Today for Weekday Supper, we are transported to the south of France by Cathy Branciaroli who shares her story of a week’s stay at Julia Child’s summer home and one of the special recipes her group cooked in Julia’s kitchen, Boeuf Bourguignon.
Thanks to a friend with connections, a small band of food writers and artisans including myself spent the week at Julia Child’s get-away home in the south of France in October. The home is affectionately named La Peetch which means “little one.” It’s perched on top of a tall hill about 30 minutes drive from Nice, France.
I could appreciate why Julia and her husband Paul chose this place, far out in the country, as a getaway from their hectic lives. The only sounds we heard each day were roosters crowing and dogs barking in the distance.
The house itself is tiny, a cottage really. Snug and cozy, the current owners retained the look and feel, along with many of the items from Julia’s kitchen, where she developed and tested her recipes. The kitchen is compact but it is a kitchen for a cook. Along the wall is the pegboard husband Paul is so famous for creating for her and a copy of which resides in the Smithsonian Museum. An artist at heart, he drew deep black outlines of pots, pans and utensils on that pegboard, marking the place for each of them. The outlines remain. It’s chilling.
Each day, we cooked from Julia’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook which she worked on at this house with co-author Simone Beck, whose house lies yards away. The first day we roasted chicken thighs bathed in white wine sauce and covered with roasted lemon slices and olives. Then the bakers among us created roasted apple and pear tarts seasoned with thyme and saffron. I would never have thought to season a dessert dish with such flavorings but they worked.
Finally and the dish that I truly savored was one styled on her beef Bourguignon recipe for a French-style beef stew. This recipe, which runs three pages in length in “Mastering the Art,” thoroughly covers every aspect of preparation and cooking for this stew. When it was brought to the attention of a publisher who cared about authentic French cooking and who wanted to bring that cooking to Americans, this recipe turned out to be the key to getting Julia’s book published after years of failed attempts.
It was delicious. Rich with vegetables, the slow cooked beef braised in a wine sauce was a great dish for an autumn dinner.
- 3 Lbs beef chuck roast cut into large pieces
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and finely chopped
- Several strips of bacon sautéed
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1 bottle good red wine preferably burgundy
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound button mushrooms quartered and sautéed in butter
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- Dry the beef with a paper towel and toss with flour. It will not brown if wet.
- Brown beef a few pieces at a time in the skillet you used to cook the bacon and remove to a warm plate.
- Sauté the vegetables in the butter in the skillet.
- Add beef to a large Dutch oven with the wine and sautéed vegetables.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring a to boil and cook over high heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Add in the tomato paste, bay leaf and bacon.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours.
- Add in the sautéed mushrooms.
- Serve hot or warm.
Weekday Supper recipes are great for when life gets busy! It’s easy to find them. Search the #WeekdaySupper hashtag across social media or click here for more on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Weekday Supper Pinterest board for plenty more ideas and inspiration.