Thursday, March 22, 2012
Only 48 hours and 7 minutes until I serve a sit-down, plated dinner to at least 60 people. I chose to make beef bourguignon--yeah, I know, I'm crazy--and ordered half a cow cut into two-inch cubes before I learned that the guest of honor is mostly vegetarian. This would have been a disaster, but I also learned that he prefers to eat a very light dinner and requested a cheese platter. Perfect. So tonight I picked up some local Leicester, Manchego and vintage Gouda as well as some savory biscuits--that is what they call crackers here--some marinated olives and a pear. I think it will be delicious!
Yesterday I did a trial run of Saturday's meal when I served lunch to 30 first-term airmen. Our kitchen smelled like a tannery before I was done. I had purchased it from a different vendor who did not cube it for me. What a hassle! Fifteen pounds of meat takes forever to cut, dry, season and sear in batches.
I employed a new technique to prevent the flour from clumping: coat the seared meat with it instead of mixing it with the tomato paste and then whisking into the sauce. Many versions of the recipe call for the former variation; I just hadn't tried it yet myself. What a difference! The sauce thickened properly and with no lumps.
I skipped the cognac--a classic element of beef bourguignon--and deglazed the pans with about two litres of a medium-bodied red wine.
Once it was all simmering happily on the stove in only two pots, I began to think doubling it this weekend might actually be doable.
I stopped by the butcher this evening to confirm my order. Fifteen kilos of beef is cut and ready for pickup. Tomorrow morning, the adventure begins!