The French Kitchen Project - Bouef en Daube
My first recipe from The French Kitchen. Chosen because I just happen to have some rump steak in my freezer and I need to use it up. I have carrots, onions, black olives, and garlic. I also have capers, but Prof Yaffle doesn’t like them, so leave those out.
Funnily enough it’s Prof Y, who is constantly commenting that my store cupboards are the envy of the known world and probably the universe, though we have a small kitchen he marvels at the delights I have tucked away.
The beef has been marinad-ing in the fridge overnight, drowned in white wine with Bay Leaves and generously seasoned with salt and black pepper, and I turn it from time to time as instructed. The onions, carrots, mushrooms and black olives are chopped. Everything I need is ready, flour, tin of tomatoes, peel of one orange (no, I will not be wasting time zesting an orange) and capers.
It’s pouring rain today and at some point I will have to dash to the local M & S for Mushrooms. so with all the ingriedents laid out, I pop out for the Mushrooms and bump into a friend who persuades me into Costa for a latte and a chat; she is usually overflowing with local gossip so I couldn’t resist. Could I?
Back at the house, I realise that there is no way that this meat can be simmered slowly for 3 hours, because I don’t have three hours, I just used some of that up over latte and gossip. Hells Bells!
And to make matters worse, as I stand reading through the entire recipe I come upon the words: “To serve, lift the beef out onto a carving plate and carve into thickish slices…” Hells Bells and Buckets of Blood, my rump steak has already been cut into largish pieces!! Sh*te, dam and blast. So I take a deep breath and take my Costa takeaway coffee ( I had to have one more just to fortify me) and sit on the patio and try to calm AW (anxious woman, my constant companion) who’s words are thundering through my head now. “Read the recipe woman, don’t assume…..”
So that’s two elements of the recipe I have to find a way round, the time and that I have already chopped the meat. I read “My great-grandmother used to cook it in an earthenware pot at a very low heat for three days”.!! Think, think….. so I sit there drinking latte and panicking…. It’s my default setting.
Ok, deep breaths and back to the kitchen where I reach for my most beloved piece of kitchen equipment, my trusty Kuhn Pressure Cooker. Whilst sitting on the patio it came to me, 15 minutes in PC is equivalent to at least an hour cooking. Then I can let the pressure go down naturally, and add the veg and let it simmer for another hour and a bit (very precise my timings) and hey presto ve vill have Daube en Bouef!
But of course, a recipe is not a recipe, if I don't add my own little dash of something. So while my pressure cooker is merrily humming, I put a thin slice of butter in the pan, let it melt, it smells wonderful, put in the Mushrooms and let them sizzle for a minute or so, and then add a capful.... no two capfuls of white wine, and get on with preparing the veg, which will be added to the pot after it's cooked in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes.
So once the pressure cooker has done its job, and I've added the veg, and let the pot simmer gently for another hour and a half, the smell is wonderful.
Later: it was delicious, never mind that I didn’t read the recipe properly, tender and beautifully flavoured, served with potatoes, salad and a glass of red wine. And there is enough left over to freeze for another occasion. Oh and Prof. Yaffle asked for seconds!
And I was so busy cooking and eating, that I forgot to take some photos. Oh well, next time.
NOTE TO SELF: Always read the recipe through before embarking on cooking; and remember to take photos.
NEXT TIME: Tarte Tatin