Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon - my first Julia Child recipe

Believe it or not, I hadn't watched Julie & Julia, until just recently.  I told myself I was going to see it when it was in the theater, but not being big movie-goers, we never got around to it.  Instead, we put it to the top of our Netflix queue just in time for the weekend.  When it arrived, I had the brilliant thought (as if I'm the only one that did this) to make Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon to complete our "dinner and a movie" evening.  Those who have made this recipe, know that is dish is like a 5-hour long event.  I was ready though; no plans the whole afternoon besides to cook - I was in heaven!

Even the shopping was fun.  I had never purchased pearl onions before.  They are like the dainty version of regular onions.  I also got to fully explore the wine aisles.  For everyday wine, I tend to stick to the California vineyards and also to $10 or less a bottle.  For this grocery trip, I perused the French land of Burgundy and Bordeaux.  After finding a moderately priced Bordeaux, I grabbed 2 bottles - one for the stew and one to pair with the dish.

Once at home, I began the labor of love.  After cooking up the bacon until lightly browned, I added my dry beef to the pot.  I took extra care to dry the beef in order to ensure proper browning.

I was careful to cook the meat in batches and not over-crowd the pan.  Once the meat was browned, I added the onions and carrots.  They smelled amazing while sauteing in the bacon and beef fat.  Then you complete a process of tossing the beef and vegetable mixture with flour and putting it in a hot oven for a few minutes, stirring, and then putting it  back in again.  Once the flour bonded to the ingredients, I poured the robust Bordeaux into the pot just until it covered the meat.  After adding tomato paste, a bundle of herbs, and garlic, back into the oven it went to simmer the hours away.
For the herbs, since they remain whole, I chose to wrap them neatly in cheesecloth and tie with a string - easier removal for later.  As the beef cooked to it's irresistible tenderness, I peeled, then simmered the dainty onions in butter, olive oil, beef stock, and herbs for about 40-50 minutes.
Once the meat was closer to being done, I also cooked up the mushrooms in their own separate pan.  (Lots of clean up with this recipe!).  I sauteed them in butter and olive oil and they browned up nicely in my new stainless steel All-Clad french skillet.
Finally, the stew was nearly ready.  I took it out of the oven, drained the the meat through a colander over a saucepan, skimmed the fat off the sauce, and combined it all with the pearl onions and mushrooms.  I probably wouldn't go through all of that straining and skimming again, since I'm not sure it really made a difference.  Low and behold, I had a finished product - Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon!
So I suppose I should add my thoughts about the movie, Julie & Julia.  I'm not sure how popular I will be after I say this, but I only thought the movie was so-so.  Just okay.  Maybe I had built it up in my mind so much that I was expecting something more?  As far as food movies go, it didn't inspire me nearly as much as some others, like Tortilla Soup and Mostly Martha.  I guess I didn't see the passion in her cooking, but more in her as a writer and with her contest she was working towards.  The movie was cute, enjoyable, but nothing I need to watch again.  There, I said it.  I'm still a foodie, believe me, and maybe I'm not alone with feeling this movie was a bit lack-luster considering the rich content they had to work with.  Would love to hear your thoughts. 


  1. I liked the movie, probably because I'm more of a writer than a foodie. I'm actually reading the book right now, which is a lot of fun. But it makes me hungry!

  2. Hi, ur blog is really nice & eyecatching, while reading ur blog I truly like it. I just wanna suggest that u should go for blog advertising & marketing there is a site which is offering very unique features at affordable prices there are expert advertising team who will promote ur blog & affiliate ads through all over the networks which will definitely boost ur traffic. Finally I have bookmarked ur blog & also shared this blog to my friends.. i think my friend might too like it hope u have a wonderful day & !!happy blogging!!.

  3. I was inspired to make this by the movie as well. Just need to set aside time. I didn't have any expectations really, so that's probably why I loved the movie so much.

  4. Hi Eric, thanks for the link to the site - I'll check it out!

  5. Kbxmas, Carla, I know I'm definitely in the minority with not really loving the movie. Maybe I was in a weird mood that night!

  6. I really enjoyed the movie and not everyone has to like the same things. It was fun for me to get a view into Julia's life. I never appreciated it before. Thanks for the other movie tips - I am going to check them out!!

  7. I, too, saw the movie and enjoyed it! It actually inspired me to get my family involved in the kitchen, by cooking our way through the Betty Crocker Cookbook. We just started a couple weeks ago and we are having a blast!

    Love the blog!

  8. I love your idea of cooking through the Betty Crocker Cookbook! I'll have to check out your progress!

  9. It’s great that the movie cultivates inspiration but as far as a well-rounded movie goes, I found it to be severely lacking. The movie has a potentially fascinating storyline but the merging of Julie and Julia’s story’s into 1 is best left for book format. I think the downfall of the movie was in the attempt to adapt the book into a short 2 hour movie. This story would be better served as, and deserving of a short mini-series similarly to BBC's adaptation of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth in 1995. Not to be confused with the Americanized 2 hour movie version of P&P produced in 2005. It was so horribly condensed that it completely lacked the proper character development which is an integral part of Jane Austen’s classic novel. I think a bit of the same happen with the adaptation for the J&J movie, which is such a shame when there was plenty of potential for a far better outcome had time been taken to develop the characters and not condense as much as they could into 2 hours. Unfortunately, the result is an average film about the merging of 2 extraordinary stories.