Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"The Perfect Dish? Just Ask Julia"

What exactly are the right ingredients to create the perfect dish? Is it the quality of the meats and produce you select or the fresh herbs and spices or the roux or broth you use as a base?
What exactly makes something the "perfect dish"? 

When you find that someone and you believe you click and this could be the "perfect dish" the initial feeling is like ivy crawling up your spine, the only problem is you don't know what variety it is. It could be harmless and gentle, it could be poisonous and leave you scratching your head in disbelief or it could just strangle the living shit out of you like I've seen in every sci-fi B movie set in a jungle.

Feelings may come to you in your darkest hour, when the sun goes down and you find yourself walking on unfamiliar ground asking which way do I go? Do you wait until the light of day, when you can see what's ahead or do you breathe deep and fearlessly go in blind, hold tight to the edge of night and find your way to the gleaming light as you wait for the earth to complete another orbit around the sun?

Some choose to flatter a good heart just to watch it break. You listen to every word you ever heard them say and you cling to it like honey clings to the spoon so thick and sweet. Some choose to allow their hearts to be wide open and leave themselves wrecked in the end after a head on collision with the truth. Then there are the ones that mean every word they speak, they are the purveyor of the perfect ingredients and we walk away because we cannot seem to recognize them, because we look in a mirror with two borrowed eyes trying to find a part of us that is still alive and barely breathing.

When will I create the "perfect dish" ? The perfect combination of the perfect ingredients to create the perfect, well rounded, delectable oral sensation that makes my senses whole. I must reach out to the only woman that has created the perfect balance of time, ingredients and flavor, the great Julia Child.

Tasty Tastings Everyone!

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

It might take all day, but you won't BELIEVE YOUR MOUTH.


slices bacon, cut into lardons
3 1/2 
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks
large carrot, sliced
large white onion, sliced
pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
tablespoons flour
cups red wine, like a 
2 1/2 
to 3 1/2 cups beef stock
tablespoon tomato paste
cloves smashed garlic
teaspoon thyme
crumbled bay leaf
to 24 small pearl onions
3 1/2 
tablespoon butter
herb bouquet (4 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf)
pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered


  • Simmer bacon lardons in 4 cups water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • In a large dutch oven, sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 3 minutes, until it starts to lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Dry the beef in paper towels for better browning. In batches, sear the beef on all sides in the Dutch oven. Set aside with the bacon.
  • Back in the pot, add the sliced carrots and onions; sauté in fat until browned, about 3 minutes. If there's any excess fat, drain.
  • Add the bacon and beef back to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Toss. Sprinkle with flour and toss once more. Place in the center of the oven for 4 minutes.
  • Remove pot from oven; toss beef and place back in the oven for 4 more minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the oven and reduce the heat to 325°F.
  • To the pot add the wine and stock. The liquid should barely cover the meat and vegetables. Add the tomato paste, garlic and thyme. Bring to a light simmer on the stove, then cover and simmer in the lower part of the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is easily pierced.
  • In the last hour of cooking, bring 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons oil to a medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the pearl onions and toss around in the fat until they've browned, 10 minutes. Then stir in 1/2 cup beef stock, a small pinch of salt and pepper and the herb bouquet. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the onions for about 40 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are tender.
  • Remove the onions and set aside. Discard the herb bouquet and wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining butter and oil and bring to a medium heat.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan to coat with the butter.
  • Place a colander over a large pot. Drain the beef stew through the colander and into the pot. Place the pot with the sauce over a medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, skimming any fat on top. Pour the beef and vegetables back into the dutch oven. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms to the pot. Pour the sauce over the beef mix and simmer an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve with potatoes, rice or noodles.

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