As the seasons change, try Julia Child's 5 most comforting fall recipes

There may be no other cook with such a comforting, enriching oeuvre of simple, approachable comfort food recipes

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published September 3, 2023 1:30PM (EDT)

A portrait of the American chef Julia Child (1912 - 2004) (Bachrach/Getty Images)
A portrait of the American chef Julia Child (1912 - 2004) (Bachrach/Getty Images)

And just like that —that show got much better, didn't it? — it's September. And as that subtle crispness begins to permeate the air in many regions, food cravings and meal planning go from grilling and salads to heavier, richer meals. The prime chef whose recipes fit that mold, for me at least, is Julia Child.

Every fall, as the leaves begin to change colors and dot the landscapes, I lean into my Julia Child era.

For some reason, I associate her with the season, as well as early winter. No matter if you've been cooking her recipes or 50 years, got into her only because of "Julie & Julia," or are a brand new fan, there's nothing like a Julia Child recipe. Comforting, reliable and timeless, Child's food makes for the perfect sustenance for a cool, blustery night leading into wintertime and the holidays

With "Julie & Julia" author Julie Powell's recent passing, I revisited her warm, inviting book and the subsequent film version. Much like Powell (or Amy Adams' depiction of Powell in the film version of "Julie & Julia," I sometimes like to imagine Julia as a pal, hanging out in the kitchen and sipping a martini while I cook and eat. 

Leisurely cooking a Julia-inspired feast, soundtracked by my favorite Spotify playlists while leaves fall outside and scarecrows, gourds and Halloween decorations begin to decorate the streets — it doesn't get much better than that. 

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Here are some Julia Child staples that truly will never, ever steer you wrong. If you have a tattered, stained old copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," now's the best time to pull it out. Otherwise, use these handy recipe links to perfume your home and satiate your family with some of Child's classics. In her words: "Bon appetit!" 

Go ahead: Say it in Julia Child's voice. You know you want to.
Possibly Child's most iconic dish, there is truly nothing like beef bourguignon on a cool or cold night. It is the epitome of "stick-to-your-ribs" cooking and the long cook-time results in something outrageously delicious, warming and filling. 
Something I've always appreciated about Child's recipes are the consideration which go into them; most recipes today wouldn't have you buy a chunk of bacon, remove he rind, cut into lardons, simmer in water, drain and dry, then crisp up. There's a real "old-school" intentionality here and throughout Child's recipes that I always find refreshing.
Coq au vin is another Child staple and for many, the first dish that comes to mind when thinking of Julia. I'm not a dark meat person, so I rarely make it, but it really does have that special je ne sais quoi, if you will. 
A perfect iteration of the classic, it contains chicken, bacon, red wine, broth and mushrooms; the end result is truly so much more than the sum of its parts, as the wine imparts a deep richness and the sauce is liquid gold. Try not to drink it straight from the pan. 
Arguably one of my favorite Julia Child recipes overall, I have made this on many, many an occasion and holiday. It's kind of amazing to see what potatoes, Gruyere, milk or cream, a touch of butter and some salt and pepper can do. It's an excellent showcase for one of my favorite cheeses and the hands-on time is maybe 2 to 3 minutes. It's a star dish. 

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Another classic depicted in "Julie & Julia," Sole Meunière is probably one of the simpler options in Child's pantheon. Consisting of nothing more than sole, butter, oil, flour, lemon juice, parsley and capers, the dish is an exercise in simplicity. It is also said to be the dish that "launched Child's career," interestingly enough. 
This is a real special one for me. The protein with which I primarily cook has always been chicken. Since I first made this, I've made countless iterations, sometimes swapping in something new, sometimes swapping out a staple ingredient, sometimes mixing up the flavor profiles — but the fact remains that this recipe is a true stalwart and it can be tweaked in any which way you'd like. At its core, though, it's a pretty pristine version of chicken, mushrooms and sauce and it's something that'll probably satisfy everyone.
It's also the perfect dish to teach you the technique of making sauced chicken dishes.

By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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Fall Food Home Cooking Julia Child Julie Powell Kitchen Recipes