For my second foray into French cooking, I decided to make a beef stew. Mostly because I had beef stew meat. (Yes, that’s what it said on the package…)
It’s not Beef Bourguignon, it was a couple pages after that one. I won’t bore you with all the french details. Basically, this was tender tender beef chunks that fell apart when touched with a fork, and melted in your mouth, cooked with carrots, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and in a gravy like sauce.
Oh man it was delicious.
Julia gives a nice description about the differences between stews and other similar dishes. I didn’t quite grasp it. The important part is that after several days of prepping ingredients, 6 hours of marinading, and 3 hours in the oven, I had something amazing! The picture doesn’t begin to do it justice.
Key points learned this time:
1. Making beef stock is a little more involved than originally anticipated. Hopefully I’ll have a post about that soon, but for now, Julia’s estimated 3-4 hours turned into…… 10?
2. Making beef stock is DELICIOUS.
3. If, say, you are trying to rush to finally assemble a dish at 7am while simultaneously getting ready for work, because your husband has to stick this thing in the oven at 3pm so you can eat at a reasonable hour, and say, you hypothetically forgot to boil the bacon (Something I had never done before), probably don’t walk away from the bacon.
Ah yes. The Bacon.
So, to me, this was the strangest, most complicated, almost disaster causing part of the recipe. You were supposed to boil 1 inch bacon pieces in water, then line the bottom of the pan with them when assembling and top it off with the rest.
Boiled bacon tastes… kinda like I thought I would. Which is to say, not that crispy.
But also. I almost burned my house down, and I scared my poor dogs half to death.
Since the beef stock took me several days longer than originally anticipated, I had sorta been dragging my feet on finishing this recipe. But Wednesday morning I KNEW I had to get this thing assembled and leave instructions for Jake or we were not going to get to eat it.
So while getting dressed in the other room, I started boiling the bacon. Yeah. It boiled over. And the grease caught on fire. And the smoke poured out of the kitchen. And stopping the minor grease fire was pretty easy, but I couldn’t get the smoke to leave the house or the smoke detectors to stop screaming.
After what seemed like an ETERNITY, everything stopped making loud noises and the smoke had mostly dissipated, I ran to check on the dogs. I knew Tolpel is TERRIFIED of smoke. And as it turns out, Jazz is even more terrified of loud smoke detectors. I had to pry her out from underneath the bed and hold her for a good 20 minutes before she stopped shaking and crying.
So, general cooking rule. Don’t walk away from bacon. This is probably a good rule for life, actually.
Anyway, dinner was delicious. Lest you think everything just turns out though, my risotto was just… pathetic. Ah well. Something to strive for in the future. 😉