Julia Child’s Boeuf a la Bourguignonne

I so wish there were a blog genie! After spending nearly 6 hours preparing and cooking this delightful dish, the last thing I want to do is to write up the whole experience (I am super excited to write about it but soooo tired).

And yes, the reason I made this dish was because I watched ‘Julie & Julia’. Who hasn’t watched it if you love food, blogging or Julia Child? I watched the film a while back and the week that I started this blog we watched it again. Then I started to read more on Julia Child and started to watch ‘The French Chef’, Julia’s first television program. I have with me at all times my little notebook. I put everything food related into it and would be lost if I couldn’t find it. But in it is my list of foods that I want to cook. Boeuf a la Bourguignonne was somewhere in the middle of my list (as it was Julia’s first ever recipe on ‘The French Chef’) and I was waiting until I felt daring enough to make it. When we recently went to a wedding, we had beef with a bourguignon sauce and my father has requested it for his next visit, so giving myself ample time to, lets face it, mess it up and redo it, I decided to make this for dinner this weekend. Well I followed the recipe and took no short cuts this time and I didn’t mess it up! Yippie, it was delicious! Which was lucky as I had invited friends over to be my tasters.

For days now I have been wandering the house trying to talk like Julia Child and saying ‘Bon appetit’ for every meal. I felt like I should have donned a Julia-esq outfit and pearls while making this but that may have been a bit over the top. I don’t own a copy of her ‘Mastering the art of French cooking’ but it is certainly on my Christmas wish list now! Without rabbiting on for hours, here is my effort at Julia Child’s Boeuf a la Bourguignonne.



(Beef bourguignon)

This is actually quite easy if you already have a grasp on stews or sauteing but it is time intensive! While waiting in between the different steps to this, I sat in the kitchen listening to music and poured myself a glass of wine. The smells that fill your kitchen during making this are divine and make you so so so hungry.

  • 250 g bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1700 g lean stewing beef, cut into big chunks ( I like bigger chunks)
  • 1 carrot, chopped roughly
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 600 ml full-bodied red wine (I used a Merlot)
  • 500 ml good beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled

For the brown-braised onions (Oignons Glacés à Brun)

  • 360 g small whole shallots (about 1 inch wide)
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150 ml beef stock
  • Salt and pepper

For the sautéed mushrooms (Champignons Sautés au Beurre)

  • 450 g mushrooms, quartered
  • 100 g butter
  • Salt and pepper


The best thing you can do is to get all your ingredients chopped, cleaned, peeled, measured and ready to go. This makes it really easy to just reach for the relative ingredient and stops you from panicking and burning things.

Preheat your oven to 230 °c  (mine is a fan oven). On a layer of kitchen towel, layer your beef and on top, pat dry with another layer of kitchen towel. Your beef will not brown if it is wet or if you overcrowd the pan.

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In a big casserole dish, heat the oil over a medium heat and add the bacon. I used normal streaky bacon, but Julia calls for chunk bacon, cut into smallish pieces. Normal bacon works just fine.


Cook for a few minutes until the bacon has rendered its fat and juices and is going nicely brown.  Leaving the juices in the pan, remove the bacon and set aside. In the bacon juices, brown the beef for a minute or two on each side. If they aren’t going brown, your pan is either not hot enough, your beef is too damp or you are overcrowding the beef in the pan. Do this in small batches and that way if you need to tweak any of these issues you can do so with the next batch.


Once all your beef is browned and set aside, add the chopped onions and carrot to the pan and cook for another few minutes until browning. Add the beef and bacon back into the pan. Add your flour on top of this and gently mix. Pop this into the oven uncovered for 3-4 minutes. Remove, stir again and pop it back into the oven for a further 3-4 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Turn the oven heat down to 160 °c.

Add your wine (Julia says to use Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy), beef stock (just enough to cover the beef barely), tomato paste, garlic, and thyme. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then, cover the pan, and pop it in the oven. Cook, covered, for about 3 hours. Checking every hour or so to make sure that the dish is simmering nicely and mix gently to ensure everything cooks evenly.

While the beef is in the oven, prepare your onions and mushrooms. Then you can sit back and relax until the final few stages of this dish.

For the onions:

Add your oil and butter to a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add your onions to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Shake or swirl the pan every few minutes to gently roll the onions to brown evenly. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer slowly for about 15-20 minutes. Check the pan at the 15 minute mark. Most of the liquid should have evaporated and formed a brown glaze around the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

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For the mushrooms:

Heat the butter in a  pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. I didn’t want to over cook the mushrooms as they will be going into the pan with the beef later and I love when mushrooms are still obviously present and have an individual taste. Season and set aside.

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Once the beef has had it’s 3 hours in the oven, remove and strain the beef over a big bowl to collect the liquid. Remove the carrot and onion chunks and return the beef to the casserole dish. The reason for separating the liquid from the beef is so that any unwanted fats can be collected (skim them off the top with a spoon). This step isn’t hugely necessary and one can skip it if too tired. But do remove any noticeable carrot chunks.

Add the onions and the mushrooms to the beef and pour the liquid over and gently mix. Taste and season if needed. This dish can be eaten straight away but also you can make it the day before (as I did) as the flavours meld even more. Serve with mash potatoes and green beans. Eh Voila…


Bon appetit!

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