly recommend if you like and know France and French gastronomy, and saw the movie <Julie & Julia>.
Julia's most popular recipe became my signature dish already a few years ago.
It's not difficult to make boeuf bourguignon, but I learned I'd be better patient, because it cannot be ready in a half hour.
That rule applies to most of French dishes. That is why there is no any French fast food restaurants. You can not prepare French food fast, except for french fries. :)

Boeuf Bourguignon was born in Bourgogne region(Burgundy in English),  just like coq au vin.
(You can see my coq au vin recipe here.) Originally, it was a pheasant food that used tough cuts of beef and made it tender by simmering it in wine.
To describe it easily, I would say Boeuf Bourguignon is a beef stew based on braised beef and red wine.
Even though Julia recommended a young full-bodied wine such as Chianti, Italian wine, I oppose her recommendation. In my humble opinion, you should use the wine originated from the region where the dish originates, i.e. a pinot noir from Bourgogne (Burgundy in English). That is the 101 of the wine and food pairing.
If you can't find a bottle of Burgundy red wine at a reasonable price, you may, at least, pick a pinot noir instead of a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

This is a slow food, but a good thing about this boeuf Bourguignon is that you can prepare it ahead.
According to Mrs. Child, "Carefully done, and perfectly flavoured, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man." and I concur with her wholeheartedly :D.

Here goes (probably) the most famous Boeuf Bourguignon recipe in the world.

6 oz(or 180g) bacon chunks
bacon rind
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine (= 1 bottle)
2-3 cups beef stock or beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
24 pearl/small white onions, braised in stock
1 pound button mushrooms, sautéed in butter


1. Remove rind, and cut bacon into sticks of 1/4 inch thick.

2. Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain and dry.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C)

4. Sauté the bacon in the olive oil over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly.
Remove to a side dish and leave the fat in the pan.
5. Reheat fat before sautéeing the beef.

(I cut beef to smaller sizes because of my kids. It looks better to use 2-inch cubes though)

6. Dry the beef in paper towels; beef will not brown if it is damp.
Sauté a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bcaon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

7. In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and onion.
Discard the fat and oil.
8. Return the beef and bacon to the cast iron 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 the preheated oven for 4 minutes.
Toss the meat and return to oven for another 4 minutes.
9. Remove the casserole from the oven and turn oven down to 325 F or 170C.

10. Stir in the wine, and enough broth or stock 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 the preheated oven for 1 +1/2 to 2 hours.
11. While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
[Brown-braised onion]
1+1/2 tablespoon butter
1+1/2 tablespoon oil
24 pearl onions
1/2 cup beef broth
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme and parsley

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet,

add the onions and sauté over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions so they will brown evenly.

Then, pour in the broth, and add the herb. 

Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender, and the liquid has evaporated.

[Sautéed Mushrooms]
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound white button mushrooms, washed, well-dried, and quartered


Quarter mushrooms
Heat the butter and oil over the high heat .
As soon as the butter foam subside, add the mushrooms.

Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 minutes.
In 2-3 minutes the mushrooms will begin to brown.  As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from the heat.

Now mushroom and onions are ready!

12. When the meat is tender, remove from the casserole. Washout the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it.

Place the cooked onion and mushrooms over the meat.

13. Skim fat off the sauce and simmer for a minute or two. Skim off additional fat as it rises.
14. There should be 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 broth.
15. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

* For immediate serving: cover the casserole and simmer for 2-3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetable with the sauce several times. Serve it with potatoes, noodles, or/and buttered peas.

** For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15-20 minutes before serving, bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

It's a long recipe. But, that is Julia's style.
And if you actually make it, you will find that the active cooking time is only about 30 minutes.


Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon.


  1. I love this stew. I found very old cook book about stew and soup from Europe two months ago. There is a Boeuf Bourguignon on the book. But, I didn't try yet. Your tutorial seems quite easy to follow. Thanks!

    Here, Athens, has a lots of snow yesterday.
    Stay warm and Have a happy holiday!

    1. Hi MaRiA,
      hope you had a nice Christmas.
      I can't believe the Christmas holidays are almost over, and we have to wait for another 364 days for the next one.

      As Julia Child said, the Boeuf Bourguignon is it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man. You should definitely try this scrumptious dish!

      Happy holidays!

  2. "I love cooking with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food."

    Happy holiday!

    1. Hi tkinasub,
      same here. I love recipes that uses wine!
      Happy holidays to you!