Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Julie & Julia & Julio

Last year's Valentine's Day experience, while not a complete disappointment, was still enough to convince us that cooking at home is the better option on amateur night, so when I saw a hunk of shrinkwrapped chuck roast  at Pathmark, I figured I would try my hand at boeuf bourguignon.  If a six-foot tall lady played by Meryl Streep can do it side-by-side with a food blogger-cum-writer from Queens played by Amy Adams in a really crappy movie, then why couldn't I?  Shit, I could blog about it, too, and change my name to Julio (pronounced "JOO-lee-oh" like this Puerto Rican dude I used to know who really should have stuck with "HOO-lee-oh"), and we can all have a laugh at the parody of it all.

And that's exactly what happened, except I didn't execute very well.  The sauce was flavorful, but the meat was leathery, even after a long and leisurely wine jacuzzi.  The snap judgment--something I'm really good at--is that I suck at braising.  If there's anyone out there that can drop some knowledge about how cooking liquid is supposed to look when you're simmering, please do so.  In the meantime, here's some insight based on hindsight:

1. Make this the day before so you have an easier time skimming the fat.  I skipped this step.  I don't think it helped matters.
2. Clear your schedule. This recipe's a time burglar.
3. Attempting to talk in Julia Child's voice while making this dish does not improve the final product.
4. Watching the movie Julie & Julia doesn't make you a good cook. It just makes you wish you had those hours of your life back.

Best of luck if you decide to give it a shot.  I know I didn't sell it well, but in the end, I had a lot of fun screwing up this recipe.  Plus, it was wonderfully comfortable given the shitty weather.  We served it with slow roasted potatoes dusted with a spice bag I brought home from Morocco, and finally opened up the bottle of Pride 2005 Cabernet Franc that we got on our honeymoon.  Mrs. Gastro has taken to baking cakes, and she made my favorite, yellow with chocolate frosting.  It was a perfect ending to a not-so-perfect meal.  Happy belated Valentine's day.  Buen provecho.

1 comment:

  1. Looks good, even though you mention it was not as tender as you hoped. When braising, longer is better. Give yourself the time to let it go for another hour to re-absorb some liquid. Also, look for a chuck roast with the most marbling; avoid the eye of the chuck which is the most lean.