How many of you have seen the film Julie and Julia? As soon as I finished watching the film I just had to buy the cookbook at Amazon. I have read it and love it, but most recipes are time consuming and not everyday dinners perhaps. At least not for me when I come home grumpy and need something quick. But yesterday, I had a whole day to cook, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to start autumn in my kitchen, with a nice stew. Even though I worship the sun, I am actually longing for the autumn. I want it to be a few degrees cooler so I can start wearing autumn clothes, and enjoy the season as the trees drop their leaves. Instead it is 18 degrees and the flat is roasting when I have the oven on for more or less a whole day. Supper, however, was delightful! It was exactly so delicious I had pictured it in my head, and that is usually quite difficult to live up too.
I converted the recipe to metric and centigrade and divided it by three to serve two.
The finished casserole
Boeuf bourguignon with roast potatoes
Julia Child’s Boeuf bourguignon, serves 2
60 g streaky bacon
450 g stewing steak, cut into cubes
1 small carrot, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
salt & black pepper
10 g plain flour
230 ml red wine (Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Burgundy, Chianti)
130 ml beef stock
2 tsp tomato paste
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4-1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
6 small onions (such as shallots)
150 g button mushrooms
Cut the bacon into lardons. Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in water. Drain and dry. Preheat oven to 230C.
In the casserole dish, sauté the bacon in oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Leave casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
Dry the beef; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at the time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely brown on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and onion. Pour out the sautéing fat. Return the beef and the bacon to the casserole and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Place casserole uncovered in the middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 165C.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmering point on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and place in lower part of the preheated oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Leave them aside until needed.
Put butter and oil in a frying pan and wsit for it to get bubbling, then add the onions and sauté over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so that they brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot to expect to brown them uniformly.
Then pour in 100 ml or so of beef stock and a small bay leaft, some parsley sprigs and a little thyme. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated.
Place a frying pan over a high heat with some butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam hasbegun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms (washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large). Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During this the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from the heat.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve placed over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises (I didn’t need to do this). The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. if too thick, mix in a few tablesppons of stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange on a dish surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, decorated with parsley.
Tradionally, boiled potatoes are served with boeuf borguignon but we chose to serve it with roast potatoes, and it was perfect. The middle of the potatoes are a bit liked boiled potatoes, but the outsides are nice and crisp.
I have never roasted potatoes this way, but it seems to be the common way of roasting potatoes for a Sunday roast.
Peel potatoes and either leave them whole or cut in half, or if exceptionally big potatoes, cut in quarters. You want quite big pieces. Boil the potatoes nearly done, for 15 minutes or so. Place on a hot roasting dish and coat them lightly with either vegetable oil or (even better) goose fat. Roast in 200C for about 40 minutes.
We roasted them for 30 minutes or so on the same temperature as the casserole, 165C and then turned it up to 200C when I was thinning/thickening the sauce and roasted them for another 20 minutes. It works fine to heat up the vegetables in the casserole on this temperature for a few minutes.