juliabeefI made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignonne recipe today (actually yesterday, it’s 12:02am now) for a supper club the Phi Mu Princeton alumnae gals were having. My mother-in-law, Cora, gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas (without movie stills on the cover!), and it was fitting that this is the first recipe from it I have prepared. All I can say is, plan your day around this if ever you make it.  It was delicious, but I started it around noon and was racing to finish it so we could leave just after 6.

I’m no stranger to beef stew. In college I made a big pot of my mom’s stew recipe on Friday nights, and my friends came over to my apartment for movies and food. This was part of my college ritual, and I learned how to feed a crowd cheap. After college I experimented with fancier versions, and I’ve even made other versions of this dish. But none that were quite so involved. It was a hit, and it definitely had a depth that could only be a result of all the steps and work that went into it. But this is maybe a once a year recipe, just because of the time involved.

lotsofbeefPart of the problem is that I doubled Julia’s original recipe for the big group at the party. This meant browning 6 pounds of beef in batches, waiting for giant pots of things to simmer, trying to strain and juggle twice the normal amount of ingredients. This pot it’s sitting in? Not the pot it was cooked in. Oh, I started out with my red Le Creuset, a go-to for stuff like this. But without any liquid that pot was filled to the top with meat. So I had to move it to my giant stockpot, then move it back when it had cooked down so we could actually carry it to this party.

So I got into the oven just after 2pm. We went to Panera for lunch, then we went to Costco for the bulk supplies of life. Then a little after 5 I did all the finishing steps: prepping the pearl onions (why is it so hard to find those suckers? All I could find were frozen, already cooked, and in a cream sauce so I thawed them and rinsed off all the sauce), straining the stew, skimming fat off the sauce, simmering, seasoning, simmering more, etc. We were an hour late to the party and the last to arrive, but thankfully only by a few seconds. And there were lots of good comments, plus it got Adam’s seal of approval.

I’m not going to post Julia’s recipe here, but here’s a link. This link translates a few details from the original into modern speak, but it doesn’t get the same charm and fun of the book’s recipe. That’s why I’m not posting the recipe. It’s too much fun as it is in the book, so that’s where I’m keeping it. I will say that I did not put any mushrooms in because we are not mushroom people, and because my pearl onions were already cooked I just browned them in butter and skipped the whole 40 minutes of simmering them.