Almost every blogger worth a sack of salt, who holds an any sort of interest with food, will be aware of the resurgence in popularity of Julia Child.
img via thefoodsection.com
Many will have, in recent times attempted, or promised themselves they will attempt, her Beef Bourguignon recipe. I too jumped on that particularly squishy bandwagon and last night was my night to take her on.
Yesterday was a moody, wet, heavy-clouded, light-the-fire type day here in Taswegia, perfect for attempting the B.B. I made my decision late in the day and being that we are extremely limited in our fresh produce choices at our nearest town, I headed in at 3.45 pm knowing I would be pushing my luck.
I arrived at the store at 4pm and they were just shutting up shop, but they let me in. A lot of head chef decision making 1A was called for. No gravy beef or stewing steak (is it just me or is the word "stew" one of the most unappealling in the cooking lexicon?) to be found, so I had to settle for a few not-so-thick pieces of rump steak. No pickling onions (that would have been some sort of miracle) so I fossicked for a handful of the smallest I could find. No slab of bacon or speck, so a standard pack of poor old bacon rashers would have to do. Luckily I had home-grown garlic, mushrooms, bay leaf and thyme.
Back home and I laid out all my ingredients and set to recalculating the measurements as I only had 2/3 the quantity of meat Julia's recipe called for. This was no easy feat with a mid-life challenged brain like mine.
Once all the chopping and preparation was out of the way, I read through the method for the cooking process. What a bucketload of old cods! I am a great lover and worshipper of the one pot cook yet, Julia seems to favour the more-pots-and-mess-the-merrier method. I made another executive chef decision and went for the all-in method. I did lovingly pat dry the meat and browned it to perfection. Then, I fried off the onions and mushrooms separately and threw them in with the rest just before it went in the oven for the long slow cook. Surely having everything in from the start has got to impart more flavour, right?
Julia's fusspot recipe tells us we must strain off all the cooking liquor once the meat is cooked, and then strain the fat from the top of the liquid and reduce it to an unctiously silky sauce consistency before returning it to the pot. Sounds extremely dangerous all that straining of boiling liquid from a heavy cast iron pot! I lifted out all the ingredients with a slotted spoon into my pasta strainer on top of the pasta pot and then poured the sauce over all of that so it fell through in to the bottom of the pot. Success!
My sauce was a little thin, so I added a little cornflour to help it thicken up.
Anywho...finally after much mess-making and clanging and sighing and swearing it was done.
It was indeed a taste sensation. It was a 31/2 hour process from beginning to end and a bit more farnarckling around than I like in my kitchen. And to think, I cut corners!
I poured myself my first glass of wine as it went in to the oven, 3 hrs later it was served. You may want to take this in to consideration when you have a go. Just saying.
Although, it was a gorgeous wine in a sensational bottle from a bunch of young winemakers at Some Young Punks (just click on the name to have a squizz at their fantastic website)
I am a little puffy-chested at having ticked this off my to-do cooking list.
Interestingly, as it has been with me my entire life, I will only go along with the rules as long as it suits me, if not I break them or find another way.
I reckon cooking really reflects what life's all about - finding ways to make it work for you.
What about you?