Thanks to our conversation in culinary school the other day, I FINALLY cracked open myMastering The Art of French Cooking book. I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve never made a Julia Child recipe before. I am happy to report that it certainly won’t be the last.
Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon has seen a resurgence in popularity recently due to the book/movie Julie and Julia. It’s a cute book and a cute, albeit totally different, movie (due partly to the fact that it was based on both the Julie/Julia book and Julia’s My Life in France. I highly recommend both (well, all three).
This is good stuff. It’s pot roast on crack.
Or I guess, pot roast you wouldn’t be embarrassed to serve to company.
But first, a few things about Julia’s writing.
Her recipes are…a little vague. Meaning – she gives you leeway as the cook to use your own judgement. Thing is…most recipes that I am used to are written assuming I am a cooking novice. Directions are spelled out in such a way that I can’t mess it up. Julia kind of assumes I’m not a dummy…even though sometimes…
Case in point:
She tells you to crank up the oven to 450 degrees when you put the beef in. I thought, huh, that seems really really high. Then she says to make sure the beef is at just a simmer – adjusting the heat accordingly. I kind of don’t like that because I don’t like opening the oven door and releasing the heat.
I mean, just TELL US what temp you want it to cook at, ‘mkay? And ok, I just sorta forgot to turn it down… So the heat remained at 450 degrees.
At the two hour mark, I thought MAYBE I should check on it.
THANK GOD I DID because it had already formed a black crust on top. Another twenty minutes and it would have been burned to a crisp. I had saved it just in time.
And oh my goodness. Wow. Rich. The sauce had thickened perfectly and coats your tongue. The meat was meltingly tender. I cannot tell you how good this was.
What else did I learn?
Two-buck Chuck is maybe a wine that doesn’t age well? Ha! Just an FYI. We don’t drink wine at our house so whenever we get a bottle, it sits around. I’m not sure, but I think we had this wine maybe 3 years? There was some heavy duty sediment in the bottom of the bottle. I honestly don’t think this is because it was “well aged”. Anyhoo, it did no harm. Maybe it added some good flavor?
Oh – and I screwed up the pearl onions part. I searched for frozen pearl onions because I did NOT want to go through the trouble of peeling the little buggers, but I could not find them. Alas, I got frustrated, the onions weren’t cooked correctly, yadda yadda.
And my final screw up? Due to the fact that I essentially overcooked the dish, there was no straining of the sauce at the end. Which maybe turned out to be a benefit since, like I said, I was frustrated by the end of my cooking expedition (note: maybe making Beef Bourguignon, Bolognese sauce and Sourdough bread all at the same time is A LITTLE overboard… so take what I say about being frustrated with a grain of salt).
Anyhoo, because the recipe is lengthy and I want to give you the full experience of Julia’s recipe writing (read: I am l.a.z.y), here’s a link to the recipe in Julia’s own words.
Julia Child’s Beef (Boeuf) Bourguignon
And finally, just an FYI – what kind of cuts of meat are appropriate for this dish? This is what Julia says:
(From Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
The better the meat, the better the stew. While cheaper and coarser cuts may be used, the following are most recommended. Count on 1 pound of boneless meat, trimmed of fat, for 2 people; 3 if the rest of the menu is large.
First choice: Rump Pot Roast—Pointe de Culotte, or Aiguillette de Rumstek
Other choices: Chuck Pot Roast—Paleron, or Macreuse à Pot-au-feu
Sirloin Tip—Tranche Grasse
Top Round—Tende de Tranche
Bottom Round—Gîte à la Noix
Ms. Pantry Raid