Tonight I made Boeuf A La Catalane from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. It has been awhile since I made a new recipe from this cookbook. Since Autumn has officially landed in my neck of the woods, and today was supposed to be only in the upper 60s, it was a perfect day for a good pot of beef stew.
Only when you’re French you don’t say “beef stew”, you say Boeuf A La Catalane. Especially if you are too chicken to call it Boeuf Bourguignon.
Which I am.
For now anyway.
I completely almost completely followed the recipe. Julia’s recipe called for saffron, and I didn’t have any and I was not sure I wanted to spend the exorbitant amount of money the health food store wanted for it, so I skipped that.
I had a few surprises along the way. I was not familiar with simmering bacon before browning it. In searching for the reason the recipe says to simmer it, I found I am not the only one to wonder. When you simmer the bacon, you are getting rid of the smoky flavor, without simmering it first the entire dish would have the smoky taste of bacon.
I was also surprised the recipe said to put raw white rice (I used brown) in the skillet after browning the onion. Then to scrape it into a separate bowl and set aside. I am pretty sure this was to add to the flavor.
I was also slightly surprised I had to, after stirring the rice, drain the skillet of all fats and then add one cup dry white wine. I know it was to dissolve all the coagulated cooking juices and add flavor. I thought using a good beef broth would work, but I used the white wine.
Quickly so my children would have no idea there was alcohol in their supper.
I was incredibly surprised, but I should not have been, that the recipe says to “simmer in oven about one hour” ….”cover, return to oven and simmer about one hour”, “add rice and simmer in oven for about 20 minutes”. I know all the slow simmering was to increase the flavor, but really? Two hours and 20 minutes?
I fudged on the time. I did. Wednesday night is AWANA night for the girls and date night for Mr. FullCup and myself. I let it simmer for the first hour, the second hour was closer to 30-40 minutes and the rice got all the time it needed.
Even with all my fudging, it was delicious. I realized, when eating it, why it said to serve with a green salad. There are no vegetables in the stew at all. (well onions and tomatoes)
I can’t wait to heat up the leftovers tomorrow. If it was good tonight, it’s going to be wonderful tomorrow.