Yesterday was the birthday of the late, great, culinary icon Julia Child, so it seemed only fitting to include a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Test Kitchen Tuesday. It has been a delight to glean from her style and expertise in this two-volume set—I wholeheartedly relate to her affinity for butter and cream. In honor of her birthday, HuffPost Food compiled clips from The French Chef, Julia Child & Company and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home—you’ll want to check it out and reminisce.
Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes [Boeuf À La Catalane] is described in the book as a hearty dish from the Spanish-Mediterranean corner of France. I have included some of the detail of the instructions, simply to honor Julia’s style and original voice, but have adjusted for American bacon, canned tomatoes (unless you have a garden or a nearby farmers market), and the fact that a Dutch oven will work just fine in lieu of a casserole. Mine is in the oven right now and the aroma is divine!
I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!
In the next week or so:
1. Make the recipe (posted below)
2. Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions. ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
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Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes (Boeuf A La Catalane)
Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck — Copyright: 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf
1/4 pound chunk of bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef — cut into squares 2 1/2″ across and 1″ thick
1 1/2 cups onions — sliced
1 cup raw white rice — unwashed
1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 cups beef stock or canned beef bouillon
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic — mashed
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf — crumbled
1 pound tomatoes — peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped —
(about 1 1/2 cups pulp)
1 cup Swiss cheese or Parmesan cheese — grated
Preheat oven to 325°
“Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (1 1/2-inch strips, 3/8 of an inch thick.) Simmer in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry, and brown lightly in oil in the skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to the casserole.”–Julia
Since bacon in America is smoked, you may not want to lose that flavor by simmering it in water first, but you certainly can. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and lightly brown the bacon. Remove from the pot and transfer to a platter, set aside.
Dry the meat so it will brown well. Lightly salt and pepper the meat. Brown the meat on all sides in the rendered bacon fat. Once browned, place it on the platter with the bacon, and set aside.
Lower heat to medium-low, and brown the onions. Remove and transfer to the platter with the meat, and set aside. Add additional oil to the Dutch oven if too dry and cook the rice over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns milky in color. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside until later.
Add the wine and stir over medium heat to dissolve any fond in the pan. Return the meat and onions to the pan and add stock or bouillon almost to the height of the meat. Stir in the pepper, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover tightly, and set in lower position of preheated oven for 1 hour.
Remove casserole from oven. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cover, and return to the oven for an additional hour of simmering. When the meat is almost fork tender, remove pot from oven. Raise oven heat to 375°.
Skim off any excess fat. Stir in the rice. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and set back in the oven for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Do not stir the rice. At the end of the time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all the liquid. Just before serving, fold the cheese into the beef and rice.
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