In no way would I ever attempt to compete with Queen Julia in French cooking…..well, okay, maybe kinda sorta. But, like you and me, even the Queen had to start someplace.
Did you know that Julia Child’s TV show, The French Chef, debuted on February 11, 1963, with a simple dish, beef bourguignon? Fancy sounding isn’t it? It only sounds difficult, but the truth is that this recipe originated in the poor peasant cottages of Northern France in a region called Burgundy.
Allow me to introduce you to Julia’s Beef Bourguignon, sorta.
Because the poor peasants in France could not afford the more expensive cuts of meat, Beef Bourguignon was traditionally made with tougher and cheaper cuts. (Although, today, nothing is cheap…) Don’t be dismayed. There is magic to be found in cheaper, tougher cuts. You see, because the meat was so tough, it was necessary to simmer and stew the meat longer…. which in turn allowed the meat to be infused with flavors of the garlic, onion, herbs and wine….Ahhhhhhh, that’s the secret….the peasants discovered that wine makes, even the toughest cuts of meat, tender. This delightful process transformed their poor shabby (chic) cottages into dining rooms fit for a king.
This is where we come in…..it’s Saturday, the kids are playing. I have all day to do as I please, but I know by evening everyone will be exhausted and starving…what to do…..easy. Put this dish on to cook and get busy doing what needs to be done….all the while, a delightful aroma wafts through the house leaving everyone anticipating supper.
Or it’s Sunday morning and time for Sunday School, then church, and the dreaded ride home with everyone hungry for food. Real food because they’ve had fast food too much this week, but what to do? Begin preparations on Saturday and have this ready to pop into the oven before you leave for church. 2-3 hours later….dinner’s ready. The house will smell heavenly when you walk through the door.
It’s worth the wait.
Start with a heavy pot. Heavier the better. I use my enamel pot. It’s the heaviest, I have.
Begin by frying 5-6 slices of chopped bacon….
(You don’t have to use bacon and can skip this step altogether and just use bacon drippings you’ve saved or beef tallow. A few tablespoons of olive oil will also work)
Cut the bacon into pieces and fry until crispy and the grease is rendered out of the meat. Careful not to burn. Save the cooked bacon to garnish prior to serving.
While bacon is cooking, rough chop a large onion and 4-5 cloves of garlic.
Once the bacon is removed from the pot, brown the roast in the bacon drippings, on both sides. I use a chuck roast. You may use a rump roast, shoulder roast, round roast. Julia, and most recipes, cut the meat into large chunks…maybe a chuck roast into 8 pieces. Brown on all sides. I prefer to leave mine whole and cut it afterwards. Once both sides of the roast is browned, remove the roast to a platter or board to sit while you cook onions in the drippings, until translucent. Be careful not to cook too high heat, so as not to burn anything.
Now lay that pretty browned roast on top of these onions and cover with 4-5 cups of beef (bone) broth or you may use chicken stock (or a combo of both).
Now, add the garlic and 1-2 cups of carrots…a little bunch of thyme would be nice, too. I usually add my herbs later…some now, some later, works, too. One tablespoon of tomato paste. Add one cup of red wine.
Julia suggests “a full-bodied young red wine: Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux Saint-Émilion, Burgundy, or a Chianti.” Normally, more of an ordinary kitchen wine is used, rather than an expensive one…these were peasants, remember? “Bourgogne” Burgundy is a region in France and the red wine made there is from Pinot Noir grapes. I use whatever I have. Red wine doesn’t last long once it is opened.
Place this on the burner on medium heat until it begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook for 3 hours. It should barely be simmering….just barely.
I make sure my pot is barely cracked so it can let off steam. You will want to check from time to time to be sure it’s not losing too much liquid. If it’s boiling too much, you’ll want to lower heat. If it still is cooking fast on low, then crack the lid some more, to slow it down.
If I were leaving the house, for church or for most of the cooking time, I would probably cook this in the oven, to be safe. Bake at 325* covered for 3 hours. In fact, I suggest cooking this recipe a time or two before leaving it alone to cook. Stoves are all different and you will need to cook this to see what works for your stove.
After the roast is done, remove it again to a cutting board. Add mushrooms, which have been quartered and pearl onions to broth. Add a bunch of thyme and cook over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
Cut meat into chunks and add back to pot with onion and mushrooms. Combine 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 cup water. Stir until dissolved. Add to pot and simmer a few minutes until gravy thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the crispy bacon prior to serving.
You can see how much the liquid cooked down in this pot. There is plenty of gravy left. Perfect served over garlic mashed potatoes or rice. Julia served with boiled potatoes and a salad.
I served with mashed potatoes and butterbeans. Don’t forget a nice roll to sop up all that goodness…you won’t want to waste one drop.
Or as Julia would say “Bon Appetit !”
- 4-5 sliced or bacon cubed and cooked...reserve drippings and bacon
- 1 3-4lb Beef Roast: Chuck, Round, Rump, or Shoulder
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1-2 cups baby carrots or coarsely chopped carrots
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, quartered
- 1/2 lb pearl onions, peeled...(or frozen)
- 1 TBLS Tomato paste
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
- 5-6 cups beef bone broth...preferably homemade 🙂 Or chicken Stock....or a combination
- 1 cup water
- 3 Tbls Cornstarch
- Fry bacon until crispy in heavy pot, drain bacon and set aside..reserve drippings in pot
- In pot of drippings brown meat on all sides...careful not to burn
- Remove roast from pot (place on a plate or board while you sauté large onion)
- Cook large chopped onion in drippings until transparent
- Place Roast back on top of the onions
- Add beef broth, wine, tomato paste, garlic and carrots to pot with roast
- Simmer over low heat until tender...about 3 hours
- Remove roast to a cutting board and cut into large pieces ..about 6-8
- Add pearl onion, mushrooms, thyme to broth and simmer until tender about 20 minutes
- Add beef back to pot with cornstarch that has been dissolved in 1 cup cold water.
- Simmer until gravy is thickened
- Add crispy bacon and additional thyme or parsley for garnish, prior to serving
- Serve with/over mashed potatoes or noodles or rice
- If you'd prefer to cook in oven, Bake covered in 325* preheated oven for 3 hours
- OR in crockpot/ slow cooker on LOW heat for 6-8 hours or 4-5 hours on HIGH