Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

I bought a copy of Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking from a used cookbook shop last year. I had always wanted a copy and it seemed only fitting to seek out a treasured old copy that had, hopefully, inspired cooks before me. I read through the book and referenced it on several occasions, but never made a complete recipe until this past weekend. I chose to make Coq Au Vin and it was a such a wonderful experience. I am generally the kind of cook who doesn't follow the recipes. I like to forge my own way and cook by instinct. But it was as though I could hear Julia's voice as I read each line of the recipe — like a link back in time to 1950's Paris when Julia first began her culinary career. I followed every step and made her suggested side dishes: Brown Braised Onions and Sautéed Mushrooms. I am including her recipe for the onions because I found it to be an exciting new little technique that I will use again as a side to other meat dishes. For the Coq Au Vin recipe, I will leave it to you to pick up a copy of this elegant old classic cooking text. It is most important to read from the pages for the full effect.

Brown-Braised Onions

18–24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons oil

1/2 cup brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water (I used homemade chicken stock diluted with a little water and a teaspoon of beef bouillon paste)

Salt & Pepper to taste
A medium her bouquet: 4 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied is a cheesecloth

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

Braise them as follows:
Pour in the liquid, season to taste, adn add the herb bouquet. Cover adn simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are or follow one of Julia's suggestions that follows this recipe in the book.

NOTE: Recipe taken from Mastering the Art of French Cooking By Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck; 1961

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