Julia and Noah make Beef Bourguignonne
Noah has a new girlfriend. No matter that he is gay and she has been dead for 11 years. Noah loves Julia. Julia Child.
So the other night, I spent a week helping Noah make Julia’s Beef Bourguignonne. There are three different recipes that all go into one dish. There’s the actual Beef Bourguignonne, of course. Then there’s a separate recipe for the pearl onions that go into it. Ditto the mushrooms. Julia covered the entire dish in a 30-minute episode of her TV show. It took us about seven hours.
Noah faithfully followed the Beef Bourguignonne episode so as to duplicate exactly what Julia was doing. Love hurts. And it takes a lot of time. A few beers along the way helps. By the way, I got kind of into this to the point that I went to the wine store to get precisely the wine Julia recommended. It has to be a young red wine. Barely prepubescent.
Mother and son bonding over browning the beef. Don’t crowd the pan! Too many beef chunks in the pool will just make them steam, not brown. The Dutch oven on the left has the crispy lardons. I just love that there’s a French name for bacon bits.
So here are the three major things Noah learned about cooking from making Julia’s recipe.
1. Don’t crowd the pan and browning the meat means making sure it is a deep bronzed hue on all sides.
2. Cooking a stew, which this is, involves keeping the contents at a gentle simmer. Never let it boil and one of the easiest ways to do this is to keep the heat low and sit the lid on top of the pot at a slight angle so just a little steam can escape.
3. Like pulled pork, it’s done when it’s done. If the recipe says three hours in the oven and the meat is not fall-apart tender you just have to leave it there until it is. Recipes, after all, are mere suggestions. Even Julia’s.
So at approximately the age I qualified for membership in AARP, the Beef Bourguignonne was done.
It was…worth it. Utterly transcendent. Lick-the-bowl-clean delicious. Here’s the recipe. Oddly enough, Julia was sort of vague on what to serve it with – potatoes, rice or noodles with no specific instructions. So Noah made up his version of parsley mashed potatoes.
Do I find some symmetry and continuity in Noah’s love for Julia Child? Why, yes I do. It was 52 years ago that I started watching Julia’s PBS show with my mother, who didn’t like to cook but thought Julia was funny. Through the years, Julia has popped up in my life over and over. I cooked her Turkey Orloff for the acclaimed Broadway actor, Joel Grey (another story for another time), followed countless of her recipes and once drove two hours from Reno to Sacramento to see her do a cooking demonstration and then turned around and came straight back. By the way, I loved that when I got to the demonstration, she was off to the side at a small table eating a green salad by herself.
And now Noah loves Julia, too. Bon Appetit!