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Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon--bacon substitute?

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Julia Child's recipe calls for browning the beef and vegetables in bacon fat, then cooking everything together (the recipe calls for a 6 ounce chunk). Obviously, I can't use bacon. Can anyone recommend a good substitute? I didn't think oil would provide enough flavor.

Many thanks....

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  1. There's always schmaltz and grieben....

    1. I've had sesame oil in a vegetarian dish that gave it a similarly smoky taste to bacon, but I don't know if it would work in bourgignon. You probably wouldn't want to use a lot.

      1. Just skip it. We have friends who are French (and owned a restaurant in France). Their recipe was very similar but they never used bacon. It won't be "exactly" Julia Child's recipe but so what?

        1. If you have a kosher butcher that cures its own meats nearby I would go for their house cured beef fry - I have done that many a time with great success

          1 Reply
          1. re: weinstein5

            I usually use a little chopped and sauteed Turkey Cabanos just for the smoky flavor.

          2. And let's not forget Bacon Salt! :)


            (Watch out for the milchig flavors.)

            5 Replies
              1. re: daphnar

                It's like Lawry's seasoned salt with a smoky something. Great on scrambled eggs & popcorn. Two of the flavors have something milchig in the mix so beware. They also have Baconnaise - bacon-y mayo (also milchig).


                1. re: daphnar

                  Believe it or not, it's actually pretty low in sodium. I find the salt taste noticable but not objectionable. Both the salt and the Baconnaise have gone over gangbusters in our house.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    They should make the baconnaise pareve.

                    1. re: DeisCane

                      It's not clear from the ingredients why it's milchig (or why two of the salt products are). I'm sure they were happy just to tap the Kosher market, probably didn't consider the practical ramifications.

              2. In Israel we get kosher smoked goose breast, which is the closest thing I've found to something I haven't eaten in at least 30 years. Is it available in the U.S.? I have also smoked my own goose breast using a sweet cure similar to those used for bacon and it tasted really good. Though it's more than a bit of work, it freezes well, so I made enough to make the effort worthwhile.

                4 Replies
                1. re: lawmann

                  Smoked goose leg or thigh would be even better.

                  It's not available in the US. The closest would have been the now-halted Aaron's smoked turkey shawarma thigh.

                  1. re: DeisCane

                    I've had smoked goose thigh and it was quite tasty. The reason I recommend the breast in place of bacon is the nice layer of fat all along the top.

                    1. re: lawmann

                      But the thigh has to be fattier, no?

                      1. re: DeisCane

                        I don't recall the thigh having that much fat unless, maybe, you break down a whole goose. I've bought them as separate parts, the way you can buy chicken thighs which have been already cut.
                        Be that as it may, another advantage of the boneless breast is that the fat is a nice even layer across the top. After you smoke it you can slice it and each slice has a really flavorful edge of fat, which partially renders and partially crisps up when you put it in a fry pan. It is quite reminiscient of bacon.

                2. Well, I made it, and used a bit of beef fat to brown the meat. As far as I can tell, it didn't add anything to the flavor. However, the meal was one of the best I've ever made.

                  Her recipe, you see, calls for boiling the rind of the bacon to remove the smoky flavor. So I am assuming that she intends the bacon to act as a fat and not flavor enhancer?

                  1. For the next time, you might try a couple of slices of beef salami which you cut into chunks and brown as if they are bacon lards. There is a lot of fat in the salami and it has a smokey flavor. It is salty and garlicky, so you will want to adjust the salt and garlic in the recipe. I also use a chunk of salami in my pea lentil soup. It gives it a delicious creamy flavor that you can't get otherwise. Of course, it does make it a meat dish, but mine isn't allowed to hang about long enough to be there for another meal, so it's not an issue in my house.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: koshermasterchef

                      Do you brown the salami before you add it to the pea lentil soup?

                      1. re: Bzdhkap

                        in my split pea soup I have always added without browning - but browning sounds like a nice touch - a little crispier in the soup

                        1. re: Bzdhkap

                          I typically do not brown it and I "fish" it out of the soup before serving. However, if you intend to leave it in, I would cut it into small chunks and leave it in the soup, or do a combination of these, by also separately browning some till crispy which you crumble and sprinkle over the soup when serving. I don't think that browning it before adding the rest of the ingredients to make the soup will give you a desirable texture to the soup. As with all things, you wont' know till you try, so try it a few different ways and let us know.

                      2. French "bacon" is not smoked, so any substitute should likewise not be smoked. The pork product is used for its fat and, of course, its distinct flavor. Any substitution -- oil would work for the fat -- simply will not impart the pork flavor. BUT the dish is wonderful without those porky undertones.

                        1. I used the vegetarian bacon, but it added nothing. I would just leave it out!