An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Sous Chefs: You Cannot Be Mommy! January 31, 2011

E: Eats: Boeuf Bourguignon

Sous in Training

Sous in Training

We are in comfort-food / stay-at-home mode here. Maybe it was the furnace going out, or maybe more likely my neck going out, that had got me flipping through past Martha’s for dinner inspiration this past weekend. Food that really warms the soul, makes us happy to stay inside to do prep work and finds us enjoying it fireside, encompasses the best of what my selection, Boeuf Bourguignon, has to offer.


Martha claims this recipe to be the merger of the oh-so-french boeuf bourguignon (the glamour and gorgeousness) and a humble pot of beef noodle soup (practicality, made from pantry and fridge basics).  Prep took at least 30 minutes with all of us working and just over 2 hours (the recipe says 3 hours, but I cut the ribs prior to step 4 to make a 6:30 dinner date). And so we began.


My aspiring sous chef’s (technically that means “under chef” in French), ages 5 and 7, played a big part of this classic French dish. I used to shy away from multi-ingredient recipes. This one had 15 and stated 30 minutes of active prep – many of the ingredients suitable for the sous’ (plural for sous chef’s in English?/ pronounced sues?). You’ve got your long veggies like carrots, celery and shallots and soft button mushrooms (that a regular kitchen knife can cut) along with time-consuming de-spriging of the thyme, all using the sous chef’s skills. That left this head chef in charge of the short ribs and bacon.  The kids handled the pouring (stock, water and red wine) and spreadable tasks (French bread with butter, chives and horseradish) with ease.


Colette, Far From Mommy

Colette, Far From Mommy

As we channeled our inner Ratatouilles — my son actually placed his hand over mine while I chopped some veggies (I drew a line at the hair pulling) — we were reminded that anyone can cook and that cooking should be enjoyable. I do the Ratatouille Colette bit“No! You waste energy and time! You think cooking is a cute job, eh? Like Mommy in the kitchen? Well, Mommy never had to face the dinner rush while the orders come flooding in, and every dish is different and none are simple, and all different cooking time, but must arrive at the customer’s table at exactly the same time, hot and perfect! Every second counts and you CANNOT be MOMMY!”  They pick out their parts to play – the lame Linguini and the Remy, the rat with the overly-sensitive taste buds.


Bistro Dining

Bistro Dining

Still role playing, we set up a candlelight dinner in the living room by the fire, despite the previous night’s occurrence of a half-cup of hot red candle wax jettisoned from its candle container (I will save that for a Martha homemaker challenge that I would assume involves a hot iron, a wish and a prayer).


I call the sous chefs who are suddenly servers, to the kitchen to get the steaming bowls of noodles and soup out to the customers. We do a half-loaf of plain bread and a half-loaf of the full-on horseradish bread for the adventurous table and the tables are set with dishes to match the ones in the Dec 2010 MS Living issue (seriously!). One customer is unsure about the combo and is allowed to have a bowl of noodles and a bowl of broth (a cop out, but bread dipping and a small tasting happen).


Martha's Boeuf

Martha's Boeuf

We talk about going to Paris for quite awhile. Seconds are had. When finished, the recipe for six turns out a lot of leftovers. Some go in the fridge for the week and some go in the freezer, in case the furnace goes out again and we need some comfort. I also feel like a Ratatouille viewing is in order, but it’s too late for a school night… maybe with leftovers on Friday? Or I could go solo with another viewing of Julie & Julia. Lots of options and pairings for this great dish that holds the best use of the sous chef’s skills. bon appétit, petits chefs!


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