“Bonjour mes Amis.”
French cuisine is not just for TV Chefs. Find your inner Julia Child and give these French recipes a try during the Thanksgiving holiday. You will find they delight your family and friends.
As is the case with most famous dishes there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead and it makes a really good entrée for a buffet dinner.
(Beef stew in red wine, with bacon, onions and mushrooms)
3 oz. piece of bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut to 1’ cubes (rump pot roast)
1 finely sliced carrot
1 finely sliced onion
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups of a full bodied young red wine
2-3 cups of beef stock or beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato puree/paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A bay leaf
18-24 small pearl onions
1 lb. quartered fresh chestnut mushrooms sautéed lightly in small amount of butter
1. Remove bacon rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long).
2. Sautè the bacon in the olive oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
3. Next brown the beef cubes in the hot oil and bacon fat in the casserole to seal the meat. Dry off any moisture with a paper towel before adding beef to the casserole dish; cook in small batches and then remove to the set aside bacon. Then gently brown the sliced vegetables and remove any remaining oil.
4. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole then sprinkle on the flour and black pepper and toss beef lightly with the flour. Set the casserole uncovered in an oven preheated to 450 degrees for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust. Remove the casserole and turn down the oven to 325 degrees.
5. Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then cook the casserole and set in the lower part of the oven and regulate heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender.
6. While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoon butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
7. When the meat is cooked skim off any surface fat with a metal spoon and check the sauce that should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Drain the contents of the pan into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Simmer the sauce and adjust consistency with a little stock if necessary. Add cooked pearl onions and lastly mushrooms after cooking lightly in butter. Serve hot with boiled potatoes, baby vegetables; buttered noodles or steamed rice.
Wine Suggestion – Serve beef with a fairly full bodied, young red wine such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux or Burgundy. A Californian Pinot Noir would also work well with this recipe.
Gratin of Butternut Squash
(Reproduced with kind permission from Chef Jacques Pepin)
“This gratin is quite rich and should be reserved for special occasions like Thanksgiving.”
1 large butternut squash (3 1/4 lbs.), peeled and seeded (2 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1 tsp. salt to taste as preferred
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cut off and discard the stem of the squash, then cut the squash into two pieces by cutting through it horizontally at the bottom of the neck. Peel the cylindrical neck lengthways, removing enough skin so that the orange flesh underneath is revealed. (Under the outer skin there is a layer of green, which should be removed.) Peel the round part of the squash by cutting around it in a spiral fashion with a sharp knife; it is easier to peel a round object in this manner.
2. Cut the rounded part in half lengthwise and using a spoon scoop out the seeds. Then cut the squash into 1/8 to 1/4 slices either with a knife or in a food processor fitted with a slicing blade.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash slices in a large pan and cover them with water, and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, and then drain in a colander. The pieces will break a little during cooking.
4. Arrange the pieces in a gratin dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour on the cream and stir gently with a fork to distribute the additions properly. Cover with the Parmesan cheese and bake for about 30 minutes.
5. At the time of serving brown the top of the gratin by heating it under a hot broiler for 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Time Saving Tip – Buy ready peeled butternut squash halves.
(Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Knof) by Julia Child)
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs separated (pasteurized eggs – “safest choice” recommended)
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Take a fresh bowl and whisk the yolks of the eggs with 2/3 cup of sugar and rum for about 3 minutes; again over the pan of hot water.
3. Remove bowl from the heat and place over a bowl of iced water and beat until cool and thick.
4. Gently mix the chocolate mixture in with the egg yolk mixture.
5. In a dry bowl whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they hold their shape. Sprinkle in the 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny but not completely stiff, then add the vanilla.
6. Fold one third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then fold in the remainder of the whites until just gently mixed. Do not over stir or the mousse will lose its volume.
7. Divide the mousse in to 6-8 individual dessert pots or glasses and refrigerate. Serve with a small spoon of whipped cream; fresh fruit to garnish if desired.
Wine photos produced with kind permission from Divine Wine Emporium Niantic, CT.