Friday, February 18, 2011

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

If the premise behind posting this recipe was a real-life assignment in a college or school, I would have failed.Or been thrown out of school. Well, OK, not that serious, but I probably would be in detention for a while. Herein is a lesson on How Not To Be a Good Member of a An Otherwise Earnest Little Food Blogging Group:
  1. The very charming Simran of the equally charming food book club This Books Makes Me Cook announces that the book "Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously" by former blogger Julie Powell as a contender for the May book choice.
  2. Yes, May 2010. Lets do a little fact check. Star Date Now: February 2011.
  3. Back up to May of last year. Sulk, because I don't want to read this book. Because I watched the MOVIE version THREE times. And I didn't like it. All.Three.Times.
  4. Secretly conspire to NOT have the book chosen by trying to buy out the other book club members. Fail at mission as the book is overwhelmingly chosen.
  5. How can someone watch a movie THREE times if they didn't like it, you ask. Easy. Be stuck on a three-stop-layover aeroplane where this was the ONLY movie available to watch. Three times over.
  6. Except for the two hours you squeezed your head between the gaps in the seat in front to spy on what was playing on the other passengers mobile DVD. No I didn't. Really. It was cartoons.
  7. And you start mimicking Julia's shrill accent to the flight attendant when they come around with peanuts...."Bon Appetit!"
  8. For an excruciating 15 hours of flight time which feels like 67 years after adding two kids to the mix, and this is the ONLY movie that you get to watch can make someone feel a tad "underwhelmed" when asked to review the book that sprouted the movie. So I read My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prudhomme (her auto biography) instead.
  9. And in case anyone wants to do a psychological analysis of my deep-seated resentment. The answer is quite simply Jealousy. Yes, I'm jealous of blogger Julie Powell. That she got to blog way back in 2002 when some of us were not even born. Oh wait, I mean some of our blogs were not even born. And then she comes up with this great idea to cook all of Julia Childs recipes. And then she gets the book deal. And then she gets the movie deal. And then Meryl Streep. Oh my. Meryl Streep!!! I'm JEALOUS.
  10. Have an overwhelming urge to try Boeuf Bourguignon - a stew of beef in red wine with mushrooms, pearl onions and bacon (pronounced BUH-YOF BOOR-GWEE-NYON (heh heh, that's me pulling a Dictionary sounding thingy heh heh)) because it
    • factors so prominently in the Julie and Julia Project (movie/book/blog) - its the dish Julie Powell slaves over, burns to a crisp because she gets drunk and/or falls asleep and finishes perfectly the next day only to be stood up by her important journalist dinner guest
    • gained notoriety amongst cooking circles as the quintessential French recipe captured absolutely perfectly by Julia Childs
    • has a lot of bulleted steps, which I seem to be a fan of
  11. Host a Valentines Day pot-luck and pick the theme FRANCE for your unsuspecting guests, and decide "This is it! This is the time to try this dish, once and for all!".
  12. I did like this dish, and I thought it was worth the effort (see the mixed reviews from my powerful critics a.k.a. my family, below).
So in a nutshell, in the time it could have taken to, I dunno, maybe birth a child (9 months exactly May 2010 - Feb 2011), I finally made Boeuf Bourguignon, all three components of it
  • beef stewed in red wine with onion, carrots and bacon
  • sauteed mushrooms in butter
  • brown braised pearl onions and 3 hour cook time later I present it to you, along with these pointers and reviews from my critics a.k.a. the Family.

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon Recipe - Completely sourced from her publisher's website Knopf Doubleday. I copied the entire recipe, so I am not cutting and pasting it here, instead I'm adding my pointers and the mixed reviews from my critics.
  1. This dish takes some time. Be prepared. It's mainly cooking time, but there are a couple of prep steps, the most time-consuming being the searing of the beef prior to cooking it in the stew.
  2. The recipe calls for the searing to be done in small batches to get the right crust. Of course, I cheated by using my largest non-stick pan so I could get more done, and possibly paid the price by not quite getting the crust that a cast iron or steel skillet would have given you. But then I had less clean-up. *snicker*.
  3. Bacon needs to be sliced, boiled and then fried in butter. Julia? WT? I know, heaven help her. But she lived to be 91, so she must have known some s^*t. This process, though completely weird to me, removes all the salt from the bacon.
  4. Two of the three components are basted pearl onions and sauteed mushrooms, they taste really good as individual dishes, and I questioned why they needed to be thrown into the powerful stew and lose their identity. I used frozen pearl onions and defrosted them prior to cooking. Here is the odd thing, two days later, when I was reheating leftovers, the onions still stood out in the stew. Julia. You are one smart cookie. 
Now the reviews:
  • My mom preferred the stew straight out of the oven, bubbling with heat. I preferred it a day or two later, re-heated of course, I felt the flavors had really become pronounced over time. This is a really rich stew with meat that becomes fork tender after the long cook time. I also like the fact that there are quite a few vegetables included in it.
  • My dad thought I had cooked the beef in cough medication. He didn't like the strong wine flavor. This critique has issues of its own.
  • The dish was almost finished by all the guests, they must have liked it?
  • I didn't give it to The Kids - Too Much Wine I thought...
  • The Husband Who May Have Been On His Crackberry/Blackberry The Entire 3-4 Hours That The Dish Took To Make:
  • Me: How Is it. Its BUH-YOF BOOR-GWEE-NYON. It's Julia Childs. It's this really long recipe. It's the one from the annoying movie we watched. Remember, the one with the lady that I am so jealous of. How is it? What do you think? Do you think it needs salt? It's got a bottle of wine in there.... a WHOLE bottle.
  • THWMHBOHCTE3-4HTTDTTM: Good. Good. good-good-good. Needs a little salt.
  • Me: How is that possible! It has BACON in it! And stock! How can it need more salt???!!!
  • THWMHBOHCTE3-4HTTDTTM: Good. Good. good-good-good. Needs a little salt.
  • Me: I think I am going to stick my head in the oven now.
  • THWMHBOHCTE3-4HTTDTTM: Good. Good. good-good-good. Needs a little salt.
This is a long recipe, but do not despair. It only took me 9 months...errr.. 3 hours to do.
Julia ChildsObituary from USA Today