This year we had the joy of visiting Julia's kitchen at the American Museum of History in Washington D.C. My earliest memories of her are shared with my oldest brother, who is also a great cook. He could sound just like her, and always found a way to make me laugh. I had no idea that 30 years later, I would live near her Cambridge home and find inspiration in her resilient spirit.
So while the rain and wind have pounded our windows over the last 48 hours, Spice + I decided to embark on our Julia journey, and create her famous Beef Bourguignon. We weathered 45 mph winds, pounding rain, broken umbrellas and leaky Wellington's to make this tonight. And from the smell of our kitchen it was well worth it.
The ingredients are simple, and will yield 4-6 servings. Julia recommends browning her beef in "lardons" which we opted out of, however, I did have a little pancetta in my refrigerator, and it performed as a nice substitute. Begin by drying, and seasoning 1.5 lbs. of cubed beef chuck cut into 2 inch pieces. I used kosher salt, and a chop house seasoning containing: dried garlic, pepper, sea salt, dill seed, corriander and chili pepper. You may use your "fat of choice" for browning the meat, and to this add a little olive oil, ensuring it does not stick to your pan. Transfer the meat to a large dutch oven or casserole dish which can also go into the oven. Next, lightly sautee 2 small onions, and 2 small carrots, then add to your meat mixture. Next, get out the red wine; enough to also cook with. We decided to use a Chilean cabernet sauvignon (Casillero del Diablo from Trader Joe's) and deglaze the pan with 2 cups of beef stock, and half a bottle of red wine. Make sure to scrape up all of the bits from you meat, and mix well. Pour the wine and stock mixture over your meat and vegetables, adding enough to just cover them in your pot.
Next, prepare a boquet garni of fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, parsley. You can include 2 cloves of crushed garlic here, and a pinch of red pepper. Add the boquet garni to your meat, and into a 325 degree oven it goes. You will want to make sure the meat is fully covered with wine and stock. Plan on it cooking at least 1 hour and 15 minutes. You should check the meat for tenderness after this time, and bring the dish back up to your stove-top. Drain the mixture through a colander set over a saucepan, and return the meat and vegetables to your dutch oven. Cook the liquid down until there are about 3 cups left. Remove it from the heat, and whisk in a slurry of flour and butter which will act as your thickening ingredient. Return to the heat, and simmer on low. Add one container of diced mushrooms to your meat, and then pour the liquid over this. Stir to blend well, and cook over low heat for another 15 minutes, warming the mushrooms through.
We served this incredible dish with some fresh bread, toasted in the oven and drizzled with a little olive oil, and drank the remainder of our red wine. It was a silent dinner. Our tastebuds were in heaven, and our pilgrimage in the rain and wind was now all worth it. And even better, we managed to create a classic, French recipe, inspired by a wonderful woman. Spice has already laid claim to our leftover's, and I can only imagine that the flavor will intensify overnight. Thank you Julia for your "Kitchen Wisdom."
Sugar + Spice