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Julia Child's Classic Boeuf Bourguignon

I would love to make Julia Child's most classic recipe, boeuf bourguignon, but alas the first ingredient in the recipe is a 6 oz. chunk of bacon. All of the other ingredients are fine...the mushrooms which should be sautéed in butter, I'm sure would be just fine in margarine or olive oil. But the bacon!!! Has anyone made Julia's recipe? Does omitting the bacon detract from the recipe so much that it's unworkable?? Would you substitute something else?? Help!

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  1. somebody here was just talking about making it with beef bacon.

    But yes, bacon is an integral part of the flavor profile.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      actually the thread was about Julia Child's Coq Au Vin and Adina was using the beef bacon to make lardons for topping the accompanying salad.

      I haven't made Julia's Boeuf B. recipe, but have made other versions. I use a small chunk of second cut brisket that has been hickory smoked in place of the salt pork or bacon.

    2. I did just follow Julia Child's Coq Au Vin recipe using the "Beef Bacon Chunks" from Grow and Behold, which i cut into lardons. It worked beautifully.

      (Also used their thin-cut as topping on a green salad, they were good but not as good as lamb bacon. Beef doesn't seem to achieve that level of crunch.)

      But to add the deep smokiness to a braised dish, the beef bacon worked perfectly.

      1. For the sauteed mushrooms, I do not think that margarine or olive oil are adequate. I save both chicken and duck fat in my freezer, and use them to substitute for butter in French (and some other) dishes. It behaves much more like butter.

        It's not that I'm not an olive oil devotee, it's just that Fernand Braudel was right; there's a line that runs across the middle of France marking the great divide between the worlds of olive oil and of butter. To achieve the classic dishes of either region you must use the classic fat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: AdinaA

          Agreed--schmaltz would be the way to go.

        2. The flavor profile of pork bacon, as far as smokiness is concerned ,varies widely depending on the brand. How smoky Julias' bacon was is a mystery. I like a very smoky profile myself.
          That said perhaps using some "liquid smoke" might up the flavor if a suitable kosher bacon isn' available. Just a drop at a time.....it is strong..

          And remember, Julia always said that Beef Bourguignon is just a embellished stew...it is the method she was teaching... be daring!!!!

          1. As an FYI, Smitten Kitchen has a mushroom-based version which is parve and very hearty for a cold winter night.


            1. Kosher Board. Now I get it.

              You need something smoked and fatty. This will come closest to replicating the intent. If you cannot find beef bacon, check out the smoked turkey products.

              1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA2ys8...

                This looks like an early (the first?) episode - and I don't see any bacon.

                This is a stew of beef and red wine, not beef and bacon. I'm sure the role of bacon has been debated in depth on other threads. But it is easy to BB recipes that call for salt pork (often diced and blanched). So the smokiness of bacon is clearly optional.

                I've also heard (on the Splendid Table) that French Jews developed a variety of preserved goose and duck parts as a substitute for the pork products their neighbors used.

                Another variable is the cut of beef. Something like chuck has a lot of fat and connective tissue. It really doesn't need other fat or sources of gelatin. One the other hand, a lean rump would benefit from the addition of fattier meat.

                "Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry." - this removes most of the saltiness as well as any smokiness.

                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj


                  Try this.... I have made it several times. It is excellent!!!!!

                2. I made Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon recipe and just left out the bacon. I'm sure it wasn't the same as with, however, it was truly outstanding.

                  1. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/mar/...
                    Article on lardons, the most traditional form of pork in this dish. It may help in choosing an alternative.

                    1. Kosher Lamb Bacon is the solution. I love the Julia Child boeuf bourguignon recipe, and I make two substitutions to make it kosher. 1) I sub duck or chicken fat for butter when doing the onions and the mushrooms 2) I start the recipe with a piece of Kosher Lamb Bacon that I slice into lardons. I find the flavor superior to the kosher beef bacons that I have tired, although the beef bacon can be very good - lamb bacon is better. I get it from Kosher Lamb Bacon in Baltimore.https://www.facebook.com/kosher.l.bacon

                      The other change I make is that I use less fat of each kind than Julia did. I use a very heavy-bottomed braising pan that browns meat with no added fat at all, and I can use less than she recommends with the onions and mushrooms, because it browns so well. But you can spend about a month's rent just on the pan.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: AdinaA

                        What's the fat like on lamb bacon? I don't like lamb fat because the melting point is too high, above mouth temperature.

                        Roughly speaking, fats melt in this order:
                        (mouth temperature)

                        Part of making good substitutions is understanding the role of the original ingredients. Is it there for flavor, for texture, binding, or some other quality? Which flavor? saltiness, smokiness, etc?

                        1. re: paulj

                          Ari White now has lamb bacon. Little closer to the NY area.


                          1. re: paulj

                            In this dish, the lamb bacon adds a subtle smokiness.

                            1. re: AdinaA

                              One of the debating points on this substitution is whether smokiness was an intended flavor. Did Julia specify bacon because that was the most common American substitute for a French salted pork?

                              There are some other ways of adding smokiness to a dish. Liquid smoke and smoked paprika are ones that I have on hand.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Thyme adds a smokiness too. I usually default to liquid smoke if I can't figure out the purpose beyond the mysterious "smokiness."

                                1. re: paulj

                                  the French sell lard fumé and lardons fumées.

                                  Most of my French friends prefer the smoked.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Once again, this is a reminder that this is the KOSHER board; we do not do lard here.

                                    1. re: queenscook

                                      Would smoked oysters work? Just joking...but I suppose even on CH, many folks don't really understand what kosher means!

                                      1. re: queenscook

                                        That was a statement as to the availability (and preferability) of SMOKED meats in France, response to paulj's question about the desirability of SMOKED bacon in Julia's recipe (which was most assuredly trief)...not as to the acceptance or lack thereof in a kosher dish.

                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                        is an example of Jews in France finding a way around the bacon in quiche.

                                        There was a segment on The Splendid Table, possibly with Joan Nathan, claiming that many duck and goose preparations in France have their roots in kosher alternatives to pork.



                              2. I would only make it as written. Bacon and butter. I've made it many times and wouldn't change a thing. Would eat healthier before and after.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bayoucook

                                  Bayoucook, you are very kind, but this is the kosher subsection of Chow. The cooks who come to this section are sharing tips on preparing dishes in which the kosher laws are observed. Kosher laws require no pork and also require that diary products (butter) not be served at the same meal as meat.

                                  I do agree that one enjoys bouef bourguignon, then works out/eats salad the morning after.

                                2. Kosher duck, goose, lamb, beef bacon, etc doesn't happen where I live. My cheap (relatively speaking of course) and cheerful response is cubing salami/bologna and sauteeing it with the mire poix and aromatics.