I am aware that I appear to have jumped on the Julia Child bandwagon here, but yesterday on a spur of the moment decision, I decided to cook boeuf bourguignon following her recipe.

It was a 4-5 hour endeavor. Granted, 2 1/2 hours of that time was spent keeping an eye on a simmering casserole in the oven, and about 1 hour of that time was spent crouched over, reading and re-reading the recipe as though I were deciphering the Dead Sea Scrolls. But still. It was a long project. I probably should have begun it earlier than 5pm, but in my initial shopping trip, I forgot to buy bacon, and I knew that turkey bacon would be an insult to this recipe, so I had to venture back out to the supermarket at the last minute.

The last time I attempted boeuf bourguignon, it was with a dear friend of mine, at the tender age of 12. We had decided that we would prepare it for her grandmother. I don’t remember much from that escapade, although my friend has since reminded me that we skipped about 1/3 of the steps in Julia’s recipe. Now that I’ve done it again, on my own, I can see a bit more of the whole picture, rather than the daunting step-by-step process. Sort of like climbing Mt. Everest– once you’ve done it, you have an overview of the process in its entirety, rather than the dull, plodding one-foot-in-front-of-the-other bits and pieces that you saw on the way up and down. Not that making boeuf bourguignon is like climbing Everest, but it could be.

I can also see the steps that I might gloss over, the next time I attempt it. Boiling the bacon before frying it, for one thing, seems unnecessary (although it made the house smell cheerfully, and oddly, like boiled bacon). Next time I might add some chopped celery, and coat the beef with a little more flour before adding the wine, to further thicken the sauce. (I enjoyed learning that “3 cups of wine” is an oblique way of saying, “1 bottle of wine”.)

Overall, though, I enjoyed the experience. It was fun to undertake a large cooking endeavor on a cold, dreary winter day. And the end result was boeuf-licious.

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