Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I take the plunge

Let me cut to the chase. My husband described it as “a most extraordinary meal.” We were mindful, however, that I had gone through an entire stick of butter in the course of the evening (good thing I made 8 servings; just a mere tablespoon per person). It was delicious.
I have finally made Julia Child’s beef bourgingnon recipe. What I actually did in the kitchen was a hybrid of the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and how she did it on the first episode of The French Chef. The main difference is that on The French Chef, she thickened the sauce with a beurre meurniere, instead of just reducing it. Perhaps she championed that method for the book and her co-authors outvoted her. There on WGBH in 1963, she could rule the kitchen and despite the “Ecole des 3 Gourmands” badge, only one gourmand had a say now.

Before shopping, I reviewed the recipies. That’s recipies. The real problem is that in making beef bourgingon, you’re making three dishes (that come together in the end). Two of the dishes can be used as side dishes if you’re not making beef bourgingon. You sauté quartered mushrooms in butter and olive oil, and you braise boiler onions in beef stock. And you make that braised meat dish. The supermarket had chuck tender, which was the cut that Julia Child used. I must learn to write down needed proportions, since when I got to the store, I somehow assumed I would need a pound of mushrooms.

That wasn’t the only incorrect assumption. I also assumed I would spend about two hours in the kitchen before I could walk away. I was there for three hours.

Quartering mushrooms is a snap. I went through that pound so quickly, that I waited until I was done before I saw that I only needed a half pound. The excess mushrooms will get used later. I mean, they’re yummy sautéd mushroom. Tell me you’d be disappointed to find them in your fridge. All of this involved skills that I have used many times over the years. If you’re reading this for a “I had never tried this before” moment, you will be disappointed.

A brash little wine.
Next time I'm going to try a cheap Burgundy.
I suppose the one disappoint I have is that I didn’t whip out my phone and take a series of pictures. I need to illustrate these things. I promise to do better in the future. After the mushrooms were done, I used the same pan to brown the meat. Once the meat was sitting in a casserole, I sautéd the carrots and onions in the same pot, and used some of the wine (a Côtes du Rhône) to deglaze the pan. Deglazing the pan is something out of her version from The French Chef, though when she described the stuff on the bottom as the “glaze,” I quietly said “the fond.”

Everything (not the mushrooms or the onions) went into the pot. The pot went into the oven. James came home and we went to the gym. I had already used an entire stick of butter (to be split among about eight portions, admittedly), so going to the gym for some cardio was vitally necessary. (Okay, I admit it: if someone put a tablespoon of butter in front of me, I would say, “oh, I can’t eat that.”)

Meat in the pot. The camera washes out the color a bit. It smelled incredible.
We came back and I looked at the beef bourguignon. The pieces of meat had shrunk and looked like aged leather. Oh, and the smell as we walked into the house was absolutely fantastic. We went into high speed on the sides. Some potatoes tossed with butter and parsley. (Child noted that all French meals include bread, but not butter because there’s an immense amount of butter worked into everything else. Okay, she didn’t say “immense.”) Carrots braised in rosemary and why are you even asking, of course it was butter.

And here's dinner. Can you find the tablespoon of butter?
I removed the meat, the bacon, and much of the vegetables from the pot and stirred in a beurre manié (it’s flour kneaded into butter, what did you expect) to thicken the sauce. Everything (this time, including the mushrooms and the onions) went into the sauce. I warmed things up and it was time to plate up.

James called it “extraordinary.” It was delightful. Beef is not my first impulse when cooking, but this was a winning dish. It is worth making. It is worth making again, and it will be made to serve to guests.

Julia Child suggested that certain parts be made well in advance. The next time I do this dish, the onions and the mushrooms will be done before I even take the beef out of the fridge. Maybe the day before, if I can manage it. The leftover mushrooms, by the way, are destined to be an antipasto.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...