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Aug 11, 2009 08:55 AM

Julia's Beef Bourguignon

I saw Julia and Julie this weekend, and I loved it! It brought back so many nice memories of spending time with my mother, watching Julia on PBS. I wish my mom could have been sitting next to me in the movie theater, the way I sat next to her when we watched Julia on our sofa at home.
I would like to make the beef bourguignon for dinner for my husband. My problem is the cooking method. I know Julia is all about methods and techniques, but my husband won't eat any meat unless it's cooked to death. I always make his stew type dishes in the crockpot. The chuck meat can cook away for hours and hours and Anyway, if I follow her recipe exactly, except cook it in the crockpot, do you think that will mage a huge difference? I don't have to cook the entire recipe in the crockpot, but the beef has to be in there for hours. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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  1. I think you'll be fine. With JC's BB reciepe I've found a few things are key. The beef chunks must be browned on all sides first; since I make mine in a Dutch oven (and complete the cooking in it) I don't lose any of the good fond, but I'm not sure how that would work in a crockpot. In any event, if you brown in a frypan, try not to lose any of the fond. I've found that the deal breaker for the BB is the stock, and I'll spend a day making my own dark beef stock from roasted bones. It truly makes a huge difference from water or canned/boxed broth. Finally, you should let the meat cook for "hours and hours and hours..." The meat needs to break down and the collagen (sp?) needs to be released. Also I find (not surprisingly) that the BB improves after resting overnight, and is better still the following day, and (if there's any left) it's better still the next day.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TomSwift

      For a humerous take on Julia's recipe take a look at this column from a Canadian newspaper.

      1. re: mexivilla


        I can't access it, because you need to be a paying member. Perhaps you can find a way around it, I'd like to read the article. thx.

    2. I doubt that the liquid will reduce well enough in the crockpot. Your DH should have no problem with BB made the original way, as it is a long braise that thoroughly cooks the meat.

      2 Replies
      1. re: greygarious


        Boeuf Bourguignon is a stew. The meat ain't red -- in fact, it should be near-falling-apart.

        I also love the recommendation to make one's own dark stock from bones and mire poix which are roasted in the oven. I make it by gallons and freeze it. It makes a difference in this recipe and certainly in onion soup gratinee.

        1. re: shaogo

          You are so right! JC's reciepe for onion soup (Mastering vol. 1) is dynamite if you take the time to make a dark beef stock. I'd make the stock by gallons and freeze if I had any room left in my freezers.

      2. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'll make it in my dutch oven, and either not let my husband in the kitchen while it's cooking, or plug the crockpot in and pretend i'm making something! lol. You may think I'm kidding about that...but I'm not. He has 'beef issues'. Anyway, thanks for your replies.

        1. A proper Beef Bourguignon cannot be made in a crockpot, IMO.

          But not to worry, as a the meat in a proper beef bourguignon is cooked until it's falling apart.

          Julia's recipe may seem a bit complicated but it's really pretty easy to make. I've made it many times and it's delicious.

          1. FWIW, this Thursday October 8, PBS Create will air the beef stew/boeuf bourguignon episode of Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home. Their programming repeats four 6-hour blocks over a 24-hr period, so you have several chances to view the half-hour show. to find the schedule in your area.

            5 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              Darn, I was excited to see this and ran to my TV set to program a reminder for this on my PBS channel, only to re-read that it's PBS Create! Sadly, don't get it here. It would have been a wonderful coincidence since I'm planning on attempting Julia's Bourguignon tonight!

              1. re: rockability

                I watched the show twice so I will summarize it for you, but since I don't have MtAoFC I can't tell you if it differs. First, Jacques made pot roast in a dutch oven, with a 5# bottom round. First he trimmed about a half pound of fat from it,rubbed with S&P, then seared it in vegetable oil. He added 1.5 cups of white wine (the white surprised me) and a half cup (or maybe full?) of water, and said that if he had a calf or pig foot he'd put it in at this point, for the gelatin. He had a big coarsely chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, a chopped tomato, and some fresh thyme. Brought it to a simmer, covered, and put in 300 oven for 3-4 hours. At that point he added chunks of turnip, egg-sized whole onions, and baby carrots, then back in oven for another 60-90 min. Out of the oven, he added some peas and a cornstarch slurry on stove heat, to thicken. Total cooking time nearly 5 hours. Meanwhile he prepared a gratin - 5 cups of mashed potato, 3 eggs, S&P, half cup shredded gruyere in a buttered dish, topped with more cheese, 400 degrees for 30 min. Looked luscious.

                Julia's beef burgundy, as she called it: she separated a boneless chuck roast along its natural divisions and trimmed the fat before cutting egg-sized cubes. JP mentioned that shoulder or shank could also be used here. She had cubed and blanched salt pork, which she browned in oil in a thin-looking stainless steel dutch oven, then removed, and seared the dried, S&P'd meat. JP put the carrot, onion, a head of garlic separated into cloves, thyme, not sure about bay, all into cheesecloth and tied it. This was nested into the center of the pot. Almost a full bottle of red wine, type not mentioned. a cup of browned chicken stock and a chopped tomato. Brought to a simmer covered, cooked on stovetop 2-3 hrs. Meanwhile she blanched and peeled pearl onions, and cut an x on the root end. Simmered them in beef stock, butter, and a little sugar. When the liquid had cooked down to almost a glaze, she put the mushrooms on top of the onions and covered the pan, mentioning that this was JP's idea and later that she liked the method. When uncovered again, everything was nice and golden-brown. The sachet was removed and pressed, juices returned to dutch oven. She checked the meat for tenderness, then thickened with beurre manie because cornstarch is less stable. JP wanted to add a glug of red wine, she cautioned him not to ruin the dish, then after tasting agreed it was an improvement and told him to add a bit more. He mentioned that this deepened the flavor and color but was not so much as to impart a raw wine taste. He garnished it with sliced-bread croutons dipped in the sauce, then pressed into parsley.

                I never before noticed that they have different burners. They work side-by-side on a butcher-block island but on JP's end there are 2 (or 4?) gas burners while JC has 2 electric burners. Hope this helps.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Thanks and good job! I was taking care of a my10 month old nephew while this was on so really didn't get to watch it.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    That's an excellent summary! Thank you!

                    1. re: greygarious

                      hey! i have the dvd but when you said that "glaze" i wa a little suprised because it doesnt seem the degree of glaze but rather deep liquid before becoming glaze.
                      and i was just wondering for what kinds of use i have to consume the extra liquid after eating all the stewed meats.