Well, we saw it tonight... the Julie and Julia movie. I don't know that I will emmulate real-life Julie Powell's year-long challenge of cooking her way through all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about it, but the story was so down-to-earth... so current... so easy to immerse oneself into Julie's world and understand her motivation and determination. FYI: Julia Child died in 2004 two days before her 92nd birthday. Real-life Julie Powell began her Julie/Julia Project in 2002. Her blog caught the attention of a major newspaper that wanted to do a feature on her, so she chose to prepare Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon when the reporter came to her tiny apartment above a pizza shop in Queens to interview her. Wouldn't you know it, when I grabbed a box of Imagine Organic Beef Cooking Stock from my pantry to rehydrate my TVP (textured vegetable protein) to make vegetarian taco salad, there was a recipe on the back of the box for... you guessed it... Beef Bourguignon! I try to be alert and look for signs to direct me down paths in life. I figured this was a sign. If Julia Child has a version of it in her book, it must be good, right? If it showed up on the big screen, how can it not be worth trying? So I trekked off to the grocery store to purchase some stew meat and Pinot Noir (wine). I omitted the small white onions and button mushrooms. I had everything else. I even found a bottle of organic Pinot Noir with an adorable picture of a 1950 or 1951 Ford pickup parked by a barn at a vineyard.
The recipe really turned out very tasty. Dick and I even took a nap while it simmered unattended on the stove for two hours. If you viewed the Julie & Julia movie, you know what happened when Julie fell asleep on the couch while her pot simmered on the stove (or baked in the oven). Go ahead and let it simmer and forget it. It turns out beautifully.
I had some Pinot Noir remaining in the bottle, so here it is three weeks later (August 31, 2009) and I made another batch. This time I simmered it 1/2 hour longer, so it would thicken a bit more making it the perfect consistency to serve over mashed freshly dug potatoes... not at all proper according to French cuisine I'm sure, but no matter.
1 lb boneless lean chuck steak, trimmed (I used stew meat and cut each chunk into 3 smaller pieces.)
¼ cup flour
4 tbsp oil (I used 2 tbsp olive oil.)
1 cup diced onions
12 oz small white onions, peeled and blanched (I omitted.)
4 cloves garlic crushed (or diced)
1 cup sliced carrots
2 tbsp herbes de Provence or other mixed dried herbs (I used 2 tsp marjoram, 2 tsp thyme, and 2 tsp leaf oregano.)
3 cups beef stock
1 tsp turbinado sugar
2 cups Pinot Noir
4 oz small button mushrooms (I omitted.)
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
Sea salt, to taste
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Cut the chuck steak into small cubes (or use stew meat), pat dry, and coat with flour. Heat the oil in soup pot, add the onions and garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef and brown for 2 minutes (or until you get some nice caramelization going on in the bottom of the pan). Add carrots and herbs. Gradually stir in the beef stock, sugar, and wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add mushrooms (or not) and tomatoes and simmer gently, covered, for 2 hours (or 2 1/2 hours for a bit thicker consistency that is perfect for serving over mashed potatoes). There is no need to stir. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with warmed crusty French bread. Serves 4.