beef stew


aka boeuf bourguignon, done up in my way from a recipe of the old testament, the art of french cooking. i've owned that book since new york, a much frazzled first printing a very kind lady bestowed to my rather limited kitchen skills. i followed some of those recipes step by step, believe me, it was complex then and after all those years, it still is. having watched many of julia's episodes on a black and white tube, i still hear her forbidding voice. lardons indeed. i find the combination of french and american skills peculiar. are the french by themselves really all that imperiously exacting? from my, albeit very german, perspective i find that hard to accept. but i suppose a sexually frustrated american combined with the catholic pursuit of what was once an italian art just might produce such standards. wasn't it catherine de' medici, who brought her florentine cooks to france and so is ultimately credited with the creation of truly french cooking?


back to the boeuf. to my taste bacon in combination with beef might be a notion for some, so i omitted lardons. we had pasta yesterday, so i did potatoes as an aside instead. like the onions and the mushrooms i prepped them outside the stew so that the meat might achieve its forky texture without making the vegetables mush.
so, i flowered and peppered my beef and seared it in batches, alas in butter and olive oil. the stew stewed then for two hours in beef broth and wine, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf included. in the end i removed and tossed the latter three, set the tender beef aside and reduced its cooking liquid to a sauce like consistency. all combined, salt and pepper adjusted, my stew was as fragrant and rich, in that florentine way, certainly not like that true boeuf, well, the one that julia might own.