The BEST Meal I’ve Ever Made
Last week I wrote a post about Julia Child. I told you I was planning to make her Boeuf Bourguignon. And I did. I spent, I think, about 4 hours on it. Serious. Friends, let me tell you something: It was, no joke, the best meal I’ve ever made, maybe the best meal I’ve ever had. Definitely in the top 4. It was incredible!Ã‚ (My other top three, in case you were wondering, were, not in order of preference: 1. On our honeymoon, we had dinner at the Madonna Inn and had steak wrapped with bacon. 2. When Husband and I were dating, I lived in Texas, he in California. On one visit to Texas, we had dinner atÃ‚ Saltgrass Steakhouse and had an amazing steak with mashed potatoes. 3. My birthday meal at Bistro Provence this past May. I had steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus… there seems to be a trend here.)
I followed her directions exactly. I’m not great at following a recipe, since my cooking style is more using what I have,Ã‚ doing what I think will work. I was a little bit nervous. Almost like I didn’t want to let her down or something. Not really, I suppose, but it was my first time making one of her recipes. I wanted to do it right.
We had invited Nolan and Joanna over for dinner. The meal was done literally 10 minutes before they arrived. It was perfect. We each had two helpings. There was not a morsel left for another day.
I’ll admit, I’m a girl a bit obsessed with Julia, Paris, France, and French. Part of the reason is I grew up in Southern Ontario and I was in a program called French Immersion. We spent half the day being taught in French (learning things like math, science, geography, history, grammar all in French), the other half in English. I’d say that now, many years later, after spending most of my education with some or a lot of French, I’m still fairly fluent. When Husband and I got married and it was time to decorate a kitchen, I wanted to have a Paris/French theme. Thus began my obsession.
Est-ce que il y a personne qui lit cette blog en franÃƒ§aise? Si il y a, bonjour! Bienvenue! (Sil-vous plaÃƒ®t, excuser ma grammaire, qui n’est pas trÃƒ¨s bon… je fait ce que je peut et ce que je me souviens. :))
Here are some photos of the process.
Beef gets dried with a paper towel, then browned in butter and oil.
Onions and carrots are cooked after the beef is sent to the oven to get a floury crust.
A whole bottle of wine is added. I used a Chianti.
Tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and beef stock are added.
It’s brought up to a simmer on the stovetop, then covered and placed in the oven for 2 1/2 Ã‚ to 3 hours.
Onions are braised in butter and beef stock. Heavenly!
Mushrooms are sautÃƒ©ed in butter. Onions finish cooking after 40 to 50 minutes.
Beef is strained, sauce is thickened slightly.
Beef is returned to the cleaned cooking dish (I used a large cast iron soup pot) and topped with the mushrooms and onions.
Sauce is poured over the beef and veggie mixture. It simmers for 2 to 3 minutes.
Then finally, finally, finally!!! It’s time to eat! I steamed some potatoes to serve with it.
I almost didn’t get any photos of the dish in my bowl. This was after a bite or two, and many exclamations of how good it was.
And then it was gone.
So we had dessert. Rainbow Sherbet in a cone.
Now that you’ve seen it, heard about it, know that it’s totally possible to make (and not as difficult as I thought it would be, it just took a long time), I want to share her recipes with you. They can be found elsewhere online, and of course in her cookbook, which now that I’ve made these three recipes, I’d wholeheartedly recommend!
|Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon||
- 6 oz. chunk of bacon
- a 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
- 1 T olive oil or cooking oil
- a slotted spoon
- 3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 sliced carrot
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 t salt
- 1/4 t pepper
- 2 T flour
- 3 C of a full-bodied, young red wine, or a Chianti
- 2 to 3 C brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
- 1 T tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 t thyme
- a crumbled bay leaf
- the blanched bacon rind
- 18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock (see recipe)
- 1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sautÃƒ©ed in butter (see recipe)
- Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks, 1/4″ thick and 1 1/2″ long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry. (Note: I didn’t have bacon with a rind, so skipped this step.)
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- SautÃƒ© the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sautÃƒ© the beef.
- Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. SautÃƒ© it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
- In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautÃƒ©ing fat.
- Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in the middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
- Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top on the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of a preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
- While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
- When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
- Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 C of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. (*Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.)
- For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
- For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minites, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
I served it with steamed potatoes and a French wine.
|Julia Child’s Oignons GlacÃƒ©s Ãƒ Brun (Brown-braised Onions)||
- 18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
- 1 1/2 T butter
- 1 1/2 T oil
- a 9- to 10-inch skillet
- 1/2 C brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water
- salt and pepper to taste
- a medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay lead, and 1/4 t thyme tied in cheesecloth (Note: I didn’t have cheesecloth, so I used a bag for loose tea, and knotted it at the end. I read that a coffee filter could also be used.)
- When butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and sautÃƒ© over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possibly. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.
- To braise them: Pour in liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minites until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet.
The onions may be cooked hours in advance, and reheated before serving.
|Julia Child’s Champignons SautÃƒ©s au Beurre (SautÃƒ©ed Mushrooms)||
- a 10-inch skillet
- 2 T butter
- 1 T oil
- 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
- optional: 1 to 2 T minced shallots or green onions
- salt and pepper
- Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sautÃƒ© the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
- Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. SautÃƒ© over moderate heat for 2 minutes.
The mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.
This recipe is for 1/2 lb. of mushrooms. The Boeuf Bourguignon recipe calls for a full pound.
All recipes are from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 2010 (1961), Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck