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.