Update 27: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Session 18: Basic Stuffings was pretty fun.  I made two Demonstrations: Paupiettes de Boeuf (Stuffed Beef Rolls) and Lègumes Farcis (Stuffed Vegetables).

For the Stuffed Beef Rolls, I first had to make some duxelles. I melted some butter in a medium pan over medium heat and sautéed some shallots (ciselé) until they had sweated their liquid, then added in mushrooms cut in a very small dice (brunoise). In went some salt and pepper to taste, and I cooked until almost all of the liquid was gone from the pan.  Then, I removed from heat, added in some fresh tarragon and parsley and set aside.  For the beef rolls, I thinly sliced pieces from a piece of top round Kobe beef so that I had four half-pound pieces. I pounded each piece into thin scallops (escalopes) and set aside. After that, I took about 7 oz. of ground veal and stirred the duxelles into it, adding more salt/pepper as needed.

Once that was well mixed, I had to test it to make sure it was seasoned correctly, which meant that I made a small patty and fried it until cooked through and tasted it. (It needed a bit more pepper.) I took one scallop of meat at a time, put a quarter of the mushroom mixture in the middle and then folded the opposite sides into the center. From there, I rolled it into a neat meat packet (paupiette), securing with toothpicks.  My fourth packet ripped, so I ended up making two smaller pieces from that one.  I put some butter and vegetable oil in an ovenproof pan and seared the pieces until browned, then set them aside.  I drained extra fat from the pan, and then added more butter for my garnish ingredients -- minced onions and carrots cut brunoise. I cooked the vegetables for a few minutes until they started to soften and then stirred in some red wine, scraping up the sucs from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  I brought this to a simmer until reduced by half and then added the paupiettes back in.  I added veal stock until it came halfway up the sides of the meat and returned it to a simmer.  Then, I covered the pan and put it in the oven, which had been preheated to 300 degrees.  This baked for about 30 minutes, until the meat was well cooked (I turned a few times, and basted it with the stock).  Then, the meat was removed with a slotted spoon, put on a warm plate, and tented with foil.

For the sauce, I removed any fat from the surface of the liquid and added a bit more salt and pepper, and then heated it over the stove until it was "reduced to desired consistency" -- I wanted my consistency to be a semi-thick sauce, which it was after cooling, but when I first napped the meat with it, it seemed on the thin side. Oh well.  I removed the toothpicks from the meat and cut each packet into thin slices and arranged them on a plate with the sauce.  I wasn't sure what to think of this overload of meat, but it wasn't terrible.  The tarragon definitely stood out, and the veal went well with the beef. However, all I could think about was, Am I eating the baby cow and its parent at the same time?

For the Stuffed Vegetables, I was working with mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes.  I took a large zucchini (washed/dried) and cut off the ends. Then, I cut it into four even pieces (about 5 cm each, give or take) and hollowed out about 3/4 of the flesh from the center of each piece with a grapefruit spoon and then cooked them à l'étuvé (cover with parchment round and cook slowly in own juices a bit of butter and salt, and very little water). I removed them from the pan and patted them dry. I chopped up any leftover pieces and the scooped-out flesh into small pieces.  For the tomatoes, I took two large ripe ones (washed/dried) and cut them in half crosswise, scooping out and discarding about a third of the pulp and all of the seeds from each piece, then I salt and peppered and set aside.  For the mushrooms, I took large button mushrooms (cleaned) and removed their stems.  I chopped up the stems and added to the zucchini. I heated some butter in a small pan and added the mushrooms, cap side down, and cooked a few minutes until slightly soft, then seasoned with salt/pepper and transferred them to paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, I heated some olive oil in a pan and fried some cubed bacon that I had blanched earlier. Once browned, I added some shallots and then, after a minute, some garlic.  After that was nicely sautéed, I added in the zucchini and mushroom mixture and cooked for another 10 minutes or so, until the moisture had evaporated. Then, I added some fresh thyme and some salt/pepper to taste, cooking for one more minute, before removing from the heat and setting aside.  I also had some of the veal mixture left over from the stuffed meat, so I browned that in another pan until cooked through and then chopped it very fine, before adding to the stuffing mixture.

Once the stuffing had cooled, I stirred in some grated Parmesan cheese and then filled each of the vegetables with a bit of it.  I heated the oven to 350 degrees and put a thin layer of chicken stock in the bottom of a baking pan and then added the stuffed vegetables.  I sprinkled with a bit more cheese and baked until everything was heated through, about 10 minutes.  The book suggests putting the cooked vegetables under the broiler for even more color, but since Chris and I will eat this for dinner tomorrow, I will do that extra step when I reheat them.  These came out really well, and I especially loved the tomatoes.

Definitely two nice, colorful dishes for a summer evening.

Yum and yum.

Now, on to Session 19: Organ Meats.

Liver and sweetbreads and kidneys, oh my!