Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Julia Child's Beef Bourgogne
This post describes my experience of making Beef Bourgogne from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1.
One point of clarification. I did see the movie Julie & Julia and thought it was pretty good, although the story about Julia Child's life is what I liked most. I am certainly not embarking on a quest to make all the recipes in her first book.
I made this specific recipe because I wanted to make a dish that I could pair with a good bottle of Burgundy. I needed the savory flavors and the earthiness from something like mushrooms and since this dish hails from the region, and can be made with the regions's wine, I figured it would be just what I was looking for.
Julia Child is someone I recall seeing on TV when I was a child. Her shows aired on WGBH out of Boston and I lived in northern CT which picked up the station. I have always known of her and thought she was an interesting character from 20th century America. For a brief time when I was a kid I thought of being a chef when I grew up and I am sure I would have mentioned her as a reason why. My mother and grandmother were the primary reasons and though I did not become a chef I did learn to cook well enough for it to be a passionate hobby.
This recipe has a lot of seperate steps and takes a while to make. You might not be sure it is worth it up front, but trust me it was worth every minute!
I am not a big fan of mushrooms and the more reading I do the more I think I am going to have to get over this. Mushrooms are found in many dishes and the wine pairing reccomendations involve integrating with the flavors mushrooms are known for. With a pound of crimini mushrooms in this dish I wasn't going to be able to avoid them. I was hoping the wine was going to help me here.
Oprah's web site has a reprint of the recipe from the book for those who want to see what is involved. http://www.oprah.com/food/Boeuf-Bourguignon
The most intense part of the effort was browning the beef, everything else was pretty easy. A friend of mine did confirm that following the recipe as closely as possible would increase chances of happiness. Once the beef and liquid made it to the oven I was able to switch gears to something else. As the recipe suggests I prepared the onions and mushrooms while the beef was cooking.
The aroma from the oven once the beef got to a constant simmer was incredible. I was pretty sure I was in for a treat. I chose to serve it over boiled potatoes rather than egg noodles, which I hoped would be a nice twist. I also made some crusty white bread topped with a little butter which worked well to soak up the sauce.
The wine played off of all the key ingredients including the mushrooms. I ate all of them in my dish. I tried them in combinations with the beef, the onions and all together with and without the wine. While I still think the flavors inherent in mushrooms are what I don't like, I can see how they bring some dishes together.
From the first bite to the last I savored all of my planning and hard work. Cooking can take many forms and I won't be spending this much time (or money!) on dinner every night. I have a much keener appreciation for anyone who spends their days in a kitchen at home or for work. Hopefully they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor as I have.