Cooking with Julia Child… sort of

It’s the end of the year. My sister and her family are staying with us, and some other friends are in Paris as well. Sounds like a good time for a big meal. We’ve done well with getting ready-to-eat things from our local grocer and butcher, like an amazing Beef Wellington (my favorite) for Christmas Eve that was as good as anything we’ve made at home. But this time I decided to go all out and cook something from scratch. And we’re in Paris, so why not Beef Bourguignon a la Julia Child? Why not, indeed!

Shopping is getting easier all the time as I figure out the French stores and so I managed to find all the things I needed that we didn’t have on hand, like a bouquet garni, pods of beef broth, tomato paste (it comes in a tube, like toothpaste—I love that!), and of course, two kilograms of beef. I had a hard time pronouncing “bourguignon” correctly, but the butcher was patient and figured out what I meant. He picked out a beautiful piece and got it all cut it up for me.

Back home, everything started off well, even though our place doesn’t have a dutch oven; our kitchen has a thousand skillets, a pile of pots (but just one lid for all of them), two, yes two pressure cookers, but nothing with a lid that can go in the oven. Well, we found three ceramic baking dish kind of things. With some aluminum foil to cover them, it seemed like we should be able to get by—or so we thought.

It was all going so well, the bacon and meat and veggies all nicely browned. We got it all divided among the ceramic dishes, the stock and wine added, and were bringing them all up to a simmer on the stove top…

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Then it happened: one of the ceramic dishes practically cracked in half and a whole section of the side broke off, releasing a flood of broth all over the stovetop. A second one cracked a few seconds later. Houston, we have a problem!

But all was not lost. That’s why you buy extra bottles of wine! We got everything turned off and quickly transferred the contents of the two dishes that hadn’t totally failed along with the meat and veggies from the broken dish into the largest pot we had, poured in some more wine and finished it on the stove, skipping the oven. It’s not how Julia would have done it, but it still turned out delicious.

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Green salad with goat cheese rounds rolled in herbs. You can buy pre-sliced rounds of goat cheese at the grocery store. Perfect!

Happy eaters. Twelve people for dinner, but only seven chairs. Some of the kids got to eat around the coffee table.

For dessert, Merideth picked up a Gateau Saint-Honoré from one of our favorite pastry shops, La pâtisserie des rêves. Worth every euro!

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Happy New Year! We’re looking forward to more adventures in the year to come. I hope you are, too.

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