Om, nom, and furthermore nom.

Starting this past January, every weekend I go out to visit Evil Twin et famille, I end up cooking something out of Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking. First was a roast pork that included the first gravy I had ever made from scratch.

All modesty aside, it was amazing.

Then on the Blue Man Group weekend, I made beef braised in beer. It was very good, although I wasn’t happy with the sauce. It needed to reduce more. It was delicious, but it wasn’t as delicious as it could (should?) have been. I will re-approach it eventually and do it better.

Last night was Fondue de Poulet à La Crème — chicken cooked in cream and onions.

Three cups of whipping cream.

Three cups of whipping cream.

Three cups of whipping cream.

Just sit back a moment and let your arteries contemplate that. If you hear a little *crik!* they’re probably just spontaneously hardening at the thought.

Now imagine all that lovely whipping cream, having spent half an hour as the braising liquid for chicken breasts with yellow onions, and a dash of white pepper, curry powder, salt and cognac, being cooked down in to a sauce. The flavor brightened by a bare dash of lemon juice, smoothed by the addition of a tablespoon or two of additional whipping cream, and then strained, leaving a bowl of smooth, off-white perfection.

The whole was served atop the basic risotto recipe provided later in Mastering…, with a side of peas and carrots (more to provide a little color to the plate, which between the sauce and chicken and rice was otherwise very very white and off-white).

Suffice to say that as long as humans need to eat, Julia Child will be remembered and her books will remain in print. This was a fairly easy recipe, all things considered. Prep was fairly straightforward (next time I’ll cut the chicken chunks smaller, though), ingredients were nothing that the average kitchen wouldn’t already have for the most part–everyone’s got salt, pepper and curry powder, yes? Cognac was only one of several choices for deglazing–Calvados, white wine and dry vermouth were all suggested alternatives. Everyone’s got at least one of those, or can get a bottle nearby. The rest was whipping cream, yellow onions, and chicken. The recipe called only for ‘chicken, cut up’, but we went for chicken breast.

The great thing about cooking from Julia’s recipes is that once you look at them, the points at which one might vary, substitute or experiment without wrecking the whole thing are fairly obvious. It inspires a great deal of confidence, and Mastering… is written in a way that you really feel like Julia has your back.

I’ve been advised that scallops and lobster thermidor (not necessarily at the same time) are in my culinary future. I can’t say I’m looking forward to disassembling a lobster, but I think I can cope. Or I’ll fob off the disassembly on someone else so I can “concentrate on the cooking”. :D


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