Thursday, May 1, 2014

Now I really want to make bœuf bourguignon

I like to cook, but the problem is that I'll get used to certain dishes and get into a rut. I find myself thinking that if if I were in the habit of jotting down everything I've cooked, I'd probably see some trends. I'd probably see some dishes appear out nowhere, dominate my cooking, and then inexplicably vanish, never to be made again.

I know there are things I made in the 80s and 90s that I just don't make any more. But I have never made beef bourguignon.

I've had it and I understand the concept. But there was still the question of actually slotting it into a meal. The problem that happens is that I have a series of recipes in my head and so when I go to the grocery store, I see their ingredients, and I'm able to put them into my cart. Of course grocery store has ingredients for all sorts of things, including things I don't like to eat.

A few days ago, I got into a conversation about Julia Child. This was occasioned by a clafoutis, which my husband described as "the easiest recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I do not concur; I think she has several recipes that are easier, including garlic mashed potatoes and mousse de foie de volaille (chicken liver mousse). Of course, Child's whole point is that French cooking isn't impossible. Nor, for that matter, should any Julia Child recipe terrify me, as I have made her recipe for duck pâté baked in its own skin.
A digression on duck pâté baked in its own skin. 
Prep time is a handy measure of how difficult a dish is. There are dishes that can be made in slightly longer than the time it takes a pot of water to boil. This is not one of them. I have not done this often, but peeling the skin off a duck (that's the first step) takes me about half an hour. Then you take the meat off the bones. And so on.
Compared to duck pâté baked in its own skin, beef bourguignon actually sounds pleasant. No massive amounts of chopping. No careful dissection of a bird (you have to get that skin off in one piece). And I have now had the benefit of seeing the Master make it. During the clafoutis discussion, the question came up of whether The French Chef was available on the web.

I knew that PBS had a few selected episodes (and had watched them not long after watching Julie and Julia). But the whole thing? Netflix doesn't have it. Then I checked Amazon Instant Video. All ten seasons! Unfortunately, her later shows aren't currently available on either service.

So someday soon, I'll be making bœuf bourguignon. I do know that when Julia Child saw Julie Powell's blog, Child's criticism of the blog was that Powell only wrote about the mechanics of making the dish and never wrote about how things actually tasted. Here, I shall make this pledge to the ghost of Julia Child: if I write about cooking something, I'll write about how it tasted.

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