No, I’m not Rachmaninoff, or his muse Paganini, but I took on a master. Chef, that is.
The first recipe I ever made from Mastering the Art of French Cooking was Julia Child’s French Onion Soup.
So, I broke down a five pound chicken, onion, garlic, carrots and celery and made chicken stock. The last hour I caramelized five large onions in oil and butter with salt, pepper, thyme and a bit of sugar.
I refrigerated the stock and onions separately overnight and skimmed the stock of fat today, then measured out 8 cups to heat and season while I brought the onions up in another pot and added flour to cook out.
The resulting soup needed more stock so I added perhaps another cup, then at the end, before adding 2T cognac I added 1T buerre manie to thicken it a bit more. I had to keep tasting and adding salt and pepper without reducing too much to oversalt.
I’d made toasts with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil the day before, and had to try some “sharp” Wisconsin Swiss cheese on top. Soup was hot, I assembled the soup, toast, and cheese and broiled until the cheese bubbled. It was served with a salad of bitter and spring greens.
A neighbor tried a bowl and just said “Yum yum yum.” As for me, I spent over an hour caramelizing the onions and it didn’t look as good as if I’d made a beef broth. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great, it just didn’t look like the traditional French onion soup underneath the cheese and crouton.
I generally do not like canned or boxed beef broths. I keep a box of chicken broth at all times as the non-spoiled dog has a Tbsp. at every meal, and find some OK. The veggie stocks I’d rather make myself because all the store-bought taste tinny or are “off” in one way or another for my tastes.
Lessons learned. Tasty stock, soup, onions, croutons and Wisconsin cheese but it just didn’t feel right. Sorry, Julia. The beauty is that we all get to make mistakes. Another lesson: don’t ever try out all new recipes for an impressive dinner. Try things out beforehand, we all have family and friends as guinea pigs, but stick with something with which you are comfortable. Cheers, TGIF, Dee