Well, we have come to what I am calling, "The Final Stretch". With nine days left, I can see the end, but it's just too soon to coast. My spending is pacing ahead of schedule, so these last days are crucial. I am already running out of daily needs like laundry detergent (despite my reduction to a mere tablespoon per load!), garbage bags (you have to put the garbage somewhere!) and toilet paper (I am just not willing to improvise on this one!).
The one gem I do still have in my freezer is a Costco-sized package of beef stew meat! Wanting to make something memorable from this last bit of red meat in the house, I decided to try Julia Child's recipe for Beef Bourguignon. After my trip to the farmer's market yesterday, I had all the necessary ingredients-- except bacon. I am NOT a big bacon fan. (Did I mention that I got all the bad genes?) In fact, turkey bacon aside, it is quite possible that I have never cooked a strip of real bacon in my life. But in honor if Julia, and since it was the very first ingredient in her recipe, I decided to break with tradition, splurge, and buy one package of pig fat.
The recipe called for 6 oz., so I removed a few strips and put the rest in the freezer for my future White Bean and Kale Soup recipe. I sliced the bacon into thin, quarter-inch strips and then--
--simmered it? in water for ten minutes.
If any one knows Julia's reason for this, please tell me!
I'm sure it has something to do with even browning.
The next step is to fry the bacon in a tablespoon of olive oil until crispy.
Remove the bacon,
and add the patted dry stew meat to the bacon fat in single layer batches.
Remember, Julia says, "If the meat isn't DRY, it won't BROWN!"
After all the meat has been browned and removed from the pan,
add chopped onions and carrots to the drippings and saute.
Next, add tomato paste, garlic, beef stock and 3 cups of red wine.
(My other Two Buck Chuck!)
For those of you who are wondering, 3 cups of wine is
approximately an entire bottle less a couple of swigs for Julia.
Here's where I just had to veer from the instructions. Bring the liquid and vegetables to a boil and put the meat, bacon and liquid into a Slow Cooker! (It's 97 degrees out! I am NOT turning on the oven!) I omitted the next few steps where, after cooking, she coats the meat with flour and puts it in the oven for a while.
Cook on High for 4 hours and add your "bouquet garni"
(That's herbs wrapped with twine so you can retrieve them later.)
Saute one pound of baby bella mushrooms in olive oil and butter.
Add one jar of white onions (Julia uses fresh).
Add the mushrooms and onions to the pot and cook for about an hour more.
But don't wash that pan just yet!
Before serving, scoop out the liquid and reduce it by half.
Pour back over the Beef and serve with noodles, rice or potatoes.
This recipe had a difficulty rating of difficult. It's not that it was actually difficult, more LENGTHY!
(This is Mastering the ART of French Cooking, after all!)
For more exact directions to Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon, click here.