The Most Time-Consuming Meal of My Life

Last weekend #3 had plans with friends (the nerve!) so I decided to make a scrumptious dinner for just Mr. G and I at home. ┬áThose of you who have been loyal Kristin fans (I appreciate you!!) may remember when I focused a dinner party around Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook. I decided to break into Bouchon again for “at home date night” (that sounds creepy) and make one of the more complicated recipes from the book – Boef Bourgignon.

I, like many lovers of cooking, have done several versions of Boef Bourgignon, but this one was a little different… mainly in length of recipe. 4 pages. I had to read each detail 5 times over, and that was before I started actually working on the recipe. At any rate, here is the photo version and how-to.

Actually, before that, check out this excessively large head of garlic. When I first moved to Arkansas I had a hard time finding garlic cloves at the store at all, and now all I could find were these monstrous ones. Are there steroids for garlic? ‘Cause this clove was on them.

Back to the recipe. Start with lots of fresh veggies (carrots, leeks, onion, garlic pumped up on steroids) and herbs.

Pour in a bottle of wine. Yep. The whole bottle. Mmmm-k?

Let that all simmer for a whiiiillllleeee. Until the veggies and herbs no longer look fresh, and the entire house smells like wine. And by house I mean the entire tiny apartment. House is a relative term.

When the “house” smells like wine add another set of fresh veggies and herbs on top of the cooked-down-wine-filled ones.

Then brown some meat (yum), create a little “pouch” with cheesecloth, set the meat in said pouch, and pour stock over it. Confused? Me too. Hence the reading over the instructions 5 times. Here’s what it looks like.

Now it’s time to tell you about the Thomas Keller move that *might* have changed my culinary life forever. The parchment top. You create a top to the pot, with a steam vent, that allows very little of the fantastic moisture you need to keep the meat tender out of the pot. So there are actually two “tops” to the pot – the parchment top and the regular top. GENIUS!

Ok now comes the time consuming part. Let it all cook for a couple of hours, then strain it about 300 times. Actually just 4 times. Still, that’s kind of a lot of straining. When you’re done straining, let the meat/wine/broth mixture hang out in the refrigerator overnight. Or up to 3 days.

When the meat mixture has spent enough time in refrigerator detention, cook up some potatoes. Then cook up some carrots. Just don’t cook them up together. We don’t want the potatoes and carrots becoming friends just yet.

Warm up the meat/wine/broth then add the cooked carrots and potatoes. Cook some mushrooms in butter (the only way to cook mushrooms) and add them to the pot, along with the cooked potatoes and carrots, and a little fresh parsley.

Set the table all rustic Provence; baguette, red wine, a candle.

Serve it up. Eat it up. Tender meat, perfectly cooked vegetables, crunchy bread, full-bodied wine, and a husband who praises my grilled cheese sandwiches or 5 hour stews with the same level of authentic affection. Could there be a better Saturday night? Nope, nope, nope. Unless we were in Manhattan eating at my favorite restaurant, of course.