Happy 100th Birthday, Dear Julia Child

To say Julia Child still inspires me feels as obvious as saying, “Hey, did you know cookies taste good?” Not exactly breaking news. Of course she inspired me, and countless others, in the kitchen and possibly elsewhere. She was the Mister Rogers of cooking — always happy to see you, always believing you could do it, even if it was something difficult and messy. And if your efforts didn’t turn out perfectly? No biggie, you’ll get it next time. She still loves you. Have some wine.

Making Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon remains one of the greatest accomplishments of my culinary life. I can’t wait until the weather cools off a bit so I can make it again soon. This is definitely a recipe to cook while sipping some wine — but not too much for the chef until it’s on the table. As you can see, it requires a bit of attention and a certain degree of sharpness. You will be in the kitchen almost all day, so don’t plan anything else. But it will be worth the effort, I promise you that.

This recipe was posted here on Food.com originally by Chef Kate. As much as I love my readers, I wasn’t going to transcribe the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking due to its great length and possible copyright infringements. But it is close enough to the original, let me assure you.

Boeuf Bourguignon a La Julia Child, adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, By Chef Kate on December 12, 2005, Food.com


For the Stew
6 ounces bacon, solid chunk
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onions, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine ( a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
2 -3 cups beef stock ( Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, mashed ( you may choose to add more)
1 sprig thyme ( or 1/2 teaspoon dred thyme)
1 bay leaves, preferably fresh

For the braised onions
18 -24 white pearl onions, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock
salt & fresh ground pepper
1 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
2 sprigs parsley

For the Sauteed Mushrooms
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve.
  2. Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4″ thick and 1 1/2″ long.
  3. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water.
  4. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
  6. Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9″ – 10″ wide, 3″ deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat.
  7. Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
  8. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
  9. Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
  10. Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
  11. In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
  12. Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.
  13. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.
  14. Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
  15. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
  16. Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven.
  17. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.
  18. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind.
  19. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.
  20. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours.
  21. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
  22. While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.
  23. For the onion, if using frozen, make sure they are defrosted and drained.
  24. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet.
  1. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart.
  2. Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover.
  3. Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
  4. Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.
  5. For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.
  6. As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes.
  7. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
  8. To Finish the Stew:.
  9. When the meat is tender, remover the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.
  10. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve).
  11. Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.
  12. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.
  13. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
  14. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.
  15. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
  16. Taste for seasoning.
  17. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
  18. If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  19. Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley.
  20. If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.
  21. 20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Friend and reader Claire emailed me this lovely Julia Child remix from PBS, and she thought you’d all enjoy it, too. Thanks, Claire.

Happy 100th, dear Julia, and bon appétit! I hope you and Paul are enjoying a good birthday meal tonight.

Laura Calder’s Beef Bourguignon

At lunch a few weeks ago, my friend Amy mentioned that she really enjoys Laura Calder’s Cooking Channel show, French Food at Home. Never heard of it, I said.

For a person who makes her living food blogging (ha! yes, that was a joke), it is stunning how little I know. Honest to God, I had no idea such awesomeness existed. But when Amy appealed to my narcissistic tendencies and told me that Laura Calder reminded her a little bit of me, I ran right home to DVR the show toute de suite!

As one of my best friends, Amy clearly sees me through very kind and loving eyes, for I am nowhere near as attractive and competent as Laura Calder. However, I did recognize that we share a certain dorky enthusiasm, passion, sincerity, and slightly know-it-all demeanor which I’d like to believe inspires more confidence than irritation. Needless to say, I think she’s fabulous!

A couple years ago I made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, and it was every bit as complex and wonderful as all the hype. However, it is a heck of a lot of work. Don’t plan to do anything else besides eat and do dishes the day you try to make it Julia’s way. I encourage everyone to try it at least once for the experience, but I was personally in no hurry to spend hours in the kitchen making it again despite numerous requests from Ed. When I saw Laura’s version of Beef Bourguignon, I was intrigued. It seemed so…relatively simple!

Verdict? A very worthy Beef Bourguignon. All of the flavor, less than half of the work. I can’t imagine making this any other way now. Sorry, Julia, I still love you!

Laura Calder’s Beef Bourguignon (printable recipe here)


  • For the stew
  • 4 pounds boneless stew beef, such as chuck or sirloin tip, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons pork fat or olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and halved
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, just crushed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (750ml) bottle red wine (Dawn used a ten dollar cabernet sauvignon — nothing fancy)
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 bouquet garni (made from bay leaf, parsley stems, and thyme sprigs)
  • For the garnish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into lardons
  • 40 baby onions, peeled
  • 16 ounces mushrooms


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large casserole. Working in batches, brown the stew meat well on all sides, removing as you go. When the meat is done, cook the carrots and onions in the same pot until tender and lightly golden. Add the garlic, and cook one minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Pour over the wine and the stock. Add the bouquet garni. Return the meat to the pot, cover, and transfer to the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours.

While the meat cooks, prepare the garnish: Heat the oil, in a pan and brown the bacon, and remove. Add the onions and cook until browned all over, remove. Finally, brown the mushrooms, and remove. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup water, reduce, and then pour over the garnish. Set aside.

When the meat is done, remove it from the pot. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables. Pour the liquid back into the pot, and boil until thick enough to coat a spoon. Return the meat to the pan and add the garnish. Cover, and simmer until the onions are tender and the flavors have blended, 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Serve.

Does anything make you feel so French as tying herbs in a bow and saying “Bouquet Garni” to all who will listen?

The garnish of bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions which gets added at the end.

Voila! What it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in deliciousness.