xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' Attempting Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

Monday, January 2, 2012

Attempting Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon


"As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguinon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concoted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner."

In my opinion, no food blog is complete without an attempt at Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon, made famous in the movie Julie and Julia. I can relate to Julie Powell, I blog..and often wonder if anyone's really reading my posts. Hello? Is anyone out there?

I received Julia Child's Cookbook collection as a Christmas present from my husband the same year the movie came out. I know he was hoping that the cookbooks would guarantee that he would be eating many fine French meals in the imminent future. Unfortunately for him, that didn't happen. This Christmas season, out of pure guilt for not having used the gift from him..coupled with my love for blogging...I took on the challenge. I figured that if I can get through this dish, I can handle any recipe in the future.

This dish requires patience, time, love, discipline and self control; patience and time to complete the almost 45 steps, love for cooking and love also for the recipient/s of the meal, self control to not devour the ingredients at the various stages of cooking-this you will understand soon.

Honestly, this is a perfect date meal to "seal the deal". This means that if you think you have found your "superman" and you want him to fall madly in love with you, this is probably the meal to make. [I wish I had thought of this earlier in my life]....Even if he dislikes the taste, which I doubt would happen(contains red wine), he will be "utterly dumbfounded" that you spent 4-6 hours preparing a meal for him, he'll probably love you forever. Oh, one little thing...please don't listen to my advice on dating, I haven't been on a real date since I was 20. Over the years my hubbie and I have had "dinner and a movie" dates..I make a fabulous dinner while he watches a movie. Welcome to the world of being "married with children..."

My mom always says that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach..and ladies, I never studied anatomy or physiology, but from experience with the hubbie I can also attest that it is also the way to his wallet. Just saying. ;-)

For the Stew
6 ounces bacon, solid chunk
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
2 -3 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, mashed (I added 5)
1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 crumbled bay leaf, preferably fresh

For the braised onions - recipe here..
18 -24 white pearl onions , peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock
salt & fresh ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 sprigs parsley

For the Sauteed Mushrooms
1 lb mushroom, quartered (I used 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve. Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4" thick and 1 1/2" long. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve. [I apologize, I do not know what rind and lardons are and didn't feel like consulting google, I used nitrite and preservative free bacon]

Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9" - 10" wide, 3" deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat. Saute the lardons[bacon] for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. [It was impossible to not have some bacon!! My first course.]

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.

Brown Beef: Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.

Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.[reserve one or two pieces for your self, I ate my SECOND course right here....]

Cook carrot and onion: In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened. Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.[I had no fat to pour off, I didn't drink it, I promise.]

Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.

Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.

Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.

Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.

[Have leftover wine to wash down the half a pound of beef you tested earlier]

Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the meat is cooking, Prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed. [Test onions-my second course]

Prepare Mushrooms:

For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet. As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.[THIRD course---how about I just eat all these delicious mushrooms, they were buttery and scrumptious, I wanted to lick the pan, dog style..bad..bad me...I wonder if this behavior had anything to do with the wine I had before? hmmmm...did I mention that I am so sensitive to wine, I get drunk with a sip...oh well.....]

To Finish the Stew: When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve). Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.

Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.[I also drank half of the sauce before pouring, it was so delicious....I also tested the parsley-butter potatoes and egg noodles I made to go with the beef bourguignon, FOURTH/FIFTH/SIXTH course]

Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley. If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

......and then I sat down with my family for dinner....Course no.SEVEN....

We all deserve the occasional seven course meal. Bon appetit!!!

"Cooking is not a particularly difficult art, and the more you cook and learn about cooking, the more sense it makes. But like any art it requires practice and experience. The most important ingredient you can bring to it is love of cooking for its own sake." -Julia Child

Thank you for not giving up on me after this post,
Cooking for fun,
With love,

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