Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon (Sort of)

The reason I say “sort of” is because…this recipe.

Have you ever seen her original recipe for Beef Bourguignon? It’s about 27 steps.

Ok it’s actually 10, but when you break down how many times you have to take out X, put in Y, and throw Z into the oven, it feels like 27.

Either way, Julia Child’s birthday was yesterday, August 15th (she would have been 105!) so I decided to make this classic beef stew in her honor. And if you’re curious, you can watch the original episode of The French Chef on YouTube here, where Julia makes this beef bourguignon.

I first attempted this recipe many years ago with my mom, and we did it the classic way. It took a long time, but I can’t say it wasn’t worth it. If you have the time and energy to do it the Julia way, I say go for it. This is something like an abridged version. You’ll still get a deep, rich gravy and meat that falls apart at your fork, but it may not have that extra…something. But I can’t tell. I think this is pretty damn close considering I cut a few corners. Julia simmers the bacon in water first for 10 minutes, braises the onions separately for 45 mins, sautés the mushrooms separately… As my mom said…

So while the original recipe was delicious, I still felt it was way too many steps and could easily be done on the stove for the most part. I still put it in the oven (a la Julia’s way) for a couple hours to build the flavors and make the meat super tender, but if you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can easily simmer on the stovetop for a few hours and get a similar effect.

You will want to use a good wine here as well. My rule is to never use a wine that you wouldn’t drink on it’s own. Damn all the “cooking wine” out there – that stuff is swill.

Lastly, I cut down the recipe slightly and used 2 lbs of stew beef. The original recipe calls for 3 lbs, but I’m not feeding a family of 6 over here. I figured 2 lbs will do for me (which, by the way, can feed a family of four).

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon (modified slightly in my way)

  • 2 lbs stew beef (sometimes called beef chuck), cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 4-5 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into chunks
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsps all purpose flour
  • 2 cups full bodied red wine (I used Barbera and Bordeaux)
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf (I left it whole, her recipe says to crumble it)
  • 18-24 frozen pearl onions
  • 1 lb white mushrooms, sliced into quarters
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Herb bouquet (4 sprigs of parsley, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 bay leaf) tied in cheesecloth
  • Egg noodles (optional, for serving)


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Dry the beef with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This helps the browning process.
  3. Heat Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and bacon. Brown and remove with a slotted spoon, keeping the rendered bacon fat in the pot.
  4. Add the beef to the pan and work in batches. DO NOT CROWD THE PAN. You want a nice brown sear on both sides, so 6 pieces should do for each round. Be advised, some spattering will occur, so if you fear bacon burns, use oven mitts for this part.
  5. After you’ve seared and browned all the beef and set aside, add the vegetables to the pot (minus the garlic). This is where it will smell really fucking wonderful.
  6. Add salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  7. Once the veggies start to brown and the onions get a little translucent, add the beef and bacon back into the pot.
  8. Add the flour and 1 tbsp of butter. Toss the meat to coat. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes. You can skip this part if you want to, but I do believe it adds a nice little crust to the meat for flavor. 
  9. Remove from oven and turn the heat down to 325. Place back on the stove. Add the wine, the beef stock, the tomato paste, garlic, and the herb bouquet and simmer on the stove.
  10. When oven is at 325, cover the pot and place in lower half of the oven for 3.5 hours or so. The meat should pierce easily with a fork when it’s done.
  11. During the last half hour of cooking, remove from oven and add the pearl onions. Stir in and place back in oven.
  12. Boil the water and add the egg noodles. They cook quickly.
  13. Add another pat of butter right before serving. Why not. Get that glorious sheen on the sauce.
  14. Serve the thickened (and delicious) stew over the egg noodles. And if you want to get crazy, make my yellow tomato, arugula, and parmesan salad with lemon and olive oil. Talk about the antithesis of this stew.

It’s like summer and winter in one meal.



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