Mad Housewife Boeuf Bourguignon

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boeuf bourguignonThis stovetop was a total mess.  You should have seen the counters and sinks.  Making Boeuf Bourguignon was like an intense Top Chef challenge with myself.

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
  • Olive oil
  • 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.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk July 1, 2010 at 10:42 am

Jean, now you made me hungry. We’ve been watching classic Julia TV shows these past couple of weeks. She makes you want to do something like this recipe just to please her!

2 Jean at The Delightful Repast July 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

Well, Patti, at least you got right on it! I was all fired up to make it after seeing the movie–hadn’t made it in years–but it was too hot in August. Got distracted while waiting for cooler weather and didn’t actually get around to it until 7 months later! Of course, I made a few changes and simplifications–I can never make anything as written–but it was still a lengthy, but easy, process. And I always make things like that two–not one, but TWO–days ahead. So by the time I’m sitting down to eat it, the work is all forgotten!

3 Courtney December 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Pearl onion trick:

Drop them in boiling water for 3 min then put them in cold water
cut the ends off and pinch them out of their skins. They’ll shoot right out – my 5 year old son loved doing this part as well as the slicing of the mushrooms, well, and the sauteeing and pretty much everything except I did not let him get near the beef during the browning part.

My boeuf is in the oven right now and my mushrooms and onions are done. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

4 Vicky December 8, 2009 at 12:58 am

After having watched Julie & Julia – I couldnt wait to try Julia Childs recipes and esp the boeuf bourguignon. It was one of the most challenging recipes Ive ever tried but definitly the most fun and the results were amazing! Since Ive also tried making ton a la provence and some gratin dishes which were absolutely amazing as well.. although it def calls for a LOT of butter! This may be a silly question but is there any trick to peeling those small pearl onions? It took me ages and made my eyes water so much!

5 Libby August 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I’m going to see the movie tomorrow night… can’t WAIT!. I remember my Mother making this boeuf, but of course, never considered the pots she had to deal with! Congratulations…

6 LavishChic August 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Well, this recipe really is about the beef- but if you want to make a vegetarian stew, I would marinate extra firm tofu in tamari sauce before cooking, and creating your stock using vegatable juice and light soy sauce.

7 Susan August 13, 2009 at 11:52 am

I make this, but all in pot as well. It is really alot simpler without all the sieving, straining and stirring. !
I haven’t gone to see the move yet, but I saw the reviews weren’t good. Did anyone else see it?

8 Michael August 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

I hate to tell you now, but Boeuf Bourguignon can be easily done in one pot. Just cook everything in your enameled dutch oven next time! (Which is how it’s done in the movie.) After you’re done with the beef, throw the mushrooms in the pot, brown them, set them aside, and throw them in at the last 20 minutes of cooking. Which will be much more like making Coq au Vin from Mastering the art of French Cooking Vol 1.

9 CinnamonQuill August 11, 2009 at 6:05 pm

I’ve been so curious about this recipe! Now I just have to figure out how to make a vegetarian variation. Ideas? So homey looking though, and I’m sure it is delectable.
Patti comments: well, since the idea of the recipe is really all about beef, I wouldn’t try to change it to vegetarian. Luckily there are a bazillion vegetarian recipes out there, too.

10 Julieta Cadenas August 11, 2009 at 9:04 am

I hate to say it but that is one of the reasons I stopped making some of her recipes..too many pots! Things have gotten much simpler these days with the same results. All my grandmother’s recipes are like that too. I’ll have to sit down one day and see if i can simplify to make them more appealing. In the fall (too hot now in FL) i am going to post my boeuf which i think is as good or better and much less work! Kudos to you for making it…

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