Boeuf Bourguignon, Julia Child and I

12 Mar

Can you be French and have never cooked Boeuf Bourguignon?

Recently I watched again Julie&Julia, that movie that draws a parallel between the lives of a New Yorker cook and Julia Child, the famous American chef and author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julie, the young New Yorker, assigns herself the challenge of cooking the 524 recipes featured in the book within one year. One of the decisive recipe that appears in the movie is Boeuf Bourguignon. It is depicted both as complex to make and succulent to eat. It is also often presented as being the essence of French cooking. It is true, Boeuf Bourguignon seems to be in most of the French restaurants here and my cook friends quote it systematically when talking about French cuisine. Thus, I have been thinking about Boeuf Bourguignon for a while and last weekend I gave myself the challenge to cook Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. My first Boeuf Bourguignon… by an American chef.

Getting ready for the Boeuf Bourguignon cooking night

I read that Boeuf Bourguignon is even better if cook in advanced and re heated. Sunday night was the perfect spot: nobody home, plenty of time, relaxed cook. I got everything I needed and followed the advice of the wine salesman: I took a French wine mixing Pinot Noir and Shiraz, good to cook and good to drink (in fact he was quoting Julia Child who said, “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking. “).

I started at 9pm. By 12am, it was almost finished. I was surprised I did not encounter any major issue. In fact, I did not meet any issue at all. I carefully followed the recipe: cook the bacon, cut it into lardons, sauté the meat until brown, repeat with sliced onion and carrot, simmer wine, beef bouillon with the meat, add flour, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and cover for 2 hours. At the end, when the meat is tender, I added sautéed mushrooms and small onions cooked into the bouillon. I did not have the right pan to simmer it slowly in the oven so I did it on the stove on a big saucepan. I kept the heat very low and it was perfect.

So far, it tastes amazingly good. The meat is tender and the sauce is thick and sweet. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a Julia Child’s recipe, if I am influenced by the movie or just because it is Boeuf Bourguignon but so far, I think it is one of the best meal I have ever cooked.

Tasting and verdict of Tummy Boy tomorrow night though…

The ingredients:

• 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

In the kitchen with Julia child, here

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