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Battle of the boeuf

Posted by Jeanne on January 30, 2010

I made the Les Halles boeuf bourguignon last Sunday – I wanted to see which was better, Julia’s or Anthony’s.

Boeuf bourguignon – adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, Bloomsbury 2004.


2 lb paleron of beef, or “chicken steak,” or same amount of shoulder or neck, cut into 1.5 inch pieces

salt and pepper

0.25 cup olive oil

4 onions, thinly sliced (I actually used two monstrous onions plus half a bag of frozen pearl onions)

2 TB flour

1 cup red Burgundy

6 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 garlic clove

1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay, parsley – tied in a bundle.  I used bay and thyme because, as always in the winter, we have no parsley)

a little chopped flat-leaf parsley


Dutch oven, or large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used the red enameled cast-iron pot in which I cook pretty much everything)

Wooden spoon

Large spoon or ladle

Stage One:

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  In the Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until it is almost smoking.  Add the meat, in batches and sear on all sides until it is well browned (not gray).

If your house is like ours, you will set off all the smoke detectors during this stage.  Don’t add too much of the meat at once, because it’ll crowd the pan and cool down the oil and it’ll just get greasy and gray, not nicely seared and brown.

When all the meat is done and set aside, add the onions to the pot.  Lower the heat to medium high and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and golden brown (about 10 to 15 minutes).  Sprinkle the flour over the onions, and continue to cook another 4 to 5 minutes.  Pour in the red wine, and scrape all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil.

Stage Two:

Return the meat to the pot and add the carrots, garlic, and herbs.  Add just enough water so that the liquid covers the meat by a third (2 parts meat, three parts liquid) and some demi-glace or beef base if you have it (total cheating but recommended in the book).

Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer.  Let cook about two hours, until the meat is break-apart-with-a-fork tender.  Stir every 15 to 20 minutes to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot and/or burning.

When done, remove and discard the herbs (this is where a bouquet garni would come in super-handy – instead I just fished out the bay leaf), add the chopped parsley (so sad, no parsley) and serve.

This was very, very good – but I have to say Julia’s was better. The Les Halles version is definitely not BAD, but the Julia Child version has a much greater depth of flavor.

This version is far easier to make though, so I think we’ll definitely keep both in the rotation.  Also, I will get some parsley – once the ground unfreezes I’ll have a seemingly endless supply, but I really could use some this winter.

One Response to “Battle of the boeuf”

  1. […] Halles boeuf bourguignon, made a couple of weeks ago – I froze half of it and reheated.  Did not suffer from being […]

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