But when you attend the Julie & Julia movie, you’ll understand this urge to make boeuf bourguignon. The dish was practically one of the actors in the film, its prominence a delightful connection between not just two, but three essential characters.
I would guess that for most of my fellow movie goers, the film stirs mouthwatering memories. Sure did for me… on my list of Top Five Favorite Foods Consumed So Far In My Life is a killer boeuf bourguignon I slurped up in a Paris bistro across the boulevard from the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise. You couldn’t get more romantic than that, culinary-ily speaking.
And what put me over the top was the fact that both J&J prepared their boeuf in a Le Cruset red enameled cast iron French oven. Hey, we have one, too!
Would I prepare this again? Between us girls, no. I now have greater respect for Julie Powell conquering Julia Child’s French cooking tome; this recipe used pots, pans, a multitude of measuring cups, casseroles, sieves, ovens, stovetops and required a heck of a lot more steps than this “mad housewife” likes to handle.
And there’s a lot more boeuf in this single recipe than Larry and I consume in probably two months’ time. All that taken into account, however, I was smitten. And it turned out tasty (but not AS tasty as sitting in that Paris restaurant).
Now, you may be asking “what’s the Mad Housewife connection?” They are clever winemakers with darn good stuff. They were also a Meet & Greet sponsor of Camp GetAway for Mothers & Others, a wacky women’s escape weekend. Frankly, I often feel like a Mad Housewife. A bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon was invested in this recipe, sans a swig or two for the hardworking cook. The recipe from Julia Child’s book, The Way to Cook was my guide, but being too much food for just the two of us, I shaved slightly; my version is below. Bon appétit!
Mad Housewife Boeuf Bourguignon
Adapted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child
3 lbs boneless beef stew meat cut into cubes about 1 1/2 to 2 inches
2/3 cup sliced carrots
3 to 4 cups red wine (I used Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 large unpeeled cloves of garlic, smashed
1 14 oz. can drained Italian plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. thyme
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups quartered fresh mushrooms
8 small onions (I used shallots)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels (damp meat won’t brown, we are reminded in the movie). In a heavy 12-inch frying pan, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil until very hot but not smoking. Brown as many pieces of meat as will fit in one layer without crowding, turn frequently to brown all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer browned pieces to casserole.
Skim all but a spoonful of fat from the pan, add carrots to the pan, stir and toss 3 to 4 minutes until browned lightly. Scrape out over the beef. Pour a cup of wine in the frying pan and scrape up any coagulated juices, pour that liquid into the casserole. Then, into the beef, fold garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme and a heavy pinch of salt. Add enough wine to cover the beef.
Bring to a simmer on top the stove* (make sure your casserole is flameproof), cover and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours, until tender. *If your casserole is not flameproof, put the covered dish in a 425 degree F oven for 10 minutes, then turn it down to 325 degrees F to finish the cooking.
Onions and mushrooms: while the meat is cooking, in the frying pan, heat a Tbsp. of oil, add the onions and mushrooms, toss to coat. Brown for 2 to 3 minutes, then add about a half inch of wine, cover and lower the heat to simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until onions are fork-tender. Once done, set aside.
When beef is ready, pour the contents of the casserole into a colander set over a saucepan to drain the juices into the pan. Return the contents to the casserole. Degrease the liquid, taste and season to your liking.
Fold the mushrooms and onions into the casserole. Add enough of the liquid back into the casserole just to cover the beef once again, cover and place back into the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve over cooked noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. Makes 4 servings. Chug the remaining few drops of wine in the bottle, at this point you earned it.