Recipe of the Week: Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

Today’s post is the eleventh in a series of weekly Julia Child recipes. This week’s contributor is Joe Criste, an exhibits specialist who headed-up the team that dismantled Julia’s Cambridge kitchen and reassembled it at the National Museum of American History. It took Joe and two other chefs three days to make boeuf bourguignon…was it worth it? 

“The best beef stew known to man”

Casserole The covered, enameled cast-iron pot that sits on Julia’s stove was ideal for the long simmer in the oven required for this stew. Julia made Boeuf Bourguignon on the very first episode of The French Chef, which aired on WGBH (Boston) on February 11, 1963. 

Where to find the master recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon: 

  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, p.315 
  • The Way to Cook, p. 236
  • The French Chef cookbook, p. 271
  • The French Chef, episode “Boeuf Bourguignon”
  • Julia and Jacque Cooking at Home, p. 332
  • An online adaptation from Rouxbe 
Julia’s Quick Dark Stock
  • Julia and Jacque Cooking at Home, p. 41 
Joe’s Story: 3 Generations of Chefs and Julia 

Joe’s mom, better known as Mema, chose this recipe after seeing the Julie & Julia movie. It took three chefs—Mema, Joe, and Joe’s son, Michael—to cook Julia Child’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon.

First, I invested in a 5 qt. iron casserole (the pot needed to be able to go from stove top to oven) to cook this wonderful recipe. Our neighbor, Joyce, provided the cheesecloth for our vegetable bouquet. This earned her a bowlful of the Bourguignon

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On the first day, I made the dark stock. This was made from Julia’s Quick Dark Stock Recipe using beef broth flavored with carrots, onions, celery, and dry vermouth. 

On the second day, I prepared the stew portion of the recipe. I seared the beef and salt pork and placed the meats in the casserole along with the herb and vegetable bouquet of onions, carrots, and garlic. The bouquet was placed in the cheesecloth and set in the middle of the beef. The meat and bouquet were covered with the dark stock and a bottle of pinot noir. Cooking time was approximately two hours. To further enhance the flavor, I refrigerated this stew overnight.

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Removing the bouquet and straining all the juices back into the stew.

The third day Mema and Michael prepared the mushroom and onion garnish. The small white onions and mushrooms were glazed in sugar, butter, and salt. After these vegetables were glazed, they were added to the stew. 

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Glazing the mushrooms and onions.

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Mushrooms and onions added to the stew.

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Mema then made Julia’s “lion’s tooth” croutons for added goodness and décor.

Overall, it was a very delicious dinner and well worth the three-day wait! Cooking this recipe made the house smell SO good. I do think that the ratio of meat to mushrooms and onions was out of balance, however. I recommend increasing these vegetables by half! 

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Do try this at home! 

We invite you to join with us in this celebration of Julia Child’s life, work, and contributions to American culinary history. Please share your experiences making Julia Child’s recipes by posting your story, photos, or video on our Tumblr page for this recipe series. Don’t forget to check back next week. 

Joe Criste is an exhibits specialist at the National Museum of American History.