Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Julia's 100th

Julia Child would have been 100 years old last Wednesday, August 15th. Due to a hectic work schedule and other life busy-ness, I was unable to make anything special on that day. But Saturday, I planned to have my mother over for dinner and I prepared my take on Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguinon.

Julia was quite meticulous in her instructions. I do a few things differently. Instead of bacon lardons, I use pancetta. I like the way it tastes and the quality of it tends to be higher than most commercial bacon. Plus, pancetta isn't smoked, so I can skip the part of the recipe where you boil the bacon to get the smoky taste out. I'm all for avoiding extra steps.

So first thing is cook the pancetta.
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Julia wants you to remove the bacon from the pan when you add the meat, but I just leave it.

For this batch of stew, I used chuck tenders that were on sale at the local grocery. I cut them into large bite sized pieces and dredged them in flour.

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While the pancetta is cooking nice and crispy, I cut up two onions, one long purple onion and one sweet white onion. I cut them into large chunks and sautéed in butter until they were nice and soft.

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Instead of making the mushrooms in a separate pan, I quartered them and added to the sauteed onions and let them cook until the meat was ready for them. I used crimini mushrooms.

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I add some extra butter to the stew pot and start adding the pieces of meat. What you're doing here is twofold-you're cooking a nice piece of meat but you're also composing a roux in the bottom of the pan and cooking your flour a bit so the gravy will be smooth and velvety and not have that gritty raw flour taste.

I add the pieces of meat a bit at a time, making sure they get at least a little seared on both sides.

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(I'm going to take this opportunity to apologize for the crappy cell phone pictures. My camera card went corrupt and I have ordered a new one, but it's not arrived yet.)

Once the beef is browned, I add the broth and the red wine. I keep a big jug of cooking wine in the kitchen at all times. The current red is a chianti, not a burgundy which is fine, because it matches the pancetta. Now I add the onions and mushrooms, and my celery and carrots too. I throw in a bit of herbs de provence and a little extra thyme and some fresh ground black pepper, along with a tablespoon or so of tomato paste.

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And that's what it looks like once it simmers a bit. I usually let it cook on low for an hour or so then either put it in the fridge, or put it in the oven for 40 minutes at 300 depending on when dinner is. The oven step finishes reducing the gravy and brings everything together perfectly.

I don't have any pictures of that, since we ate it.

I served it with noodles. You can serve it by itself, with potatoes, with rice, pretty much any starch you want. We had a nice fresh heirloom tomato salad with garden herbs,and a loaf of crusty italian bread with butter. It was a great meal and a fitting tribute to Julia.

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