Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Art of Subsitution

Boeuf bourguignon The Pleasures of Cooking for One, by Judith Jones
This dish of boeuf bourguignon has gotten a lot of play lately, again, due to “Julie & Julia,” but rather than make Julia’s boeuf bourguignon, I opted to make my single chef version from Judith Jones with some adjustments. Substitution is one of the most fun factors about cooking. If you have picky eaters, or if you're a vegetarian, you can always make substitutions without problem. If you loathe anchovies and a dish calls for them, just substitute a strongly flavored meaty alternative. This is an especially welcome fact if you or your friends have a food allergy, you can always swap out the the item in question for something of equal value. My substitutions in this recipe came largely from the fact that I was unwilling to go out and buy a handful of additional ingredients the night I cooked the boeuf bourguinon.
To begin, the biggest change I made was using white prosecco instead of red wine; it definitely change the flavor the dish, but it was still a delicious end result. I used about ½ cup of the prosecco to 1 & ½ cups of beef broth (had I used red wine, I’d have done the full cup called for to 1 cup of broth). I also used two shallots instead of an onion because it was what I had. Typically I prefer a shallot to an onion because they are more delicate in flavor but still bring the dimension needed. Shamefully, I was also lacking parsley and bay leaves for my bouquet garni, so I sprinkled in herbes de provence which have more herbs than were called for and rather than making a packet with the garlic, thyme and pepper, I added them in chopped/grinded before letting the dish simmer to thickness. Also, as mentioned in "The Single Chef" I added duxelles when the stew beef was cooked and it enhanced the whole stew flavor.
Aside from my substitutions I followed Jones’ instructions to make the stew and it came out beautifully. Again, I was out of carrots, leeks, and potatoes so I didn't add the 'vegetable garnish' she adds to finish the stew, so I served myself the beef over mashed potatoes. The recipe yielded enough stew to have it twice (or to serve two), or as she offers to use it in two additional ways-- adding some of the meat to a Beef and Kidney pie (found on page 34 of her book) and then as a meat sauce using the meat cooked with tomatoes and tossed with pasta. As of right now the leftovers are waiting patiently in my fridge to either be enjoyed as is or perhaps as the pasta dish.
I was very glad to have found Jones' version of this dish I have always wanted to prepare myself (whenever I came home from college I would make my mom cook beef stew for me) but never felt it was worth making for only one. Jones' book is a real gem and I'm so glad to have it come to me at this point in my life when I have only myself to shop for and my own kitchen to cook in.

No comments: