What makes Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon the best? Is it the rich, silky burgundy wine sauce? The tender chunks of braised beef or the golden, caramelized pearl onions and mushrooms? All of that PLUS the love you put into making this classic recipe.
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.
This is even better the second day, if you can stand to wait that long.