I absolutely love and adore Julia Child. I love how funny and witty she was, her grandiose love and devotion to her husband, Paul, and for love of good food, for her countless little quibbles and quotes about how “everything is better with butter” and for what a great role she has played in American cuisine. You can’t help but love Julia Child. She once had said that “the only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” Hilarious! She was wiser beyond her cooking times, and now an iconic symbol of French cooking. For myself, I am better having a little bit of Julia Child in my life. I had picked this iconic recipe to enjoy for our 2nd wedding anniversary dinner, and knew that just like Julia – it would be a labor of love to create and prepare this dish.
I’ve been waiting on the day that I would own this cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My awesome boss, had recently bought it for me this past birthday. I was tickled pink to own this book and knew it would be like uncovering the lost secrets of Julia Child’s kitchen. The book itself is huge, 700 pages for the 1st volume and another 650 for the 2nd volume. If I was Julie Powell, and had to cook the book, all 365 recipes in 365 days…I would flip the effing switch! I do love the format the book reads, Julia Child was very intelligent – it’s like she was speaking to you as you read the recipe. The ingredients appear as you use them, without you going back a couple pages or so. Prepare yourself for this recipe, give yourself a good four hours or so, and make this dish. Your husband, friends, and family will love you for making it. I can’t wait to make it again for another momentous occasion. Without further adieu, here’s the recipe. I included the original formats from the publishing company, Knoft Double Day. Bon Appétit!
Adapted from Julia Child – Mastering the Art of French Cooking, PDF of original recipe
6 ounces of center-cut bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon flour
3 cups of red wine, use Pinot Noir or Chianti – use one you would drink
2 to 3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
a crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock – Recipe below
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter – Recipe below
Required tools: 9 to 10 inch dutch oven (casserole) & a slotted spoon
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown slightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
3. Dry the beef in paper towels it will not brown if it is damp. (Take your time to do this step) Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
4. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour our the sautéing fat.
5. Return the beef and 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. Set casserole uncovered in 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 325 degrees.
6. Stir in the wine, and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. (If you’re worried about over-cooking it, it won’t happen – lower the heat to your oven to 300 degrees if you’re worried about making it too tough.)
7. While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
8. When the meat is tender, remove and strain the beef and vegetables from the pot with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl; set aside.
9. Skim fat off the sauce. (If you’re using good quality meat, you’ll find no fat.) Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Add back the meat, vegetables, brown-braised onions & sautéed mushrooms. **Recipe may be completed in advance to this point**
10. For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve with buttered potatoes, noodles or rice, and garnish with parsley.
11. For later serving: When cold, cover, and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to simmer, cover and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce. **Highly recommend serving the next day, because the dish only improves with time. It gains in flavor when reheated.**
For the brown-braised onions – The quickest, neatest, and least tearful way to peel small white onions is to drop them into a saucepan of rapidly boiling water and leave them for 5 to 10 seconds, just long enough for their skins to loosen. Drain. Run cold water. Trim the tops and bottoms, and remove the skin. In a medium pan, add the 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, just as it’s bubbling – add the onions. Add 1/2 cup of beef stock or dry white wine or red wine and add the herb bouquet. (Composed of 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 thyme tied in cheesecloth.) Cover and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes until onions are perfectly tender, and liquid has evaporated.
For the sautéed mushrooms – In a large skillet, about medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. As soon as you see the butter foam, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. Cook until they have browned, and remove from heat.
Review: I’ve never been to Paris, but I truly enjoy the French cooking! Wow, this was an incredible and memorable meal. As recommended by Julia, I served this with buttered peas, boiled potatoes, french baguette, and bottle of lovely Hess Allomi Vineyard Cab because it’s our anniversary wine and it went perfectly with the meal. The meat is so tender that you don’t need a knife, and the taste of tenderly slowly braised beef just lingers in your mouth. You’ll be oohing and ahhing the entire meal. Julia once said “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” Thank you Julia Child from the bottom of my heart and always hungry stomach.