Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc as part of the JC100 Celebration.
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.
VEGETABLE AND WINE SUGGESTIONS:
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, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux-St. Émilion, or Burgundy.
- A 6-ounce chunk of bacon
- A 9 to 10-inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
- 1 Tb olive oil or cooking oil
- A slotted spoon
- 3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 sliced carrot
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 Tb flour
- 3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine such as one of those suggested for serving, or a Chianti
- 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
- 1 Tb tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- A crumbled bay leaf
- The blanched bacon rind
- 18 to 24 small white onion brown-braised in stock (see Notes)
- 1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter (see Notes)
- Parsley sprigs
- Remove rind, 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 quarters 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 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 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 meat 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: Cover 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.
18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
1 1/2 Tb butter
1 1/2 Tb oil
A 9 to 10-inch enameled skillet
1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water
Salt and pepper to taste
A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth
When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.
Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet.
A 10-inch enameled skillet
2 Tb butter
1 Tb oil
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
Optional: 1 to 2 Tb minced shallots or green onions
Salt and pepper
Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Season to taste.
Here’s a little tip for peeling those pesky pearl onions:
- Cut off the tip of each onion (the end opposite the root).
- Cook in boiling water for two minutes.
- Drain and let cool.
- Squeeze them from the root tip and the onion will pop right out of its skin.