During the holidays, I often find myself longing to spend some quality time in the kitchen.With all the hustle and bustle, it is nice to slow down a little and prepare a special something for my family to enjoy. This year, in addition to the usual cookies and Christmas morning brunch, I experimented with a new appetizer, improved upon my French Onion Soup and took on the challenge of "Julia's Boeuf Bourguinon."
Surprisingly, up until last week I had never seen the movie Julie & Julia, nor read the book or the blog. I remember hearing about the blog several years back (before my blog reading days) and thinking, "Wow, she's crazy!" The movie was quite charming, the cast was excellent and the food looked good enough to eat off the screen. As the credits rolled, my husband and I looked at each other with the same hungry look...we had to try that Boeuf Bourguinon.
The next morning I pulled out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and started studying. It turns out, to make "Julia's Boeuf Bourguinon," you must also master two additional French cooking techniques: mushrooms sauteed in butter and brown-braised onions. Both processes call for a healthy (or, unhealthy?) amount of butter and result in pure yumminess (not a word, I realize, but if you ever tried it, you'd agree.)
Now, this is not a recipe you just whip up on a whim. Start to finish, I spent 5-plus hours in the kitchen that Sunday afternoon. Most of that time I was actively cooking. The meat takes 3 or 4 hours to cook in the oven. Having completed the dish once, I probably could complete the prep-work a little faster -- allowing for some time away from the stove.
As this dish gains much of it's flavor from the red wine used in preparation, I decided to go to the experts at Moore Brothers and let their knowledgeable staff steer me in the right direction. What a good decision! I bought two bottles from the same vineyard, one to cook with and the other a little higher quality for drinking. I wish I had thought to write down the name of the vineyard, but Moore Brothers keeps track of what you buy, so I should be able to figure it out and post back with that information.
The other ingredients were fairly easy to come by. My local grocery does not carry Rump Pot Roast, Julia's first choice, so I went with her second choice: Chuck Pot Roast. In addition, I needed: carrot, onion, beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, bacon, and the previously mentioned mushrooms and pearl onions. The recipe calls for a 6-oz chunk of bacon, which I could not find, so I improvised by making lardons out of regular, sliced bacon. The main difference was that I did not have a bacon rind to throw in with the cooking meat.
So, was it worth it? For me, yes. I had a great afternoon in the kitchen with limited distractions from the kids. (Thank you Mark!) And the end result was delicious. The gravy was amazing and the meat was falling-apart tender. Am I going to make "Julia's Boeuf Bourguinon," again? Not any time soon. Next time I have a free afternoon for cooking, I think I'll try a new recipe. Part of the fun for me is experimenting with different cooking techniques and flavors. Of course, as I write this, all I can think about is that luscious gravy and how sad I am that there are no more leftovers...
Originally posted on "The Family Cook" http://w84dinner.blogspot.com
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