I can remember watching Julia Child at my grandmother’s house when I was little – she had kind of a funny sounding voice and even on television, where sizes and proportions can be warped, she was one of the tallest people I’d ever seen. And The movie Julie & Julia is one of my faves: there’s a lot of food in it and it’s a chronicle about how Food Blogging can change people’s lives.
One of my favorite parts in the movie though is when Julie makes the Beef Bourguignon – it’s a catalyst of events. Judith Jones is coming over for dinner – and Julie decides to make Julia’s Beef Bourguignon. After working all day at her full time job, and this recipe being simple yet extremely time consuming, Julie is waiting for it to be done into the wee hours of the morning. But when the timer dings, she is in La La land, passed out on the couch (Dave can vouch for how many times this happens at our house, only it’s usually at about 8pm vs. midnight) She awakes – the beef is burnt to a crisp, and after calling in sick the next day to recreate the masterpiece, her dinner guest ends up cancelling because it’s ‘raining out’ – WTF. I think anyone can relate to this horrendous series of occurences happening, the best laid out plans going completely wrong (especially in the kitchen!).
So when trying to decide the perfect dish to create for a French themed potluck dinner, I immediately thought of Beef Bourguignon – although I must admit, it’s not Julia’s exact recipe – I found a somewhat simplified version from my girl Ina – some day when I have a good 6-8 hours, I’ll try the real thing, but in the meantime, this was a great ‘sped up’ version of an old Julia Classic.
*Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
*Yields 8-10 servings – 1 serving = about a cup
1 tablespoon good olive oil
(Ina loves “good” things)
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 – 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
2) Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a large plate.
3) Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
4) Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
5) Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme.
6) Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 & 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. (I did mine for 1 hr in the oven and then let it simmer more on the stove top).
7) Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for an additional 15 minutes (or up to 1 hour – this will make the beef even more tender). Season to taste.
6) To serve, toast a baquette or loaf of french bread in the oven and serve the beef atop of that (or mashed potatoes would be delicious too!)
Basically, an amped up beef stew if you will – but the meat was so tender and delicious and the vegetables were cooked perfectly. This could be a really great Christmas Eve dinner for the family, or really on any cold night this Winter (if it ever gets cold – sheesh!) I would definitely give yourself a good three hours to get this together, between the prep time, the cook time in the oven and then some time to simmer on the stovetop.
Best part was that it didn’t take all day and I didn’t fall asleep while making it BONUS!