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Sunday Rumble

December 31, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Do you think you could take Julia Child in a fair fight? I know you’re pretty tall, but you’re a lanky bastard – and I swear, I think she’s just as tall as you. I dunno, chef – I think I have to put my money on Mrs. Child. And we’re going to find out on Sunday.

See, one of my best friends in town, and he is no slouch when it comes to the French cooking, being a Frenchy bastard himself. So I figure I’m going with one of the Big Classics to make dinner for him – bouef bourgignon. I start doing my recon on your recipe, like I do, to get ready. This has become my habit – I pull out a clean sheet of paper, and I put the ingredients I don’t have or think I might not have at the top. I double-check that list in the kitchen, then go shopping. My next step of planning is writing down all the steps and how long they take – then backwards planning that from the time I want to serve. This works especially well when I’ve got a bunch of stuff planned.

S’anyway I’m making the list, and I realize – no bacon! No mushrooms! What the heck? I pull out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and check. Sure enough, bacon and mushrooms are so integral to the recipe that it’s even in the description of the history of the dish. I suspect the difference here is, your book is all about bistro-style cooking, and you don’t have time when you’re moving fast to put it in the oven for four minutes, brown the flour, take it out, put it back in, etc etc. So heck with it – leave out the extra steps and strip it down to the basics, the pure heart of the bourgignon.

Or not, maybe it’s really a lot better the classic way. So I’m going to try it both ways. Both you and Julia point out that it’s even better the next day, when reheated – so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make both kinds on Sunday, and serve the winner for dinner – and freeze the loser for later consumption, probably while skiing. I mean, not actually WHILE skiing, because that would just be nuts. I mean like, after skiing.

So strap on your boxing gloves, Chef. You’re going up against the 400 pound gorilla of French cooking in America. By the by, I made poulet roti again and it didn’t turn out quite as sublime as the first time. Beginner’s luck, maybe? Or maybe I did something wrong. Don’t misunderstand, it was great – it just wasn’t life-changing great like that first time. Seriously that shit was amazing. I’m going to be chasing that dragon for the rest of my life, I think.

Today I’m making clear chicken stock of the bones – I don’t have that from stock day, and anyway I’ve used most of the dark chicken stock already anyway. I’m also making mushroom soup for tonight, but that’ll get its own entry.

Ok, it’s time for me to hit the store and do some shopping. You feel that on the back of your neck, Chef? That’s the shadow of Julia Child, looming over you like a gladiator. Get ready to rumble!

Davy

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