It is Saturday afternoon and I have prepared my Sunday meal.
I, undecided, had asked your opinion about Sunday supper
Coq au vin or Boeuf Bourguignon?
Frankly, I was leaning in the direction of the Coq au vin (stewed chicken) but your vote persuaded me to the B.B. (stewed beef).
What should Fr. Z make for Sunday?
- Boeuf Bourguignon446 66% of all votes
- Coq au Vin229 34% of all votes
Total Votes: 675 Started: 7 May 2010
For Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, which I haven’t made since days when I cooked in a rectory long ago in happier times and far far away,…
I already had the carrots, salt, pepper, flour, beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and the dreaded chives… even parsley … for later. I also have good bread on hand.
I therefore, by means of donations, trekked to the grocery store and got my lacking ingredients.
- bacon 5.00 (I used about half)
- beef 16.00 (I used all)
- onion 2.00 ((I used all)
- wine 18.00 (two bottles, one for cooking, the other for dining)
- mushrooms 4.00 (All to be used)
- potatoes 1.25 (All to be used)
- peas 1.50
- total 47.75 let’s call it $48.00.
“But Father! But Father!” you may be sputtering. That is an awful lot of money for a meal! Couldn’t you just have had a hamburger or something?”
There will be enough for at least 8 very large servings, including potatoes.
Thus, $48/8= $6.00 per capita including wine.
I grant that eight bowls of Cheerios would be cheaper, but that wouldn’t make much of a Sunday supper to be enjoyed with leisure and conversation.
My shopping, prep time and cleanup took 1.5 hours.
In gratitude for your help with the groceries, here is my prep process.
This not being rocket science I started with a cup of coffee in my NASA “meatball” mug.
I had to get the butcher at the store to go back into the hidden lockers and get right size of the correct cut.
He didn’t seem pleased that I wasn’t merely acquiescing to the offerings he pointed to in the case, none of which were what I wanted. But he complied and became more interested in doing his job when he found out what I was making.
Here is 3lb 8z of rump roast, which I trimmed.
Thick cut bacon. Brown it. Render its fat for the whole cooking process.
The bacon is browning in the bottom of the large casserole.
Make sure you start with a large enough pot. Quite a bit will go in and you need room for the liquid.
While I am browning the bacon this is what I am doing to the roast.
I cut it into roughly 2 inch pieces.
Pull the bacon with a slotted spoon and put it in a big bowl near to hand.
Start browning the beef a few pieces at a time in the bacon fat.
Don’t try to brown too much at a time! That is a common mistake.
When you try to brown too much of just about anything at a time, anything that has a lot of moisture, it won’t brown. Beef simply cooks and gets gray rather than brown. You want the color and flavor from the browning.
So, brown beef in batches. This was the longest component of the prep, aside from the shopping. Be patient.
Don’t keep your pan too hot, lest your fond burn. It is okay, great as a matter of fact, if you see it caramelize.
Oh yes… dry the pieces of beef with paper towel. When dry, it browns better.
Having a thick pan that distributes heat really speeds this process.
Put your browned beef into the bowl, for now, with the bacon. Repeat.
Things I will need later.
Chopping onions can challenge some people. The vapor they release combines with tears and makes an unpleasant sensation.
Chopping them quickly can be a good skill.
I will sometimes halve them and then slice through several times but not quite to the far end. That way, when you turn then at 90 degrees and chop them, they tend to hang together better and you can chop them more finely in a single process than having to chop the batch over and over.
Brown the onions and carrots.
I had some baby carrots I use for snacks. They hereby attain their apotheosis.
If you must, if your bacon fat is all gone, add a slight drizzle of olive oil. Don’t use too much. Don’t let this get oily.
You can season in stages, if you wish. A bit with the veg and again when you rejoin the meat in the pot.
Add the beef back into the pot and sprinkle with the flour, salt and pepper.
Stir it in a bit at a time.
You will want to stir this in well and then cook for a bit, stir and cook, stir and cook for a couple minutes.
Cook that flour! This helps the gravy/stew thicken later, much as a roux would do.
Add the rest of the things, the garlic and bay and thyme.
I blended the tomato paste into the beef broth.
Add your broth. I cleaned out the bowl the meat was in using the broth.
Waste not a drop or scrap.
This is effectively peasant food: they didn’t waste anything and neither should you.
Hints: Clean as you cook: You will waste less food and have a more pleasant experience in your kitchen once your dish is done.
You will have an easier time cleaning as you cook if you have done some small prep ahead of time. Don’t wait to get something at the moment you need it. Have it out and to hand before you start and then put it away or clean as you finish with it.
I don’t always do that, I confess, but I did it this time and my actual preparation time was really decreased.
If you are doing something new or complex read through the whole recipe before you start, noting in your mind where every element is, including your tools.
Check the steps off as you go, so you know where you.
If I am doing multiple courses, I create a time sheet in columns: courses in steps plotted down the page marked in 10 minutes increments.
When you are done, jot notes about problems you had.
Add your wine. Ditto with some of the wine, making sure that every bit of stuff in the bowl or knives, etc. goes into that pot.
The wine was a great buy, on sale, %88 pinot noir and 12 grenache. It proved to have good fruit and decent tannins. It should marry well with the thyme and bay and the caramelized beef, onions and carrots.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and then put into your pre-heated oven (325F).
There is a little wine left.
I’ll give this about 3 hours in the oven and then check it.
Though it will technically be done tonight, I will use it tomorrow.
Flavors blend and marry overnight. Dishes like this tend to be better the day after!
Tomorrow, the main course being done, I will merely have to boil the potatoes and saute the mushrooms and prepare the peas. Easy-peasy beef-bourguinesy.
UPDATE 9 May 20:26 GMT:
I am about to move into the next phase of Sunday supper.
I am doing some prep so that when company arrives I won’t have so much to do at the last moment.
I must saute mushrooms with a little onion, and boil red potatoes..
I have two large skillets on the stove, to make the process faster.
You need space around mushrooms if you want them to brown properly. They have so much moisture in them that they will simply steam each other instead of browning.
The red potatoes don’t need a lot of explanation.
I’ll clean them up and boil them in slightly salty water for 12-15 minutes, or until I think they are done.
I am debating the wine. We shall what might show up, otherwise I have the second bottle of the Pinot Noir I used for the B.B.
“But Father! But Father!” you are no doubt exclaiming, on the edge of your chair. What about dessert? Won’t you make dessert?”
I don’t usually make dessert, in fact. But today, in honor of my mother for mother’s day I will make chocolate chip cookies with her recipe. She makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the cosmos, in fact. I have tried to replicate them and get pretty close. I have even made them with her standing by a directing – still not quite there. But these will be pretty good with paint-thick strong coffee.
In the meantime, I will collect some herbs, which survived the winter.
Ah… the cookies.
UPDATE 10 May 15:52 GMT:
Here is the final chapter of the Boeuf Bourguignon Sunday Supper.
I slowly warmed up the beef in the oven. By meal time, it was so tender that it just fell apart.
Now for the final chores. Brown the mushrooms (small batches).
I did the peas and onions in the same pan with a splash of brandy.
Chive flowers worked well as a garnish.
Since I made the beef with plenty of “gravy”, I was sure to have good bread.
This is one of those buy at the store and warm in the oven loaves.
I am a seriously wretched baker, though I can handle cookies.
I opted for the gigantic portion option.
I sent home a care package of a couple servings and still have a good three meals from this in the fridge.
Now for the last clean up.
One of the bonuses of good cookware is that it is easy to clean.
Roughly a minute later and not all that much elbow grease.
All that remained was to write my notes in my book for that purpose.
And thus endeth the Boeuf Bourguignon Sunday Supper.
My deepest thanks to those of you
- who voted in the original poll
- who sent donations
- who followed and commented
This was a cooperative venture in a sense, and more enjoyable as a result.
Make plans for Sunday meals with others.
From John Paul II’s Dies Domini:
72. The Eucharist is an event and programme of true brotherhood. From the Sunday Mass there flows a tide of charity destined to spread into the whole life of the faithful, beginning by inspiring the very way in which they live the rest of Sunday. If Sunday is a day of joy, Christians should declare by their actual behaviour that we cannot be happy “on our own”. They look around to find people who may need their help. It may be that in their neighborhood or among those they know there are sick people, elderly people, children or immigrants who precisely on Sundays feel more keenly their isolation, needs and suffering. It is true that commitment to these people cannot be restricted to occasional Sunday gestures. But presuming a wider sense of commitment, why not make the Lord’s Day a more intense time of sharing, encouraging all the inventiveness of which Christian charity is capable? Inviting to a meal people who are alone, visiting the sick, providing food for needy families, spending a few hours in voluntary work and acts of solidarity: these would certainly be ways of bringing into people’s lives the love of Christ received at the Eucharistic table.