I’ve been on the fence about whether to write about Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe here. As you can see, I’ve come down on the pro side of that fence. But just barely, and here’s why. Boeuf Bourguignon is, to quote my dear friend and fellow blogger Natalie, “quite simply the best thing that I have ever cooked.” But it is also the most complicated, exacting, and time consuming thing I have ever cooked–including cassoulet, which is really saying something.
So if you decide to try this recipe, be ready to go all-in. Shop carefully and don’t make substitutions. Set aside the entire day for cooking. Follow the detailed instructions to the letter. Plan to clean a fine layer of grease off of every surface in your kitchen (including yourself). Get your kitchen zen on. And you will be rewarded richly.
Boeuf Bourguignon fully engages all five senses in the cooking process. In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m sharing my cooking experience in a non-prose (maybe poetry, maybe not!) format.
Squashy cold meat and crisp vegetables distinct in the hand
slide under the knife blade.
Prickly fine droplets of hot fat hit arms in fiery rain.
Ease tired shoulders toward ears,
feel the floor under the balls of feet. Go get soft slippers.
Sizzling and simmering compete with loud, loud, loud music to chop and stir by.
Sharp metallic beef blood transitions to
smoky browned meat, onions sting nostrils and eyes,
a waft of cork and fresh wine–take a sample gulp from the bottle—
the mellower scent of reducing sauce.
Pale mushrooms soften and exude liquid, then
brown to just the right color as promised by Julia.
Steaming finished dish pulled from oven bubbling, deep caramelized brown.
Layer upon layer of flavor: first punch of umami in the mouth
then more subtle notes of thyme and salt and bacon and beef.
Lingering richness on the tongue.
For the original Julia Child recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon, as well as the recipes for sauteed mushrooms and brown-braised onions that are necessary to complete the dish, click here.