Julia Childs Boeuf Bourguignon 1940s ration style

Julia Childs cooked Boeuf Bourguignon in the 1940’s.

Having watched Julie & Julia on DVD again last night, the pain of watching this dish being prepared led me to spend an hour ‘Googling-to-within-an-inch-of-my-life’ into the early hours of the morning, wondering if there was a way to replicate this dish in anyway while still keeping within my allotted ration quota.

As I type, the Boeuf Bourguignon, a la Julia Childs, a la wartime rationing (cheap stewing beef instead of sirloin, standard onions instead of pearl and NO mushrooms!) is smelling wonderful and my Mac Book Air is holding up well under the excessive saliva bath it is receiving.

The recipe is not quite authentic Julia Childs but essentially it is pretty much the same.

Please come back later and I’ll share the recipe and photographs with you…

Bon Appetit!

7.29 pm precisely Nom, Nom, NOM!!!! This is fantastic! Who would think that big chunks of stewing beef could be so melt in the mouth. I am still noming…Nom, Nom, NOM!!

My adapted recipe coming shortly…

Click here for the original Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon recipe

Beef Bourguignon 1940’s Ration Style

  • 1 lb to 1.5 lbs of stewing steak
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2-3 rashers of thick bacon
  • butter for frying
  • 2 onions cut into 6 pieces each
  • 1 cup of red wine (that you like the taste of)
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • 1 dessert spoon of tomato paste or drain all the liquid from a large can of tomatoes
  • herbs such as bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • Bisto or flour to thicken


  • Cube the stewing steak after drying the surface,聽 and brown/sear it (using some of the butter in a pan) and set aside.
  • Chop and brown the bacon and set aside
  • Brown the onions in the same pan afterwards (with more butter) and set aside
  • In a large saucepan add all the above together, plus the chopped carrots (large pieces), red wine, beef stock, tomato paste, herbs.
  • Bring to boil and lower heat and simmer slowly for 2 + hours, or for several hours in a slow cooker on low (or put in a casserole dish in oven). Add more water where needed and thicken with Bisto or flour (made into thin paste and added to pot while stirring).
  • Continue cooking until the beef is really, really tender and the stock has reduced. Slow and long is the key!
  • Add salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar to your own taste half and hour before the end.

21 thoughts on “Julia Childs Boeuf Bourguignon 1940s ration style

  1. Fun stuff posted from Facebook a short while ago 馃檪 馃榾

    LE: is that with wine, too?
    3 hours ago 路

    Carolyn Ekins: YES!! I was given bottle of homemade wine (red) for my birthday so used a cup of that. Guess people still brewed their own country wines….have been looking in my Mrs Beetons cookbook today too and they have recipes with wine, claret and sherry (the cook book I have is 1920’s). So not exactly authentic (using something like Burgundy) but at least it’s a red wine!! hehe
    3 hours ago 路

    LE: did wonder! how long are you cooking it for? do you think beef cheek would work, too?
    3 hours ago 路

    Carolyn Ekins: If cheap stewing steak works then I don’t see why not!! I’l let you know how it turns out. I have it cooking in a slow cooker/croc pot for two hours so far. Looks like it will need at least another two which is inconvenient as have to go out for a meeting at 6.30 pm and have to feed people before I leave 馃檪 Recipe calls for casserole for 3-4 hours.

    I guess just cook until the meat falls apart- it is currently smelling lovely… 馃檪

    Would have been nice with mushrooms (sigh!)
    2 hours ago 路

    JS: They had mushrooms in the war. They grew them in the anderson shelters according to the series on the telly i have just watched xx
    2 hours ago 路

    Carolyn Ekins: Bugger, bugger, BUGGER- ooops did I say that out loud? (sorry I rarely curse!) ….
    a few seconds ago 路

  2. Oooh yum! I am actually looking for a beef and carrots type of recipe to mix things up a bit. We have all but banned beef from the house (we eat lots of ground turkey and chicken). But I love beef and would like to bring some back!

    What is an appropriate ration? I mean, what was an appropriate ration for the 40s?


    • Hi Kellie

      The ration allowance for meat like lamb and beef mainly was a monetary amount but this normally equated to around about 1/2 lb of stewing lamb/beef or minced beef or corned beef per person per week (in addition to a few ounces of bacon)…

      I made the Beef Burgundy using 1 lb of beef and it was enough to feed 4 if you made it with a generous amount of gravy.

      The main thing was to make sure the beef was cooked until the fibres break easily- it takes about 6 hours in a croc pot or 3 hours in a casserole. In the end I cooked for 3 hours in a croc pot, emptied it into a saucepan and cooked for 45 minutes, covered, on the top of the stove.

      I promise to post how I did it later! (I am down by the sea in the dark typing in the car at the moment shortly to drive home to cook dinner!)

      C xx

  3. I often make bourgignon– it’s great for using up any veg that’s getting iffy in the fridge. Leftover bourgignon can be topped with drop biscuits, put into a pie shell or poured over rolls (even day old bread!). I find you have to cook stewing beef a long time so I like to start it in the crock in the morning. By evening the house smells fantastic, the natives are restless and slightly dangerous and the meat falls apart on contact with your fork.

    A slice of bacon makes a lovely taste addition, just fish it out before serving (gets tasteless and gross).

    • Yes I just used the cheap cuts of stewing beef (like they would have had during the war!) and if you cook it for long enough- WOW- it is delicious and melt in the mouth for sure!!! C xxx

  4. Just a note…

    I mentioned this site to my husband and found out that his father, who served in the RAF in the 40s, did work for British farmers in exchange for extra rations– they were delighted to have access to a Canadian farm boy who knew his way around horses! (As an aside, a plane went off the runway into the muck, they couldn’t get it out with trucks because of the muck so Father in Law went off and came back with a large team of Shires. They got the plane out– horses are the original all-terrain vehicles.)

    • I only just saw this message Barb- what a WONDERFUL story! You are right- nothing beats a horse for all-terrain work and the strength they must have had to pull our a plane!!

      C xx

  5. Offal, rabbit, game and chicken were off ration so a lot of housewives made meals using liver, kidneys, hearts etc even tripe ……….that is one thing that I could never eat after having it when I was a child yuk, yuk 馃檨

      • https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js
        https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHi Carolyn, I am a new poster from Oregon. I really am enjoying your site! Unfortunately, I am still unable to see the method for this recipe.
        Just fyi, I have seen a few ww2 articles that mention the 1s2d meat ration could equate to about a pound of meat. Wikipedia writes it would equate to about 1 pound 3 ounces… Anyway, I have a fascination for WWII history. Especially learning about the heroes who risked their lives fighting for their countries, also those who risked everything to save Jews from the Nazis. I recommend “The Hiding Place”, to you if you haven’t read it, very touching and inspiring. Also of great interest is how our forebears set us an example of how to live well with less on the home fronts. Thank you so much for your labor of love in creating this site!

  6. Oh my goodness! I just tried it yesterday, and I鈥檓 obsessed! The method was showing blank for me too so I just looked up a stovetop method to use with your recipe list! I鈥檓 fairly certain I would like this version even better than the original (which I haven鈥檛 had). Anyway I鈥檓 still beaming over how delicious it was! I also enjoyed going to the meat counter and picking out my rashers of bacon and meat! It was a very exciting change of pace from what I鈥檝e been eating! (Also, yes! I loved Julie, Julia when it came out. And when I texted my mom what I was making, she said, oh! That was in Julie Julia!)

  7. Not sure if you’re still checking these older posts, but the “Method” is missing for this one! 馃檨 It looks like it would be delicious too. I’d love to know how to make it.

    • So sorry! I’ve added it in from what I can remember, but essentially just as Outlander says, the key is searing the cubed beef before the long simmer in the saucepan, slow cooker or casserole dish. C xxx

  8. For the method on this kind of recipe just brown off any meats and put everything in a slow cooker (crock pot) and wait !

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