Monday, December 13, 2010

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

There's a certain feeling in the air. Have you noticed? The music in the shops has changed. The flags up around the city are sporting a different colour that only comes out at this time of year. People have smiles on their faces, for no reason at all.

All around the place, people are rushing. They're going about their Christmassy ways, trying to buy all their santa presents before the kids finish school. I went into town today, and there were more people there than I've seen all year. There were kids wearing santa hats, posties covered in tinsel, and shop assistants everywhere asking how your christmas shopping is going.

But people seem to be too busy with their Christmas things that they've forgotten that they have interests that don't revolve around this special time of year. No other holiday changes people as much as Christmas does. No other holiday divides them. Not nearly as much. Everyone likes the chocolate at Easter. And if they don't like the chocolate, they at least like the week off work. But not Christmas. Oh no. You can't be a fence sitter with Christmas. You either like it, or you don't. There's not two ways about it, Christmas changes you. It could put a spring in your step, or a frown on your face. Personally, I'm of the former camp. But I do know people who belong to the latter.

So this food post is for those latter people who don't like Christmas and don't want anything to do with it. This food post has nothing to do with Christmas at all.

A while ago, I told you about a certain Sunday dinner we had. At the time, I had planned to post all the recipes that I made. But things happen, and you don't always end up doing the things you plan to. So here's the recipe for the boeuf bourguignon I made at that dinner party. It came from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" that Kirby and Arie gave me for my birthday.
beouf bourginion.
Boeuf bourguignon is a bit of an involved dish, but it is super tasty. You have to cook the beef in a nice bottle of red wine for 2 or 3 hours, and while that's cooking, you have to cook mushrooms and onions in an indecent amount of butter. But it's all for the best. Trust me.

Julia Child's Boeuf a la Bourguignonne:

170g bacon slices, chopped
1 kg lean stewing beef, cut into cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 big brown onion, sliced
2 tbsp flour
3 cups good red wine
2-3 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp thyme or oregano
20 french shallots, brown braised in stock*
500g mushrooms, sauteed in butter*

Preheat oven to 230C.
Saute bacon in olive oil in a cast iron, heavy bottom pot to brown slightly. Remove from pan.
Dry the beef in paper towels (according to Julia, the beef doesn't brown properly if it is damp).
Saute in batches in the bacon fat until brown all over. When a batch is done, add it to the bacon.
Brown the sliced vegetables in the pot, and then remove to a side dish.
Pour out the fat from the pot, and then wipe the pot clean.
Return the beef and bacon to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the flour and toss to coat.
Put casserole in the oven for 5 minutes, toss the meat, and return to the oven for 5 mins more.
Remove casserole and turn down oven to 160C
Pour in the wine and enough stock so that the beef is just covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs.
Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, then cover and place in the oven.
Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when tender.
*While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
When the meat is done, pour the liquid into a small saucepan, simmer, skimming off any fat, until you have 2 1/2 cups liquid.
Arrange the vegetables over the meat in the pot and then pour over the liquid.
Cover the casserole and simmer on the stove top for 2-3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
The dish can be served with boiled potatoes or buttered noodles or rice or whatever you like!

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