dinner diary – dining a la jc (child that is…not christ)

With all the hooplah I have been giving the Cook du Jour – Julia Child, I thought it was only appropriate to put my blogging where my mouth is and attempt a Child-esque dinner party.

The Piece de Resistance:

  • JC’s Bouef Bourgignon (of course!)

It’s Comrades:

  • Haricots Verts Gratines (Green Bean and Blue Cheese Gratin)
  • Pommes de Terre Sautees (Potatoes sauteed in Butter) ; and….
  • Pumpkin Scones (an odd addition you would think but I forgot to purchase bread and I had a Pumpkin Scone mix lying around in ye ol’ pantry of surprises…please don’t hold it against me)

As my tertiary restrained budget didn’t allow for an actual purchase of MtaoFC the first step was to locate the golden recipe…the alleged holy grail of bouef. Luckily a dirty google later, I discovered the lovely people at Random House Publishing have released a PDF version on their website located here.

And so the journey began…armed with a deceptively small looking shopping list and my ridiculously dinky porta-trolley, this little piggy went to market.

An hour later I emerged, roughly $100 down and a repulsively bulging porta-trolley to show for it. How Julie OR Julia afforded to eat like this every day for a year is beyond me. Me thinks someone is telling porky pies. ($100 x 1 week x 1 year = $36 400…. and that’s just for a one pot bouef wonder, lord forbid I calculate the costs involved in stuffing a duck and covering it in pastry!)

And so I began at roughly 1pm on a Friday afternoon…and I was determined to keep my kitchen a NFU (“No Fuck Up”) zone, which required military precision that even Chairman Mao would have been proud of. I began by de-rinding the bacon, and boiling the lardons for the requisite 10 minutes. Then I gave the bacon the paper towel (“PT”) treatment (which comes up frequently in this recipe) and sauteed them in some olive oil to “lightly brown” before removing them. Next up the chunks of bouef also received the PT treatment before being browned in batches (JC informs they simply WILL NOT brown if they are damp). Boring you the full details the process roughly continued as follows:

Beef comes out, carrot and sliced onion goes in (..to the fat)

Beef and bacon returns, along w. salt and pepper and some flour

8 minute crisping (in 2 intervals) in oven

Glorious amount of wine (I used Chianti as recommended), beef stock, tomato paste, garlic and herbs (thyme and bay leaf) in next

Bring to simmer on stove then whack into oven and run outside for copious amounts of consumable wine and cigarettes (if I still partook in the latter)

But no my dear friends, this is not where the process ends…god forbid Julia allow anyone a moment of respite…not when there’s work to be done in the kitchen missy/ter! While the vino stew is vigorously bubbling away in the oven, the baby onions and mushrooms are to be prepared. For the onions, imagine the usual angst of peeling an onion, times that by 24 and reduce said onion size to miniature and you have the mental image of the fabulous task that was before me. After successfully completing the above (and looking like I had been shot with a mascara gun), the little suckers (you know I want to preface that word with an F) are browned in copious amounts of butter before being braised with more stock and ‘erbs. The mushrooms are quartered and receive the same artery clogging treatment.

After 3 hrs, the bouef was wrangled out of the oven (burning the effin’ bejesus out of my thumb and forefinger in the process). The sauce was strained and thickened in a separate saucepan before being mixed back into the main event along with the mushies and onions in all their braised glory.

Thankfully, the green bean gratin only required a quick blanching of the beans (6 minutes), a violent stuffing into a casserole dish, a generous lashing of cream and a sinful crumble of blue cheese and breadcrumbs before being baked for 15 minutes.

The potatoes were boiled, cooled, peeled and attacked with more butter … I figured that if we were already half way to coronary hell with the bouef, why not go all the way!

The pumpkin scones – a packet mix…turned out fairly decent despite my sincere doubts that any part of the mix had ever even seen a pumpkin. As with all other flour mixes by Anchor Foods, the instructions required far too much water and additional flour was needed.

All in all, the JC feast was well received and voraciously consumed. The bouef was as glorious as all reports and well worth the lengthy effort. However, I do have a deep seeded fear I will never be able to prepare my mushrooms in any other way …don’t dine at mine with a weak heart my friends, there is no other way to treat a mushroom than to drown them in buttery goodness….. oh how they glisten.

Over and out


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