Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon from Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking

I'm very excited to try Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Some recipes intimidate me and some look easy to prepare. The first recipe I tried out is Boeuf Bourguignon--the classic beef stew. This is one of my favorite French dish. I first fell in love with boeuf bourguignon from Le Saint Amour at Culver City, CA.

Rarely do I make savory dishes. I want to say I don't like cleaning oily dishes, but baking uses a lot of butter and leave tons of bowls behind too. I guess I am simply a sugar addict. I cannot imagine life without sugar!

After my first try on boeuf bourguignon, however, I think I'll be making this dish again and again. I like the smell of sweet and savory mingling in the kitchen. You can't really tell whether the meat has caramelized or there's simply beef in a cake.

Talking about caramel, this reminds me of onion. The smell of browned onion and the caramel-like juice they produce is heaven. I love onion. It's such a common vegetable that is used in almost all dishes? You can't go wrong with adding a few slice or some diced onion. It goes well in stews, in soups, in salad, in sandwiches and burgers...you name it! Next to-do dish shall be onion soup!

Going back to beef stew, it is really REALLY easy to make. The actual preparation time takes about half an hour. Afterwards you can leave it cooking in the oven at low heat. Come back two hours later to check the tenderness, and there you got dinner!

I didn't follow the recipe completely. I used water instead of beef stock, and the stew still came out flavorful. The beef stock would kick up the flavor profile to another level, but a simpler ingredient list actually show off the beef flavor more, which is what I prefer. My mom has always kept seasoning to a minimum so you can really taste the ingredients, and this is how she's influenced me in some of my cooking habits. Apart from the stock and water substitution, I also used ketchup instead of tomato paste. Ketchup is the most accessible tomato paste in my fridge! Next time I'll throw in two tomatoes to add acidity to the stew. Hmm.....and I omitted garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. I'm sure a master chef will be shaking his or her head, but I like my stew nevertheless!

After 2 hours in the oven, the meat reduced 3/4 in volume

One big bite of beef, carrot and onion

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