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Julia Child – 6′ 2″ Queen of the Kitchen

Quote for Today: Non-cooks think it’s silly to invest two hour’s work in two minutes’ enjoyment, but if cooking is evanescent, well, so is the ballet.  Julia Child

Julia Child

Julia Child

Today we celebrate the 100th birthday of America’s Grande Dame of cooking, Julia Child.  The popular television chef and author was born Julia McWilliams in Pasadena, California to John McWilliams Jr. a Princeton graduate and investor in California  real estate and his wife, the former Julia Carolyn Weston, a paper company heiress whose father served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.

In 1930 she enrolled at Smith College in Massachusetts with the intention of becoming a writer.  At the onset of World War II, Julia moved to Washington, D.C. where she volunteered as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services, a newly formed government intelligence agency.  Here she was given assignments with her colleagues around the world playing a key role in the communication of top secret documents between U.S. Government Officials and their intelligence officers. In 1945, Julia began a relationship with her future husband, Paul Child, a fellow Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer.

After the war they returned to America and were married.  In 1948, Paul was reassigned to the U.S. Information Service and the couple moved to his new post in Paris.  It is here that Paul introduced her to his love of fine food and she was hooked.

Her first French culinary experiences were such an epiphany that she enrolled in the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in order to recreate those great dishes on her own.

Following her six month training, Julia banded with fellow students, Simone Beck and Louisetta Berthalle to collaborate on a two volume cookbook designed to teach sophisticated French cooking to mainstream Americans.

The original publisher rejected the manuscript due to its length.  The second publisher embraced the three pound cookbook and published it in 1961 under the title “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”  Here is one of the recipes from this groundbreaking book that remained the best selling cookbook for its first five years of publication.

This recipe is drawn from many sources, but has heavy influence from Julia Child. Coq au Vin is a classic French dish, and a wonderfully easy recipe.

Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin

Julia Child’s Coq au Vin

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb bacon slices
  • 20 pearl onions, peeled, or 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 lbs chicken thighs and legs, excess fat trimmed, skin ON
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine (pinot noir, burgundy, or zinfandel)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several fresh thyme sprigs
  • Several fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

Blanch the bacon by adding it to a saucepan or deep skillet filled with enough water to cover the bacon, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Strain and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the bacon into small pieces (1 inch or so).

Brown the bacon for about ten minutes over medium heat in a dutch oven large enough to hold the chicken (or a large stock pot if you don’t have a dutch oven). Remove the bacon and set aside, but leave the bacon grease in the pan (yum, so healthy).

Add the chicken skin side down to the dutch oven (or stock pot if that’s what you’re using). Add the onions. Brown the chicken on all sides; this should take about ten minutes. Add the garlic and salt about half way through the browning process.

Spoon off any excess fat. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Replace the bacon you removed earlier. Lower the heat down to a simmer and cook covered for about twenty minutes until the chicken is tasty and tender. Remove the chicken and onions and place them aside. Remove all of the herbs and garlic and throw them away.

Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and return to a boil. You’re going to make a reduction sauce with this remaining liquid, so continue boiling until about 1/4 of the liquid remains. Lower to a simmer and stir in the butter. Replace the chicken and onions and mix well, thoroughly coating with the sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve with potatoes, or over egg noodles.  Serves six.

CJ & Chef TJ

CJ & TJ

We invite you to follow our travel, entertainment and food blog.  We hope you enjoy this delicious recipe!  Happy Trails, CJ & TJ

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