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Julia's Beef Bourguignon

I am part of a team cooking for a crowd of 25 (+ the 6/8 of us) for an auction dinner. We are trying to recreate a French meal we did together, where I cooked Julia's Beef Bourguignon. I loved doing it, but was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about doing it for 30+ people. . . it isn't the labor that concerns me as I can peel the 6 million little onions, do the mushrooms, etc. over days, but rather wonder what kind of vessel I can reasonably do it in, and those kind of logistics.

The recipe serves 6, and uses 3# of beef. So, if I plan for 30, we are looking at #15 lbs of beef, 15 cups of stock, and of course, about 3 bottles of wine. Good times!

Normally I do it in a Le Creuset casserole, but do you think I should do it in one big stock pot? Do three batches and combine them?

Any help/experience is appreciated!

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  1. I suggest a Graniteware-style enameled metal turkey roaster if it's an oven recipe, e.g.:


    3 Replies
    1. re: Bada Bing

      Also multiple 12 qt. stockpots. That way the cooking time will not have to be varied.

      Served out of a orange 5 gallon bucket? :-)

      1. re: Bada Bing

        I like this idea -- you think the meat will brown properly in there?

        1. re: gridder

          I don't know your specific recipe. Granite Ware is not ideal for stovetop, although I have made turkey gravies it it. For oven applications it will work the same as any other appropriate vessel.

          If browning is an initial step in the recipe, then you could do that in batches in skillets and then put the food into the Granite Ware container (WITH the fond from the skillets!) to finish.

      2. It kind of depends on where you are going to be cooking it. If it's in a home kitchen, you could use stock pots. If you're doing it in a commercial kitchen, use hotel pans and cook it in the oven, rather than on burners.

        I'd think two big hotel pans would do - put half in each.

        1 Reply
        1. re: 512window

          I'll cook at home a day or two ahead and reheat. The flavors should only improve, right?

        2. I'd probably do it in three batches, and combine them at the end.

          another suggestions: frozen pearl onions can be your friends...I've used them in Julia's BB recipe, and they worked very well.

          ETA: Bada Bing's suggestion of the turkey roaster looks like a very good idea if you're going to do the long cooking in the oven. I don't know if I'd do the initial meat browning in it, however...maybe brown in batches (lots of batches!) in the LC, deglaze the LC, and finish in the roaster.

          Let us know how it works out.

          6 Replies
          1. re: kcshigekawa

            Oh my god, I love you! Totally forgot about frozen pearl onions!!

            1. re: gridder

              I have moved away from pearl onions either fresh or frozen to shallots in this recipe. I think they are a great improvement

            2. re: kcshigekawa

              Yes,def. use the frozen pearl onions(S & W brand? I think).

              Don't make yourself crazy peeling all those baby onions,the frozen ones taste just fine! I also use them in my homemade chicken pot pie. Bon Appe'tit !!!

              1. re: grangie angie

                supermarkets around me sell bagged peeled pearl onions - you don't even have to defrost!

                It's a golden age I tell you!

            3. Do it in the oven, the heating is more even.

              1. I agree with others that the frozen pearl onions are the only option for the number of guests. I also feel that 4-5 ozs. of meat per serving is more than adequate. Remember you have mushrooms and onions also, all on noodles. The wine need not be top drawer, this is for charity...if anyone cares they will keep quite. I have been doing this professionally for 34 years...trust me.

                1. Your biggest challenge is going to be getting even heat distribution in your pan(s). If you have something large enough and heavy enough - nothing wrong with a large heavy bottomed roaster - it will require regular gentle stirring to maximize even cooking. OR you can do it in an oven (thermal, not convection), which will give you even cooking with much less stirring. Graniteware will work okay in the oven, but it will be far riskier stove-top where scorching is concerned. In my experience a large heavy bottomed stock pot is your best bet, and will also work well in an oven if it will fit.

                  Good luck, have fun, and don't forget a glass or two for the cook! And remember, PEELED pearl onions are available in the frozen foods section! Julia would approve. And if you want the Bourguignon AND you to be at maximum goodness, its a dish that gains from a day in the refrigerator, which will give your own taste buds a chance to recover and enjoy. Happy party!

                  1. Your problem is not cooking, it's serving. You can cook the beef stew in a big kettle, but you need to reheat and serve fron an electric roaster.


                    1. A dinner for that many is a large investment in time and ingredients. Having equipment that is suited to the task seems like a very reasonable insurance premium for the protection of your investment. I would see if I couldn't borrow a couple of large commercial rondeaus or, if I couldn't, go to a restaurant supply place. Also, Julia's BB can really be done as three separate preps on the stove top that could then be combined in a commercial SS holding pan, covered with foil, and finished in the oven. I would avoid trying the meat phase in anything with tall sides or thin bottom as steaming and scorching are the two things that can really jack with the browned meat component. Also, whoever suggested subbing shallots for pearls is inspired. What do you plan to serve with it?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tim irvine

                        Oh - those rondeaus look perfect! And, and excuse to buy a new cooking vessel! And a large, SS holding pan. Brilliant!

                      2. God, you guys are genius. Thanks for all the recommendations. I am feeling much more confident. I'll let you know what I decide, and how it goes!!