Christmas Dinner, Revisited

Right before we took our holiday break, I mention that I was planning on making Julia Child's Boeuf Bourgignon for my family for Christmas dinner.  I am happy to report that I completed the meal...and that it was freaking awesome.

I'm not going to reprint Julia's recipe...you can find in on the Internet if you are crafty (or find it in Julia's book, if you own it)...but I'll show you all the steps involved.  Nothing like looking at pictures of cooking in action to inspire the appetite!

First, I took some time to read (and re-read) Julia's recipe.  I also searched around to see how others make this famous dish.  I made a few adjustments to the original recipe...using normal bacon instead of a 6 oz. uncut chunk of the stuff as called for (I didn't have time to run around trying to find what Julia said I should use and opted for convenience over authenticity.  I don't think my final dish suffered for this.)  When I knew what needed to be done, I got all my ingredients ready to go.

Is there anything more lovely than mise en place?

I fried up the bacon then browned stew meat in the rendered bacon fat.  By the way, bacon fat is the best...is it not?

Next came veggies.

The meat went back into the Dutch oven, along with the cooked bacon and all the residual juices.  Also added were herbs, tomato paste, salt, pepper, garlic and flour.

The whole thing went into a hot oven for a few minutes.  Then I added cognac (not called for in Julia's recipe, but mentioned in others) that was lit aflame.  Once the blue flicker of alcohol-laden flame died out, I added a bottle of French red wine and beef broth.  The Dutch oven went back into the oven to allow for constant heat to work its magic.

At this point, I cooked mushrooms in butter--a combination that made my fungus-loving husband drool.  I also braised pearl onions in butter and homemade chicken stock.

When the meat was tender, the Dutch oven came out of the oven.  The stew was strained and I mixed the fork-tender beef with the buttered mushrooms and brothy onions.

The strained wine sauce simmered and reduced down before being added back to the beef and veggies, and the meal was ready for consumption.

I served the Boeuf Bourgignon over buttered egg noodles with a salad and crunchy French bread.  It was a hit.  It was the kind of meal that warms you up and leaves you fully sated.  And it's going in my "keeper" list.  If you want to make this, don't be intimidated.  It's not as difficult as you might think, and you'll be rewarded for your efforts with tender beef, succulent veggies, and a broth to die for.  Now I'm getting hungry all over again!
(Thanks to my husband for taking photos while I cooked.  His fee?  A few buttery mushrooms and several tastes of beef!)