Julia’s Acclaimed Boeuf Bourguinon [beef stewed in red wine]

With a cold snap comes flannel pjs, warm socks and stew. There is a fire warming my living room and the oven warming my kitchen, the smell of boeuf bourguinon drifted throughout the house this afternoon.

Armed with my Julia Child bible. Research formed from Gordon Ramsey, and the Barefoot contessa. I felt confident I would arrive at a very tasty boeuf bourguinon. Just to put it out there, I start ever recipe terrified it won’t turn out and therefore wasting my time, and my money. This is why I’ve put off learning real recipes. I’ve realized confidence comes from a multitude of resources. Julia says we must be fearless.

I started by boiling the bacon, it then foamed white. As I heated the oil in my Dutch oven over the stove. With a slotted spoon I move the bacon into the oil and begin to brown on a medium heat. After removing the bacon and setting it aside.  I began to brown the beef. This has always been a problem for me, as much of my experience is inconsistent. The beef browns properly. I’ve now realized it’s a matter of heat, amount of oil, and spacing. Adding the dried beef chunks pieces largest to smallest. As largest need to cook longer.

Note: I did leave some bits of bacon in with the meat to cook in more natural oils.

The browning on the bottom of the pan forming in that photo as Gordon Ramsay says is all the flavor. So as I flip each piece I try to lift that ‘flavor’ as well. Seasoning the beef and remove it. Add in the chopped onions and carrots. Adding the carrots first because they are denser. They need more time. The onions need only change colour from white to clear to know they are finished. Before adding the bacon and beef cubes again. Season and add 2 tables of flour. With a light toss. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put it in a preheated oven at 425°. Only for 4 minuets. Then toss again, lid on, and back to the oven to toast for another 4 minutes.

Once toasted I took it from the oven. The recipe calls for 3 cups of wine. Of Julia’s suggested I went with a Côté de Rhône. But based on what the Barefoot contessa suggests. The liquid total should not completely cover the meat otherwise there will likely be to much liquid. So I decided I would boil off the excess vino. Until I new the beef bouillon would take the liquid up to the right amount. Resetting the oven to 325°.

The smell of the wine boiling down was intoxicating fruity flavors, different aromas banding together. Including the thyme, Bay leaves, parsley, and salt and pepper to season only. Minced garlic, and tomato paste simmer. I immediately close the lid tightly. Holding that gentle simmer achieve on the stove top and put it in the center of the oven. An hour and a half layer I took it out.

Note: I did add an extra Bay leaf. Also an extra garlic clove.

At this point I taste it.

I’m so excited I call up to my husband to ‘Come quick!’. Before he takes a bite I make him swear never to make trouble about me buying cook books. I didn’t even wait for him to agree. His face said it all.

So flavorful I decide to pair it with a very plain mash potato. While I boil the potatoes and the stew finished up in the oven. I take Julia up on her suggestion of adding champignons sautés au beurré, or mushrooms sautéed in butter with salt and her braised pearl onions.

This dish definitely lives up to its popularity. The perfect meal for a family, full bodied flavor with available cost efficient ingredients that should be found in every families home. Absolutely delectable.

Note: When I boiled off the wine.  I took a chance in following the Barefoot Contessa’s advice. So I kept an eye on the cook time given the less liquid. Then found the recipe made to perfection the about a 45 mins to a half hour before the 2.5 hours Julia recommends.  Since this is made in a dutch oven. If you find it is finished before you potatoes and mushrooms. Pull the dutch oven out of your oven and leave it with the lid on, it will keep warm and stop reducing. Given the result, I’ve written down these changes to replicate them.

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