Channeling Julia Child
Today after church, I had a hankerin’ to do some serious putterin’ in the kitchen. Being that the church I sing in was Episcopalian, there was, naturally, a Whole Foods Market nearby. And being that Miss Healthypants and Iwanski gave me my very own Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking for my birthday recently, I decided to do some serious Julia Child putterin’.
I knew what I’d need for her Boeuf Bourguignon. I didn’t need a grocery list for that. Here's her recipe.
I arrived home, donned my apron, said a prayer to St. Julia and got to work. Here’s how you do it.
For the beef, please, whatever you do, don’t buy “stew meat.” That stuff is usually beef round which is dry and tasteless. "Shoulder blade" is much better and it’s not expensive. Here are two, 2 lb blade roasts. ($3.99 a pound at Whole Foods)
If you have a really sharp fillet knife, it takes five minutes to cut them up and trim away any tough gristle. Besides, it’s kind of fun, even for a closeted vegetarian like me.
Top the beef with 3 cups of red wine. I much prefer a Côtes du Rhône. (It’s also pretty cool that Julia calls for 3 cups of wine. Being that a bottle of wine is 750 ml, that leaves a half glass of wine for the cook. Perfect.)
Also add in 2 cups of beef stock, 1 Tbs of tomato paste, ½ tsp thyme, the carrots, onions and the crispy bacon. Lower the oven to 325, cover and braise it for 2 ½ hours.
Meanwhile, saute a pound of mushrooms in butter. Don’t crowd the pan or they won’t brown.
See how nice they brown when you don’t crowd the pan?
Now, the pearl onions. A whole pound of them. The little boogers are a bitch to peel, but if you boil them in water for about 3 minutes, the peels slip off in the most cooperative way. (Julia doesn’t tell you that.) After you boil them, slice off the root end with a paring knife, squeeze the other end and, blurp, the little onion pops right out.
Saute the onions in butter, then add 2 cups of chicken stock and boil them down until syrupy. I’m not a fan of onions in any form, but, oh my God, these are delicious.
When the beef is done, Julia says to remove the beef from the sauce, strain the sauce and then return the beef. That seems like an awfully “French” thing to do so I didn’t do it when I made this recipe for the first time.
However, this time, I did. I was standing there looking at this delicious sauce, having completed this French technique, and I thought, “What would make this sauce even more 'French'?”
I whisked in a half stick of butter, a tablespoon at a time.
Bingo! That put it over the top.
Return the beef, fold in the onions and mushroom, and serve over noodles.
This is rich stuff, folks. A healthy, American-sized serving is just “too much.” A modest serving along, some simple tossed greens, crusty French bread and a glass of Côtes du Rhône -- and it’ll be more than evident how Julia became Julia.
Oh, and most of this is going to Miss Healthypants and Iwanski tomorrow.
I just wanted to cook.