Saturday, December 7, 2013

Julia Childs' Famous Boeuf Bourguignon

Tougher cuts of beef can be prepared in a number of ways to render them juicy and flavorful, but perhaps none is more famous than the method Julia Child demonstrated in her first episode of Public Television's the French Chef way back in 1963.  Now you may be scared off by the French name but it really refers to beef prepared in the style of the peasants that lived in the Burgundy region of France.  If peasants can prepare this dish, so can you!

Julian's Bouef Bourguignon ~ Delicious!
Like most places, the less fortunate in life had to make do with the less desirable (less tender) parts of the meat and I'm sure this is what developed the cooking techniques that evolved.  And as wine was plentiful in Burgundy, it became a key ingredient in preparing this classic dish.

The dish bears some resemblance to other beef dishes like Classic Yankee Pot Roast and Old Fashioned Country Roundsteak.  Beef stew also shares techniques with this hearty meal, as the meat is cut into pieces and cooked in a sauce for tenderizing. The key elements here are browning the meat first, then cooking it in liquid slowly for 3-4 hours.  Many variations on this theme will work, and you need not follow Julia's classic technique to the letter for a successful dinner, so long as you remember the key elements. I strongly suggest using red wine, onions and mushrooms, but you may omit anything that doesn't suit your taste or add carrots or other vegetables for flavor.

Rather than reproduce her technique for you as I normally do, instead you can watch the famous episode in its entirety here, and get the techniques straight from Julia.  It's a relatively short video.

As you can see in my photos, I did serve it with the classic boiled potatoes and as she suggests, I also added the mushrooms just at the end so they 'don't disappear into the sauce'.  The meat does come out fork tender and packed with flavor.  Cutting into large chunks to begin with renders smaller, nice sized pieces for serving, each coated all around in that silky flavorful sauce.  I did use a good Burgundy wine as she suggests, but I've had equal success with all good hearty red wines when making this classic dish.  If for some reason you don't wish to use wine, substitute with 50/50 beef/chicken broth.

Served with the classic boiled potatoes and green beans.

Note to self "buy more Burgundy wine next time."

1 comment:

  1. I just made an old favorite this weekend, beef stroganoff. When I was a kid my mom made it with flank steak. I made it the original way with filet and boy was it amazing. Rare and tender and amazing. I have tried playing with cuts in recipes, switching good for lower cuts. I want to try a Bourguignon next. The trick is to use a lesser cut to flavor the sauce like oxtails and then add the filet at the end. Best of both worlds and fun to play with.

    Must say though, her original is pretty amazing. Lovely job. There is never enough good Burgundy!