Monday, February 07, 2005

Last night I made boeuf bourguignon, following the recipe in Mastering The Art of French Cooking, which is something that sounds way, way more complicated than it actually was. I mean, just the words boeuf bourguignon sound a little intimidating, and add in the JC factor, and you may expect this to be a meal you slave over.

However, boeuf bourguignon is traditional fare, not haute cuisine, meant to be prepared by any old French housewife. And I know, I know, French women are freakishly superior, but I'm an American woman. My foremothers used to make killer pie crusts and kill bears with their bare hands.

Boeuf bourguignon didn't require such toughness, either. You just chop up some bacon into little sticks (Julia would have you boil it and cut off the rind, but I don't know what the rind is, and have no truck with boiling bacon) and saute it. Then you brown some beef in the bacon fat, and then some carrot and onions. Then you pour off the fat and put the bacon, beef, carrot and onions back in your casserole with some wine and garlic and herbs and beef stock, and cook it in the oven for a really long time.

In the meantime, you brown-braise some pearl onions (cook them in a little butter and oil, gently rolling the pan, til they brown. Then add some stock and simmer gently, covered, until tender, for about an hour) and saute some quartered mushrooms.

Once that's done, you can even leave the house for a few hours while your husband holds down the fort. It's a dish so easy you don't even need to be in the same building, people. When you return and the beef is tender, cook up some noodles, strain out the sauce and simmer it down until it's thickened, skimming the fat, and then pour back over the beef and mushrooms and pearl onions and simmer a little bit more. Serve over your buttered noodles and you have yourself a meal.

This was about a bajillion times better than the last beef stew I made, carbonnade a la los Dorky Yankees. Absolutely incredible. Rich and hearty and fall-apart tender. Next week, I'll try their version in a little Dorky Yankees vs. Julia showdown I've devised, just to keep myself entertained. I'll keep y'all posted.