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Help a vegetarian out with Boeuf Bourguignon??

Hello! I'm a vegetarian cooking for my partner's family (normally he would help out, but he is away for work right up until the dinner).

I want to make boeuf bourguinon after the suggestion of a few people, but would love suggestions for a particular (simple-ish yet tasty) recipe - Julia Child's seemed a little too complicated for me. I'm thinking about this one: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.... I'm planning to serve it with potatoes. Plus side dishes, of course.

Also, any other tips to have it turn out deliciously would be much appreciated, since I can't taste the meat! Such as, which cuts exactly should I ask the butcher for? Does anyone know how to say the names in French? (I live in montreal and speak french, but I'm not sure about the specific meat words...



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  1. So, poster - we love your intrepid willingness to make Boeuf bouguinon-

    So the idea is you are a vegetarian and you are making a beef dish (ala Julia?) for your bestee/love's parents? And don't want it to be so complicated, yet make it yummy, and serve with potato side, um yes?

    That would help for us to be clear on your intent - but I admire your bravado, and diving into the center of making the dish.

    Chowhounds. Help this lovely lady - Yikes! I would be SO way earlier in my worries if I was a veg and trying to make le beef - she deserves some love and support!

    4 Replies
    1. re: gingershelley

      This does remind me of the scene in Julie and Julia.

      I would agree with greyg that the Cooks recipe might be a little more substantial (and user friendly).

      Do you have a meat eating friend that might be able to join you in the kitchen to taste for seasoning?

      May the force of CH be with you. Please follow up with us.

      1. re: pagesinthesun

        I think either recipe would work, but I would cut way back on the bacon in the Cooks recipe...

        1. re: pagesinthesun

          Oh and I think I will use the cooks recipe -

        2. re: gingershelley

          Thanks! Yes, my goal is to make a yummy beef dish for my boyfriend + his parents. I like to cook, and do so frequently, so I'm not too afraid of trying something new - just looking for any pointers from more experienced chowhounds. :)

        3. It sounds lovely. I might add a julienned carrot. Also, instead of dicing the mushrooms I would halve them, so that there are some big bites of mushroom. If you have the time and peral onions, the browned glacé onions Julia used are a meal unto themselves. To me a key step in BB is to brown the meat well. Leave plenty of room in the pan and let each chunk get crusty. As regards cut, I have used most cheap cuts. They all seem very similar if well browned and braised a long time.

          6 Replies
          1. re: tim irvine

            Boneless chuck or short rib. The OP will be doomed if s/he uses round!

            1. re: greygarious

              I second a nice boneless short rib! You don't have to do much at all to that cut and it will still be delicious.

            2. re: tim irvine

              thanks for the advice! Yes, I'm hoping to find pearl onions, but I haven't always had luck with that at the markets near my house.

              1. re: Mtlmaison

                I prefer shallots in BB. They are more flavorful and easier to find and deal with.

                1. re: Mtlmaison

                  Try frozen pearl onions if you can't find fresh.

                  1. re: Berheenia

                    frozen pearl onions can be picked up ridiculously cheap at trader joes, if youre near one

              2. That NYT recipe will yield no more than 4 smallish servings, if that. The meat will shrink a lot and the fact that the recipe doesn't even tell you what cut to use makes me very wary of it.

                Here's the Cooks Illustrated streamlined version, which explains more and makes a better amount. http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/8235...

                Frankly, though, I don't see how you are going to make a meat dish without tasting it for doneness, flavor, and seasoning.

                2 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  Done-ness is more look and feel, with a stew just cook until the meat is tender. As for seasoning, when the family shows up they can make final adjustments.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Thanks for the advice! Since it's just my boyfriend and his parents, I'm not too worried about the servings, particularly since there will be substantial side dishes.

                    One of my good friends is going to pop in to pick up some stuff before they arrive, and she offered to taste-test. :)

                  2. BB is a dish that reheats very well, it even benefits from being in the fridge overnight (wait to add the onions and mushrooms until you're reheating to serve. Reheat low and slow.)

                    It's nice to have the kitchen cleaned up and less work to do when entertaining and you could have your partner taste it since you'd have that part done ahead of time.

                    1. I made boeuf bourguignon using Child's recipe from MTAFC earlier this year. It was excellent, outstanding even. I urge you to make it the day before you plan to serve it. The kitchen gets very messy up to the point of putting it in the oven, and the flavor is vastly improved by resting in the refrigerator overnight.

                      MTAFC recommends these cuts (forgive the lack of diacritical marks):
                      First choice: Rump pot roast (pointe de culotte, or aiguillette de rumsteck)
                      Other choices: Chuck pot roast (paleron, or macreuse a pot-au-feu
                      Sirloin Tip - tranche grasse
                      Top round - tende de tranche
                      Bottom round - gite a la noix

                      These are the cuts Julia Child lists in her book, it has been pointed out to me on another thread that these are not the current names of the cuts in France, so there's that.

                      I used rump roast, cut into big 2- to 3-inch chunks. It was so good that I'll not use another cut again. In Julia's words, "The better the meat, the better the stew."

                      I also think carrot and garlic are essential - one sliced or diced carrot and one crushed garlic clove for 1.5 pounds of meat.
                      It is a very nice gesture on your part to cook this for your partner's family. Even though you can't or prefer not to taste it as you go, I'm sure it will be fine. Be warned: it smells heavenly while cooking, at least to meat eaters!

                      Good luck.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: janniecooks

                        I would also urge you to try using Julia Child’s recipe. It’s not nearly as complicated as it first appears. I have made boeuf bourguignon from Julia Child’s recipe twice this year. After cutting the recipe in half each time, it still provided 6 servings when accompanied with egg noodles, vegetables and crusty bread & butter. We were all very satisfied with the results. I don’t think we’d find the same level of satisfaction with most other recipes I’ve seen, especially the shortcut and simplified recipes. I am sure that Thomas Keller’s version is wonderful but it consists of 43 ingredients and it’s far more labor intensive than Julia’s.

                        To start with, I bought a 3 lb. Boneless chuck roast, trimmed away the fat, cubed it and then froze half for the future. I couldn’t find slab bacon readily available (I didn’t do a thorough search) so I used sliced bacon. After the meat is seared, a crock pot works marvelously to prepare this dish. The most tedious part of the preparation was peeling and trimming the small boiling onions. I used somewhat more boiling onions and much more garlic than what the recipe called for. I also used a full bottle of inexpensive red wine, reduced down to about 2/3 with each half-recipe.

                      2. Just a mention that an economical Cote du Rhone is a good choice for the wine component. You do not need pricey wine for cooking.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greygarious

                          You are so right on the Cotes du Rhone. That's the wine I used the first time I made BB and it was terrific. Cotes du Rhone are a great value.

                        2. It's peasant food, so think cheaper cuts, sturdy - it's a stew.

                          My BB is based on a non-Julia Child cookbook I read back in college in the 70s. I usually use a chuck roast, cut into roughly 2" cubes, which are marinated in a sturdy wine - yes, I do use Charles Shaw for this, and yes, I've had real French vin de table in France and I'm going to keep with the cheap stuff - with some carrots, celery, onions, peppercorns, maybe some thyme or rosemary if there's some in the garden. Let it marinate overnight: this seems to be crucial in tenderizing the meat. Then remove the meat cubes from the marinade, pat dry, and brown. Brown some new onions, carrots, celery - your basic mirepoiz - then add the browned meat, the strained marinade, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Some recipes call for sprinkling flour over the meat/veggie mixture, which will help thicken it. Let it stew for the better part of a day: you want long, slow, cooking to tenderize the meat. I put the mushrooms in about an hour before serving.

                          1. One of my co-workers is vegetarian, and we are working to (gradually) improve her comfort in cooking with meat.
                            1. Season the meat with salt and pepper before cooking. The meat cubes should be dry when starting to cook.
                            2. The browning step may sound excessive, but is really important to the overall complexity of flavours in the dish. Heat the pan to quite hot, and quickly heat the meat cubes to brown as many surfaces as you can practically accomplish. This step should not be rushed. Also, smaller batches work better.
                            3. The cooking temperature should be low enough that the liquid doesn't bubble violently. Just simmering. Higher temperatures will cause the protein in the meat to coagulate/seize, and make the meat tough. No amount of cooking will change this.
                            4. If time permits in any way, do prepare the dish the day (or two!) before you plan to serve. You'll be more relaxed when your family arrive. You'll be able to remove excess fat which has floated to the top.
                            5. It's worth the effort to sauté the onions and mushrooms separately. Add just prior to serving.
                            Have a great time!

                            1. Frozen pearl onions will work. We have used them and they are good. You have to slip the outer peel off of them. Much easier than fresh pearl onions with no taste difference.

                              1. Better yet... Go with Smitten Kitchen's Mushroom Bourguignon. Very tasty using a variety of mushrooms. Even carnivores will not miss the meat!!! A true "tried and true" recipe.....

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Phoebe

                                  I was considering making the mushroom version once, but read VERY differing opinions on it. I think it's important, if you aren't a vegetarian, to give heavier credence to the reviews from carnivores. I'd take assessments from vegetarians with a grain of salt if I were making something vegetarian to serve to carnivores as a main course.

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    gg... I'm not a vegetarian by nature, but was doing the "vegetarian thing" at the time I discovered this recipe. Loved it. I've even made it for carnivorous friends, who enjoyed it. I've seen the many yea/nay comments on this dish. Never understood the nays. Red wine and "beefy" portobellos... What's not to love? Not a fan of pearl onions, so I used more slices of sweet onion, and a lot more carrots. In my opinion, there's nothing vegetarian about this dish. If you're the type that could enjoy a grilled portobello like a burger, you'd like this recipe.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      I am a carnivore and serve the mushroom bourguignon to other carnivores regularly. They always sop up every last bit.
                                      But again, I sub shallots for the pearl onions, which I think are insipid.

                                      I am not saying I would never make BB, but the mushroom dish is fabulous, especially when a variety of wild mushrooms is available.

                                      1. re: magiesmom

                                        Insipid is a great description. I'll have to try shallots next time. Bet they'd be delicious!

                                    2. re: Phoebe

                                      I made this Smitten Kitchen recipe earlier this year for a dinner party. 4 omnivores, 2 vegetarians. It was very very well received by all and my husband(omnivore) requests it often during cooler weather(we haven't made it during the Arizona summer, but it will be first in rotation as soon as temps cool again!).

                                      The four omnivores were definitely vegetarian friendly eaters. I might not serve this to people who felt meat is important at every meal or people set on a BEEF bourgignone and only a BEEF bourgignone. The OP knows her guests the best....but as a vegetarian I recommend he/she tries this recipe out someday for their own tasty dinner

                                    3. Here is Laura Calder's recipe on video. It's the one I've cooked and it's very simple and tasty:


                                      The video is the complete episode but BB is the first recipe demonstrated. And the written recipe for good measure: