Sunday, November 22, 2009
With the movie Julie and Julia out now it seems a bit cliché to be preparing Boeuf Bourguignon. But, it was because of the movie that my husband requested this dish. And even though its cliché, I had never prepared Boeuf Bourguignon.
The most essential element of Boeuf Bourguignon is Julia's recipe. I'm very fortunate to have a "fifth printing" 1963 edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I just got it this past spring from a dear friend. It was such a surprise. We were having a visit and discussing other stuff and she wandered in with this cookbook. I whispered to my husband that it’s the one I've been wanting - I was keen to get an early issue, and not a current one that can be bought in stores. She simply handed it to me saying I could keep it. I was jaw dropped. And thrilled.
So when the request for Boeuf Bourguignon came in - I knew exactly where to go. Page 315.
Although this dish isn't particularly complicated, it does require a few hours cooking time. So it's one of those perfect dishes where you get things going, then go onto other things (in my case cleaning/organizing my cupboards - I love Tupperware Modular Mates!).
The method seems quite similar to other stew methods (e.g. Osso Bucco),but there are a few small differences. First, starting the base with bacon. A brilliant start as you can never go wrong with bacon. I didn’t have exactly the right cut for doing lardons, but the strips seems to work sufficiently.
Second, the meat is browned in the fat without first dredging it in flour - the way I've usually seen recipes. You do add flour to the meat - but after the meat is browned - you toss the meat with flour and put for a few minutes in a high-heat oven. "This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust" says Julia.
Third, the mushrooms and pearl onions are prepared separately and then added at the end.
Lastly, I found that saying "Boeuf Bourguignon" throughout the process (actually throughout the day) with a Julia Child type flare, really added to the whole experience.
Although Julia recommends serving with boiled potatoes, we opted to go with here alternative recommendation, buttered noodles. I had the perfect noodles for this. It's a brand that is sold exclusively in Canada by La Bottega Nicastro in Ottawa. They are a bit pricier, but amazing. They were the perfect accompaniment to this dish.