Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguinon (or Boeuf Bourguinon) is a classic. This recipe is slightly adapted from the cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, an American lady who popularized French cooking in America.

I only decided to cook this after I watched the film ‘Julie and Julia’. It features Amy Adams as Julie, a young lady, who decided one day that she wanted to take up the biggest challenge ever – replicate all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook. As I watched the movie, I got really hungry. When I went back home (and after I had something to eat, of course), I felt inspired to cook beef bourguignon.

I have to be completely honest here — I have always cooked my beef stews the simplest way possible. How so? With beef cubes, beef broth, some chopped up potatoes, carrots, onions, and yeah, that’s about it. That was my idea of a beef stew. It isn’t now.

‘Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon’ sounds so fancy and upper-class, but trust me, it’s the mother of all beef stews. There’s a reason why that lady is so well-known. Cook this in a large pot – you’ll savour it slowly it the next few days.

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon
Total Time
5 hrs

This is the mother of all beef stews. Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon will keep you coming back for more. Cook a large pot - you'll want to savour this slowly the next few days.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 8 servings
For the stew
  • 1 kg beef cubes bite-sized
  • 200 g bacon cut into pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 whole carrot peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 whole onion peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups red wine preferably a full-bodied one
  • 3 cups beef stock no sodium
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
For the braised onions
  • 18 whole white pearl onions peeled
  • 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Some salt
  • Some pepper
For the mushrooms
  • 400g mushrooms quartered
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Some salt
Prepare the stew
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Dry the beef cube pieces with a paper towel. Set aside.

  2. In a deep oven-safe casserole or pot on medium heat, spoon 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add bacon pieces in when the oil is hot. Stir the bacon around for about 2-3 minutes until they start to crisp and brown. Then, transfer them onto a separate plate, leaving the bacon oil in the casserole.

  3. In the same casserole, place the beef cubes in and allow them to sit in the bacon fat. Allow them to brown lightly on all sides. Once browned, transfer them onto the plate with the bacon. Continue to leave the oil in the casserole.

  4. Now, pour the onions and carrots into the casserole. Stir till softened. If you want to speed up the softening process, add a little water into the casserole. Allow the onions and carrots to soak up the water.

  5. Pour the bacon pieces and beef cubes back into the casserole. Add salt and pepper, then toss all the ingredients together. Lastly, sprinkle with flour and toss them together again.

  6. Turn off your stove. Place the uncovered casserole in the oven for 4 minutes.

  7. After 4 minutes, remove the casserole, toss the ingredients again, and set the casserole back into the oven for another 4 minutes (still uncovered).

  8. Now, lower the heat to 325 degrees and remove the casserole from the oven.

  9. Pour wine and stock till the contents of the casserole are barely covered.

  10. Then, add the tomato paste, minced garlic and herbs. Bring the casserole to a simmer on top of the stove. Then, cover the casserole and place it in the 325 degree-preheated oven. It will sit in the oven, simmering for about four hours.

  11. You may need to adjust the heat within the four hours, should the liquid in the casserole start to boil. You want to allow the casserole to simmer slowly and gently.

Saute the onions and mushrooms
  1. In the meantime, prepare the braised onions and mushrooms. Let's start with the braised onions first.

  2. Add the olive oil and butter into a heated saucepan. Saute the onions gently for about 10 minutes or till brown, ensuring they don't get burnt or broken. Pour in the stock, herbs, and some salt and pepper to taste. Then, cover the saucepan and allow the stock to simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes.

  3. At the end of 45 minutes, your stock should be mostly evaporated. If there are some left, no worries. You can pour it into the casserole later. For now, remove the herbs from the pan and set the onions (and whatever leftover stock) aside.

  4. In the same saucepan, turn up the heat to a high. Add oil and butter and allow it to foam, then stir in the mushrooms. Toss the mushrooms in the pan to combine them evenly with the oil-butter foam. Do this for about five minutes, or till the mushrooms have browned. Remove them from the pan and set aside with the onions.

Serving the stew
  1. At the end of four hours, take the casserole out, and give the meat a fork-poke test. If your fork pierces the meat through easily, you have done a great job producing some soft meat there.

  2. Using a sieve, slowly pour the content of the casserole out into another casserole or pot. Discard the unwanted pieces of onion, carrot and herbs. It's fine if you want to keep them too - I generally pick out the herbs. Skim the fat off the sauce.

  3. Place the rest of the ingredients (meat and such) you want from the sieve into the large bowl/casserole. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms into the dish as well.

  4. Place the casserole onto the stove and let it simmer for a minute or two. Skim off any additional fat that rises to the surface. Once you have done this, it's time to decide if you want a thicker or thinner sauce.

  5. To achieve a thicker sauce, turn up the heat and allow the contents to boil rapidly, till more sauce has evaporated and you are left with a thicker consistency.

  6. To achieve a thinner sauce, simply add more beef stock.

  7. Finally, add some salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot on a bed of mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice.

Recipe Notes


*With every casserole or dish you plan to store in the fridge and consume over the next few days - always ensure you let your dish cool completely first. Then, seal it properly with clingwrap or a tight lid.

When you plan to consume this again (but there is a significant amount leftover in which you'd like to continue storing), scoop up just the right amount of bourguignon you want into a small pot. Bring it to a boil and serve immediately.


Jesslyn is an experimental individual who loves to get hands-on for anything she’s passionate about. She's a marketer and web developer by day. She’s also an animal lover and coffee aficionado.

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