Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Would Julia Say About Tempeh Bourguignon?

Maybe it's trendy, so de riguer, and not necessarily in a good way. Maybe it's just so obvious. Nevertheless, I really do love Julia Child. When I think about it, who doesn't? Who couldn't? I've lovingly prepared many of her recipes, but after seeing the movie Julie and Julia, I really wanted to try her Bouef Bourguignon recipe. I wanted that yum moment.

The problem is, I'm really not into that whole "eating cows" thing.

Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea: Tempeh Bourguignon! I went on to discover, after a quick google search, that I wasn't really so brilliant, as many others have already thought of this. Even so, I thought I might try it, not looking at any other tempeh recipes, but instead, riffing off Julia. Here's what I did:

Chop a small yellow onion. Saute it in olive oil. Put the pieces in a bowl and set them aside.

Cut an 8 ounce block of tempeh into 12 rectangular chunks. Place these in the freshly oiled pan (without rinsing pan), with enough space between them (like Julia commands) so they will brown, rather than steam. Using tongs, brown the cubes on all sides until golden and crispy. (I had to cook it in two batches, adding the first batch to the onions.) Meanwhile, heat 1-1/2 cups of water until nearly boiling.

Return all the tempeh to the pan and sprinkle it with about a tablespoon of tamari and 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke. Cook, stirring constantly, to coat. Add about 1/4 cup flour and keep stirring, to coat. It will get clumpy.

Add the onions back to the pan along with the hot water and one vegetable bouillon cube (I used Knorr). Stir, scraping up the browned bits. Add 1-1/2 cups red wine (I used Augey Bourdeux). Throw in 3 sprigs flat leaf parsley and 1 bay leaf. Season with a little bit of salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil 2 cups of water and pour them over 2 ounces of dried porcini mushrooms (I bought mine from Pacific Crest Foraging during a recent trip to Seattle, when I visited the Port Townsend farmer's market). Soak for about 20 minutes, then drain the mushrooms through coffee filters lining a strainer. Add the mushrooms to the mixture and cook 30 minutes more on low heat. Keep the strained porcini water handy to add to the mixture if it gets too dry. (Mine did.) The sauce should be thick but it shouldn't disappear. After 1 hour, taste and add salt as needed. (I added smoked salt that I also just bought during said Seattle trip, at the Pike Place Market).

Serve hot over cooked noodles or rice, with baguette chunks to mop it all up. Don't forget the salad.

Bon appetit! If you try it, let me know how it turned out.

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