Julia Child's Boeuf (Beef) Bourguignon
Also known as Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms.
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking: "As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately, you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated."
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux, or Burgundy.
6 ounces thick cut bacon
3½ tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux, or Burgundy)
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, pressed
½ teaspoon dried thyme
18 to 24 white onions, small (frozen are OK in a pinch)
3½ tablespoons butter
1 bay leaf
10 sprigs thyme -- tied together with string
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
Note: If you have one, this is the time to use your oven proof enamel coated cast iron pot for both the stove top and oven. If not, use a heavy skillet for the stove top cooking and a large casserole dish for baking.
Cut bacon into lardons (sticks ¼-inch thick and 1½ inches long).
Dry beef with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy pot over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove bacon to a side dish with a slotted spoon leaving all drippings in pan.
Add 1½ tablespoons olive oil to pot and heat until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, searing each until nicely browned on all sides being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Add small amounts of oil as needed. Remove browned beef from pan and add to bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Add to beef and pour out the excess fat from pan.
Return the beef and bacon to the pot and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Sprinkle meat with flour and toss again to lightly coat. Set uncovered casserole on middle oven rack of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust). Remove from oven and place pot onto stovetop; reduce heat to 325 degrees and remove oven racks, if necessary, to accommodate pot on bottom rack later in cooking process.
Be careful to remember, the pot is hot; stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, or just enough to barely cover the meat.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Stir well. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Cover pot/casserole and set in lower third of oven. Bake covered for 3 to 4 hours, or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1½ tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. Add ½ cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes, or until onions are perfectly tender, but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
When the meat is tender, add cooked onions and mushrooms on top; stirring to combine. Simmer for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. Your sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring several times.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.
Serves 6 to 8
Adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"