Monday, May 14, 2012

Bouef(Beef) Bourguignon- Daring Cooks Challenge- May 2012

Bonjour! It is May 14th and time for yet another Daring Cook's Challenge. 

Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.

Further to that announcement, Fabi's challenge called for Julia Child's version of Bouef, from her book, "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking"

I was most overjoyed and somewhat overwhelmed. My fascination, both with Julia, the person and this ever famous dish, came subsequent to my viewing of Julie and Julia.

I hate to admit though, procrastination sometimes gets the better of me- I waited, until, quite literally, the last moment to finally ride out this challenge. Not a very resourceful predicament, you see, I needed to make the dish today, photograph that finished product today, type out my post today, and publish, hopefully, before midnight tonight.

It didn't help matters that since I inhabit the land of extreme heat, having my oven on for a looong 3 hours, made the entire process a tad bit uncomfortable.
Alongside the fact that it would be a most perfect spread for a cooler time of year, beef bourguignon may not be the ideal meal when you're pressed for time, either. Resplendent, though it is, bouef prep does involve many winding, lengthy steps.

Daunting at first, reading the recipe over and over again helped me to gain the confidence needed in progressing through each step, until I finally got the gumption to complete the task. Not to mention, conquering techniques that I've never really come across in the kitchen. How many times have you blanched bacon rind or brown- braised white onions?

Though, looking back on the process, after the intial chop, followed by a myriad of sautes, you stick most of the ingredients in a pot, and while it cooks for 3 hours or so, you go about your business- with the exception of some interim braising and browning. Not too complicated, right?

The whole cooking experience was calmingly nice and went like clockwork. I had the book in front me, Fabi's additional directions, JZ hovering over my shoulders, since he couldn't keep away from the come- hither smell of bacon and beef, as I chopped, blanched, braised and cooked my way into one of the most awesome beef stews ever experienced in my life.

The stew's aromas wafting throughout the home were so intensely, delightfully good, that we longed to cut short the cook time, to ingest the whole thing a little bit sooner. 

I did, however, have to adjust a couple of things, like I mentioned I waited till the nth hour to purchase a few ingredients and then could not find a store nearby that housed them.

My adjustments : In place of the chunky bacon I used a cut portion of salted pork, with the rind intact. It pretty much tasted like bacon and had enough fat attached to it to render for the frying and contribute to  the overall uniform taste. For small onions, I went and bought the frozen pearls, they don't hold as well, but still were a good alternative.

The multi- hour braise ensured chunky pieces of meat to tenderize and fall apart in your mouth. Every staggeringly good mouthful had you hankering for the next. The buttered mushrooms and the pearly little onions converged in unison to bring a new dimension of rich textured flavor.

Simply put,  beef bourguignon is astoundingly delicious.

Thank you, Fabi for such an inspiring and classically French recipe challenge .

A word of advice, after taking that first bite of bouef, you might feel the urge to converse in French.

Merci beaucoup mes amis!

Toujours bon appetit!

Preparation time: 5 hours (Including 3-4 hours cooking time in the oven) 

Equipment required:
  • 1 large Dutch oven/cast iron casserole, or an oven proof dish, possibly lidded, otherwise a double piece of aluminium foil will do the trick.
  • 1 sauce pan
  • 1 cutting board
  • Knives
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Beef Bourgignon :

Recipe Source: Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon from her book, "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking."


  • 1 6 oz. chunk of bacon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 pounds stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp  salt
  • 1/2 tsp  pepper
  • 3 tbsp  flour
  • 3 cups young- bodied red wine. Suggestions: Bourgogne, of course, but also Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 carrot, sliced 
  • 1 onion, sliced in julienne
  •  2-3 cups of beef stock or beef bouillon (enough for stew and braising onions)
  • 1 tbsp  tomato paste or tomato puree
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • ½ tsp  thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  blanched bacon rind
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 18-24 small onions, brown-braised in stock( method given below) 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 pound small mushrooms ( if large, slice or quarter) 
  • Fresh parsley sprigs to serve

  • Preheat oven to 450° F
  • Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons. Cut the bacon into lardons (Sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1 ½ inch long. Simmer rind and lardons in 4 cups  of water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry.
  •  Saute lardons in 1 tbsp olive oil in a heatproof casserole over moderate heat, until lightly brown, 2-3 minutes. Remove to side dish.

  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in casserole. Dry beef on paper towels- it won't brown if it's damp. Saute beef a few pieces at a time until evenly browned. Keep it aside with the lardons. 
  • Still in the same casserole/pan using same fat, saute the carrot and the onion until lightly browned
  • Return the bacon lardons and the beef to casserole with the vegetables. Sprinkle it with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper , then add the flour and toss to coat the beef.
  • Place the casserole/dish uncovered in the middle position of the oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for another 4 minutes. This gives the meat a lovely crust.
  • Remove the casserole/dish from the oven and bring down oven temp to 325° F. Stir in the wine,   enough stock so as barely cover meat. Stir in tomato paste, mashed garlic cloves, thyme, bay and the blanched bacon rind.
  • Bring the filled casserole to simmering point on the stove. Now, if you were using a frying pan, discard it and put the stew in an oven proof dish.
  • Cover the casserole either with a lid or tightly with aluminum foil so as not to lose any of the juices) and place it lower third of the oven. Regulate heat, so that the liquid simmers slow and steady, for about 2-3 hours. While the stew is cooking, prepare onions and mushrooms.
  • For the small onions, melt 1 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 1/2 tbsp oil in a pan and saute the peeled onions until golden brown. Add beef stock until they are almost covered and simmer for 30 minutes, carefully turning them as they cook, or until most of the liquid disappears and they are tender but  retain round shape. Set them aside.
  • Saute mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter, stir until they’re nicely brown. Set aside.
  • After 3 hours, when meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve over a saucepan, wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Place onions and mushrooms over the meat.
  • Skim the fat off the sauce. Put the saucepan on the stove and simmer it for 2-3 minutes. Skim additional fat if it rises. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. If not, boil it until it thickens. If it’s too thick, stir in some stock or bouillon to make it lighter. At this point taste for seasoning, add if needed.
  • Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Put the casserole on the stove or in the oven and reheat for 2-3 minutes right before serving, basting meat and vegetables with the sauce. Serve it in the casserole with some sprigs of fresh parsley. 
This recipe serves 6.
I served this along with some lovely smashed red potatoes.
Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: You can keep leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you want to freeze it, it lasts up to 3 months.

Fabi's additional notes:
The recipe gives its best when made in a dutch oven or casserole.
Some people add, 10 minutes before serving, a couple of spoonfuls of beurre manié (A paste made of 50% flour and 50% butter) in order to thicken the sauce and make it look more brilliant. I don’t add it cause I like the sauce just the way it is, but if you heard about it and want to try, please feel free to do it.
My notes:
Don't overcrowd pan when sauteing any of the ingredients, whether it be the beef for browning, onions or mushrooms. Instead of the browned effect, you will get a boiled, overcooked outcome- not wanted!

Last word of advice- Try not to simplify too much any of the steps or ingredients, the whole process in and of itself guarantees a robust, optimum flavored dish.

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun!" Julia Child

Inspiration from the French Chef, herself... *Update- 5/19/2012* The original Julia Child video that I'd imbedded here was removed by the user, I've replaced it with a clip from the movie, "Julia and Julia", where Amy Adams' character highlights the dish.

Joyful cooking!

" A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song." Pr.15:15 (MSG)


  1. Absolutely delicious n fingerlicking one!!

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  2. Replies
    1. What a great job on a "last minute" (or should we say last 5 hours)challenge meal.

    2. Thank you Claudia, yes,looking back, it seemed as though it were 5 minutes, except for the waiting- to -eat- the- challenge part.

  3. such a great recipe, so so delicious.

  4. I've always loved boeuf bourgignon and it was one of the first recipes I made from MTAOFC when I first opened those books. Even though it is typically a fall/winter dish I like to make it year round. To get around heating up my house in the summer I use my gas grill and simply put my french oven in it over medium low flame and close the lid, checking it ever 45 minutes or so. That way the heat stays outside and I get yummy beef stew in the summer without sweating to death.

    If you want to try a simplified beef burgundy you should look up Les Halles's recipe. I have it in Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook and it is a wonderful alternative to the classic preparation.

    1. Great idea with the grill, might try that. Thanks for the additional recipe advice- I may give it a go some time...though, being the classic first recipe, the elaborateness of this one made it all the more alluring and may always stay my favorite .

  5. LOve the little dishes! Great job!

    1. Thank you so much! I thought they were perfect for this display :)

  6. I totally agree Tisa, this one needed reading over and over again but once you get started you realize it is not that hard
    You did a brilliant job on this challenge and your pictures are the most beautiful I have seen on this challenge

    1. Thanks so much Sawsan, the pictures are always the toughest part for me...I should come to you for some lessons :)

  7. Great job on this month's challenge! Plus, I love the inclusion of Julia doing her thing back in the day. I got to see her kitchen when they rebuilt it at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and it was rather incredible how she cranked out such delicious dishes in that itty bitty space.

    1. Thank you Angela. How fortunate of you to have seen her kitchen! I know it was a backdrop for many of her cooking shows, to have experienced it in person must have been so inspiring .

    2. It was pretty sweet - they had these videos of her showing how she used all of her cookware right next to the actual cookware. I almost didn't mind it when she ragged on how bad food processors were to her as she demonstrated how to use a tamis to make lobster butter. The woman was a master of her craft!

    3. You make it sound so alluring . Those sieves probably yielded more flavor than our everyday Cuisinart ;-) She was the consummate chef. Joyful cooking to you Angela!

  8. Just saying the name of this dish makes me feel classy - beautiful photos of one very successfully completed challenge my friend :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Thanks Uru- the compliments on the pictures make me feel humbled... thank you again for such great support, girlie:)

  9. This is the kind of food that I need to cook now for our chilly down under winter. This dish looks so comforting to cook and eat. Yum!

    Your blog is awesome and here I am being your latest follower :D

    1. Thank you so much Zoe! I very much appreciate your thought felt comments . With you having the winter months now, the dish will fit right in. Hope you enjoy making it and thanks for the follow :)

  10. Awesome job! Your BB is simply stunning! I bet it was delicious on the mashed potatoes (we did noodles). Great job!

    1. Thank you so much! I really wanted to try it the next day with noodles, but didn't have enough leftover. Next time that will be the side :)

  11. I was wondering if you would like to put up a link to this beef recipe in my Food on Friday Series.

    1. Great that you linked in, thanks.
      I'll fix the link so it goes straight to the beef recipe and put in the title.

  12. Hi Tisa,
    I really love your recipes and reading your posts. So much so that I have just nominated you & your blog for The One Lovely Blog Award! Stop by She Loves Simple for more information!
    I look forward to getting to know you!

    1. Thank you so much Cathy for this wonderful and inspiring award. Most grateful for the encouragement, new blogging friend :-D

  13. Hi there. Just to let you know that this lovely post has been featured today in my Need Some Inspiration? series. You originally linked in to Food on Friday: Beef. Have a great week.

    1. Thanks Carole for letting me know and thanks for the link. Your an inspiration!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!