Friday, June 17, 2011

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon for Real People

Okay, I like French cuisine just as much as the next gal (actually, a little less), but seriously, Julia Childs? Really?
Here is my interpretation of what Julia tells us we should do. Obviously we have to remember that this cookbook was written when women who would make this kind of thing were NOT working and also probably only made it for some kind of big dinner party (or wine club, like me). But even so, the four plus hours this took....might have been worth it, because I'm only doing it once? Maybe.

  1. A 6 ounce chunk of bacon: what is 6 ounces? Can't things just come in fractions of pounds? I mean, 8th grade was SO long ago. But, this did give me the chance to go to Tony Caputos and visit the extremely handsome men who work there and say intelligent things like: Do you have the kind of bacon that comes in chunks? Can I have some? You're cute.
  2. Cut bacon into "lardons." Okay, Julia, I get it. You're "French." But what the fuck is a "lardon"? And if you have to say, (parenthetically) that it's a stick, can't you just say stick in the first fucking place? I mean, can't you?
  3. "Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water." Why boil bacon in water? I'm sure there's a good reason, but can't you tell me what it is?
  4. Why does my casserole dish have to be enameled and fireproof? Am I in danger of catching something on fire? What? A dish?
  5. How many dishes do I need? Why so much with the "remove to a side dish"? Have you seen the extremely petite kitchen in which I am working? Julia Child, have you seen my kitchen?
  6. 3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes. I get the whole cubing thing, I really do, but you know what? I have no idea what an inch is. Here's what I do: hold up my finger and go, how much of this is an inch? And then I use that as a guide. But Julia Child probably had huge hands, like, Shaquille O'Neal hands, so she couldn't just say, half a pinkie, because, you know, of her fucking huge hands. 
  7. "Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp." This is what we call Spa for Beef. Seriously? Dry it? Like, get out a towel and pat it down? Oh Julia, what would Freud say?
  8. So you're browning the beef and the bacon and then taking it out of the pan and then putting it back in the pan and then putting all that in the oven and then taking it out and turning the oven down. Woosh! Who needs a drink?
  9. "Stir in the wine." About time! Now I can really get behind French cuisine that calls for 3 cups of wine, which leaves some left over for you know who. Yeah, me.
  10. So you stir all this stuff in and then put it in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. Okay! Finally, a break! I can sit and drink my "leftover wine" and do something else for a few minutes. What? There are two other recipes embedded in this recipe? Fuck!
  11. Brown-braised onions: I'm not sure who invented these tiny little onions that need to be skinned and treated as if they, too, deserve a day at the spa (hot tubbing in beef stock & herbs which have to be wrapped in tiny blankets, i.e. cheesecloth), but I'm pretty sure it was the devil.  By the way, this is one of those whole other recipes embedded in this recipe, but you don't know it until you are halfway down the page.
  12. Sauteed mushrooms: yeah, that sounds easy, but first you have to clean them, and then they, too, need to be treated with kid gloves, which means you can't "crowd" them in the pan, or else then they feel like they are on the subway in Paris and then, you know, they get mad. 
  13. Okay, here's the fun part: "pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it." In layman's terms what this means is that you dump the entire contents of the casserole (beef, bacon, carrots, onions, sauce) out, and then, in my terms, paw through the mushy carrots and onions to find the bits of beef and bacon (gold!). Try not to burn your hands. Don't swear, the kids will hear. Don't put your finger in your mouth (gross!), but get every bit of beef. Did you?
  14. Also, who washes a pan and then puts the shit back in there? I wiped the gross bits off the top and then put the meat back in. Julia Child must have had a maid to do that part.
  15. Then there's this whole bit about skimming fat off the top, which I did, for awhile, and then I was like, Done! And I just poured the sauce over the meat and put the top on.
  16. Then I looked at the clock and I was all, when is wine club? Because I need a drink of wine, stat.
  17. I told my wine compatriots not to tell me if it wasn't the most delicious thing ever. And they didn't.
  18. (Actually, it was damn good. Julia sure knows her shit, but I'm not sure I'll be delving into that experience again soon.)


Lisa B. said...

It's one of those things you'll be glad to be able to say you did, and the deliciousness will give you a nice patina of nostalgia. In, like, a year.

I felt that way about making mole, btw. It was Rick whosis's book, and let me tell you about your side dishes. There may have been some washing/wiping of the dishes/pans. Bullshit to that, I say. Those flavors are gonna mix anyhoo, so I say, let the pan and its bits give it all a head start.

Nik said...

I make this a lot--the Julia Child version--but I skip the bacon boiling and use frozen onions. I do strain the sauce but that's because I like getting scalding hot liquid all over my hands. I don't wash the pan. Ever.
Sounds like a big success! I wish I had been there for the wine and the beef!

Condiment said...

Hilarious. I hope you took pictures?

radagast said...

I think I read that blurb on the back of her cookbook: "Julia sure knows her shit!"