Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon


a/k/a Beef Burgundy, This Classic French Dish Is Perfect for Fall Entertaining

Julia Child introduced the US to Boeuf Bourguignon in the 1960s. Until then, the few Americans who knew about the dish had encountered it in a French restaurant or on travels abroad.

Then we saw Julia cook it on her PBS television show, The French Chef — and we were smitten! It was so exotic and delicious. And once you got past the fancy French name, it was really nothing more than beef stew. Boeuf Bourguignon instantly became the entertaining dish in the 60s — and for a decade or two beyond.

It seems to have fallen out of fashion in recent years, which is too bad. Because you can prepare most of it a day or two ahead, and then finish it when you’re ready to serve — perfect for entertaining.



Boeuf Bourguignon on Plate with Homemade Noodles and Parsley Garnish

Recipe:  Boeuf Bourguignon

There are three major steps in making this dish.  In the first step, you cut the beef into cubes and brown them.  You’ll add some vegetables for flavoring, along with wine (a whole bottle!), and usually some beef stock.  If you want, you can do this step a day or two ahead, and let the beef marinate with the wine in the refrigerator.

The second major step:  Slowly braise the meat.  You can do this either on top of the stove or in an oven (my preferred way).  Again, you can do this step in advance.  Simply cook the meat until done, let it cool, then refrigerate with its sauce (cooking liquid) for a day or two.

The third major step is to prepare the small whole onions and mushrooms that traditionally are added to the dish before serving.  It’s also traditional (and a nice touch) to thicken the sauce at this point.  The thickening is best done right before you serve the dish; but see the Procedure and Notes.

Boeuf Bourguignon is traditionally accompanied by boiled potatoes tossed with parsley, but I prefer Homemade Noodles. You could also serve it on a bed of rice or mashed potatoes.

I learned to make this dish from Julia Child’s books, so she is my source. She offers several variations of Boeuf Bourguignon in her cookbooks, but they’re all quite similar. My favorite of her recipes can be found in Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, and my recipe is adapted from that one. This recipe serves 6 to 8, and leftovers keep for several days in the refrigerator.

It’s a bit hard to estimate preparation and cooking time for this recipe, because it depends partially on your skills (and how large a skillet you have for browning meat). Cutting up the meat and chopping vegetables might take 20 minutes (30 tops). Browning the meat usually takes me at least half an hour, often a bit longer. Braising time for the meat is 2 hours, largely unattended. Cooking the onions and mushrooms takes maybe another half hour (though you can prepare them during the final 30 minutes that the meat is cooking). Bottom line? Preparing this dish does take some time. You may want to spread your cooking over 2 or 3 days — see the first Note below for a strategy on how to do this.

Ingredients
  • ½ pound slab bacon or salt pork, cut into pieces measuring about ½-inch x one-inch (optional but mighty tasty)
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil (you may need more as you brown the meat)
  • ~4  pounds boneless chuck roast (see Notes for substitutions)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ~1½ cups peeled onions, cut into ½ inch dice (for flavoring the stock, not for eating)
  • ~1½ cups scrubbed and peeled carrots, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 head garlic, peeled, with the cloves crushed
  • 1 bottle red wine (French burgundy or US pinot noir are ideal; but you can use any hearty red wine you like — see Notes)
  • 14- or 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 - 2 cups beef stock (see Notes for substitution)
  • 1 bag frozen white pearl onions (usually 16 ounces; pearl onions are traditional but optional, IMO)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for cooking the pearl onions
  • 1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for cooking the mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter for cooking the mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (for thickening the sauce; optional but recommended — but see Notes)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine or cold water (for thickening the sauce)
  • chopped parsley as a garnish (optional)
Procedure

(I’m writing the Procedure as if you’ll make this recipe all in one go, but it’s more convenient for most of us to prepare it over 2 or 3 days.  See first Note for specific instructions on how to do this.)
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F if you plan to make this all in one day (see Notes for timing strategy).
  2. Prepare the slab bacon or salt pork, if using.  Fill 1-quart saucepan ¾ of the way with water, and put on stove to heat.  Meanwhile, cut slab bacon or salt pork into strips about 1 inch x ½ inch.  Simmer in saucepan with water for 10 minutes.  After bacon has finished simmering, drain and pat dry.  Heat large frying pan (12 inches is ideal) on medium heat.  When hot, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.  When the oil is hot (it shimmers), add the chunks of slab bacon or salt pork, and sauté for 5 minutes.  Remove bacon and put it into a 5- or 6-quart Dutch oven or casserole.  Don’t dump the oil (and rendered pork fat) from the skillet — you’ll be using it in Step 4.
  3. As the bacon simmers, I usually start cutting the beef into chunks to be browned.  Slice the beef along the natural muscle separations as much as possible, cutting into pieces of anywhere from 1½ inch x 3 inches to chunks of 2 or even 3 inches square.  It’s more important to have uniform sizes than a specific size.  I usually like bigger pieces rather than smaller, but do whatever you prefer.  You’ll be generating some excess fat and gristle as you’re cutting up the beef, so discard that.  Pat the beef chunks dry with paper towels (wet beef doesn’t brown), then lightly salt and pepper.
  4. After you’ve completed Step 2, you can begin browning the beef chunks.  This takes some time and attention to do well — the better the crust you put on the beef chunks, the tastier the stew will be.  (See Notes for discussion of the Maillard reaction.)  Heat the skillet that you used to cook the bacon chunks until the fat is hot, then add a few chunks of beef.  Start with just 4 or 5 at first, because the fat cools as you add the meat.  When the fat returns to heat, add as many beef chunks as will fit comfortably in the hot frying pan.  Do not crowd!  They should not be touching, or they’ll steam rather than brown.  Brown each chunk until the first  side is a deep brown, then (using tongs) turn and brown another side.  This will take at least 5 minutes for the first side, a bit less for subsequent sides.  As each piece becomes fully browned, remove it and place it in the Dutch oven/casserole, and add another piece to the skillet in its place (easy to do when all the pieces are cut to a uniform size — you know the next piece will fit).   Continue (adding more oil if necessary) until all the beef chunks are browned.
  5. While the meat is browning, prepare the onions, carrots, and garlic — keeping a close eye on the browning process.  If you’re not sure you can handle both at the same time, then either do this step first, or do it after the next step.
  6. When all the meat is browned, discard the oil.  You should have a nice, brown crust on the bottom of the frying pan.  Check to make sure the pan crust isn’t burned (if it is, discard it).  Add a cup or so of wine to the frying pan and deglaze the pan:  Using a spoon or wooden spatula, scrape the brown crusty bits off the bottom of the pan until they dissolve in the wine.
  7. Add the contents of the skillet to the Dutch oven/casserole, along with the rest of the wine, the garlic, tomatoes, thyme, and diced onions and carrots.  Add just enough beef stock to barely cover the top of the meat.  Bring meat and wine sauce to a simmer on top of the stove.  Skim off and discard any scum that floats to the top, then cover the Dutch oven/casserole and place it in the oven.  (You can also simmer this gently on top of the stove, though you'll need to check on it from time to time to give it a stir and make sure it's not simmering too vigorously.)  It should take two hours for the meat to braise in the oven, but start checking after 90 minutes.  The meat is done when a fork will easily pierce it, but it isn’t falling apart.
  8. When the meat is done, remove it from the Dutch oven/casserole dish (using tongs) and set aside.  Place a strainer over a large bowl, and pour the contents of the Dutch oven/casserole into it (the strainer will catch the vegetables and stray pieces of meat you may have missed).  Remove any pieces of meat from the strainer (and the bacon, if you wish — I always do) and set aside.  With a spoon, push on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as you can, then discard the vegetables. 
  9. Pour the strained beef stock into a big measuring cup (one of those 8-cup jobs is ideal).  You want to end up with 3 to 4 cups of sauce.  So if you have more than that, pour it into a saucepan and reduce it until you have 3 to 4 cups. 
  10. Pour the sauce into the Dutch oven/casserole and add the meat that you have set aside.  Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning.  Keep warm on low heat while you cook the pearl onions and mushrooms.  (Note:  If you plan to serve from the Dutch/oven casserole, you may want to wash it out before you return the meat and sauce to it.)
  11. (If you prefer, you can do this step and the next one during the last half hour of the beef’s cooking time in Step 7.)  To prepare the pearl onions, place them in a microwave-safe covered dish and nuke them on high until they’re just cooked through — usually about 8 minutes.  Pat the pearl onions dry with paper towels (they may be damp).  Take a skillet just large enough to hold the pearl onions in one layer, and heat on medium.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil.  Heat until it shimmers, then add the pearl onions.  Sauté them until they brown, about 10 minutes.   Add to the Dutch oven/casserole containing the Boeuf Bourguignon.
  12. To prepare the mushrooms:  Heat a skillet, then add 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  When hot, add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until well browned, and add to the Dutch oven/casserole containing the Boeuf Bourguignon.
  13. With the pearl onions and mushrooms added to the dish, you can thicken the sauce if you like.  Here’s how to do it:  Mix corn starch with cold water or wine (make sure you completely dissolve the corn starch).  Remove the Dutch oven/casserole from the heat, and add about half of the corn starch mixture.  Stir to incorporate — it will thicken almost immediately.  If the sauce is still not thick enough (it may not be), add more of the corn starch mixture until the sauce is as thick as you like.
  14. You can serve the Boeuf Bourguignon from the Dutch oven/casserole at table.  Alternatively, you can ladle (or pour) it into a dish and serve from that.  I usually sprinkle on a bit of chopped parsley as a garnish.
Boeuf Bourguignon in White Ramekin with Noodles and Mushrooms, Overhead View on Black

Notes
  • If you want to prepare this recipe partly in advance, there are a couple of natural points where you can pause (just put the ingredients into an airtight container and refrigerate).  The first such point is right after you’ve browned the meat and added it to the Dutch oven/casserole with the wine, stock, and vegetables (Step 7).  At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture for a day or two, and then proceed to braise the meat.  The second natural stopping point is after the meat is cooked and you’ve reduced the sauce (if necessary) to 3 or 4 cups (Step 10).  At this point, you can let the meat and sauce cool, and then refrigerate it until you’re ready to continue.
  • You can also complete the recipe through Step 12, then let the dish cool and refrigerate it (although the flavor will suffer a bit, since mushrooms in particular taste better if freshly prepared).  If you do this, just gently reheat the dish and proceed with Step 13 to thicken the sauce.
  • I like the flavor that bacon (or salt pork) adds to the dish, but incorporating it requires an extra step.  So feel free to skip the bacon/salt pork — you’ll lose a bit of flavor, but just a bit.
  • Same with the pearl onions — they’re nice, but IMO not essential. 
  • You can also skip the mushrooms, if you like.  You’ll still have a really nice stew.  But I should let you know that it’s the mushrooms (along with the onions and wine) that make this dish à la Bourguignonne (for more on that, see the discussion below).
  • If you want to use fresh whole onions rather than frozen in Step 11, buy about a pound of pearl or small onions (no more than an inch in diameter).  To prepare the onions:  Heat a skillet just large enough to hold the onions in one layer.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil.  Heat until it shimmers, then add the onions.  Sauté until the onions begin to brown.  Add enough water so it halfway covers the onions (you could substitute chicken or beef stock, or wine, if you prefer), bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the onions are tender (about 25 minutes).  Add to the Dutch oven/casserole containing the Boeuf Bourguignon.
  • For this dish, you want a cut of meat that holds its texture during the long braising process.  I really like chuck roast.  It’s flavorful, relatively inexpensive, and when you cut it up it’s easy to follow the natural muscle separations, so you can create some good-sized chunks.  But any stewing cut will work.  Top round should also work well.  If in doubt, tell your butcher what you want to make — he’ll have some suggestions.  And if you don't want to face cutting up your own chuck roast, the butcher can do that for you, too.  (You can also buy the "stew meat" the butcher has already packaged, but usually that's not as good a quality as buying a chuck roast.)
  • The crust that forms on the bottom of the pan when you brown meat holds a great deal of flavor — more than the meat itself.  As you brown meat, a process called the Maillard reaction is taking place (named after Louis-Camille Maillard, who described it in 1912). Essentially, this reaction helps intensify the meat flavors — all of which are left on the skillet as crust. We can release these flavors by deglazing the frying pan with a liquid (wine in our case). The liquid not only helps loosen the crust, but also dilutes it. We can then pour the scraped crust and deglazing liquid into the cooking stock, recapturing all the flavor that was left behind. 
  • Most of us aren’t going to spend the $$ to use real French Burgundy in this dish — although of course that would be most appropriate. As noted above, a pinot noir makes an excellent substitute. You could also use a zinfandel, a Côtes du Rhone, or any other hearty red wine with a bit of oomph to it. You should definitely use something that would be good enough to drink on its own, but you don’t have to go overboard. Usually something in the $8 to $12 range is quite nice (though I often go just above that). 
  • Rather than use beef stock, I often dissolve a bit of beef base in some water. Beef base is concentrated beef stock that has been reduced to a paste. It’s more flavorful and much better quality than bouillon cubes. For more detail, see my post Stock Excuses
  • Corn starch isn’t the traditional thickening agent for this dish, but it’s easy and relatively healthy, so that’s what I use. The traditional thickener is beurre manié (French for kneaded butter), which consists of equal parts butter and flour blended (kneaded) together. For the amount of stock used in this recipe, you would probably need a couple of tablespoons each of flour and butter. To make beurre manié, just put the ingredients in a small bowl and blend them with a spatula. Then add a bit of wine or stock to the paste to make it liquid. Add this to the stock, stir it in, and let it cook for 3 or 4 minutes so it has a chance to thicken. If the stock is still not thick enough, repeat the process. Corn starch is easier, IMO. 
  • A great first course where Boeuf Bourguignon is the main attraction might be Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing or Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing.
Boeuf Bourguignon on Plate with Mushrooms and Homemade Noodles and Parsley Garnish

The Origin of Classical French Recipes

Boeuf Bourguignon is also sometimes called Boeuf à la Bourguignonne, which essentially translates as “beef prepared the way they like to make it in the French region of Burgundy” (or in French, Bourgogne). It means that the dish uses wine from Burgundy, which is usually made from pinot noir grapes (that’s why the wine of the same name makes such a great substitute in this recipe).

But the term also indicates that the dish includes salt pork, glazed onions, and sautéed mushrooms. In fact, it’s the presence of the onions and mushrooms that today identifies something as à la Bourguignonne. So how do we know that?

Boeuf Bourguignon probably originated as a peasant dish — one that was less elaborate than what we know today. The recipe for what we now think of as “classic” Boeuf Bourguignon was essentially codified by Georges Auguste Escoffier in his 1903 Le guide culinaire. This seminal work both described and defined French haute cuisine. It is the source for all the Boeuf Bourguignon recipes that have been adapted in cookbooks ever since — as well as most of the other classic French recipes.

Escoffier was a talented cook and a genius in the kitchen.  But his real gift to chefs and diners alike was to develop standard recipes.  This meant that a diner who visited any restaurant serving classical French haute cuisine could order a dish and be confident about exactly what was going to show up on the plate. 

Individual chefs could (and did) display their particular flourishes.  But if something was described as à la Bourguignonne, for example, it had to have a garnish of mushrooms and onions.  (The term “garnish” as used here did not refer to a decorative finishing touch.  It indicated a set of ingredients added to a dish that established its identity.)  The term à la Bourguignonne (entry 353 in Le guide culinaire) includes onions, mushrooms, salt pork, and wine.  Escoffier specifies that the completed dish should be accompanied by the sauce from braising the meat.  This is essentially all the information he gives, but it’s all professional cooks need to prepare this dish — it’s assumed they will already know about browning the meat and so on.

Many of the fancy dishes you see in restaurants have “garnishes” defined by Escoffier.  So you know that whenever you see something prepared à la Florentine, it will include spinach (and Mornay sauce if it’s a fish dish).  That’s entry 383 in Le guide.  Have you ever seen a dish (usually meat) described as à la financière?  Entry 381 tells us the finished dish must have mushrooms and truffles, among other things.  How about meat or poultry prepared à la Parisienne?  It will include Parisienne potatoes (i.e., cut into 1-inch balls), mushrooms, truffles, and a thick velouté sauce.  And it will be finished under a broiler (entry 438).

Nowadays, we’re all about fusion cuisine and being inventive in the kitchen.  We like to create our own recipes rather than slavishly adhere to the old standards.  And that is usually a good thing.  But it’s also valuable (and fun!) to sample some classic dishes — which are, after all, the source from which our modern variations have developed.

Make this Boeuf Bourguignon and you’ll be tasting hundreds of years of cooking history.  And standing on the shoulders of giants.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Homemade Pasta and Noodles
Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Red-Braised Beans with Sweet Potatoes
Red-Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes
Roast Pork

80 comments:

  1. I first fell in love with Julia Child's rendition of beef bourguignon through (can you believe it) the movie Julie and Julia--I had no idea before then what that gorgeous, wonderful woman was all about! I'm so glad you made this history-loaded dish, it looks absolutely divine.

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    1. Hi wallflourgirl, if you haven't, it's worth reading some of Julia Child's cookbooks. Her The Way to Cook is the one to buy if you're buying only one. This is a great dish and worth learning how to make. It has a number of steps, but it's actually a fairly straightforward dish. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. I sent this recipe to my friend, who wants to make it for the first time and your recipes are the best for new cooks... :) (and not only new... )

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    1. Hi Marina, thanks for sending it to your friend, and what a nice thing to say! And thanks for commenting.

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  3. I made this for my birthday a couple of years ago; Julie on DVD and me in the kitchen; it was a day of cooking and then celebrating with friends. Perfect birthday in my book! Looks amazing and now thinking it's time to do it again.

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    1. Hi Barbara, isn't it a great dish? I've been making various permutations of this dish for years. And it's definitely time to do it again! Thanks for your comment.

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  4. Maybe I'm an old fashioned kind of girl because I love boeuf bourguigon...especially this time of the year. I always love all the history that you add to your posts that make them so interesting.

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    1. Hi Karen, isn't it a great dish? One of my all time favorites. Thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

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  5. I love love love beef bourguignon and it was one of the first Julia Child recipes I tried to make, many years ago. I recently watched a bunch of early French Chef episodes and it's amazing how much she resonates today. Your rendition looks absolutely amazing and has definitely made me want to jump to the stove and get cooking right now. I'm so impressed with how appetizing and beautiful you made the meat look! Awesome photos.

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    1. Hi Katherine, Julia really and truly knew what she was doing and why, and also knew what her audience might find difficult, and she always spoke to that. A great teacher, and one of the best at developing and writing recipes that always work. Thanks for the kind words about the photos - high praise coming from such a good photographer like you! And thanks, too, for commenting.

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  6. John this looks beautiful and one of those mushrooms was screaming at me to eat it. If only I could reach into the monitor and grab it.

    Just last week my daughter asked me if I would make it as she pulled out Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I told her I would but haven't yet. Now after looking at your juicy dish I think I'll have to make it soon. Perfect for this gloomy day.

    Thanks for sharing all your tips and links, as always.

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    1. Hi Vicki, it is kind of gloomy today, isn't it? Those mushrooms were delish! All gone now, alas - I'll have to make this again! Thanks for the comment.

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  7. That is such an impressive French dish my friend, you have done it perfectly :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi Uru, it's really a nice dish. And it looks so nice, too. Thanks for your comment.

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  8. My mom loves this dish and I grew up eating it. What a perfect special occasion or hearty meal on a cold day dish!

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    1. Hi everydaymaven, since you grew up with this dish you know how terrific it is. I agree this is perfect on a cold day. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. I would love to cook French at home too but never as good as yours... This look really impressive!

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    1. Hi Zoe, the first time I made this dish it tasted and looked good, but nothing compared to what I do now. A little practice goes a long way in cooking! Thanks for your comment.

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  10. This is a perfect dinner party dish, and your homemade noodles sound so good with it! I love the addition of an entire bottle of wine. How can the sauce not be fantastic?

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    1. Hi Lisa, homemade noodles really are great with this dish (or decent store bought). And the entire bottle of wine adds a lot - I used to make a version with less, and you can really tell the difference once you reduce the sauce. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. This is a really nice recipe, I would definitely take the long process to get its full flavours

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    1. Hi Raymund, you really do get better flavor if you spread the cooking out over 2 or 3 days. I usually do it in 2, but 3 is better. Thanks for your comment.

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  12. This looks crazy rich and delicious. Thanks for all the make-ahead tips, I'm thinking this is the perfect Sunday meal.

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    1. Hi Food Jaunts, this definitely has flavor that you'll notice. And I agree it'd work great for a Sunday meal. Thanks for your comment.

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  13. Are talking about the Julia from the movie? The meal looks amazing. And I like the idea that I can prepare it ahead :)

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    1. Hi Marta, yes, Julia Child in the movie about the blogger. Of course Julia was around way before blogs existed, or ordinary people had computers. ;-) It's a great dish - really worth making. Although you'll have to break down and get that refrigerator if you want to make this ahead! Thanks for your comment.

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  14. Beautifully done! I haven't made this recipe in a couple years...but I'm determined to put it on my menu when there's a nice chill outdoors! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos~

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    1. Hi Lizzy, this is one of those recipes that I usually only do every year or two also. So much fun to eat, though! Thanks for your comment.

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  15. I have never made Boeuf Bourguignon as I don't have much time to do dishes which require slow cooking but your photos have made it looks so glossy and delicious that I am tempted to persuade Adriano to cook it during the weekend. Bacon and red wine must make this a super rich dish - wonderful during the winter.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, this dish does take some time, no doubt, although if you can stretch it out over two days it's not bad at all. It's definitely a better cool weather dish than warm weather, IMO. Although I'd never turn it down no matter what the season! Thanks for your comment.

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  16. I swear I should have some well thought out, intelligent, culinary response but all I can think to say is "get in mah bellah"!

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    1. Hi Kim, it's perfectly OK to come here with your hands up in begging position and a wistful, hungry look on your face. ;-) And yes, you'd definitely like some of this in yer bellah! Thanks for the comment.

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  17. I just want to uncork a bottle of Cab and sit back with this dish. Talk about comfort -- yet still elegant enough for company.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, it's definitely a must to serve this with a nice bottle of wine! And this is one of those rare dishes that is a comfort dish, but one that people perceive as special enough for company, too. Thanks for your comment.

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  18. This is one dish that I've been looking forward to try but haven't had the chance yet. Hopefully soon... especially you prepared it perfectly and now I'm very tempted! It's really interesting to read about this dish which became one of popular French dishes in the US. :)

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    1. Hi Nami, this dish has such great flavor that make it once, you'll make it forever! Really and truly good stuff. Thanks for your comment.

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  19. huhu John!

    My mum knows to prepare a la Bourguignon but I hadn't tried it yet. I like it but I have to be honest it has been a while. My grandmother would make it as well and sometimes serve with french beans because it was the harvesting season. Love your pictures, sooo very tempting. Your killing me with your amazing food on the other side of the world. Imagine that! ;)

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    1. Hi Helene, you should definitely give it a try sometime - you can remember your mom's and grandmother's cooking! Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  20. This is one of my favourite dishes, like you said, it's perfect for entertaining and perfecting for eating! :P I'd eat this at any time of the year really because it's just so delicious. It's been a long time since I made it though, you just reminded me. :)

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    1. Hi Jenny, I've made this dish in every season of the year, and it's always good. Best in the fall and winter, IMO, but I'd certainly enjoy it in the middle of summer, too. Thanks for your comment.

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  21. Such a great post, John! You've meticulously laid out the recipe and process, even giving "make ahead" instructions. Then again, Boeuf Bourguignon deserves no less. And enough cannot be said in praise of the aroma that fills your kitchen while this is in your oven. Oh, man!
    I make this once a year, usually in December, and am sure to make enough to be able to freeze a couple portions. Granted, the dish's Second Coming isn't quite as good as the First but, on a cold January's day here in Chicago, I'm not about to quibble.

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    1. Hi John, you're right about the dish not being quite as good after you freeze it, and I've never been able to figure out why - you'd think it would be great. And the aroma when it's cooking is wonderful! Thanks for bringing that up - I should have (although the post is so long I'd hesitate to add another word!). Thanks for your comment.

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  22. What a terrific post on a classic dish! There's nothing quite like a well-prepared Boeuf Bourguignon on a cool autumn or winter evening. You've also taught me something - I didn't that Escoffier was the person who detailed all of the regional information. What a great resource! And I agree: it's important to know and respect the basics.

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    1. Hi Beth, aw, shucks, thanks for those kind words (and comment). One of the interesting thing about cooking is there are very few "new" recipes or techniques (molecular gastronomy is new; but even sous-vide is just slow poaching/cooking updated big time). It's fun to read Escoffier, although it can be a challenge - he's writing for professional cooks, so he assumes quite a bit of knowledge on the part of the reader. What I find fascinating about him and his period is it was assumed that everyone cooked from more or less the same recipe - originality in recipe writing wasn't that highly regarded back then, as I understand it. What people really valued was perfect technique and execution of the recipe, and of course using the best possible ingredients.

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  23. Well done! I too learned to make this dish from Julia and it is worth every minute and ounce of effort. I especially like your photos on this one--it is hard to make brown food look good, but you did it! Great post on all fronts. :)

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    1. Hi Julia, great dish, isn't it? And Julia is such a great teacher. Thanks for your kind words about the photos, and of course for commenting.

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  24. Exquisite. I will have to "master" this dish to make it my signature French dish ala Julia Child. I remember watching her on PBS a few years ago but reading your inputs makes me believe that I could do it. Thanks for the inspiration!
    malou

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    1. Hi Malou, this is really a reasonably simple dish. There are a number of different steps that require a bit of timing, which makes it more difficult, but nothing all that complicated. Thanks for the comment.

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  25. This a wonderful recipe. The meat looks like it would really nice and tender. And I am sure the flavor is just out of this world. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Word of Deliciousness, the long braise definitely makes the meat tender. No need for a knife! Thanks for the comment.

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  26. Just gorgeous and Julia Childs would be flattered to know that you made such a wonderful dish. When I think of fall I crave these slow cooked wonders of juicy delight. Your dish looks actually glossy and the caramelization from the meat cooking is making me wish I had a dish of this. I just want to make one slight change in your recipe... One bottle of wine for the dish and one bottle of wine for the chef and his/her guests. A great posts with lots of great notes to learn about making this dish. thank, BAM

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    1. Hi Bam, part of the glossiness is because of the corn starch in the thickener - it tends to add a bit of gloss to the sauce. And you definitely want to drink some wine with this! Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  27. I have been off meat and chicken for a couple of weeks, but this dish and your pictures makes me want to try this dish. Great Job!

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    1. Hi May I have that recipe, sorry to tempt you with all this meaty goodness! ;-) Thanks for the kind words, and for commenting.

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  28. My husband loves Boeuf Bourguignon!! And a potato side would be just perfect!

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    1. Hi Baker Street, the potato side is the classic, and for good reason - the flavor of the potatoes with the Boeuf Bourguignon are so perfect! Thanks for your comment.

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    1. Hi Jay, it's totally enjoyable! ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  30. This looks really good even if it does take a while to prepare. I like the way you serve it with noodles. If my son sees this, he is going to ask me to prepare it for him....shhh!

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    1. Hi Biren, serving this with noodles is my favorite combo. Let's hope your son doesn't see this - though you'll be glad if he does. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  31. Boeuf bourguignon always reminds me oj Juile and Julia the movie :)
    It is indeed a wonderfully comforting recipe, sometimes I think the making is even more comforting than actually eating it!

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    1. Hi Sawsan, isn't Boeuf Bourguignon such a wonderful dish? It is indeed comforting! And it's so much fun to make - you're right about that. Although much as I enjoy making it, eating it is definitely better! Thanks for your comment.

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  32. This is one of my favorite dishes and I cook it at least once a year. It spells homey, winter and most of all childhood. Each time. A very happy dish indeed. And yours looks d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.! :)

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    1. Hi Sarah, isn't it a great dish? I usually cook it at least once a year too. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  33. This looks so flavourul and gorgeous. I love the gloss you've achieved on the beef!

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    1. Hi Amanda, this was wonderful! Wish I had more now. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. Stunning photos. I've been dying to try this recipe for a long time but I don't eat bacon/pork - and I have no idea where to find the pearl onions... But I should still give it a try! Thanks for those handy notes! Bookmarking this one for later :D

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    1. Hi Christine, you can easily leave out the bacon or salt pork in this recipe. It does add flavor, but you'll not miss it if it's not there (I sometimes leave it out). If you can't find pearl onions (check your frozen veggie case - Birds Eye sells them, and probably there are other brands), any onion up to about an inch diameter works well. Or again, you can leave them out and use a few more mushrooms - although the onions are traditional, the mushrooms are much more flavorful. Thanks for your comment.

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  35. Oh, Julia Child! Her legend is still here. I personally never made Julia's beef Bourguignon recipe. I should soon. Perfect for fall dinner. Thanks for another great recipe. Loved reading it through.

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    1. Hi Holly, Julia Child sure could cook, and she was great at teaching others how to do it. Most beoeuf bourguignon recipes are quite similar, and even Julia Child has at least 3 recipes with some noticeable differences (mainly different ingredient measurements - some of her recipes call for less wine, for example). Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for commenting.

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  36. What a beautiful job you did with this Boeuf Bourguignon! Totally company impressive. That quite a list of ingredients to tackle, so I love that you've added such detailed notes for those of us who are a bit reluctant to tackle this classic dish.

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    1. Hi Mother Rimmy, this recipe does look a bit scary on first reading - so many ingredients, as you say, and there are several steps. But it's easy to break in down into several steps, which makes it more manageable. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  37. During my first degree, my part-time job was at a PBS station as a board operator. So I had to watch PBS shows always. To this day I still adore all the cooking shows the station has to offer. My favorite was always Julia, and especially loved the ones with Julia and Jacques Pipen! I remember making this for the first time, it is definitely involved, BUT so worth it! Looks fantastic, I may need to make again soon:-) Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, Julia was pretty magical by herself, but she and Jacques really had great chemistry together. They're both such great teachers it's a pleasure to watch them. And you probably do need to make this again soon! Thanks for your comment.

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  38. bonjour, belle recette traditionelle conforme .... Il est vrai que ce blog est tres bien fait et tres explicatif ... continuez à faire connaitre notre cuisine francaise. Moi, je parcours votre blog de l'autre coté de l'atlantique . Bonne journée
    hello, beautiful traditional recipe .... according It is true that this blog is very well done and very explanatory ... continue to make known our French cooking. I run your blog the other side of the Atlantic. good day

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    1. Hi Snoupette, thanks for your kind words, and your comment! I'll definitely be checking out your blog later this week.

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  39. i love this recipe i see you said a 5 or 6 quart dutch oven...all i have is a 5 quart and i would love to make stuff like this and coq au vin...is a 5 quart dutch oven big enough?

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    1. Hi Harold, a five quart one should work fine. Hope you enjoy it, and thanks for the question.

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  40. Damn, look at the enormous ammount of bacon for this boeuf bourguignon!!!
    sounds irresistable...
    ps. i love enjoying it with steaming hot rice too!

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    1. Hi Dedy, I've eaten this dish with rice too! Great combo. And you can never have too much bacon! Thanks for the comment.

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