You guys. This is one a behemoth of a post that has been sitting around forever and I’m finally getting around to posting now, you know, getting it in before I become “a woman in her thirties.”
At the end of last winter I happened to catch the movie Julie & Julia on the teevee. I think people assume that I would love to go see a movie like this, and you would assume wrong, my friend. I mean, I do love food but I was only vaguely interested in this movie and that’s only because of all the positive things I heard about Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci. I never read the book or the blog, but thank goodness they were able to cast Amy Adams as Julie. Amy is adorable (re: Enchanted) but the character of Julie in the movie is severely unpalatable so the only way to make it through the movie is to have someone excessively cute play someone kind of irritating. That being said, if the movie was edited down to be comprised exclusively of the Julia section, I would watch the shit out of that. I loved Meryl Streep as Julia Child and I thought all the scenes of the movie with her and Stanley Tucci were phenomenal. Please remake the movie as only Julia, thanks.
The movie and other latent factors prompted me to embark on a culinary journey to make the famous dish, Boeuf Bourguignon. I had never actually eaten this dish despite hearing about it a lot and I’ve always wanted to try it. My first encounter was when Darcy made it for a dinner party, albeit not Julia’s version. Still, it was so delicious! Obviously, I wanted to try my hand at it. I also wanted to try Julia Child’s recipe (get it for free here!) and use my Le Creuset to the MAX. From the stove straight into the oven, baby.
Here are some prep pics because the recipe was INSANELY WORK INTENSIVE. Not for the anorexic at heart, people. You gotta persevere through this recipe. You can do it. Because at the end, you’re gonna eat that mofo.
Step one, bacon preparation. Look at that bacon! Magnificent.
Step three, veggies! James (hand is pictured) helped a lot during this epic bout of cooking and was patient with the fact that we cooked for more than 5 hours and didn’t get to eat until 11:30pm. Although (spoiler alert) it should be said that the eating was insanely awesome.
Step five and six, making the veggie accoutrements while the beef is stewing in the oven: rosemary roasted potatoes (my own recipe) and two other Julia recipes that she herself recommends to go with the dish, champignons sautés au beurŕe and oignons glacés à brun. The recipes for the last two are also available for free on the publishers site. The pdfs are on the same webpage as the boeuf bourguignon recipe.
How ridiculously fantastic do those rosemary potatoes look?! Also, if you’re not hungry by now you’re either inhuman or vegan.
The oignons glacés à brun recipe is so intense. The onions are sauteed/stewed for over an hour in beef broth with a delicious sachet of herbs. You can see the sachet in the bottom left panel. Who knew peeling and sauteing tiny onions could be so labor intensive? Although, once again, after we tasted them, we realized that were the best onions we had ever eaten ever in the history of onions. They were like little jewels bursting with flavor. Like Gushers! Only not a fake plastic gummy food substance aimed at killing human children one cavity a time. Julia’s mini onions were kind of mind blowing. My inner chef-wannabe was humbled and invigorated to discover that onions could be made to be so freaking delicious. I feel ashamed as to have harbored even the tiniest amount of doubt to Julia’s culinary genius.
Finally, after much slaving away in the kitchen, we pulled the beef bouguignon out of the oven. I got a little worried when I pulled off the lid, but that blackened stuff just came right off and no food was burned. Everything actually cleaned right off–I barely had to scrub it. It wiped right off with the soft side of a sponge. A Le Creuset miracle.
We combined everything into beautiful bowls of favorgasms. I added a sprig of flowering thyme to give the plating that extra push to the apex of ultimate foodie pretension. Also, at that time (and currently) I had a veritable carpet of thyme growing in my backyard.
Amazingly delicious. The onions are off the hook. The beef is so tender and flavorful. Roasted rosemary potatoes make life worth living. Even the carrots were great. I could eat a million bowls of this. And by million I mean, ALL THE BOWLS. I WANT TO EAT ALL THE BOWLS.
1. This dish is so good it will blow the taste buds right out of your mouth directly into the pleasure centers of your brain and then you will pass out from grief that your bowl is empty as well as from the fact that you will be in a food coma.
2. Set aside an entire afternoon to make this. The recipe is wonderfully easy to follow, but it just takes a lot of time to chop, boil, sear, saute, and roast everything. For me, part of the fun was knowing that this would be a challenge. I know there are lots of other recipes that are much shorter. It would be interesting to try one of them for comparison.
3. If you’re going to put this much work into something, get good quality ingredients.
4. Because of the nature of this dish, it tastes excellent in the following days–marinating in and soaking up all the wine, herbs and other flavors. You could definitely make it ahead of time and heat it right before serving it for a dinner party–a dinner party that will annihilate your friends’ naive culinary expectations and replace them with joy and a deep-seated knowledge of what it would take to garner 8 million Michelin stars.
5. If you make this, you will feel like a rock star when you finish. Truth.