Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beef Bourguignon Derby: Results

No question about it, Tony Bourdain's version is much tastier, richer, than Julia Child's.

Perhaps Child's is more authentic, maybe Bourdain's is a version tweaked for maximum taste and easier preparation. I dunno.

I've been looking at the recipes, side by side, trying to discover the reason for the difference. (See my previous post for links to the two recipes).

In terms of ingredients, Bourdain bases his broth on 1 cu wine + water. Child uses 3 cu wine + beef broth. For the broth, I purchased Stock Options, an expensive frozen beef broth which I found to be somewhat watery. But even so, watery beef broth should be richer-tasting than water, n'est-ce pas? 

Wine-wise, for Bourdain I used a Burgundy as suggested. For Child, a Cotes-du-Rhone, also as suggested. There's a difference, sure, but I don't know how much influence that would have on the final dish.

 Bourdain uses four onions, six carrots; Child uses one of each.

Child cooks, separately, some small white onions to add at the end, they do not influence the taste of the broth, as she has us dumping the onion-cooking broth.

Bourdain calls for "neck or shoulder" of beef, cut into 1'' cubes (chuck seems to fill the bill), and cooked 2 hours or until tender; Child asks for "stew meat" cut into 2'' cubes, cooked 3 to 4 hours until tender. The latter was stringier and tougher than the former. Same meat counter used for both.

I'm guessing that the additional richness of the Bourdain recipe must be mainly due to the larger amount of onion and carrot. There's little else I can see that could account for it. Unless, in my amateur chef ignorance, I am overlooking an important but subtle cooking chemistry detail as it might be a matter of preparation, rather than ingredients.

I tasted both dishes when they were fresh, and also let them sleep overnight in the refrigerator, then re-heated them for a second tasting. In both cases, this improved the flavor, but Child's was still a distant second.

As it stands, the Bourdain recipe, being easier and tastier, will become my standard basic one and based on the outcome of these two version, I have ordered his cookbook. Need to find something challenging, sublime -- and delicious! to prepare for Christmas eve meal w/ my kids.

8 comments:

  1. I'll trust your judgement, and try Bourdain's recipe. I can't stand his pompousity (Is that a made up word?), but that doesn't mean the man can't cook. Reminds me of Miller and his writing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Need to find something challenging, sublime -- and delicious! to prepare for Christmas eve meal w/ my kids."

    I'm not a cook, but based on experiences in other fields of endeavor, if you want to impress an audience DON'T try something that's challenging for you. When you perform a concert, you don't play pieces you're just starting to learn; you play ones you've thoroughly mastered.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I can't stand his pompousity (Is that a made up word?), but that doesn't mean the man can't cook. Reminds me of Miller and his writing."

    Some call it "pomposity"; others call it "literacy."

    But I guess you're saying indirectly that I can write, so I'll take it as a compliment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "...if you want to impress an audience DON'T try something that's challenging for you."

    Aw piffle. You just need courage.

    Courage! What makes a King out of a slave?
    Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave?
    Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk, in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
    What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
    Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder?
    Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder?
    Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot?

    Besides, they're just my kids. If I screw it up, we can go out for Chinese.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "But I guess you're saying indirectly that I can write, so I'll take it as a compliment."

    Nah, he's saying you're full of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Nah, he's saying you're full of it."

    And like most of my critics, he doesn't have the balls to put his name on it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?"

    "Courage!"

    "You can say THAT again!"

    ReplyDelete

 
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