Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bon Appetit!

I'm sitting here in my kitchen right now, exhausted, dirty and oily, my skin seeping out a beefy (chuck roast to be exact) odor that seems to be ingrained after a 12 hour stint in which I slaved over hot bacon grease, olive oil and LOTS of butter. But the smell coming out of my oven makes it ALL worth it.

I can honestly say that I've never smelled anything so wonderful in a long time.

So, what are you up to you may ask? Well if you've been reading my AWESOME Facebook page you're well aware that I've been making a VERY famous dish - Boeuf Bourguignon!

What is BB? Basically it's a stew of AMAZING beef, braised in red wine that cooks in your stove for HOURS!

Why? Well I'm part of a super secret, super cool, super exciting culinary team of ninja's waiting to take over the world - One entree at a time!

In other words - I'm involved with the 'Gourmet Club' here on base.

Lemme break it down Barney Style for ya.... Basically when you sign up for GC, you agree to either:

1. Host ONE luncheon of around 22 women at your home.
2. Agree to cook at TWO of the luncheons.

Since I really can't squeeze that many women, complete with table set up in my home, I opt to cook. I'd rather have it that way anyways!

This is my 2nd year being a part of GC. Last year's GC theme was 'Around the World' and it was awesome! I cooked for the months of November and February (Mexican and French themes, respectively). This year's theme is 'Movies'. Each month is assigned a different movie and we cooks, come up with a menu designed around that movie. My months this year are January and March.

I have been looking forward to this since....well, a long time.  I love to cook. I may not do it as often as I should but when I do, I don't hold back! I love it! Last year before Jon deployed we had a chance to watch the movie Julie and Julia and as corny as I know this is going to sound, I fell in love with it and with Julia Childs. Jon being the awesome husband he is bought me the 'The Art of French Cooking' by Julia Childs for Christmas and vowed that someday he'd buy me my very own Le Creuset so I can finally make that dish in the movie that everyone seems to go ga-ga over.

I am bound and determined to make this Boeuf Bourguignon!

Fast forward about half a year later and I'm sitting with the rest of the GC board deciding on movie themes for each month. I am very happy to find out that the rest of the gals also thought that this movie would make for a fun cooking month.

My plan is slowly taking form.

The GC 'Welcome Aboard' rolls around and everyone is asked to either sign up to cook or host. I'm there early of course since I'm on the board and put my name down right away for the months to cook.

Then, this last Christmas what does Jon buy me as a present? My very own 5.5 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven!!

It is on like Donkey Kong!!

So now it all comes down to this months planning meeting. I am DYING to make this dish. Seriously DYING. I have no idea why I have to have an excuse to make it but I do! I'm the first to shout out that we should have BB as our entree and the first to volunteer to cook it. I thought I was going to lose out to a Duck Entree but Lady Luck was on my side and BB was voted in as the main course! Go me!!!

Which leads us all back to the here and now.

Since I've never made this before I had to make a test batch! I spent the last few days gathering my ingredients and on Sunday, I woke up excited to get started!

Now, don't laugh. Everyone who reads this blog KNOWS I'm a freak when it comes to taking pictures of my food and all that. So...for your reading pleasure a Cliff Notes version of the looooong process of making Julia Childs Boeuf Bourguignon.

It starts out with bacon. Now, can you tell me one dish that starts with bacon that ISN'T good?!!

Chopping my delish swine strips!
 But actually, it calls for a SLAB of bacon with rind. I looked all over this God forsaken town and couldn't find it. So I used thick sliced bacon and went with it. Whatdda gonna do?

After that, it was chopping up that 3lb slab of chuck roast eyeballing me. Have any of you actually watched Julie and Julia? There's the scene where Julie is making this dish and she's hand drying each piece of meat before browning. Hard to believe, but yup! You really have to do this in the recipe. But because I have a slightly lazy (don't laugh) side, I just laid down a long line of paper towels, lined the meat up and then another paper towel then squished the wetness right out of them!
Drying my meat....

Then I get to brown it all in that yummy bacon grease. Nothing say healthy like meat sauteed in bacon grease. Mmmmmm.....

So, you basically dump all that into a bowl and move onto carrots and onions....

Sauteing the carrot and onion...

Hmmm....what's my next move?

I'm gonna jump, hop and skip over a few steps (because believe it or not, I know some of this food stuff bores some people) and move onto the most important part -

Oh yum! Yum! Yum! Yum!!!  

Again - this is the PERFECT dish! Bacon? Yes please! Wine?! The more the merrier!! In fact, that bad boys takes on 3 whole cups of red wine. Seriously!

Here comes the part where the smell warms up your whole house. This dish is such a comforting, wholesome, family type of dish. It's one of those recipes that once those flavors start to meld in the oven, people start wandering in asking what smells so good and when's dinner. There's just something about the meat, veggies, bacon and wine all sitting in that pot, all jiving together to create the most beautiful smell. I can't say it's better than cake or cookies baking (because I'm a sucker for sweets and can't resist them at all) but as for entree's - it is the most heaven-like smell ever! If I had 'smell-a-blog' I'd totally have you scratching your computer screens hoping to get a whiff.

Now that my beef baby is gestating for 3 hours, I have to move onto the next chapter of this recipe.

Time to braise some baby pearl onions and mushrooms!



After a long 3 hours, I got to combine those onions and mushrooms together while boiling down that tasty wine sauce.
 Fresh out of stove

The sauce thicken and I pour it back over the meat. Creating a beautiful stew worthy of kings and paupers. But more importantly - ME!

Final dish...
 (By the way - as with most stews/soups, this is even better the next day!)

So, now that my test dish is finished and I'm patiently waiting for my double batch of meat to come out of the oven I have time to ponder this meal that I've waited a year to make. I know a lot of you think I'm funny this way or that I have some weird obsession with cooking or food, but without coming off sounding corny I honestly feel that when you find something you love, you put your heart into it. So if I cook for you, I love you! It's as simple as that.

I know I'm not the type to cook professionally, or that I'm the worlds best cook because trust me! I know many other wonderful cooks out there that I have taken great inspiration from (My Grandma, who I don't remember watching cook but I'm told I'm a lot like her in that way, my Mom and my BfFF Erin). All awesome in the kitchen! So when I post silly pictures on my blog about some fantastic dish I ordered in a restaurant or made, it's only me trying to share this love of food I have. Corny or not, it's who I am.
Perhaps Julia Childs would be proud?
Either way, I know I will not be 'cooking my way' through her cookbook, as in the movie. I've seen some of those recipes and honestly, my kids aren't going to eat Meat Jello (Aspic). Sorry Julia - it just ain't happening!

Now, it's a waiting game. Hopefully my GC ladies will love this dish as much as my husband and I (and my friend JenniBunny, who I invited over for the test batch) did. If my husband's complete dissolve into a puddle of love in his chair after his first bite is any indication, I think I have a pretty good chance tomorrow.

I'll let you know....

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  1. LMAO!!!! OMG, girrrll! You and I are a match made in heaven! Steve left MY le Creuset in FLORIDA .. with 2 HUGE boxes of my kitchen stuff .. that his parents THREW OUT after we left. (He insists he packed them in the truck .. he didn't)
    Grounds for divorce?
    He'll be buying me a new one ASAP.
    I have the book, and Boeuf Bourguignon is actually on the list of "to do's" before Summer. ... because JULIA COMMANDS IT! .. but first, I need a #@%$@##!! pot!
    I bought the movie as soon as it came out - which was shortly after I bought the book - which was just after I bought The Art of French Cooking.

    We are totally going to rock it like a hurricane when you get yo ass back heh. ... cause I know where to get a slab of bacon ... with rind. ;)
    And no, your kids will not love aspic. I had to make that in school. My dogs wouldn't even eat it.

  2. LOVE THIS POST! You are freakin adorable! I love how excited you get over cooking. Of course, you know me so I don't "get it" but I love that you do! And the pictures were too cute. Glad the test batch and GC turned out so well. Hate I missed it.