Friday, February 16, 2024

A Meal Fit for Julia

While on a promotional tour for her famed cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", Julia Child made her first appearance on Public Television, appearing on a book review show called "I've Been Reading". The year was 1961. She arrived for the filming with a hot plate, giant whisk, and eggs. Then she made an omelet on the set. Little did Julia know her appearance would lead to gigs on Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, and even Dave Letterman. Oh, I forgot, she also hosted shows on PBS called Cooking with Julia, The French Chef, and many others. Many of these shows occurred BFN (Before Food Network).

I had a chance to meet Julia while working the National Restaurant Association show one year. She was a nice lady.

I was in Jr. High, and still four years away from my first job cooking Butter Burgers and Lot-O-Burgers at T-Willie's Frostop when Julia began her association with PBS on her long running show, "The French Chef", but I am certain in years since, I have seen every one of the hundreds of shows she did. Everyone has their favorite series. Mine is the one she did with Jacques Pepin. I understand they were good friends off screen, but their interaction as they cooked was always fun to watch.

Useless trivia - For years Jacques was the menu development chef for the Howard Johnson Motel Chain. In fact, that may have been his first job after moving to the USA.

Julia always insisted the French dishes she demonstrated on her shows were within the capabilities of most decent cooks. I have proven her correct on many and am not so sure about a few other efforts I have attempted. This is my version of the special beef and red wine stew Julia cooked on camera several times during her TV career. She would have called this dish Beef Bourguignon and would have said it was one of her favorites - one she liked to cook for guests at her home. My version probably varies a little from Julia's, especially in serving since in this case, my version of the dish is plated over grits (a nice Southern touch).

To cook this dish, You'll need:

- 3 pounds - Beef Chuck, or Rump, or in this case beef stew meat, which could be any of the several cuts that are commonly used.
- 1/4 pound Bacon, or fat back
- 2-3 Tablespoons Olive oil
- 2-3 Tablespoons AP flour
- 1 Medium large onion, sliced
- 4 cloves Garlic, minced
- a couple of whole carrots and maybe a stick and a half of celery to help season the gravy as the beef cooks in the oven
- 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
- 2 cups beef stock (I used Better than Bullion)
- Bouquet Garni 1 sprig rosemary, 4-5 sprigs Parsley, 4-5 sprigs of thyme - all fresh from our herb bed and secured with a piece of twine.
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- Olive oil
- Wine - In this case, Pinot Noir - A note you probably have heard before - "I try to only use wine that I would drink in my cooking".

Here is the beef. I am certain carefully cut pieces from a well-trimmed roast are best. However, my experience is that stew meat works just as well and the dish is cooked until the beef cuts are "fall apart tender".

The cuts need to be dry and seasoned with pepper and a little salt. Then they are floured with a couple or three Tablespoons of AP flour. The amount of flour used directly impacts the thickness of the gravy that will form as the dish is cooked. More flour will require more beef broth and wine be added to make the gravy for the dish. If your gravy is too thick, you can always add a little water or beef broth at the end to thin it a little.

The fat used to brown the beef comes from pork and 2 or 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. The first cooking step is to render the fat from the 1/4 pound of bacon or salt pork. This works best if the pork is added to the hot Dutch oven that will be used for cooking the dish and then adding a half cup of water. As the water cooks away, the fat is rendered. When the bacon is crisp, it is removed and set aside.

The beef is browned in batches. My three pounds required three batches. It is browned lightly - maybe to rare stage and set aside.

Next the veggies, onions and garlic are prepped.

And the additions (the things that turn the beef into bourguinon) are set up. These include whole carrots, celery stalks, a bouquet garni, bay leaves, tomato paste, wine and beef broth or stock.

The onions are sautéed,

The bacon is broken into pieces and added.

and the beef

and then the veggies, bay leaves and bouquet garni

the beef stock and wine are added to a level equal to the top of the beef - maybe 2 cups broth and 2 or 3 cups wine

Finally the tomato paste and garlic.

The Dutch oven is covered and goes into oven at 325 degrees F. It is cooked until the beef is fork tender. In this case, for two and a half hours.

While the dish cooks, make thick grits (heavy cream, butter, water, salt and grits - cooked until very thick at my house)

The bourguignon comes out of oven. The carrots, celery, bay leaves and bouquet garni are removed. It is then plated over the grits, and served with buttered crusty bread

Table views:

This is a nice evening meal. For us, it is also produces excellent leftovers.

Thanks for looking at my post.

God Bless you


Anonymous said...

Truly a wonderful recipe; you must try it.

Mine is similar, except I use no carrots and use a mixture of 8 oz button mushrooms and 8 oz of cremini in place of the cards. Also, after I sear the beef, I use cook the AP flour and tomato paste for 3 minutes; remove the pan from the hear; pour in a half cup of cognac and strike a very long match. Stand back unless you want singed hair and eyebrows. Once the flames have died (in 7 t0 1o minutes) return to the fire and continue cooking.

This cognac technique really gets the pan deglazed and puts all of the delicious pan residue into the sauce.

This author has his act together. His recipes are gold. By the way, I am they guy critical of his chicken spaghetti.

Charlie said...

Three letters, O.S.S. She was awesome all around. Loved watching her cook on TV, appreciated her in later years for what she did and had accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories of Julia and the nod to Jacque Pepin, both American cooking icons. I'd add Ina Garten to that list, too.

Anonymous said...

Wine - In this case, Pinot Noir - A note you probably have heard before - "I try to only use wine that I would drink in my cooking".

Yea, but I don't cook my wine before I drink it. Can't we save a little money here?

Louis LeFleur said...

Grits and grillades by any other name. Looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

My recipe is very similar except that I add a couple of extra carrots and then serve them with the beef. The are so full of flavor we have to eat them.

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

8:02 am. I did not use the entire bottle for my dish. As you can see from the table shot, We drank some of that red wine. Always tasty, both in the sauce and from the glass.

Anonymous said...

If you admire Julia Child, you might like the movie "Julie and Julia". It's entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Looks wonderful! Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

802: Yeah, Justin Wilson I believe, solid policy.

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