Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon

Originally published on November 5, 2011

What can you say about this signature dish from the greatest cook I personally believe has ever walked the planet? I dare not critique this recipe; I will however, tell you a few things I did differently (only out of necessity, I swear, Julia) and where I got the recipe from – so you can see it in beloved Mrs. Child’s own words.

Julia’s original recipe calls for bacon rind as well as bacon lardons – and my bacon didn’t come with rind on it. Because of that, I just browned it the way I always do. I was also unaware that Julia’s bourguignon recipe called for pearl onions (for shame!) and was so disappointed that I didn’t have any on hand – they’re my favourite part of any stew and I can imagine they’d be just to die for in this recipe! Instead, I chopped green onions into long 3″ slices, the white parts only, and braised those the way Julia indicates in her recipe.

Everything else I tried to keep pretty much the same as she says and I can tell you, the meat truly does melt in your mouth. It’s so incredibly tender and flavourful it more than makes up for the fact that you’ve just spent the day cooking it. Julia also says in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that the onions and mushrooms can be made days ahead of time, and just added when needed. And of course, you can prepare most of it and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to just bring it to a simmer and serve to guests. And Julia actually says that this gives the flavours a chance to truly mingle and develop.

Make her signature dish, feel Julia cheering you on as you go, and know that as Julie Powell  (played by actress Amy Adams) says, “Everything’s gonna be all right.”

To see how Julia Child wrote it out herself, you can find her Boeuf Bourguignon recipe here.


8 slices of bacon 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
3 pounds lean stewing beef 
1 carrot, sliced 
1 onion, sliced 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
3 cups of full-bodied red wine 
2 – 3 cups beef stock 
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
2 cloves mashed garlic 
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled 

For the mushrooms:

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, cut in half if large 

For the onions:

18 – 24 small pearl onions, peeled 
1 1/2 tablespoons butter 
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 cup of red wine 
1/2 cup fresh parsley sprigs 
1/2 bay leaf 
1/4 teaspoon thyme 


1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Slice bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4″ thick and 1 1/2″ long.) In a Dutch oven, cook bacon for 6 – 8 minutes, until browned and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon from the pot and drain on paper towel. Reheat the fat in the pan until it is near smoking before adding beef.

3.) While bacon is cooking, rinse stewing beef and thoroughly pat dry. Make sure the beef is entirely dry, as it will not brown otherwise.  Add the beef to the hot fat in the skillet, in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, and sear until all sides are nicely browned, turning regularly. Remove from pan as batches are complete and set aside with bacon.

4.) To the hot oil in the pot, add sliced carrot and onion. Saute, until all vegetables are browned, stirring regularly. Pour out the sauteing fat.

5.) Return the beef and bacon to the pot and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to lightly coat the beef. Place Dutch oven onto the middle rack of the preheated oven and cook for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return it to the oven for 4 more minutes. (This browns the flour and gives the meat a nice crust.) Remove Dutch oven and turn oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

6.) Stir in the wine and enough beef stock so that the meat is just barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a boil over high heat on top of the stove. Then cover the Dutch oven with aluminum foil or a lid and place in the lower portion of the preheated oven. Check on heat every so often, making sure that the liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You will know the meat is done when it tears apart easily with a fork.

7.) While the beef is cooking, prepare the mushrooms and onions, starting with the onions: In a separate skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When sizzling, add onions and saute for about 1o minutes, rolling onions around so that they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins; you cannot expect to brown all onions uniformly.

8.) Into the onions pour the red wine, season to taste, and add the herbs. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated.

9.) While the onions are braising, prepare the mushrooms: In a separate skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat. Once the foam of the butter has begun to subside, add mushrooms. Toss and shake in the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. While they saute, the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes, the fat will reappear on the surface and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

10.) When they are finished, set both the onions and the mushrooms aside until you need them for the bourguignon.

11.) When the meat in the Dutch oven is tender, pour the contents into a sieve placed over  a saucepan. Give the Dutch oven a rinse, dry quickly and return beef and bacon to it. Place the mushrooms and the onions over the meat.

12.) Skim fat off the sauce in the saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or two over medium-high heat, skimming off more fat as it rises. You should end up with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce that is thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, add a bit more stock. Taste carefully for seasoning; pour the sauce over the vegetables.

(Recipe may be completed in advance up to this point and kept in fridge for up to a day.)

13.) To serve: Cover the Dutch oven and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and the vegetables with the sauce several times.

14.) Serve (in the Dutch oven or a separate dish) and enjoy!