Friday, November 28, 2008

Cookbook Series: Bœuf bourguignon, Potatoes Gratin from Thomas Keller's Bouchon

So... I'm back.

It took a while to recover from the Chem GRE. Imagine having brain freeze for about a week or so. Even though it's not the longest nor the most comprehensive test, it's definitely one of the most brutal. My version of the test was 130 questions with 170 minutes to answer them. Do the math and that leaves roughly 0.76 minutes or 45.6 seconds per question.

45.6 seconds for p-chem?! As if.

I managed to look at and think about all of the questions, which is supposedly a small victory in and of itself. How did I do? I don't know... I was numb walking out, both from the mental lashing and the freezing test center.

Then, it was time for the regular GRE, which is a lot like the SAT. To my vague horror, I realized that I would be taking the GRE almost 10 years to the day of my last attempt at the SAT. Geez, I feel old.

Anyway, we're here to discuss food.

D. was traveling and, for his return, I decided to make Keller's bœuf bourguignon. D. has eyed the recipe for a while and with fall rolling in (although it was beach-worthy weather in San Diego), it seemed like a nice dish.

Anyone who has ever cooked a Keller recipe can tell you that the man is nothing if not detailed. I found this old article about
Bouchon and I have to agree that it's fussy, it's crazy, but the result is so utterly worth the effort that one bows reverently to King Keller and makes more of his recipes.

It starts with boneless beef shortribs, which I stupidly overbrowned. Instead of turning into tender stew meat, it came out a bit tough.

However, I'm a little ahead of myself. The bourguignon really begins with a red wine reduction. Red wine cooked with a ton of aromatics until it had reduced into a thick sauce. After the reduction is complete, more aromatics are added and topped with a cheesecloth. The browned meat is added on top of the cheesecloth. Keller apparently dislikes debris clinging to the meat, so he recommends using the cheesecloth as a "basket" for the meat. The meat cooks in the reduction, aromatics, and beef stock for a couple of hours, then the meat is lifted out and the veggies strained and discarded.

After removing the meat and discarding the aromatics, the broth is strained over and over. In the end, I strained this lovely broth eight times. Eight. Keller would be proud. That might make up for the massive sin I commit against his greatness: I use store-bought beef stock.

That thud you heard was Keller hitting the ground.

Anyway, I'm too lazy and lack enough foresight to make stock ahead of time. One of these days, I'll make a ton of stock and freeze it. Overall, the broth was excellent and clear as a summer's day.

The vegetables are cooked separately, but with enough herbs and spices that they taste like they were cooked with the meat. It's fussy, but the vegetables stay bright, vibrant, and firm, just like Keller said.

D. loves potato gratin, so we made Bouchon's recipe. Lots of thyme and Emmentaler make it fabulous. Keller uses panko crumbs for the topping, which creates a more delicate crust.

Our table, complete with the epi baguette from San Diego's Bread & Cie.

Posting the recipes, even abbreviated versions, would take forever. So, buy the book and pay homage to the fabulousness that is Thomas Keller.

8 bites:

Anonymous said...

Great to see you back! I love your blog.

W. E. B. Du Blag said...

Congrats on finishing the chem GRE, and the regular GRE...

And on making a fabulous meal! The presentation is stupendous. I hope Dan realizes how ridiculously lucky he is :)

Anonymous said...

I love this book! And Keller uses Panko flakes, how cool!
Looks like you had AMAZING feast! I'm totally drooling over the potatoes gratin...

Kim in the Kitchen said...

Yay! You've returned to the blogging world! I was starting to worry : )

imjustatree said...

welcome back! that wine reduction looks awesome.....i think i'd like to try that out sometime. great pics

Alice Q. Foodie said...

That looks delicious! I was given the French Laundry Cookbook as a gift, and I think I probably would have gotten more use out of this one. Will have to put out some heavy hints next time! ;-)

Mary said...

OK, you have convinced me..I need to get a copy of Bouchon! That meal looks delicous...I am glad your chem GRE is over..just thinking about GRE's makes me itch!

James said...

Wow!!..this looks amazing. I am so excited to try. I love this item.

8 bites