Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Julia's signature dish
In 2009 (my year of reading year of books) I read Julie & Julia, I also saw the movie based on Julie Powell's book, and Julia Child's My Life in France, which I also later read. Ever since I read Powell's book I have felt a great need to prepare Bouef Bourginon. The recipe is provided for free by Knopf Doubleday in a .pdf file, exactly as it appears in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The time to make this dish finally came this Sunday. Although I had printed out the recipe a long time ago, when I found it I discovered that I was missing part of it. James found some instructions online and so we took our laptop into the kitchen and began what we thought would be a 2 1/2 hour project. I was undaunted by the website's warning that this was a "difficult" recipe and that it took "over two hours". It turns out it is at least a four-hour project, which, to be fair, is more than two. Since we didn't start until after 3:00 and James had Male Bonding Band practice at 7:30, we decided to take Child at her word when she says that it can be prepared a full day in advance, and eat the meal on Monday, so as not to rush through it. We decided to do the "day ahead" preparation even though we saw that it turned out to be a disaster when "Julie" tried the same thing. James made some extra coffee so we would not succumb to her fate of falling asleep while the pot cooked. We put the prepared stew pot into the refrigerator on Sunday evening and reheated it the next day. James was worried that this would make it dry out, but not so. The meat was tender and juicy, and the extra time gave the flavors time to meld perfectly. We served this over noodles, and paired it with the same beaujolais that we used in the recipe itself. It was fun to cook this together and gave us an opportunity to reminice about how we met in French class. I was also glad that I waited until some of the coldest days of the year to make this. The oven was on for a long time, which helped to heat our old New England home during a time of single-digit temperatures outside. As a bonus the house still smells good.