Monday, August 31, 2009

In Honor of Julie and Julia

If you like food, even a little, I would highly recommend going to see the movie Julie and Julia. I loved it! Nick and I both left saying that we would buy that movie when it came out...and if you know me, you know that I'm too cheap to usually buy any movie, so that's saying a lot! We went to see it opening weekend with some friends of ours, the Nichols. We all left the movie hungry and wanting to cook.
The main, reoccurring dish throughout the movie was Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon, which they kept saying was basically a French beef stew. Nick and I decided that we would make that dish and have the Nichols over for dinner to enjoy it with us. I thought I would take you through the dish with us. It was quite easy to make, just sort of time consuming. Julia said it actually tasted better if you made it the night before, so that's what we did...well, we did it for that reason, but also so we wouldn't have to try and cook around the small child that runs our household :)
All of the ingredients were pretty basic and easy to find, except for one item that the recipe calls for. "A 6 ounce chunk of bacon with rind" is what was in the recipe. A chunk of bacon? Our first thought was we would have to go to Lexington to find this, so Nick went up to the Fresh Market (seriously, I could go there every day!) but had no luck. As a last attempt I asked the butcher at Kroger while I was shopping and he said, "Oh, you want jowl squares". Huh? Sure, that's I want. He led me over to this item and assured me this is what I needed. This was one of the most interesting looking (ok, I really mean gross!) items I've bought from the grocery, but it was what we needed!

The first thing we had to do was brown the bacon and then remove it from the pan and then start browing the beef. Doing as Julia instructed, we made sure to completely dry off the meat first, because if the meat was wet it would not brown properly.

Once the meat was finished it was time to brown the vegetables.

We only had one little accident during this process...let's just say Nick is really good at sharpening the knives!

Then it was time to add everything back into the Dutch Oven. First you add a little flour to help create a little crust on the beef. Everything goes in the oven for just a few minutes, then you bring it back out, add 3 cups of red wine and enough beef stock to cover the beef and back into the oven it goes, this time for 2-2 1/2 hours.

While that was simmering away in the oven, it was time to get to work on the mushrooms and onions!

I failed to get a picture of the mushrooms cooking...but let me tell you, they were delicious! But then again, most things sauteed in butter are!

I will be the first one to say I'm not a big fan of onions. I've gotten to where I can eat them if they're sauteed with my meat and they're very small, but that's about it, so I was very nervous about these...but they were really good! And I thought they looked so pretty while cooking.

After the meat came out of the oven we strained the sauce so we could skim the fat off and reduce it down. Then everything was added back into the dutch oven and stored in the refrigerator until the next day. Let me tell you, Julia was 100% right about it being better the second day! We reheated everything, Nick boiled some red potatoes and then sauteed them with butter and garlic and we served some whole roasted garlic bread we found at Kroger. Overall, I'd say the dish was very good. The sauce is really what makes it! I wouldn't call it a beef stew more like a fancy roast. I was a little let down, I had built this recipe up like it was really going to be something spectacular, and it did taste really good, just not quite what I was expecting I guess. But nonetheless, Nick and I had a really good time making the dish together...we don't usually both work on the same meal, but I really enjoyed it. I would definitely say this recipe is worth making.

And no, that is not my photo...none of mine turned out very well, so I stole this from Google.

Aside from the food, the company was great! The Nichols have a little girl, Emily, just a few months older than Bailey. I failed to get any pictures of the girls playing...mostly because I was busy trying to make Bailey share!! But I've blogged about a previous play date here.

Bon Appetit!

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