Monday, January 31, 2011

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

For Christmas Tara and Ryan gave me a copy of Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, along with a movie about Julia Child. I love to cook, but I actually didn't have much experience with Mrs. Child before now. We invited them over to try Beef Bourguinon (Bore gen Yawn), which is French for fancy beef stew.

The first thing the recipe calls for is chunk bacon. You may be wondering, what is chunk bacon? So are all the people in Wal*Mart, they definitely didn't know what it was when I asked. I knew what it was but the only place I knew where I could buy it was Germany or the internet, and time was too short for either of those options. I had resigned myself to curing and smoking my own chunk of bacon (which is gross). Luckily when I went to Macey's one of the meat counter guys said "Uh we don't have unsliced bacon, but we have Salt Pork..." Ta Da!
Friends, if you are looking for chunk bacon it is actually called "Salt Pork", unless you are in Germany where it is called "Speck".
The really fun and exciting thing about salt pork/chunk bacon is that one side of it is the actual skin of an actual pig, (the square slice thingy to the right in the above picture). Isn't this delightful? You need to trim that skin off, but don't throw it away, you are going to need that little piece of joy later.
Next you slice the chunk bacon into "lardons". Why are they called lardons? I am not sure, but if you look at the picture above you will see that the dark pink is meat, and the whiteish pink is lard, yep all lard, I think that might have something to do with it.
Now you put the lardons in water to boil for 10 minutes. Magical!
In that time I sliced up my stew meat. I bought a roast and chopped it.
And chopped it some more. I also trimmed off the fat, because we already had enough lardons.
I also chopped the carrot and onion. Julia Child said 1 onion and 1 carrot, but I did 1/2 onion and 3 carrots because I'm just a rebel like that.
By the time I was done chopping things our friends the lardons were finishing their time in the hot tub.
It did not make them look any more delicious than before. By the way I think this step is important to render the fat so it will melt.
I cooked them in a cast iron casserole with 2 tbs of olive oil. Why the oil? Because this is French food so it is impossible for there to be too much fat. During the cooking more and more oil filled the pan.
Then I removed the bacon pieces and heated the fat to near smokiness, and then cooked the meat, a few pieces at a time.
Then I cooked the vegetables. So you know, just like your basic stew, except deep fried.
I then drained out the fat and tossed all the meat and veggies together with salt, pepper, and flour.
Then put it uncovered into the oven for 8 minutes.
At this point you are supposed to add 3 cups of wine, but on account of Mormon-ness we don't drink alcohol so I used 2 cups of pomegranate juice and 1 cup of water instead. I also added some beef broth and our old friend Chunk-o-Pig-Skin.
I brought it to a boil, and then put it in the oven for 2.5 hours.
While that was cooking I made some noodles by crumbling egg yolks, flour, and salt together. Then adding water until it turned into a dough.
You have to seriously beat up this dough to make it doughy. Then I rolled it super thin
And used a pizza cutter to slice the noodles. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but they looked about the same, just curlier.
The next step was the most unpleasant. I had to peel 24 tiny white onions. They look innocent enough, but those little stinkers are seriously strong.
I was crying like a baby by the time I was done.
To pay them back I fried them in butter
Then I poured in some beef broth and spices, and put a lid on them for 30 minutes so they could think about what they'd done to me.
In the end they were sweet and soft. Eew, I just realized that onion in the back totally looks like an eyeball staring at the camera. Freaky.
Next I cooked some mushrooms in butter. Julia Child loves butter.
At this point the stew was done cooking. Now technically you could throw out Mr.Pig-skin and throw in the mushrooms and onions and be pretty much done. But it would look like this:
But Julia Child tells you to separate the stew and broth and skim off the fat. I don't know how to skim off hot fat, so I did it the same way I do with pizza:
Napkins soaking up grease. Then, under Julia Child's directions I washed out the casserole dish and put everything back inside. Some people on the internet think this is totally superfluous, but they are wrong. You cannot tell me that the picture below is the same amount of delicious as the one above.
It was really tasty, and really not very difficult, (except for that rough spot with the onions). You can even make this whole recipe the day before and reheat it for dinner. The noodles were the most time consuming, but they were actually my favorite part. We only had one tiny bowl left over, and it made a great lunch. I am interested in experimenting with other juices and maybe other vegetables. Thanks for the great book Tara and Ryan!

1 comment:

Tara said...

Thank you for letting us enjoy this fabulous dish with you!! It was very tasty and the company was just as enjoyable. Maybe we should have a "french cooking night" group and take turns cooking and hosting!!
p.s. i wondered if you wore your pearl necklace in honor of Julia. :)