I know that my timing couldn’t be more clichéd, especially with the arrival of Julia & Julie in theaters, but I just recently picked up my own copy of both volumes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It really is an overwhelming collection of recipes, and thumbing through it gives you an idea of just how much work both women put into it.
I wanted to start with something simple, and preferably something that could use some of the beef I just picked up from Charlie Munford at Flying M Farm. There aren’t many recipes for ground beef, but the first one really caught my eye. Bifteck Haché À La Lyonnaise, a very French version of a hamburger.
Looking over the recipe, the first thing that I noticed is the beef is mixed with a fat before cooking. Having the choice of softened butter, ground beef suet, beef marrow or pork fat, I chose the ever convenient butter. However, regular butter just seemed a little blasé, so I started with a recipe on page 101 for garlic butter.
Starting with a fresh bulb, I pulled out 7 or so good looking cloves, but I didn’t peel them.
Instead they went straight into a pot of boiling water for 5 seconds.
They didn’t look that different after fishing them out.
And they came out looking much the same.
Now with my trusty mortar and pestle, I started to crush the garlic.
I decided to add the optional 1-2 tablespoons of minced parsley.
With my garlic butter ready, it was time to move on to the beef. The recipe calls for ¾ cup of finely minced yellow onions, but instead of adding them to the beef right away, I need to sweat the onions with butter.
Everything was then thoroughly blended and formed into patties.
The recipe says this makes 6 hamburgers, and those are some sizeable hamburgers.
I immediately moved on to the cooking stage of the recipe and got my skillet ready with 1 tb of butter and 1 tb of olive oil.
Melted butter and oil is an exciting thing, isn’t it? Anyway, before introducing the patties to a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, I gave them a good roll in a ½ cup of flour.
Looking for a good sear, I was delighted to hear the sound of sizzling when the burgers hit the pan.
With another 3-4 minutes of cooking, I was ready to make a sauce for the burgers.
I thought I was prepared but I couldn’t find my beef stock anyway in the freezer, so I resorted to a box of beef stock. The idea is to boil the stock and scrape up all the fond on the bottom on the fan.
I picked one off the platter and decided to see if my labor had been a waste.
I might have undercooked the burger a little, but everything else about the dish was nearly perfect. The sauce was rich and decadent and the burgers were just as unctuous and bursting with flavor. All in all it seems to be a pretty precocious start for my first attempt at a Julia Child recipe.