Sunday Monday Supper: for my reading group

stewI belong to a reading group which has been meeting on and off for many years. We are about to launch into some of the so-called Metaphysical Poets… on Monday. I am doing the cooking. Since I am eager to participate in the whole project of reading and commenting (we have some very smart people in the group), I am today making an old standard which I can reheat tomorrow and will have only benefited from the day’s rest:  Boeuf Bourguignon according to Julia Child’s version from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I’ve made it before, about a year and a half ago for the same group, so I don’t think they’ll be tired of it.  And who gets tired of this stuff, anyway?

I often listen to audio books or watch a ball game during these matches with my kitchen.  Today it was iPod plugged into my stereo with a mixed playlist including music for Archlute (by Piccinini – can’t get enough archlute!), Norah Jones (my personal research, confirmed by friends, is that women don’t like Norah Jones… I think I know why), someone named Adele (whose voice is both somehow grating and yet annoying at the same time and if her songs are an indication she has some serious issues), Kenny Chesney (because it’s nice not to think too hard once in a while), The Doors (talk about issues!), Chet Atkins with Mark Knopfler (GREAT album fun fun fun),  Goo Goo Dolls (what’s with that name, anyway?), and a few cuts from Ultralounge Vol. 4: ‘Bachleor Party Royale‘ (to add a ridiculously cheesy component to the list).

My rather loose mise en place.

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You prepare lardons from bacon, which will give you fat for browning the beef.

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I used a Rump Pot Roast, about 3 lbs trimmed, and cut into 2″ pieces (more or less).

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Dry it.  I repeat… DRY IT.  Don’t skip this step, as tedious or unnecessary as you think it may be.

When you dry what you need to brown, it will brown instead of steam.

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I will need to sautée mushrooms later.  These are pretty fresh as you can tell from the underside (still closed.  After pulling the stems and cutting them on a bias, which looks better, I will quarter them.  The great Roman Fabrizio, whom I mention on occasion, will tell you that you want to get all that dark “dirt” off the mushrooms.  Really.  You do.  I’ve seen how mushrooms are grown, friends, and what they grow in.  A small paint brush helps.  This is tedious, but I think this is one of the reasons God blesses some people with children… or a potential supper guest who says from naïveté, “Can I help?”

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I open the wine ahead of time.. you know… just because… because… gotta check it, right?

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The lardons are done. Remove them with a slotted spoon… you must have a good slotted spoon to make your life easier with this and other dishes.  Dry them.

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When I cook for myself, I don’t much care, but when I cook for others, I wear a hat, so as not to share my hair with my table mates.  Today’s choice comes from back in 2005 when I was a Fox New contributor, thus confirming the judgment of liberals who can’t not come back and read every word of this blog.

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In your very large and very heavy enamel coated cast iron oval casserole, brown your lardons in some olive oil.  You will remove the lardons and use this fat to brown your beef.

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“But Father! But Father!”, you shout.  “Tell us about your olive oil!”

Which I was just about to, ain’t I?  So Preserved Killick would say.

This is from the Olive Press in California.  I have had good results from their oils.  They aren’t like the great Italian oils people gave me from their own trees, but hey!  I’m 5000 miles away from there, there’s snow on the ground here, its -8Cº outside (for my Roman readers), and I am cooking with liquid sunlight.  This is pretty fruity stuff.  Very good.

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Brown your dried beef.  Dried I say!

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Remove the pieces as they brown to some bowl nearby, in to which you deposited your browned lardons, and brown your veg: onion and carrot.  I left the pieces of carrot large because I like ‘em that way.

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Rejoin the beef and lardons.

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Sprinkle with flour and mix through and put into a 450Fº oven for 5 minutes.  Julia says 4.  I think it needs 5, even 6.  Repeat the procedure.  When you take it out the second time, turn the oven to 325Fº.

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What happens here is that the flour coating the meat combines with the fats, and cooks, and makes a natural roux which will later thicken the cooking liquid.

Ready for the next stage.

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Julia calls for some tomato paste.  I always have a tube of paste for stuff like this, rather than a small can.  You never need a whole can.  Just to make it easier to combine evenly, I whisk it will a bit of wine.

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Add smashed garlic (I used more than the recipe since our garlic is so anemic in this country… grrrr), your thyme (my own dried from the summer) and bay leaf.. leaves (again, it is anemic – I crumbled one and left the other whole, which I shall extract before the casserole rests the night).  Add your wine, a Pinot Noir this time and beef stock, which I made another time and stored away.

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That, friends, is how you do the first stage.  Just bring it to a simmer on the stove’s top and then cover and put it in the oven for a couple hours.  After about a half hour, check to see if it is simmering.  If it is simmering too fast, turn the heat down a little.

The second stage will commence soon: mushrooms and braised pearl onions to add to the beef in a couple hours.

More later.

UPDATE

The adventure continues.

Time to prepare the onions and mushrooms which will go into the “stew”.

Olive oil and butter.  Hey!  It’s French.

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Brown your little onions (I used frozen, which I thawed and then DRIED.  Roll ‘em around occasionally.  You will love these and will crave them and dream about them and want them with everything including breakfast cereal.

Not with chocolate malts.

I prepare a bouquet garni of herbs which I have kept growing in my kitchen.

It contains, bay leaf, thyme (dried, as before), parsley.

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I add some beef stock.

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In the meantime, on another burner and in another serious skillet, use oil and melt butter (when it stops foaming, it is ready).  Put in about half your mushrooms so they don’t just steam themselves.

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Meanwhile, out comes the large casserole with the main event.

No, you are not done yet, though the beef is!
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Strain the liquid into a sauce pan. Do this with a large ladle if the casserole is to unwieldy.

The onions are nicely braised after about 45 minutes.

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A shot of the cookbook with the Slotted Spoon of Sabine Glory, which was a gift from one of you readers from my amazon.com wishlist!  Thanks!  You know who you are and I am grateful.

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“But Father! But Father!”.  Yes, I can hear you.  “What is that?!? Is that a calendar page?  It looks like it is in Italian.  That’s your Vatican curial office wall calendar, isn’t it? Where c-c-c-an I get one?”

You can’t.

So, I skim the fat from the strained liquid from the casserole.

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I microwave my sponge for 1:30.

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After skimming fat and reducing the liquid a bit, I rejoined it with the onions and mushrooms and beef in the casserole.

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Covered again, I put it in the garage next to some sunflower seeds for the Chickadees.

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Supper was a rib-eye steak in the pan with the leavings of the mushrooms, butter and oil.  Yum.  On sale for $7/lbs!

Followed by espresso corretto di sambuca allo stile romano in honor of the great Roman Fabrizio, whose mushroom lore contributed to this meal.

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UPDATE:

I went down into the depths and the wine cellar, wherein I sought out an crate, an wine crate to be more precise, wherein I stored the Christmas Pudding.  Alas, my correspondent in NY sent no holly for me this year.  But this… this… will be dessert.

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(PS: In the background is some Seignadou soap).

UPDATE:

We have had the Sunday Monday supper after reading some poetry by Richard Crashaw and George Herbert, including:

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.

Here is the Christmas Pudding, unveiled.  It is just out of its several hours of steam.

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The beouf, plated with its accompaniments.

Yes, it was cut-it-with-a-fork tender.  This was my best try at this so far.

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The Pudding, plated.  In the little pitcher is butter, brandy sauce.

The plate, by the way, had a little holly on it, which worked well.

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Two of the wines, brought by a member of the group.  Not bad.

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Everyone was enthusiastic about this one, and so was I.  Everything was just right!  I mean, really good.  This recipe by Child, when done properly, is pretty hard to beat.

The Pudding brings also another “slow food” dimension, harking to another age.  A fine match for the poetry as well.

That concludes the meal.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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50 Responses to Sunday Monday Supper: for my reading group

  1. I like these posts.

    Did I see that right? You boiled your bacon before rendering for fat? Didn’t quite understand why they wouldn’t go straight in the pan.

    I love keeping that tube tomato paste in my fridge. I can’t always cook with a lot of tomato, so I’ve often wondered how long it will keep in the fridge once opened.

    Looks good.

  2. MissOH says:

    Hmmm, I may have to try this. It looks really good and anything I can make ahead and which is better the second day is good.

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    Hey Father Z, good work! This site is so great, it combines two of my loves, Jesus and good food!
    Bone appetite!

  4. Centristian says:

    Not in my wildest imaginings would I have pegged you for a Goo fan, much less Norah Jones. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Norah Jones? Norah Jones?!? I can’t get over it. I’ll laugh for days just picturing you in an apron over clericals singing along to “Don’t Know Why” and “Slide”. [“Better Days” and their remake of “Give A Little Bit” are great!]

  5. Dismas says:

    Piccinini, I recognize this from the Liturgical Seasons podcazt. Ask and you shall recieve, thanks!

  6. acardnal says:

    You always make me hungry and envious with your pre-prandial preparations! [Anyone can do this stuff. Just do it! Watch for sales and plan!]

  7. benedetta says:

    But Father! I am a woman who likes Norah Jones. And the Goo Goo Dolls. And much of the rest of that playlist…As for the boeuf, looks like it’s going to be a delicious Monday for your group!

  8. Girgadis says:

    I don’t mind occasionally listening to Norah Jones, nor do I mind listening to her father’s music once in awhile either.

    Yours is one lucky reading group!

  9. everett says:

    Now that I know you like the Olive Press stuff I’ll have to keep that in mind as I don’t live far from there. As far as the garlic goes, the solution is to grow your own, much better that way.

  10. Sursum Corda says:

    Father Z,
    I am viewed by my friends and associates as a fair to middlin’ cook. ( I am of French heritage, if that matters.) I have cooked many “o wow” dishes for them, including some for honored Priest guests .

    I always seek to refine the recipes and techniques I use, I am my own most difficult critic of the faire I offer. I have three different Boeuf Bourgignon recipes that I use in an irregular rotation. Each has its own sweet spot, none are precisely that which I am completely satisfied with.

    That said, I do not cease to marvel at your appreciation and wisdom of the cullinary sciences. [I put myself through grad school as a cook.]
    I will certainly save this post and play with the interesting variations of technique and ingredients that you present.

    Kudos from Colorado.

    Sursum Corda

  11. rcg says:

    Fr, you are a civilised man. Nora Jones, check. Do you have her singing Johnny Cash’s “Home of the Blues”? [I don’t think so! No!] Mark Knopfler, check. You might like his ‘Get Lucky’ album. FWIW, I make chili the same way, except I use a pressure cooker that cut the last step from a couple of hours to 25 minutes.

  12. Dismas says:

    I just went back and listened the Liturgical Year podcazt again, I’m wrong about Piccinini. [This one? I know I had some archlute in recent PODCAzT.]

  13. Will D. says:

    Diane:
    When I make this recipe, I use salt pork, and blanch it as well. With bacon, blanching removes some of the fat and the smokey flavor. With salt pork, it’s the fat and excess salt that needs to be reduced.
    I’ve been aching to cook this recipe again for a while, but it’s not been cold enough here in Colorado. It’s a psychological thing, I guess, but I can’t bring myself to cook a stew unless it’s cold and snowy out.
    For the wine, I usually use a wine called La Veielle Ferme, which is a tasty little Cotes du Ventoux that runs about $15 for a 1.5 ltr bottle. Half the wine goes in the stew, the rest into the chef (and the guests, if they’re quick about it). [I know La Vielle Ferme. Useful! I used a two-fer tonight, 2 for $16 and a decent wine to boot.]

  14. kallman says:

    I like to start with a slab of salt pork or Speck if unavailable and cube it rather than use bacon. [I almost used some guanciale. I just couldn’t. I’ve used salt pork. It works.] If you like Julia Child’s books you may also like those of Elizabeth David and Mireille Johnston. All of Mireille’s recipes I have cooked worked first time up with no cook’s secrets unrevealed.

  15. APX says:

    Dry it.  I repeat… DRY IT.  

    I testify that the aforementioned statement is true. I always dry my steak before I cook it on my George Foreman grill, and the results are a perfectly cooked steak.

    [DRY IT DRY IT DRY IT!]

  16. RitaElizabeth says:

    I like the hat! I bet it smells good, too!! (the food, NOT the hat!)

  17. filioque says:

    But, Father! But, Father! I thought you were going to make lasagna for your reading club! [I changed my mind. I would have had to make it there, rather than at home. One of these days!] I love Julia, of course, but I am more Italian than French and we all so enjoyed watching you cook the lasagna two weeks ago. Perhaps it all disappeared before the club arrived?

  18. Maltese says:

    Father, I genuinely admire your liturgical, culinary and musical tastes (in that order)!

    Though I’m a Traditionalist, I like my beef well done and my fish raw. Some conservatives might take umbrage at that, but my wife and I–when on a rare date from our five children–inevitably end up dining on sashimi; with plenty of wasabi mixed with soy on my end.

    As a writer once said, “I have red-state politics, but blue-state taste.” I like Chimay over Coors. I like aged wine, especially a 20-40 year old port (which I’ve been lucky to find on winebid.com; one bottle probably kept my marriage together in a difficult period!)

    If I may, here are three very cool songs (with wholesome lyrics):

    Princess of China

    In the End (my four daughters love it!)

    Set Fire to the Rain (I know you have mixed-emotions, Father, but I find this song fine art.)

  19. thefeds says:

    Fr Z, I love this recipe too, and cook it for company whenever I can. Instead of a roast, I like using boneless short ribs (purchased at Costco or other suitable purveyor). The meat literally melts in your mouth. I think I’m going to get out that recipe book again! Bon Appetite!

  20. This recipe with short ribs…. hmmmm

  21. NoTambourines says:

    Garlic here is weaker? Never knew that. Bummer.

    It’s a shame, because one of the benefits of being a garlic fan and living alone is complete latitude with what I cook. It’s a major component of my spicy, garlicky I-Live-Alone Stir-Fry.

  22. JayDeee says:

    ? I’m with Benedetta – I’m a girl and I like Norah Jones.

  23. “Norah Jones (my personal research, confirmed by friends, is that women don’t like Norah Jones… I think I know why)”

    I’ve never heard of this before. Explain.

  24. NoTambourines says:

    And by the way, I’m not a fan of Norah Jones, and I’m female. It’s just not my cup of tea across the board, though — nothing against her in particular. I have advanced degrees in music, but at the end of the day, what I can say for myself is that I like my secular music… happy.

  25. Will D. – good point about reducing the salt and smoke from the bacon. Then again, I love anything with a smoke flavor. I like salt too, but it does not like me.

  26. KAS says:

    I wish I had one of those marvelous heavy pots. My wish list includes Julia Child’s book but it is one of the many books I have not yet had an opportunity to get. After reading this, I will be looking for it at the local used books stores ASAP. :)

  27. wanda says:

    Okay, I am gonna go out on a limb and ask why the sponge went into the microwave. Is it for cleansing or sterilization, perhaps? (I’m ducking, now.) [Yes, that’s it.]

    Looks wonderful, Fr. Z. Thank you for sharing your pictures and culinary skills!

  28. Dismas says:

    Yes, that is where I recognize the archlute music from, but it was the violin music used in Podcazt 123: The Liturgical Year and a Custom that I was thinking of, is there a CD for the violin music as well?

  29. Ellen says:

    I’m a girl and I like Norah Jones. Celine Dion on the other hand must take a vow of silence. Or learn the art of subtlety.

  30. rhetoric57 says:

    Whoa!
    What’s with this microwaving the sponge for 1’30” ?

    Tim
    PS when do we expect you in London?

    [June for sure. Perhaps before. Microwaving the sponge keeps it from getting “skunky”. I clean as I cook and I don’t want to impart anything from a skunky sponge to my hands or my nice ingredients.]

  31. benedetta says:

    But Father why did you microwave your sponge then for 1:30?!

  32. wmeyer says:

    OK, Father, since we’ve embraced the Doors, I’d like to suggest Patricia O’Callaghan’s Slow Fox album. She sings sweetly, with her classically trained voice, but she’s singing lieder and Kurt Weill, and the language is occasionally coarse. And all delivered with a smile.

  33. digdigby says:

    As an (inadvertent) penance I am looking at your color photos and eating leftover casserole. [That is exactly what this will be by the time we eat it: left-over casserole. Well.. stew, in a casserole.]

  34. RobertK says:

    Father you need to publish a cookbook.

  35. EucharistLove says:

    I love these posts…they just make me hungry…man, I wish it was lunch time already.

  36. ContraMundum says:

    It looks to me like you could hardly go wrong with those ingredients you started out with!

    Of course, all I’d be able to do would be to put them all together in a crock pot and let it go for 6-8 hours, but it looks like that would come out fine, too!

    (This is why I use an alias. Otherwise, Italy would never let me visit after a comment like that!)

  37. MargaretC says:

    I’ve made this recipe a couple of times and it always turns out well. And, Father, I think you’ve solved my problem about what to make for Sunday dinner — I have family coming over and something that can be made in advance and reheated would give us a chance to absorb drinks and hors d’oeuvres before sitting down.

  38. MargaretC says:

    And my heartiest endorsement for these two items: 1) dry the meat before cooking, and: 2) zap the sponge regularly in the microwave. All kinds of loathsome beasties grow in wet sponges.

  39. James Joseph says:

    Fr. Zulhsdorf,

    If you are not opposed to a butcher chiming in…

    When you are so inclined to try this dish I have a way to make it come out just a tad more refined. I am assuming you have access to shops like mine where you can ask me to peel a culotte muscle off of the top sirloin. It’s a cap muscle that is little tougher than the muscle below it. It is shaped like a triangle sort of thing (not to be confused with the popular tri-tip roast) and usually weighs in at a couple of pounds. The muscle itself is only about 2-inches high and 10-inches long on it’s posterior end. Those diemensions will save you some cutting…. you should be done in like ten strokes of the knife. Consider slicing the little end of the culotte muscle thinly for steak and eggs.

    Anyway, try to make sure that it is a culotte untrimmed except for any silverskin. The culotte is a tinybit more tender than the rump-end of the bottom-round in that it has a few tiny threads of fat that will dissolve easily. It also has a different flavour than the bottom-round and with the slightly higher fat content you’ll be able to save a slice or two of bacon to go with those little-ends for breakfast.

    Unfortunately, you won’t be able to go to the wage-slaves at the supermarket to get one… not in my experience anyway. Also unfortunately you might not want to Google ‘culotte’ without your strict-search filter enabled or you will end up with some explicit suprises.

    Mangia! Mangia!

    [Thanks for those notes.]

  40. Charles E Flynn says:

    Father, please upgrade to sponge sterilization 2.0 (2 minutes), starting with a wet sponge:

    Researchers: Microwave oven can sterilize sponges, scrub pads.

    I suspect that no one was tempted to eat at the kitchen sink on this occasion.

  41. Aquinas says:

    I soak my sponge in bleach. Smells fresh and clean afterwards.

  42. Bender says:

    Julia’s good friend and, once upon a time, TV cooking companion, Jacques Pépin, says that it is perfectly fine to WASH your mushrooms in running water, rather than trying to brush the compost off, just so long as you do it immediately before using them. Washing them in water ahead of time will degrade them though. [Indeed. But you do have to work fast then.]

  43. Supertradmum says:

    Cookbook, please, and write it with meditations on the Sunday collects. Thanks for the ideas and I love the Metaphysical Poets. John Dunne would have written a poem about your dinner and wine!

  44. Maltese says:

    Father, in your group, surely you read Hopkins? [As I have mentioned elsewhere several times, we focused on Hopkins for several months.]As a fan of winged creatures, you might enjoy the following (as I’ve said before, Poet-Priest Hopkins is one of the hardest poets to grasp, but one of the most rewarding):

    The Windhover

    To Christ our Lord

    I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
    dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
    High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
    In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
    Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

    Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
    Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

    No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
    Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

  45. Clinton says:

    Father, I’ve found it helpful to use a blow drier on meats prior to browning or roasting.
    I’ve gotten some odd looks as I blow-dried a brined chicken, but it does get the surface
    moisture off in a hurry.

    Did you bake or deep fry the potatoes?

    [Hair drier! Good idea! The fries were store bought and went into the oven at 450. Crispy!]

  46. APX says:

    @KAS
    I wish I had one of those marvelous heavy pots.
    Watch the flyers. They go on sale! I got mine for 75% off just before September. Probably the best use of my money thus far (minus buying a car).

  47. James Joseph says:

    You are celcome… I forgot to note that sometimes the culotte has a 1/2″ of fat cover…. that can be trimmed back a bit. Also escaping my key-board fingers at the time was the ‘official’ name: Top Sirloin cap… culotte sounds better. There’s a French name too, but I think that’s technically applied only when it is cooked in that Hollandaise sauce with chives or what have you.

    It’s just that we normally turn our bottom-rounds into big honkin’ beech smoked black peppered roast beefs to make deli-slices. Deli meats goes for more money than rump roasts.

  48. kallman says:

    It would be hard to go a lot better than those two red wines

    I am surprised by the style of potatoes you chose. Are such shoestring potatoes a traditional accompaniment for this dish?

  49. kallman: No, not really. You would usually serve this with boiled potatoes or perhaps buttered noodles. I chose these for some variety and the ease of their preparation. They were not from scratch, btw.