Making Boeuf Bourguignon
Yesterday I decided to try a very French and very celebrated recipe: Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon. The weather is changing and it makes me think of beef stew, red wine and of course bread and more bread.
In France they live and eat by the seasons and you can see it in the markets and grocery stores, even the super-big HYPER-big ones. You won't find French apples in summer and the melons, nectarines and peaches are slowly disappearing as we enter autumn. If summer is all about grilled sausages then fall and winter beg you to make warm, all day, fill the house with wonderful smells stews. Now that you can find meat for boeuf bourguignon, it is marked on the packaging that you are to use it for this purpose, I couldn't resist trying it.
And because I owed my amie Canadienne beaucoup for her bail-out last week, I made enough for her too.
I decided that while cooking I needed a bit of bubbly to channel my inner Frenchie (I don't know if they drink bubbly while cooking but I like it) and so I enjoyed pink nose tickling deliciousness while I worked.
If you've ever made the iconic recipe you know that it takes a while. But that's part of it....what makes it so fun to do. You boil the bacon first to get rid of the too strong bacony taste, then cook it and leave it aside while you trim and cut your beef, pat it dry with paper towels and then brown it in batches in the leftover bacon grease and olive oil. Sip, sip, tickle, tickle.
Then you put the bacon and browned meat all together with already sauteed onion and carrot and do your seasoning bit, add some flour and put it in the oven on really hot for 4 minutes. Take it out and stir, hot, hot and put it back for another 4 minutes to get the meat all crusty with the flour. Sip.
Next comes the bourguignon, or red wine from Burgundy, nearly a bottle glugged in with some hot beef stock, a bay leaf, some garlic and thyme. Sip.You cook all this loveliness for ages until the meat is fork tender and your house smells like your most elaborate French food fairytale--rich, warm, heady with flavor and the anticipation of dipping your crusty baguette into the luscious brown sauce.
My favorite part was browning the champignons de paris while the meat cooked. They did just what the recipe said they would do, initially absorbing all the butter and olive oil then releasing them back into the pan and turning a perfect golden brown; silky and crisp at the same time. You lay these beauties gently atop the bed of cooked meat and vegetables while you simmer the strained sauce until it turns into spoon-coating velvet.
And then you get to eat it and savor your day's work, sharing it with friends and family, making everyone feel warm and satisfied from the inside out.To my mind, there's no better way to spend a Saturday.