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Oct 11, 2009 04:09 PM

Turn in my "Chow Badge"? - Julia's Beef Burgundy

I need calibration of my Chow-meter.

I worked all weekend on Julia Child's Beef Burgundy (too tired to get the cookbook out for the
French spelling) and am under-whelmed with the result.

I threw myself into this Saturday morning (it's Sunday night, now) by roasting beef bones to make homemade beef broth...Jeff Smith/John Folse broth recipe.

I carved up a very nice sirloin roast for the beef. I found the small white onions..apparently they're called "Boiler Onions'? I followed the recipe diligently.

I was tempted NOT to strain the results and reduce the liquid, but persevered and followed the recipe to the tee.

I'll admit that the red wine I used was not the greatest, but it was a drinkable "young red".

So, my quandary of "time vs quality"....I don't think this recipe pushes. I am taking the day of broth-making out of my thinking process and still not "whelmed".

If I am either an abject failure at following the well-crafted recipe, I'll accept that. But the flavor didn't do it for me.

Any Hound feedback is appreciated.

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  1. you need a full body red wine. everyone bold flavors fromthis recipe and the wine provides that component.

    1. Made it using a French Pinot Noir: tasted great!
      Made it using an American Cab.: not nearly as nice.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joebob

        Interestingly, ATK had a recipe for Beef Barolo and suggest subbing a cabernet for the barolo (which cost $40/bottle!!!). They specifically said a pinot noir was too weak for the dish which braises for 3 hours in the oven.

        I used a $10 bottle of Austrailian cabernet and the result was wonderful! Of course, I did use boneless chuck and I, too, think the cut of meat makes a world of difference.

      2. The stock might have been part of your problem - did you taste it? The wine might also be an issue. But my gut feeling is that you used the wrong cut of beef. Most sirloin roasts - especially "very nice" ones - are not good for stewing. You need more fat and connective tissue.

        Sorry to hear about the bad experience. Don't turn in the badge, just chalk this one up to experience and try again later if you want.

        3 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          I think a nice chuck roast would be a better cut for this recipe.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            Yes, the cut of meat was the first thing that struck me as possibly the cause.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I'm with alanbarnes and anybody else who mentioned the cut of beef. Not enough fat, etc. and therefore less flavor in a sirloin.

            2. It could be the flavor texture difference of the meat or wine used...but.... I feel much the same way! For me, this dish would never be my "favorite", my palette prefers the Italian versions much better (like a Stracotto). It could be that you just don't "resonate" much with this particular dish - nothing un-chowish about that.

              1. I concur with those saying the fault most likely lies with the beef and the wine. A rich, full bodied red -- I like Burgundies in mine -- is wonderful. And the problem with the meat is that you're using today's beef and Julia was not when she wrote the recipes. Well, I'm assuming you took the recipe from The Art of French Cooking? But no matter. I think all of her extant BB recipes are from the days when dry aged USDA Choice and USDA Prime were "standard fare" in the market place. For BB you do not want a particularly lean cut of meat. In today''s world, I often use a seven bone roast and cube the meat off of it myself. And then do not use bacon. See if you can find some salt pork, then blanch it several times to remove the salt, then cube it and turn it into lardons. Bouef Bourguignon, when the ingredients are right, is a rich, luscious dish that always makes you regret you're too full to eat some more. But that's alright. It just gets richer as left-overs. Give yourself a bit of time to receuperate emotionally, then get a bottle of deep rich red wine, the best grade of pot roast you can afford, and try again. And they're "pearl onions" in most parts of the world. '-)

                26 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1

                  Thanks all,

                  I truly hope it was not the beef. THAT came right out of our freezer from our custom-cut organic half beef. We have been using this farmer and I have NEVER had any qualms. In fact, it's some of the best beef, even if it's frozen, we've ever had. This roast was absolutely beautifully marbled. As I was cutting the cubes, it looked like the fat was "salted" right into the muscle. But it seems that it was not the perfect cut to use.

                  Live and learn.

                  Yup, poached the salt pork (I knew she didn't mean "our" bacon.) and it was nice.

                  And, for the record, I was using the "Mastering...." recipe.

                  I'm going to chalk it up to the wine...and maybe the beef. Processes, and other ingredients, are not the culprits. Heck, I wandered into the garden for the parsley and thyme for the onions....

                  As you say, Caroline, I'll recover and try again. Maybe when my dear wife is away, and coming home for dinner, so she doesn't have to endure my distruction of her kitchen, again.

                  Appreciate the feedback.

                  I'll keep my Chow Badge, on a contingent basis, until the next time I tilt at this windmill.

                  1. re: Monch

                    Even from the same cow the chuck to me would be better than the sirloin roast. I would use a burgundy too.

                    1. re: wekick

                      I have to laugh at myself!

                      Other than the "Beef" and the "Burgundy", I'll bet I got everything just right!

                      Guess that explains why my "Beef Burgundy" was a bit of a flop.

                      Now....I know.

                      1. re: Monch

                        Thought I'd throw in my 2c...
                        First a question: have you previously had a beef bourguignon that you thought was very good? Or did you pick the recipe on the assumption that it would be great?
                        Years ago, I made menudo as part of our cinco de mayo celebrations. Never really having menudo, I thought my result pretty mundane. My Mexican friends almost had tears in their eyes, saying it was like being home again. This was a case where I expected fireworks, but the true dish is more about subleties to appreciate.

                        Don't beat yourself up on the quality of beef - your farmer friend probably supplies very good meat. But as others point out, perhaps its not the right CUT.
                        Take a look at this chart
                        Althought the cooking guidelines are gross generalizations, the sirloin is more appropriate for grilling and roasting. The chuck portion is probably better suited for stewing, braising, etc.

                        I'd also suggest that following a recipe to a tee isn't always necessary to get what you're looking for. Great place to begin, then start doing a few things you may prefer (I don't go out of my way to get pearl onions for this dish, I simply chop yellow onions - is this the classic recipe? No, but I enjoy the results).

                        I like to read Caroline1's insights, but here on the pot roast issue, I'd have to disagree. I don't think getting the best grade you can afford would really affect this dish. I like to think of braises, stews, etc a great vehicle to elevate cheap cuts of meat (think short ribs, blade roast, brisket, shank (ok, not the cheapest cut haha) to greatness.

                        1. re: porker

                          Well, you've caught me, Porker.

                          I just picked the recipe because it was somewhat approachable and seemed quintessential. I have no basis for comparison. Unfortunately I have no French friends off of whom I can bounce this dish.

                          I'll admit that all the layers of flavors were there, but the overall product didn't make an impact on me.

                          I also appreciate the comment about "riffing" on the recipe. My wife is brilliant at that. I can tend to be a bit hide-bound about following "the rules" of the recipe. Once I "get" the recipe, though, look out...Gumbo? I got that covered.

                          I'm now certain that, as always experienced, I have top quality beef in the freezer. Sirloin is what we had handy, but it was not the dead-solid perfect CUT for this dish.

                          Next time: Chuck roast; better wine; and cutting myself some slack!

                          1. re: Monch

                            My first thought Moch was "Do you actually like BB??" You never know, maybe it's just not for you. There's plenty of things that I just "Don't get" and plenty of things that I do that other don't.

                            One other thing, you're making it to Julia's tastes. Perhaps your differ enough that a tweek here or a tweek there will give you the desired result.


                            1. re: Davwud

                              As I sit at my desk with a reheated bowl of the BB, I must admit.

                              It's better than the first day...but DT is right, I just "don't get" this concoction.

                              I won't call it a failed attempt as I practiced some existing techniques and learned some new ones...Braised onions are a triumph of flavor!

                              If I had it to do over, I'd:
                              - Slice the sirloin roast into two fat steaks and put those puppies on the grill
                              - Drink the wine
                              - Put the mushrooms and onions on the perfectly seared, medium rare, steaks
                              - Watch my dear wife's eyes roll back in her head. Bless that little carnivore.

                              As to the TIME I spent (post broth-making), I'd whip up a batch of gumbo, jambalaya, or spend the day making/smoking andouille.

                              In the end......I chowwed!

                              1. re: Monch

                                So your "Chow-Badge" is safe. Your difficult and disappointing week-end just added some patina to that badge.

                          2. re: porker

                            Porker, Sweetheart, pot roast *IS* a "cheap" cut! But there is a huge flavor difference between a "cheap cut" of dry aged USDA Choice or Prime and a "cheap cut" of wet cured utility grade beef from Walmart! I'll have to work on clearer cummunication. Sorry!

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              I have made beef burgundy, wine braised beef and other stews with braised with red wine and to be honest I have never thought it was great. The meat to me seemed dry, even if it was swimming in a delicious rich sauce. I've used sirloin, chuck, "stew" beef chunks and they all seem dry. Fortunately my husband always likes the dishes... BUT for his recent birthday I made beef short ribs and OH MY GOSH the meat was delish, very moist, tender and rich. Yes there's a lot of fat on short ribs but that's what makes it good. So if you are looking for a delicious hardy meat stew I highly recommend beef short ribs! Just my opinion...........

                              1. re: worktime

                                Or really fatty beef! '-)

                                Which was my original point. The beef of Julia's cook book writing years and the beef of our cooking her recipes years do NOT equate....!!!

                          3. re: Monch

                            The best way to learn to cook is to do exactly as you have. Your next attempt at BB will no doubt be wonderful... and this thread has info that you may find yourself applying to other recipes, too.

                            I have one more tidbit to offer. I, too, have a non-supermarket beef source. (In my case it is a meat CSA; their beef is entirely grass fed and is raised on a family-run farm just 90 minutes from my home.) The beef is very flavorful but, being grass fed and from cattle that live the way cattle did before agriculture got industrial, it is very lean and cooks differently from supermarket beef. I have not made BB with it but with this beef I would only use chuck or... if I got it from my CSA... short ribs (with the bone removed, of course). Maybe I am wrong about this, but it seems to me that some cuts of meat - the ones that tend to get stringy after long cooking - work better in stews and braises not just because of the fat content, but because they become soft after long slow cooking while other cuts actually seem to become hard. (Brisket is another example of a cut that works well for long slow cooking.)

                            1. re: PinchOfSalt

                              hey PinchoSalt,
                              Just curious why "with the bones removed, of course" ?

                              1. re: porker

                                I would use the bones for making stock.

                                Also, if you use beef short ribs, there are two different cuts. The cut you usually find in the supermarket is parallel to the bone, so cutting the meat into chunks requires removing it from the bone. The other cut, which is rather rare in American supermarkets (and more easily found in markets that cater to Asian, particularly Korean clientele) cuts the short ribs across the bones. You can cut those short ribs into chunks that would work for BB and keep the meat on the bone. However, if you are trying to stick to the traditional methods and presentation, you would want to remove the bones before you serve the BB.

                                Oh, one more reason to take the meat from the bone is that some short ribs have a bunch of fat between the meat on the bone - not marbling, just a thick layer or big lump. You would want to remove that before cooking, to avoid greasiness later on. (I am a big advocate of removing excess fat early, since some flavors dissolve in fat, and when you remove the grease at the end of cooking, you can also end up removing flavor.)

                                1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                  Jfood has made numerous batches of short ribs and he votes for the bones staying in the braise. It seems to have a deeper flavor with the extra oomph they give them. Yes that thin layer of fatty cartilege is a bit troubling when it comes out but no biggie. As far as the fat removal, place in the fridge overnight and then just remove the layer with a spoon and butter knife. Neither is right or wrong just differences of opinion.

                                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                    OK, different techniques I guess.
                                    Like jfood, I like to keep the bones in the cooking process when possible (whether beef bourguignon, or pork roast, or chicken cacciatore, or whatever) - all the flavour that they would impart to a broth goes into the dish.

                                    I've used a few different cuts in the same BB or short-rib recipes: beef shank, pork shank, blade roast, etc. Ive also used different rib cuts. The longer, parallel to the rib cut (from the chuck section) can make for a very nice presentation on the plate.

                                    1. re: porker

                                      Do you tie the beef to the bone with some string? Not being sarcastic, but whenever I braise or stew short ribs, the meat and bone tend to part company. If I have dinner guests, I end up fishing all the loose bones out, and to keep the presentation consistent, remove the bones that are still attached to the meat too. I would say perhaps I am cooking the beef too long, but short of burning I can't imagine ever cooking short ribs too long. They just get better and better and better.

                                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                        I agree, the longer the braise, the more tender the meat and the more likely you have fall-off-the-bone.

                                        I'd like to say it was my idea to present the short rib bone-in, but no it was only after being in a resto and served something like this
                                        did I do the same presentation at home.
                                        (same thing for a tomahawk-cut rib steak BTW ;-


                                        I think it would be two factors: a shorter cooking time (get it very tender, but not so much as it falls apart) and using a longer rib section.
                                        If I recall, ribs cut cross ways is called flanken. If the width is short (1"-2") the bone slips out quite easily. Longer, 4"-5", the bone will likely stay in.

                                        Again, this is for presentation. Like I said, I like to cook with the bones, but if they fall out, the end product will still taste great.

                                        Oh and Monch, just as a side...
                                        I happen to be laid up with a bab back right now. The wife asked what we should eat. With all this talk about BB and short ribs, I said pot-au-feu, a generalized variant of bourguignon or short ribs etc etc. She started thumbing through some of her recipes and she says
                                        "Here's the Julia Child Beef Bourguignon...we didn't like this very much last time" and skipped over it then went with an recipe for guidance.
                                        I thought of you immediately and relayed your story! HAHA.

                                          1. re: Monch

                                            Here's a picture of our Pot-au-Beef Vino Mesa-Rib/Flank-Braise. She used 1/2 bottle of a dry Spanish table wine ($8CDN) - I'm drinking the other half.

                                            I'm from the "don't really matter the cost of the wine you cook with as long as its good enough to drink" school of thought .
                                            Within reason, of course. Just cause I like a beaujolais nouveau or a vinho verde doesn't mean it would suit THIS dish...

                                          2. re: porker

                                            Yeah, it is a pretty presentation. I know the old cliche about eating with one's eyes, but my own preference flavor/texture >> presentation. But I will keep that presentation in mind for when guests will be at the table...

                            2. re: Monch

                              It was your beef that was the issue...

                              Not a quality issue, but an issue of technique. Sirloin/ strip/ NY strip/ KC strip is a lean tender primal cut. It is a little worked muscle that has a small amount of connective tissue. It is better off cut into steaks and served medium rare, which retains the muscles flavor and tender texture. Your long slow braise overcooked it, resulting in less than stellar results. Next give this type of beef a brief walk over the grill and serve with fries or roasted potatoes.

                              The muscle groups in the "chuck" come from the neck and shoulder of a steer. They see maximum work and development. Chuck is long on flavor, but petulantly tough. Brief cooking methods leave it to tough for most peoples liking. In a braise like boeuf bourguignon chucks magic is revealed. Fork tender beef and a rich gravy are the result.

                              Those pointing to the wine as the culprit are wrong. If you used any dry red you would have consumed on its own your results will be fine.

                              Next time use chuck. Find a good butcher and tell him you want neck if he has it. The results will be far better than this last batch.

                              1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                Sorry ...

                                Included the wrong nicknames for steak cuts off of the sirloin. NY/KC is a short loin cut.

                            3. re: Caroline1

                              Caroline1 . . . the comment about the state of beef being sold today is right on, but lately COSTCO has actually had choice and prime cuts of beef which has been quite good. Of course, their beef is not dry-aged, but.....

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Jfood tried to like the Costco beefs but the ground beef is full of water and the steaks are much less flavorful than what jfood can buy at the other grocers in his area. Not worth the savings.

                              2. re: Caroline1

                                Excellent description, Caroline. You are so right that the end result should be a luscious, rich, and beefy dish. Also excellent point about 'old school' beef and more 'modern' beef. Well, actually that can be said for most things these days.

                                I also concur that the cut of beef and wine make a *huge* difference.