Roughly translated as: “Beef in a Wine and Bacon Bath”
Amanda and I attended an Oscar party a couple of weeks ago, and I think we were the only people who hadn’t seen any of the movies that were nominated. It was a little bit sad. It’s not that we don’t like movies; just that we don’t get to the theater that much, and when we do it’s for strange events such as the Bicycle Film Festival. But we were inspired and updated our Netflix list with all kinds of oscar-nominated films, including Julie & Julia!
My dad and stepmom Barbara saw this movie last year and got inspired. So much so, that Barbara bought me and her son Al a copy of Julia Child’s cookbook for Christmas and encouraged us to cook some recipes from it. While I don’t think I’ll be able to complete the same 500+ recipes in 365 days that the movie portrayed, I can at least commit to trying some of my favorites such as Boeuf Bourguignon.
This past weekend I set aside some time to give this one a shot. I stayed fairly close to the recipe, but decided to take my own path in places where I wanted a shortcut or to customize the recipe. For example, I wanted to do the final cooking in our slow-cooker since I know that can produce tender beef and is less fussy than managing a gas stove for 3 hours. Also I just went with standard sliced bacon cooked in a pan instead of tracking down a whole slab of bacon and blanching it.
I follow some of her more arcane steps, however: coating the browned beef in flour and baking it for 8 minutes; sauteeing the mushrooms separately; cooking everything in the rendered bacon fat (hard to go wrong with that culinary advice, really).
The recipe started with some simple ingredients from our local Trader Joe’s and Vons. Vons has a really bad meat department so I was limited to a chuck roast instead of going with Julia’s preferred rump roast. I chose a young (2008) bourdeaux wine from TJ, priced at $7.99. I did a mini taste-test of this wine against a Chateau Bonnet (2005; $15) that I had ordered online, and the Chateau Bonnet won hands down: much more smooth and drinkable. The TJ wine loses and gets to be part of the dish!
I cut the bacon into lardons and cooked them until browned in a pan, thereby rendering out the fat. After transferring them to a bowl then the party began: everything else gets to fry in that bacon fat! First the beef, browning carefully on all sides.
Then I transferred the beef and bacon to a baking dish, coated in flour, and cooked for 8 minutes in a 425 deg oven. Julia has you do some kind of tango with the pots here: cleaning one and then switching the meat to another. I ignored her and just baked the beef in a separate dish before putting it into the slow cooker.
The vegetables got the same treatment, joining the bacon fat party once the beef had departed. These cooked until browned and then were also put into the slow cooker.
I then added the rest of the ingredients: tomato past, seasoning, and most of that bottle of wine. At that point the beef was basically swimming in alcohol like those sake-drowned fish that were on iron chef that one time. The broth was pink from the bordeaux, and smelled delicious.
With the slow cooker powered on, I had some time to prepare the rest of the dish. The bacon fat got used once again, this time for cooking my mushrooms. These were sliced (with an egg slicer, of course) and then sauteed over medium heat until browned. At that time I added salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and rosemary. I also knew I needed a side dish to with this, so I decided to improvise a simple roasted potato recipe made of red potatoes, sea salt, pepper, Spanish smoked paprika, and olive oil.
This I just roasted until fork-tender, about 25 minutes. As the bourguignon reached completion I added the mushrooms and some salt.
For final plating I spooned the bourguignon into a bowl and arranged the potato chunks around it. I mixed the potatoes in with the sauce while eating for a delicious flavor combination.