Sunday, December 1, 2013

Recipe #258: Boeuf A La Catalane (Child)

I have a new label/tag in my blogs now- Julia Child.  I'm now the happy owner of her two-book set Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and this is the inaugural recipe I chose.

I love the layout of the cookbooks.  Instead of the typical ingredients list, and then directions, it lists the ingredients needed for each step alongside that step.  Unfortunately, that's hard to duplicate nicely here, but I enjoyed following the cookbook as I made this.  Also, while I was trying to decide which recipe to choose, I noticed many of them called for a fireproof casserole/french oven.  I suddenly knew what I wanted for Christmas (as these are definitely not cheap!) and went to Bed Bath and Beyond to get my new pot.  It weighs a ton, especially with the food in it, but I was so happy using it!

Unfortunately, I was so excited about serving this up after the long cook time, I forgot to put the cheese in at the end.  It was delicious!  The meat was really tender and the flavors were perfect.


1/4       pound  chunk of bacon
2         tablespoons  olive oil
3         pounds  lean stewing beef, cut into squares 2 1/2″ across and 1″ thick
1 1/2    cups  onions, sliced
1         cup  raw white rice, unwashed
1         cup  dry white wine or dry vermouth  (I used Chardonnay)
2         cups  beef stock or canned beef bouillon
salt to taste
1/4       teaspoon  pepper
2         cloves  garlic, mashed
1/2        teaspoon  thyme
Pinch   saffron
1          bay leaf, crumbled
1          pound  tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped
1          cup  Swiss cheese or Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 325°
Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (1 1/2-inch strips, 3/8 of an inch thick.) Simmer in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry, and brown lightly in oil in the skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to the casserole.
Dry the meat on paper towels. Heat fat in skillet until almost smoking then brown the meat a few pieces at a time.  Place it when browned in the casserole.
Lower heat to moderate, and brown the onions.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the casserole.
Still in the same fat, stir the rice over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until it turns a milky color.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside until later.
Pour any remaining fat out of the skillet, add the wine and stir for a moment over heat to dissolve coagulated cooking juices.  Pour into the casserole.
Add stock or bouillon almost to the height of the meat.  Salt lightly.  Stir in the pepper, garlic, and herbs.  Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover tightly, and set in lower position of preheated oven to simmer slowly for 1 hour.
Remove casserole from oven.  Stir in the tomatoes, bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover, and return to the oven for an additional hour or so of very slow simmering.  When the meat is almost fork-tender, remove the casserole from the oven.  Raise oven heat to 375 degrees.
Tile casserole and skim off fat.  You should have 2-2.5 cups of liquid; add more stock or bouillon, or water, if necessary.  Stir in the rice.  Bring to simmer on top of stove, cover, and set again in lower third of oven.  Regulate heat to keep liquid at full simmer for 20 minutes so the rice will cook.  Do not stir the rice.  At the end of this time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all of the liquid.  Remove from the oven and correct seasoning.
Just before serving, delicately fold the cheese with a fork into the hot beef and rice.

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