I remember watching Julia Child on TV when I was very young, I found her peculiar and hilarious. Her larger than life characte made quite an impression on my ten year old self. She always looked like she was having so much fun, and her voice was unlike anything I had ever heard. I am very surprised and dissapointed in myself that it was the release of the movie Julia & Julia that pushed me to buy her famous cookbook "Mastering The Art of French Cooking". The book is filled with good old fashioned hearty recipes. The layout of the book is very different from a traditionanl cookbook. For example, in her book she lists the ingredients as they appear in the recipe with the instructions beside them, sometimes you have to flip 2 or 3 pages to make your list of ingredients before going to the grocery store. Once you get used to her methods it is very clear and easy to understand, which was the whole point of her book. She wanted women that don't know there way around the kitchen to be able to read a recipe and execute it deliciously.
Yesterday, I set out to make a beef stew from the book. No not Boeuf Bourgignonne, I didn't have a whole day to spare! I made what I would call it's cousin Boeuf a la Catalane. She described this as a mediterranean stew, although the only thing that is mediterranean about it would be the tomatoes and parmagian. The stew was easy to make, the only change I made was that instead of using a skillet to start the cooking and then transfering everything to a casserole I cooked everything in a dutch oven. The stew was hearty and delicious. It resembled a Jamabalaya because of the rice. I am defiinitly going to use this cooking method for other proteins (chicken, shrimp etc). It was yummy and my hubby had thirds, so I think it is a keeper!!!
Try the recipe below and let me know if you like it as much as we did. I change a few things but just for convenience. Sorry there are no pictures because Jeremy didn't want to wait for me to take them. Oh and there was no leftovers!
Boeuf A La Catalane-Julia Child
1/4 lb chunk of bacon cubed
2 Tbsp Olive oil
3 lbs stewing beef but into squares about 1"
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
1 cup unwashed white rice (raw)
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 cups beef stock
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp thyme
pinch of saffron ( didn't have)
1 crumbled bay leaf ( I used dried and left it whole)
1lb ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped. ( I drained a can of diced tomatoes) about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup grated parmesan
Equipment needed: medium sized dutch oven (I used a 5.3L round), slotted spoon, a large bowl, a small bowl. wooden spatula (so not to scratch your pot)
Preheat oven to 325
In a dutch oven heat a tsp of the oil and lightly brown the bacon, remove with a slotted spoon to the bowl.
Dry the meat on paper towels, heat the dutch oven until the oil/bacon fat is almost smoking, add the meat a few pieces at a time to brown. When it is brown place in the bowl.
Lower heat to moderate and brown the onions lightly, remove them and add to the bowl.
Stir the rice into the oil/fat for 2-3 minutes until it turns a milk color. Scrape into the small bowl with a spatula for later. '
Pour off any remaining fat, add the wine and stir for a minute over the heat scraping up all the yummy brown bits. Add the bacon/beef/onions back to the dutch oven.
Add the garlic, thyme, salt & pepper, bay leaf & saffron (if using)
Add the stock almost to the height of the beef, bring to a simmer, cover and set in the lower position of the oven to simmer slowly for an hour.
Remove dutch oven from oven, stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cover and return to the oven for about another hour until the meat is fork tender.
Remove from oven and raise temp to 375.
Skim off any fat if there is any, add more stock or water so that it almost at the height of the beef. Stir in the rice bring to a simmer and cover. Place back in the oven and keep it at a full simmer, do not stir it anymore at this point. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, the rice will have absorbed almost all of the liquid and should be cooked.
Remove from oven, just before serving fold in the Parmesan (if you want)