Yes, It has taken me over a month to follow-up on this first edition (technically second – but
who is counting?). Since I
was trying to finish up my graduate degree and work full-time, I sort of fell
off the “living-wagon” for a month or so.
I was lucky when embarking on this cooking-fest. My mother volunteered to do the grocery shopping. No people, I do NOT like to grocery shop. Yes, that makes it difficult to do all the cooking I like to do. No, that does not change the fact that I do not really grocery shop.
We started on a Friday night after I drove the hour home from work. My reasoning for cooking on a Friday night for a meal to be served Monday at work was two-fold.
- I wanted the stew to develop in flavor – as it does over a few days in my opinion.
- I had a date Saturday/Sunday, thus would have no time to cook those days.
The only “not so authentic ingredient” was mom used smoked bacon from the freezer for the lardons. I was not keen on this, but it did work fine apparently.
The dollar amount for this meal topped $90 when the wine was included in the bill. Not cheap for a recipe, but when you consider I probably managed 20 good servings...
My mother did some of the sous-chef duties such as peeling most of the pearl onions, cutting the carrots, prepping mushrooms, slicing the large onion and the whole moral support thing like “we are NOT doing this again” and “this is taking 10 times the steps and time any recipe should”. She did all this while I worked on the lardons, cut the beef (not cheese), cooked the beef and etc.
I’ll not chronicle the whole and complete process since it has been over a month ago. I will say that it took upwards of 8 hours to prepare. That number is not adjusted to account for two people working at once and does NOT include the time after all was prepped and the pots sat in the oven baking before or during my over-sleeping a little. It also does not include the time I took driving too and from Knoxville in the middle of it to get the wine bottle opener because mom could not locate hers.
I will tell you that I did crowd the mushrooms when cooking them. I learned that everything Julia Child writes about cooking the mushrooms is correct. Turn the heat high enough to sear the flavor into mushrooms. Do not crowd them or they will simply steam and lose flavor. The mushrooms do soak up the flavorful hot oil when they start to heat up, cook a bit and then release moisture. An amazing process you simply need to try.
I did rinse off and dry the beef before cooking it. Julia Child states “Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown properly if it is damp”. My daughter has informed me that
adding a little bit of baking soda to the water used to rinse raw meat gets any meat “stink” off and acts as a tenderizer.
I did cook the stew in the oven in two enameled cast iron Dutch ovens. I made a small portion
sans ‘shrooms’ for a pregnant coworker who is avoiding fungi as
A list of the most insane concept in this recipe for me follows:
- The lardons must be boiled then fried and removed from their own hot fat in order to cook the beef in the oil.
- You must cook the pearl onions and a sauce in a very specific manner prior to adding them to the main dish.
- You must cook the mushrooms in a very specific manner prior to adding them to the main dish.
- Once the whole recipe is done cooking, you must sieve the contents of the stew, reserving the liquid separately.
liquid must have the fats skimmed off then reduced only to be added back to the
The whole time mom and I worked on this – and up to the point my coworkers tried it – I was paranoid that the red wine flavor would put the benefactors of the meal off. That was SOOOOO unnecessary on my part. Way too much paranoia.
That Monday morning I took to work bowls just for the stew, mismatched spoons, the stew in an electric crock to heat it and the potatoes to serve it over. I heated it back to hot for several hours. It was dished out to the first five people at lunch. It earned rave reviews. All in all, I believe 12 people ate this over two days and everyone loved it. I should not have stressed.
We did have a few casualties. Two spoons and two stew plates disappeared from the common area when left to be washed. Oops. Sorry mom! I will be replacing those...