In Honor of Julia Child’s Birthday!

Traditional Boeuf BourguignonJames Moore's Traditional Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

Happy Birthday Julia!

Some friends challenged me to make Boeuf Bourguignon after seeing the film Julia & Julie. I started by studying Julia Child’s recipe, which is very close to the version I’m posting here. I then consulted one of my favorite French cookbooks, Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan to read her technique. Anne says Boeuf Bourguignon is the “king of stews, the benchmark against which all other are judged, even in France.” Finally I studied the method for Beef Burgundy published by Cook’s Illustrated and decided I was ready for the challenge. I spent 3 days making this dish, but the results were well worth the effort. I realized that I had to make my own beef stock – canned broth just isn’t the same, so the first day was spent making beef broth, the second day I braised the meat, and finally made the onion/mushroom garnish on the third day. 

Using the right wine is also critical to this dish. We have a great wine selection at the local Whole Foods and the staff is very helpful in selecting wine - they suggested Cloudline Pinot Noir 2007 or a Cotes du Rhone. A good Burgundy or any soft fruity Pinot Noir will work best, but a Merlot can also be used.

Boeuf Bourguignon is usually served with mashed or boiled potatoes. You could also serve with buttered noodles or creamy polenta.
Homemade Beef Stock:

(If you decide not to make your own stock, substitute 1 ¾ low sodium chicken broth and 1 ½ cups water – do not use canned beef broth)

Makes 2 quarts

8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 dried bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 pound beef-stew meat, cubed
2 pounds veal bones, (Ask your butcher to cut the veal bones into smaller pieces)
2 pounds meaty crosscut beef shanks (preferably 1 inch thick)
1 large onion, peel on, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into thirds
2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
2 cups water (or dry red wine)

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Make a bouquet garni by wrapping parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie with kitchen twine, and set aside. Arrange meat, veal bones, onion, carrots, and celery in an even layer in a heavy roasting pan. Roast, turning every 20 minutes, until the vegetables and the bones are deep brown, about 1- 1 ½ hours.

  2. Transfer meat and vegetables to a 6- to 8-quart stockpot. Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add 2 cups water (or wine) and deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add deglazing liquid to stockpot along with 14 cups water, celery, salt, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and skim froth. Reduce to a simmer, liquid should just bubble up to surface. Simmer over the lowest possible heat for 3-4 hours; a skin may form on the surface of the liquid; skim off with a slotted spoon, and discard. Repeat as needed. Add water if at any time the level drops below the bones.

  3. Pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing hard on solids, and discard solids. If using stock right away, skim off and discard fat. If not, cool stock completely, uncovered, before skimming fat (it will be easier to remove when cool), then chill, covered.

Beef Braise:

8 ounces thick cut slab bacon , cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then slices cut into matchsticks (lardons)
10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves, torn into quarters
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 medium onions, chopped coarse
2 medium carrots, chopped coarse
1 medium head garlic, cloves separated and crushed but unpeeled
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed

4 - 4 1/4 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into large chunks, trimmed of fat (Pull apart the chuck roast at its major seams (delineated by lines of fat and silver skin). Use a knife as necessary, With a paring knife, trim off all visible fat and silver skin, Cut the meat into large chunks measuring about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.)

Table salt and ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ¼ cups homemade beef broth (or 1 3/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth and 2 ¼ cups water)
1 bottle red burgundy wine (750 ml) or Pinot Noir
2 teaspoons tomato paste

Onion and Mushroom Garnish:

36 frozen pearl onions (about 7 ounces)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
10 ounces white mushrooms, quartered  
2 tablespoons Cognac
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves


  1. Cut two 22-inch lengths cheesecloth. Place cheesecloth crosswise in medium sized bowl and fill cloth with parsley, thyme, onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, porcini mushrooms. Gather corners of cloth and twist tightly and tie with kitchen string; place bouquet garni in 8-quart nonreactive Dutch oven. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Set 12-inch skillet with bacon piences over medium heat; sauté until lightly brown and crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to Dutch oven; pour off all fat and reserve. Season beef with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and add 2 teaspoons of bacon fat to skillet, when fat just begins to smoke, add half of beef in single layer, turning once or twice, until deep brown, about 7 minutes; transfer browned beef to Dutch oven. Pour 1/2 cup beef broth (or water) into skillet and scrape pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; when pan bottom is clean, pour liquid into Dutch oven.

  3. Return skillet to high heat and add 2 more teaspoons reserved fat; swirl to coat pan bottom. When fat begins to smoke, brown remaining beef in single layer, turning once or twice, until deep brown, about 7 minutes; transfer browned beef to Dutch oven. Pour 1/2 cup beef broth (or water) into skillet and scrape pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; when pan bottom is clean, pour liquid into Dutch oven.

  4. Set now-empty skillet over medium heat; add butter. When foaming subsides, whisk in flour until evenly moistened and pasty. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture has toasty aroma and resembles light-colored peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in 3 ¼ cups beef broth (or 1 ¾  cups chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups water); increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. Pour mixture into Dutch oven. Add 3 cups wine, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste to Dutch oven and stir to combine. Set Dutch oven over high heat and bring to boil. Cover and set pot in oven; cook until meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

  5. Remove Dutch oven from oven and, using tongs, transfer vegetable and herb bouquet to strainer set over pot. Press out liquid into pot and discard bouquet. With slotted spoon, remove beef to medium bowl; set aside. Allow braising liquid to settle about 15 minutes, then, with wide shallow spoon, skim fat off surface and discard.

  6. Bring liquid in Dutch oven to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally to ensure that bottom is not burning, until sauce is reduced to about 3 cups and thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 15 to 25 minutes.

  7. While sauce is reducing, bring pearl onions, butter, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water to boil in medium skillet over high heat; cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, shaking pan occasionally, until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, and simmer until all liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and vegetables are browned and glazed, about 5 minutes. Transfer vegetables to large plate and set aside. Add 1/4 cup water to skillet and stir with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. When pan bottom and sides are clean, add liquid to reducing sauce.

  8. When sauce has reduced to about 3 cups and thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, reduce heat to medium-low; stir in beef, mushrooms and onions (and any accumulated juices), remaining wine from bottle, and brandy into Dutch oven. Cover pot and cook until just heated through, 5 to 8 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve, sprinkling individual servings with minced parsley.

Advanced Preparation:

  1. Follow recipe for beef Burgundy through step 5. Using tongs, transfer vegetable and herb bouquet to mesh strainer set over Dutch oven. Press out liquid back into pot and discard bouquet. Let beef cool to room temperature in braising liquid in dutch oven, then cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 days.

  2. With slotted spoon, skim congealed fat off top and discard. Set pot over medium-high heat and bring to simmer; with slotted spoon remove beef to medium bowl and set aside. Simmer sauce briskly, stirring occasionally to ensure that bottom is not burning, until reduced to about 3 cups and thickened to the consistency of heavy cream.

  3. Continue with recipe from step 8.

Serves 4-6


James Moore has been a cooking enthusiast since childhood and started blogging as a way to share favorite recipes with friends and family. His site, Cook Like James has grown to include restaurants, cookbooks, wines, and favorite places.