Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

When winter strikes, I get lazy. I crave warm sticky puddings for dessert, and piping hot stews with mashed potatoes for dinner. And the less effort involved, the better… so I can go back to being snuggled up next to my heater.

One thing I particularly love is braised meat. I love how you can take tough, sinewy cuts of meat and chuck them in a pot – fast forward a few hours and you’re rewarded with tender, gelatinous chunks of meat that fall apart with the poke of a fork. Since seeing Julie and Julia I’ve always wanted to try making the infamous Beef Bourguignon that Julie Powell burns in the oven since she falls asleep and doesn’t hear the timer. It’s not surprising that she did fall asleep because when I made it the first time it took nearly the whole day to make! I don’t know if it was because I was slow or that it did actually require that much time but it was definitely time-consuming (but the flavour was fantastic!).

So when I decided to revisit Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon, I thought about what shortcuts I could take. Some of you are probably thinking that it is sacrilege to be changing Julia Child’s original recipe, but seriously it saved me a lot of time and effort and the end result was just as tasty. The best thing about it is that it appeals to my lazy winter self – after the prep work all you have to do is leave it simmering away on the stove for a few hours, then reduce the liquid and skim off the fat and it’s done! It’s the lazy person’s version of Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

1.5kg stewing beef, cut into 2.5cm cubes
Plain flour
150g bacon, sliced into 1cm sticks
3 carrots, sliced
1 onion, sliced
18 to 24 pickling onions (I didn’t have these so I replaced it with 2 large brown onions, cut into 8 pieces)
750ml (3 cups) red wine
500-750ml (2-3 cups) beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
500g mushrooms, quartered

1. Making sure the beef is dry by patting with paper towels, coat the beef cubes in flour and set aside. Fry the bacon in some olive oil in a large casserole dish on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown. Remove from the pot. Add the beef cubes a few at a time to avoid overcrowding, and brown on all sides. Set aside with the bacon. Continue adding the beef cubes until they are all browned. Adding more olive oil if required, brown the sliced onion and carrots. Drain any excess fat and then return the bacon and beef to the pot.

2. Add the wine and enough stock to the pot so the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat so that the liquid simmers slowly for 3 to 4 hours or until the fork pierces the beef easily.

3. While the beef is cooking, heat the butter in a skillet and add mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes until they just start to brown, then remove from heat and set aside.

4. When the meat is ready, add the mushrooms to it. (If you want you can strain out the liquid first to make it easier to skim off the fat, but I’m too lazy =P). Simmer uncovered to reduce the liquid until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly. As the fat rises to the surface, skim it off and discard. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock to thin it down. Season with salt and pepper but taste it first because it can already be quite salty depending on what stock you use. Serve with mashed potatoes or steamed/boiled baby potatoes. Or any other carb that takes your fancy.

11 thoughts on “Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon”

  1. ooh ive always wanted to make beef bourguignon but have been too lazy to do all the steps hehe thanks for the short cuts!

  2. I'm all for shortcuts as long as it doesn't impact greatly on the final result. And long cooking times are okay as long as short prep time and short washing-up time are on the agenda!

  3. Ooooh, I love Boeuf Bourguignon.

    I made one a couple of winters ago in the UK along with a gratin dauphinois and it was heaven. So rich, so tender, just the comfort food I needed after a horrible week.

    I used the Joanne Harris recipe (aka the author of Chocolat) and can definitely recommend that one too.

  4. Mmm what a fantastic comforting dish this is and what is even better is that you've provided us with shortcuts. Thanks so much!

  5. I love it. I do believe Julia Child would approve afterall she 'adapted' traditional French Food for the American housewife during her era (which I'm sure translated with a few short cuts of her own too!) I'm all for shortcuts if the end product is the same or better and I share with you yummy comfort foods on these wet and windy and cold late winter days.
    Cheers Ann

  6. I completely agree with you on the shortcuts – it's all very well to have a slow-cooked meal, but by the time you prep and cook, winter is almost over! Love how the rich sauce of your beef bourguignon is dripping over the mash (yum!).

  7. Oh, I was going to make one of these real soon. Nice that you've put up a recipe. Saves me having to look around for one :)

    Nice work with the dish. Looks so comforting :)

  8. Like all the other people who saw that movie I've been wanting to make that dish for ages – but having read her book beforehand I was seriously put off. It sounded like a nightmare for her! Will try the shortened version of yours – it's not sacriligeous – it's time saving!

  9. Hi chocolatesuze – No worries! It is a bit time consuming to make especially Julia Child's version

    Hi mademoiselle dêlicieuse – I totally agree! I'll happily sit there and wait for something to cook but if there's an hour prep and heaps of washing up to do afterwards count me out!

    Hi Richard – I didn't know Joanne Harris had a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon, I must check it out! I think it'd be so good with some gratin dauphinois especially in the UK winter.

    Hi Stephcookie – Hearty meat stews in winter = hell yes!

    Hi Phuoc'n Delicious – Hehe you're welcome! This is one of my ultimate comfort foods I think, especially with some creamy mashed potato on the side!

    Hi Anna – I can only hope that Julia Child would approve of my shortcuts haha but I think it just might be me being lazy =P

    Hi OohLookBel – LOL yes and it doesn't help that I'm slow at prep work as well, so the shortcuts are a bit of a lifesaver for me. Otherwise I just get an extra pair of hands to help me out :)

    Hi Simon – Thanks! You should make one while it's still winter, I think (and hope) that spring is just around the corner!

    Hi Julie – Thank you :) One of the few things I love about winter is getting to eat dishes like this

    Hi Forager – Haha thanks, I did try the original recipe but I did it over two days so it wasn't too bad. It did put me off making it again until the following winter though!

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