Cook the Books and Food ‘n Flix are partnering this month with The Hundred Foot Journey. (Click here for our last foray into this culinary and creative partnership.) We were tasked with both reading the novel and viewing the film. My last post was for Food ‘n Flix with Two-Potato Vindaloo.
Instead of Indian food, I wanted to do something with a French slant for Cook the Books.
I read The Hundred Foot Journey after hearing an interview with the author on the “Diane Rehm Show” in 2010. I immediately sought out the book. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, I found it a bit dark and depressing. The mother is killed by an angry mob by page 27. I was also depressed by the hollowness Hassan feels, even after he achieves stardom and the elusive three-Michelin star rating. As the final lines of the novel state, I don’t think Hassan ever recovered from “that hungry space.”
Yes, as much as it pains me to say, I have to say that I found the film more enjoyable. I hardly ever say that. I recently posted my “official” FnF post here for the film version and I was unsure as to whether or not I would get one done for CtB. I was able to do it and today, I am celebrating the other cuisine featured in both the film and the novel with Boeuf Bourginon. Boeuf Bourginon is mentioned in the final pages of the novel as it is being compared to a similar Indian dish.
ever so slightly adapted from Ina Garten
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. thick cut bacon, diced
2 1/2 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
1 large yellow onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. cognac
1 bottle (750 milliliters) good dry red wine, such as Burgundy
2 to 2 1/2 c. beef broth
1 T. tomato paste
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 T. flour
10 oz. white pearl onions
10 oz. red pearl onions
1 lb. mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
Country bread, toasted or grilled
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1/2 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. (I used my Le Creuset.) Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of pepper into the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Add the wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and place it in the oven for about 75 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
Combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium pan, saute the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Rub each slice of bread on one side with garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.
Ina calls for frozen pearl onions which would be a ton easier. I can never find them here. Instead peel the onions by placing them in boiling water for three minutes. Then, rinse under cold water. Cut off the ends and remove skins. I highly recommend doing this well ahead of time, especially if you are preparing this for a holiday meal.
This dish has become a recent holiday tradition for us. We were first served this recipe at an extended family Christmas party last December. It was so good, we decided to beg for the recipe and we made it for our more immediate family on Christmas Eve.
As we were waiting for the entire family to get to our house for a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, I chose to serve Boeuf, as we affectionately call it, for our Thursday evening meal. (We waited to have the turkey on Saturday.)
So, please forgive the photo. I was rushed to get food on the table and did not snap pictures. Just know that this is a delicious one pot meal, even if it requires a bit of prep work to prepare. Do not, by any means, forget to rub the garlic on the toasted bread. That makes the meal.
Join CTB for the next round where I will be hosting A Place at the Table.
Do you like a good traditional pound cake recipe and inspired Southern cuisine? Do you like a novel with Southern charm (and that Southern Gothic element as well)? What about a good quirky character ensemble?Suzan Rebecca White’s novel, A Place at the Table, combines all of these elements. The novel’s prologue describes a disturbing scene in Emancipation, North Carolina during the late 20s, but the bulk of the novel takes place during the 80s and 90s in Georgia, Connecticut and New York City. How does a character from an era of lynchings and fear intertwine with more modern characters trying to make their way in NYC?You will enjoy finding out the answer and following the three main characters of Alice, Bobby, and Amelia as they all make their way to find peace with themselves and the world around them.
Pick up a copy of the book and join us. Posts are due by January 31, 2016.