I received Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking” for Christmas from my darling husband. I’ve been savoring all the wonderful recipes, but this is the first time I have tried to make one.
Just look at the picture, I should say no more and just sign off, right?
I made Julia’s pot roast, “Piece de Boeuf Braisee” (beef braised in red wine) tonight and it was so good I almost cried. Preparing, serving and eating this meal made me feel like everything else I cook is unimportant. This recipe is so perfect I can’t see why I would prepare a chuck roast any other way. Honestly, I feel so small after eating this. I don’t think I have ever tasted anything so delicious.
With her recipe for pot roast, Julia recommends a few side dishes. I chose the carrots braised in butter, “Carottes Etuvees au Beurre” and the onions, brown-braised in stock, “Oignons Glaces a Brun”. At her suggestion, I also prepared buttered noodles for which no recipe was needed.
The beef just fell apart when a fork was put to it. It melted in our mouths with all its depth and layers of flavors. After marinating in red wine, garlic, onions, carrots and celery, the meat was dried and seared in pork fat before adding back the marinade. The marinade was quickly cooked down and beef stock was added along with a veal knuckle, a calf’s foot and a pork rind. Ok, I couldn’t find any of those things at the grocery store, so I settled for a thin slice of veal shank, a beef marrow bone and I skipped the pork rind. Adding these elements to the braising pot added the depth and complexity that contributed to the success of this dish.
The onions were gorgeous to look at and had the flavors of caramelized onions, but with more complexity and a wonderful firmness due to the pearl variety used. I used frozen pearl onions that I thawed, drained and dried thoroughly. That way, no par-boiling and no peeling required. The carrots? You can see them, right? They are all glossy and aromatic but not too sweet. They were boiled in water, sugar, butter and a dash of white wine. They were perfect.
It was nice that I could make the vegetables while the meat was in the oven. Julia says when they are finished, turn the burners off and let them sit until you are ready for them. Reheat them gently and serve. That was very convenient for a meal made for company. When the meat was done, I pulled it out and covered it, loosely with tin foil and let it rest. I removed the veal and marrow bones and set them aside (for my doggie, Ginger). I strained all the vegetables out of the braising liquid and discarded them. They aren’t good for anything, honestly, trust me. They have served their magnificent purpose. I strained out all the fat using a fat strainer and returned the remaining elixir to the braising pan. I added a little Madeira wine and cooked the liquid down to a nice glazing consistency. I added a tablespoon of butter to the sauce and it was ready for its debut.
The meat sliced easily. It didn’t shred or break apart. I plated it along with the onions, carrots and noodles and drizzled a little of the sauce on the noodles and the meat. I don’t mean to go on so, but we were all bowled over by this meal.
Mum enjoyed it so much, she couldn’t finish her dessert. That is the first time that has ever happened! I mean it, for you regular readers, you know she likes a little bit of dinner and lots of dessert. But this time, she ate enough of Julia’s pot roast as to not be able to finish her dessert. We had to photograph the evidence. It’s hiding behind her glass. I had made panna cotta with strawberry sauce. She loves creamy desserts and she loves strawberries, but she couldn’t quite finish it. If you read my story about her on the “About” page, you will see that my goal is always to get her to eat a little more than she had planned on. I think I succeeded with this meal.