Julia’s Easy Beef Bourguignon is so simple to make. All it takes is browning the meat and vegetables and letting the Crockpot do the work for you.
First, I have to say I loved Julia Child. As much as I appreciated my Mom’s cooking, Julia’s really the one who taught me how to cook. I watched her faithfully and learned how to cook everything from Artichokes to Zucchini to everything in between.
She also taught me techniques on how to fillet fish, cut up a chicken, roast a duck and how to make her famous Beef Bourguignon – all recipes in her best selling book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have to admit her method in making this delicious stew was both time and labor intensive. But the result was always perfection.
Now, with the leaves turning and the air beginning to take a chill, I thought of Julia’s recipe for Beef Bourguignon and the rich, delicious broth of that stew and I really wanted to make it. Unfortunately with my schedule, which has become far too busy, I didn’t have the time.
But there’s always another way. So I thought the next best thing to Julia’s recipe was to let my Crockpot do the work. The difference in taste is close, very close, to her original recipe. The broth is rich, the beef melts in your mouth and the vegetables are cooked perfectly.
So, let’s make it:
Ingredients for Julia’s Easy Beef Bourguignon
- Stewing Beef
- Sea salt
- Pearl onions
- Red wine
- Beef Consommé
- Tomato paste
- Bay leaf
How to Make Julia’s Easy Beef Bourguignon
First, in a frypan over medium high heat, begin with crisping the bacon. It will take about 5 minutes to render the fat. When it’s crisp, add the bacon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan, to a large crockpot set on low.
Next, season the beef with sea salt and pepper. Then sprinkle it with flour. Using the same frypan with the bacon grease set to medium high, lightly brown the beef chunks on each side. This will take about 4 minutes as you stir the beef. Don’t concern yourself if it’s not totally brown. It will cook together beautifully. Then add the beef to the Crockpot.
To the same pan over medium high heat add the chopped shallots and pearl onions and allow to cook 2-3 minutes till lightly brown. Then add them to the Crockpot along with the beef.
To the same frypan, still at medium high heat, add butter. When it begins to bubble add in the mushrooms.
Let them cook undisturbed and caramelize about 2-3 minutes. Then add them to the Crockpot, leaving the mushroom liquid behind in the pan.
With the frypan again on medium high heat, add in the carrots. Once again, you want them to get a slight caramelization, so let them cook 2-4 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add them, with any liquid in the pan, to the Crockpot.
Add wine, beef consommé, tomato paste and garlic to the Crockpot and mix the ingredients together. Finally, top with 1 bay leaf and a bundle of thyme.
Cover and cook over low heat for 6-8 hours.
When ready to serve remove the bay leaf and the thyme bundle and ladle into bowls. Finish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
Notes on Julia’s Original Recipe
Even though the cooking method is different, I stayed relatively faithful to Julia Child’s original recipe. It’s hard to improve on a masterpiece. So the basic ingredients remain the same, but I modified some of her techniques to make her very laborious recipe simpler for you.
Also Julia cooked the meat in its wine broth in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours to tenderize the meat before she added the mushrooms and onions to the casserole. With this Crockpot method, I simply added all the ingredients together for a long slow simmer. Certainly easier and the flavor and texture was not impaired at all.
And, where Julia used a casserole and pans that she washed at least three times during the cooking process, I opted for only one pan to brown the ingredients as I added each to the Crockpot, so clean up is easier.
Also, Julia simmered her bacon lardons in water for 10 minutes and then drained and dried the bacon before she recooked it in oil to crisp it. I eliminated that extra step and simply cooked the bacon until it rendered its grease because I wanted to use the grease to flavor and brown the beef.
It worked out quite well because that extra bacon grease also added extra flavor to the vegetables as well.
FAQ’s on the Ingredients
Can you just add the ingredients to the Crockpot without browning them first?
Yes, you can, but it’s best to brown the ingredients first. The caramelization just gives the dish an extra depth of flavor.
What would you serve with this?
Julia suggested a tossed green salad and perhaps some buttered noodles or rice. As this really is a complete meal by itself, I’m not sure that you need anything extra. Well, perhaps some warm French bread to sop up the delicious broth.
What type of red wine do you recommend?
Julia preferred a Beaujolais or a burgundy. I would say use any type of red wine that you like to drink
You call for pearl onions, can regular onions substitute?
Yes, absolutely! Being true to Julia’s recipe I used a combination of onions and baby pearl onions in this recipe, but the truth is baby onions are very labor intensive to peel. The flavor will almost be the same if you only use onions. I almost always use shallots in place of regular yellow or white onions mainly because they have a milder flavor.
Can you make this recipe more gluten free?
Yes. The flour is an important ingredient because it helps thicken the sauce. I really prefer Wondra because it’s such a fine flour and because of this it doesn’t seize up or clump. But if you would like to make this dish more gluten free, just substitute rice flour.
I prefer not to cook with alcohol, can you use something else?
Of course. If you’d prefer not to cook with wine you can substitute beef broth but the flavor won’t be as rich.
What’s the best beef cuts to use?
Your best bet, because this stew cooks low and slow, is a less expensive cut like chuck or even brisket. But you could also use sirloin.
You often use sea salt. Why?
If you’ve been following my blog over the last few years, you know that I focus on low calorie, low fat and low sodium recipes for optimal health. Sea salt, and especially Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, is much more intensively flavored than regular salt so you can use less and still have great flavor.
You call for a bundle of thyme. What does that mean exactly?
I tie 3-4 tiny branches of thyme together with a string so that the Beef Bourguignon can be flavored with the thyme as it slowly cooks. And because it’s tied in a bundle, it makes removal easy when it’s ready to be ladled into bowls.
Julia's Easy Beef Bourguignon
- 3 Strips Bacon Cut in 1" pieces
- 1 1/2 Lbs Stewing beef Either Chuck or sirloin, cut into 1" cubes
- 1/2 Tsp Sea salt Prefer Himalyan Pink Sea Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Pepper
- 3 Tbsp Flour Prefer Wondra
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 1/2 Lb Mushrooms Halved
- 2 Med Carrots Peeled and cut into 1/2" slices
- 2 Med Shallots Peeled and Diced
- 1 1/2 Cups Red wine Either Beaujolais or Burgundy
- 1 10 oz can Beef Consomme
- 1 Tbsp Tomato paste
- 2 Cloves Garlic Mashed
- 1 Bay leaf
- 4-6 Stems Thyme Tied in a bundle with string
- In a frypan over medium high heat saute the bacon until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Then add the bacon bits (leaving the bacon grease in the pan) to a large Crockpot turned to Low.
- Next, season the beef with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle the beef chunks with flour. Using the same frypan with the bacon grease turn the heat to medium high and add the beef chunks. Cook the beef until it's mostly browned, about 4 minutes, and add it to the Crockpot
- To the same frypan over medium high heat, add butter. When hot add the mushrooms, cut side down. Let them cook undisturbed about 2-3 minutes until browned and add them to the Crockpot.
- Then add the onions to the same frypan and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Again, add them to the Crockpot.
- Next, add the carrots to the frypan over medium high heat and cook 2-3 minutes and add them to the Crockpot.
- Then add the wine, beef consomme, tomato paste and garlic and mix the ingredients.
- Finally, add the bay leaf and the bundle of thyme. Cover and cook on Low heat 6-8 hours.
- Remove the bay leaf and the thyme bundle and ladle into serving bowls. To finish: sprinkle with chopped parley and serve with warm French bread if desired.
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