Sunday, March 10, 2013

Old School

Julia Child, my first culinary heroine, was "Old School." She believed in lots of butter, that beef was put on this earth for pleasure, that noodles were meant to be buttered, and that anything cooked with a boatload of wine would be better than anything cooked without it. She was all about the taste and to hell with the calories. She might, as the French do, serve reasonable portions but she didn't hold back on the ingredients.

What I loved most about her recipes was the meticulousness with which she followed the flavor. If there was any little thing she could do to enhance the final flavor, she didn't stint, she just cheerfully added another pan to her growing collection of dirty dishes. Maybe she could do that with panache, knowing that she wasn't going to be the one who washed them all, but I have always admired that willingness to go the extra mile for the flavor.

So, when I found some grass-fed stewing beef in my freezer, my mind went immediately to her Boeuf Bourguignon. I hauled out my battered and spattered copy of the first volume of her masterwork, and went to town.

While the browned beef and bacon were braising in red wine and beef stock in the oven, I separately sautéed the mushroom caps in butter and braised the browned onions in stock. Two extra dirty pans are well worth the perfectly cooked mushrooms and onions I added to the beef at the end. No mushy onions slipping apart, or mushrooms so soggy from cooking that they have lost all integrity!  Julia's recipe adds them at the very end, warming the dish and mingling the flavors before pouring it over buttered noodles (or boiled potatoes) and adding bright green fresh peas.

This is one of those dishes that silences My Beloved; he eats with intention, head down, fork flying. When he has cleaned his plate, his blue eyes are soft with satisfaction and repletion. To me, that look is worth the extra time and trouble it takes to put together a truly stellar beef stew, à la Julia. I'll bet her beloved Paul looked like that when he finished her stew, too. She may be Old School, but she knew what she was doing.


7 Comments:

Blogger nancy namaste said...

Old school was no fool when it came to culinary masterpieces - or satisfying the significant other. I don't eat much meat these days but now I am thinking of that dish for the next time I have friends over.

Sunday, March 10, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

I loved your telling of preparing this wonderful meal and the way in which your man showed his appreciation. Stellar!

Sunday, March 10, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, your guests will love you.

Diane, thanks, it was actually fun to do. Almost like a little ritual to bring out the best in all the ingredients.

Monday, March 11, 2013  
Blogger Hungry Dog said...

This is a recipe I have always meant to make (pile of dirty dishes be damned!), and if I did, I suspect both I and my husband would eat it the way your Beloved does!

Monday, March 11, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Hungry Dog, turns out, you really only use three pans for this, including the dutch oven where the meat braises. Not too bad. :-)

Monday, March 11, 2013  
Blogger Greg said...

You know the way to a man's heart just like Julia.

Monday, March 11, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, I had forgotten that old saying. Fun to remember.

Monday, March 11, 2013  

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