“Food is wonderful. It engages all our senses. It brings people together. It sustains us and comforts us. It’s the center of many of our favourite moments.” – World Vision
While growing up, you would catch me playing around with different ingredients in our pantry. Curious about the mixture of several different spices, smells and textures, I enjoyed improvising with ingredients to create new tastes. By doing this I was able to create my own identity in the kitchen. I showed a keen interest in recipe development, which was the gateway to the beginning of my never-ending journey. As Julia Child once said, “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”
One of the main reasons I enjoy cooking is because I get to share my passion for food with others. There’s a difference between “sharing a meal” and sharing food. Simply grabbing dinner with friends and ordering your own individual plate just doesn’t have the same bonding effect. But when food is served “family style” or on a large platter meant to share, we seem to engage a whole lot more. It brings a sense of a community to the table. In my books, a relationship built around food is the best kind of relationship!
This week, I teamed with World Vision to host a meaningful meal to help support food projects through the #hungerfree campaign. World Vision is a global leader in fighting hunger; effectively addressing food issues through long-term development and emergency relief. The campaign encourages people to celebrate food by hosting or sharing a meaningful meal. This meal helps individuals reflect on the issue of world hunger and come up with creative ways to tackle this issue.
An influential role model in my cooking career has been Julia Child. Her determination and humor in the kitchen always stuck to me. Julia’s debut cookbook, ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ revolutionized my techniques in the kitchen. Going through Culinary school, I realized the importance of obtaining a solid grounding in the fundamentals of classical French cooking techniques. I have been a strong believer that one must master the fundamentals first and then you can master the art, this applies to everything in life.
The recipe I chose to cook and share with my loved ones is Julia’s signature renowned Boeuf Bourguignon. Not just any Boeuf Bourguignon but Julia Child’s Bouef Bourguignon. It’s not that Boeuf Bourguignon is a particularly difficult recipe to make, but as with all recipes, especially Julia Child recipes, there are basic cooking methods behind the recipes that need to be understood.
“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken.” – Julia Child
Boeuf Bourguignon a La Julia Child
- 6 slices bacon, cut into lardons
- 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- 1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups red wine, like a chianti
- 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves smashed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 crumbled bay leaf
- 18 to 24 small pearl onions
- 3 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 herb bouquet (4 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf)
- 1 pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered
- Simmer bacon lardons in 4 cups water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- In a large dutch oven, sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 3 minutes, until it starts to lightly brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Dry the beef in paper towels for better browning. In batches, sear the beef on all sides in the Dutch oven. Set aside with the bacon.
- Back in the pot, add the sliced carrots and onions; sauté in fat until browned, about 3 minutes. If there's any excess fat, drain.
- Add the bacon and beef back to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Toss. Sprinkle with flour and toss once more. Place in the center of the oven for 4 minutes.
- Remove pot from oven; toss beef and place back in the oven for 4 more minutes.
- Remove the pot from the oven and reduce the heat to 325°F.
- To the pot add the wine and stock. The liquid should barely cover the meat and vegetables. Add the tomato paste, garlic and thyme. Bring to a light simmer on the stove, then cover and simmer in the lower part of the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is easily pierced.
- In the last hour of cooking, bring 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons oil to a medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the pearl onions and toss around in the fat until they've browned, 10 minutes. Then stir in 1/2 cup beef stock, a small pinch of salt and pepper and the herb bouquet. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the onions for about 40 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are tender.
- Remove the onions and set aside. Discard the herb bouquet and wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining butter and oil and bring to a medium heat.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan to coat with the butter.
- Place a colander over a large pot. Drain the beef stew through the colander and into the pot. Place the pot with the sauce over a medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, skimming any fat on top. Pour the beef and vegetables back into the dutch oven. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms to the pot. Pour the sauce over the beef mix and simmer an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
- Garnish and serve.
"Hunger isn't just about not having enough food to eat – it is also about not having reliable access to nutritious food." - World Vision