8-10: Beef Bourguignon

I guess the best way to start this is…have you seen that Julie & Julia movie from a few years ago? If not, and you enjoy reading this blog (or even if you don’t), you DEFINITELY should go watch it. It’s essentially the idea that formed this website/project. In that movie, one of the featured Julia Child recipes is her Boeuf Bourguignon which is found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of her most famous books and one of the most famous cookbooks in general.

With that being said, we come back to the fact that this is not a Julia Child cookbook project, it is a Simply Delicious one. So, I present to you Simply Delicious’ version of the dish: 8-10: Beef Bourguignon.

Simply Delicious isn’t wrong–this dish is essentially French beef stew (with a good amount of red wine in it). I’ve made Julia’s version a few times (let’s be honest, we ALL made it at least once after that movie came out), but I’ve yet to attempt the Simply Delicious version, mostly because it was a “new book” recipe and I didn’t know it even existed until a few years ago. Let’s see how they compare…

Ingredients compare pretty closely to Julia’s version–I literally held them side-by-side while writing this to confirm. The major difference is in the specificity–here’s an example: Julia suggests to use a “full-bodied, young red wine such as one of those suggested for serving, or a Chianti”. You can see that Simply Delicious just says “red wine”.

That’s one of the revolutionary aspects of Julia’s book (and Julia in general)–it was written for the home chef, but for them to be able to achieve “professional” level results in their own kitchen. That was practically unheard of in the early 1960s, but it’s EVERYWHERE today–you can thank Julia in part for that.

In terms of quantity, Julia’s recipe as written yields about double what’s written here (hers claims to serve 6), but even Simply Delicious offers the TIP to double this one as well and freeze the rest.

Ingredients. My wine is a Zinfandel, which can be considered a full-bodied wine depending on the version and where the grapes are from. This one was a gift from a friend, and it comes from the Amador region of California, which according to this site means that it’s probably medium-bodied. However, the actual vineyard’s site claims that it’s full-bodied. I’m not much of a wine drinker OR a beef eater (the “beaf” above was made by me, courtesy of the Gentle Chef), so I’m doing the best I can without breaking the bank.

Draining the broth from my “beef”–they get frozen with some broth when made and then I drain it off when I defrost it. Luckily, these are the perfect size/shape/consistency for this particular dish.

Prepping the onion and carrot.

Slicing mushrooms with my paring knife. I had my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking ready and open to the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe for comparison as I went–I wanted to see where Simply Delicious diverged from Julia, and where it stayed similar.

I don’t have any bacon or ham (and don’t plan on using any), but I want to capture that same smoky, salty taste in my dish somehow. I came up with making what’s essentially an umami bomb out of some soy sauce, liquid smoke, and fake butter to replicate the flavors I was losing by not using bacon.

The “beaf” is already technically cooked, but I wanted to get some additional color on the pieces as well as start the skillet off with some flavors in the pan. Julia’s recipe would have you toss these with flour and stick it into the oven for a few minutes to brown the flour and give the meat a nice crust on it, but no such instruction in the Simply Delicious version.

Beaf pieces were moved to my cast-iron Dutch oven, then I started working on the onion and carrot.

Adding the rest of the ingredients into the Dutch oven. My umami bomb is in there too, adding extra flavor to all of it. Flour gets added now as opposed to earlier as Julia would have you do it–I like Julia’s method better since I’m always afraid flour will clump up and not incorporate well when added in with wet ingredients like this.

Measuring out the wine to add to the Dutch oven. No broth in the Simply Delicious version, just wine.

Mixed together and ready to go in the oven.

As instructed, I worked on the pearl onions and mushrooms while the stew…stewed.

I sautéed my mushrooms as well.

Julia has you add garlic before it stews, but Simply Delicious has you add it closer to the end. I would think adding it earlier would make it less pungent, which you would want in a dish like this.

Final stir of everything together. Looks BEEFY (even though the version I’ve made with my substitutions is actually vegan).

Boiled potatoes are usually the accompaniment to Boeuf Bourguignon, but as I said previously, I’m in LOVE with what I call “Kenji potatoes“, so I whipped up another batch of those to serve with this instead.

Start with a bed of potatoes…

Final dish: add stew and eat. It was mighty tasty, and a nice nod to the inspiration for this project. I still like Julia’s version better, but Simply Delicious actually has a pretty decent version on their own.

Grade: A-