Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon
Julia Child’s legendary Boeuf Bourguignon is a classic dish that deserves to be enjoyed at least once each fall or winter. This savory, delectable beef burgundy stew is rich and layered with tender chunks of braised beef, caramelized pearl onions, and sautéed mushrooms a spectacularly silky red wine sauce. This is Julia Child’s Beouf Bourguignon from her infamous tome, Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.
As long as I can remember, Julia Child has held a position of reverence in our family. My mother was obsessed with her PBS cooking series, The French Chef, her approachable demeanor, and no-apologies matter-of-factness.
Mom had her own copy (it’s a two book set) of Julia’s first incredible cookbook, pictured above, and cooked from it regularly, as evidenced by the worn jacket and pages inside.
She gifted the books to me, and while I’m not as obsessive as Julie Powell was when she cooked her way through every recipe in both volumes of MTAOFC, I’m every bit as devoted and starry eyed about Julia Child and her importance to the cooking world.
Julia’s recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon doesn’t take shortcuts and neither did I, however, I do have a few options for braising your beef burgundy in other cooking vessels including the Instant Pot and Crock Pot.
Table of Contents
- 1 Ingredients you’ll need for Julia’s boeuf bourguignon recipe:
- 2 Real beef burgundy from scratch is worth the time
- 3 How to make Boeuf Bourguignon like Julia
- 4 What’s the best pot or vessel to make Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon in?
- 5 Braising pearl onions & sautéing mushrooms
- 6 What to serve with Julia’s boeuf bourguignon
- 7 Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon
- 8 Pin “Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon” for later!
Ingredients you’ll need for Julia’s boeuf bourguignon recipe:
- Beef Chuck Roast
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine (full bodied, like Burgundy)
- Beef Stock or Broth
- Tomato Paste
- Bay Leaves
- Pearl Onions
Real beef burgundy from scratch is worth the time
This beef burgundy recipe isn’t difficult to make, but it does take time. I suggest making this on a rainy or nasty day when the thought of leaving the house doesn’t even enter your mind. Give yourself over to the process and I promise you’ll be rewarded with the most amazing flavors and life-affirming accolades.
How to make Boeuf Bourguignon like Julia
- Crisp the bacon in a heavy pot and transfer to a paper towel lined dish.
- Dry the chunks of beef and brown it in the bacon fat. Transfer to another dish.
- Add the onions and carrots to the pot and cook until tender and browned, stirring occasionally.
- Return the beef to the pot and sprinkle with flour, stirring to coat.
- Transfer the pot to a 450° oven for 4 minutes to give the meat a nice crust.
- Add wine, beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaves.
- Cover the pot and braise in 325° oven for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender.
- While the beef burgundy braises, caramelize the onions and sauté the mushrooms separately.
- After the meat is tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer the chunks of beef to a plate and strain the vegetables and sauce through a mesh sieve.
- Transfer the beef back to the pot and add the strained burgundy wine sauce, onions and mushrooms. ( I also added the simmered carrot to the pot, because I love carrot).
- Heat through and serve.
What’s the best pot or vessel to make Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon in?
Well, if you want to do it like Julia, you HAVE TO use an enameled dutch oven. Dutch oven’s are one my favorite cooking vessels too, as they go seemlessly from the stovetop to the oven and finally, to the table. They keep the meal warm (even at the table) because they’re made of cast iron which holds heat remarkably well.
Some dutch oven brands can be prohibitively expensive (Le Creuset and Staub come to mind). However, you can buy off-brand varieties at Homegood’s, Marshall’s and TJMaxx for a fraction of the price — and come to think of it, keep your eyes peeled, because they sometimes have those fancy brands too.
How to make beef burgundy in the Instant Pot
Making the beef and wine stew is a no-brainer for the Instant Pot. In fact, this is one area where it really excels.
You’ll still need to follow all of the steps, but instead of placing the flour coated beef in the oven to crisp, just set the Instant Pot to sauté and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to create a fond (those crispy, caramelized bits).
Then, instead of slow braising the boeuf bourguignon for 3-4 hours, cook the beef for about 1 hour at high pressure. When the meat is tender, continue to follow the rest of the recipe.
How to make beef burgundy in a Crock Pot or slow cooker
Slow cookers are wonderful for evenly braising tougher cuts of meat and works brilliantly on the chunks of chuck roast called for in Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe.
The only difference is that you’ll need to start with another skillet over the stovetop to crisp the bacon, brown the beef and sauté the carrots and onions.
Once that’s done, transfer everything to your slow cooker and braise on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8. Then follow the rest of the recipe as written.
These are two steps that I initially thought were superfluous. My efficient-minded brain couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t just add the pearl onions and mushrooms to the pot to cook alongside the beef. However, reason is perfectly clear once you’ve done it.
Braising pearl onions & sautéing mushrooms
Pearl onions and mushrooms have way different cooking times than the beef for this bourguignon. The onions need to simmer for about half an hour to 40 minutes. Mushrooms can be ready in half that time.
Where Julia goes the extra mile is by lightly browning the onions in butter, and then simmering them with fresh herbs, a bay leaf and beef broth, until they reach the perfect level of tender, but not mushy, doneness. They are golden, richly caramelized and ethereal.
Additionally, she cooks the mushrooms in foamy butter until they’re rich and browned, but haven’t shrunk down to nothingness.
These (seemingly excessive) steps make so much more sense when you put it into that context. I mean, look at the glistening, golden pearl onions (below) after they’ve simmered. I don’t know about you, but I could dive into this pot as is and be perfectly happy.
This is the difference between a “good enough” beef stew and authentic boeuf bourguignon. Yep, I was schooled by Julia.
What to serve with Julia’s boeuf bourguignon
- Boiled Potatoes – This is the way Julia recommends serving with her beef burgundy stew.
- Buttered Noodles are another good option. I would go with wide egg noodles and spoon the beef burgundy and sauce over them.
- Steamed Rice – Julia offered this as a suggestion, but I have to disagree here. In my mind rice and stew have nothing in common. I’d save the rice for a beef stir fry.
- Mashed Potatoes – This is definitely my choice. Create a well in a mound of mashed potatoes and spoon the beef, vegetables and wine sauce into and over the spuds. Bliss.
- Cauliflower Purée – If you’re cutting back on carbs, a good cauliflower mash is a great substitute for potatoes.
- Creamy Polenta – I know that Julia’s recipe is a classic french stew, so polenta might seem an odd choice, but soft cooked cornmeal, with plenty of butter and cream will go perfectly alongside this boeuf bourguignon recipe.
- French Bread – from a good French bakery
- Buttered peas – Julia recommends serving peas on the side, but in all honestly, if you want peas, I’d just mix a cup of frozen peas into the bourguignon right before serving.
- Green Salad – I always like to serve a green salad with rich hearty stews like this. A good vinegary dressing and vibrant greens are a great palate cleanser between indulgent bites of the burgundy stew.
You should also have a good of red wine to enjoy alongside the beef bourguignon. Julia recommends “a full bodied young red wine such as Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux St.-Émilion or Burgundy. I’ll add to that a fruity Pinot Noir, like Meiomi is one of my favorites.
More hearty braises and stews you’ll love:
- Braised Lamb Shanks
- Classic German Beef Goulash
- Hatch Chile Chopped Pork
- Homestyle Dutch Oven Pot Roast
- Dutch Oven Beef Stew
- Irish Stout Braised Chicken Thighs
- Louisiana Cajun Red Beans and Rice
- Irish Lamb Stew
- Hoppin’ John
- Turkey Chili with White Beans
- Braised Veal Shanks
- Extra Stout Beef Carbonnade
- Tex Mex Braised Pork Stew
- Hearty Pork Ragout
- Rustic Osso Buco
- Coq Au Vin for two
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Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon
For the Beef
- 6 ounces bacon sliced crosswise 1/4″ thick pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 small onion peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 ½ cups red wine full bodied
- 2-3 cups beef stock or broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic mashed
- 5-6 sprigs thyme tied in kitchen string
- 2 bay leaves
For the Onions
- 6-7 ounces pearl onions from freezer section (thawed)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 sprigs parsley
- 3-4 sprigs thyme
- ½ bay leaf
- ½ cup beef broth or stock
For the Mushrooms
- 1 pound white mushrooms stems removed, quartered
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 450°.
- In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil until glistening over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook for several minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Scoop the bacon with a spoon, tilt against the side of the pan to drain excess grease and transfer to a large, shallow bowl.
- Use several paper towels to dry the pieces of beef (if they’re not dry, they won’t brown) and add them in batches to the dutch oven to brown. Brown the beef on all sides and then transfer the pieces to the bowl with the bacon. Continue until all the beef has been browned.
- Add the onions and carrots to the dutch oven and brown them, stirring occasionally.
- Return the beef, bacon and any drippings to the dutch oven. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until the meat and vegetables are well coated. Put the dutch oven uncovered into the hot oven and cook for 4 minutes. Stir the contents of the pot and continue to cook for an additional 4 minutes. (this will give the meat a nice crust).
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.
- Add the wine to the pot and add enough beef stock to barely cover the meat. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Cover the pot tightly with a lid and place back in the oven. Braise for 3-4 hours or until the beef is tender.
- While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
For the onions
- Tie the parsley and thyme into a bundle with kitchen string. In a large enameled pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat until the foam has subsided from the pan. Add the onions and cook until they are lightly browned. Add the herbs, bay leaf and beef stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to a medium low, cover and cook for 30-40 minutes — until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the onions to a bowl and set aside.
For the mushrooms
- In a large skillet heat half the olive oil and butter until the foam from the butter begins to subside. Add half the mushrooms to the pan and cook until browned. They will first absorb the oil, and then begin to brown… do not crowd the mushrooms in the pan. Transfer cooked mushrooms to the same bowl as the onions. Continue with the remaining mushrooms, by heating the oil and butter until the foam subsides, adding the mushrooms and then browning them evenly. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl and set aside.
- When the meat is tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a bowl — Set a strainer over a medium bowl and strain the vegetables and broth through the strainer. Press lightly on the vegetables to get as much sauce from them as possible without pushing through the solids. Transfer the beef back to the pot and pour the sauce over the beef. Add the mushrooms and onions (I saved a few carrots too, because I love them).
- Heat the contents through on the stove top and serve with crusty bread and a good red wine.
Not gonna lie – it’s a bit of an effort, but so worth it. Made this for our 35th wedding anniversary and it was a hit.
Love the recipe, but the whole point of having green peas — is their bright green color and fresh garden taste and — ON THE SIDE — is to add that spring garden dimension.
Looks delicious, I am planning to make this recipe later on this week. However, this game I want to add small quartered potatoes to the pot. Thinking about cooking them how are you in a little beef stock/broth and adding them to the pot. Do you think that will work? About how long should I cook them, I don’t want them to be mushy. Just a thought. Just feels like potatoes potatoes should go in this dish.
If the potatoes are small, it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes.
All of my grocery stores are out of fresh thyme. I’m freaking out that I have to use dried. It’s going to be a lot different. How much dried thyme should I use?
I used a tablespoon in the main pot and a teaspoon in the onions! I haven’t been able to get fresh time in forever! I live in California.
You can use dried thyme, but it’s more potent than fresh, so cut the amount by about half.
What size Dutch oven should I use, is a 5 or 6 quart big enough for this recipe?
Go with the 6 quart, unless you have something larger. I prefer 8 quarts, so there’s room.
I’m unable to get frozen pearl onions, what can I substitute, if anything?
You can use fresh pearl onions – just blanch and shock them, then peel them before adding to the stew.
I’m having a heck of a time finding pearl onions..any suggestions? Finallt ordered a jar from Amazon. I’ve never saw a fresh pearl onion in any grocery store in my area and no frozen..help!
Try chopped white onions, whole shallots (small) or cippolini onions.
Don’t forget to put SIX cloves into one of the onions. It’s like the bay leaf. Not sure what it does, but makes the flavor TREMENDOUS! I put this in every stew, so it consume I make.
Fabulous recipe and photos! Question – if i were to serve this to someone allergic to gluten, could i sub 2 tbsp of flour for a tsp or so of corn starch slurry? Would love to bring this to christmas dinner. Thanks!!
I would think a cornstarch slurry would work fine.
One word: Kuzu… We know it was Kudzu. It’s perfect, makes things glossy, gluten free and blends wow nicely. Look it up on Amazon. It isn’t cheap but lasts a long time.
Made this today for the French stop our summer culinary trip around the world. It was super and, while time consuming, it wasn’t as hard to make as I expected.
It was super! Thanks for the great pictures and directions. They helped a lot!