Monday, February 14, 2011

Eating through the Six Nations #2: Ireland vs France (Leek and Potato Soup, Beef Bourguignon)

Today was going to be a tough test, for both my cooking skills and the Irish team. For the last few years, the French rugby team has been very strong and a huge challenge for the boys in green to overcome. Really though, if you compare, Ireland has a meagre population of around 4 million, while France is in excess of 62 million. That this little island can even compete with a country that has more than 15x the amount of people to make their rugby team from is impressive. But whatever the stats, today was going to be a difficult game. France were the defending Grand Slam champions too, so it would have been really nice to unseat them. I was a little tense leading up to the game and made sure all the windows were closed as I didn't want to scare my neighbours when I screeched and jumped around during the game as I am prone to do.

To take some of the pressure off I decided to make Beef Bourguignon a la Julia Child. I do not recommend that you try this recipe if you are looking for a way to wind down. Unless this sort of recipe is therapeutic for you.

But first the Irish recipe. So the potato is the quintessential Irish ingredient, right? Potato and leek soup is pretty popular here and something I really enjoy personally. Its really easy too.

Leek and Potato Soup (adapted from Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course)

25g butter
225g potatoes, peeled and diced
55g onions, finely diced
175g white parts of the leeks, sliced
salt and pepper
425ml chicken stock

Melt the butter in a heavy pot. When it foams, add the potatoes, onions and leeks, turning them to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover and sweat for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are just cooked.

Liquidise until smooth and adjust seasoning to taste. You can add milk or cream if you like but I didn't feel it needed it.


The soup was delicious! I haven't tried to make potato and leek from scratch before as I'm not a fan of having butter or oil in my soups but I will be making this one again. It was really, really good. It would be great on a chilly, rainy day with a slice of brown bread. And it came together very quickly, start to finish in about 30 minutes.

The main course did not go so quickly. I started around 2:30 and we ate at 7:30. It was a lot of work.

I read Julie and Julia over Christmas and I really enjoyed it. I haven't seen the movie and had never heard of Julia Child (gasp!) but the way Julie Powell writes and how she found a satisfaction cooking Julia's recipes that she couldn't find in life just spoke to me. And I of course loved all the food talk :) The one recipe that really stayed with me was the beef bourguignon. It sounded like a pain in the butt, but was apparently delicious and worth the effort. Once I googled it, there were lots of references to Julia Child's recipe, and I felt like a real dunce for not having heard of her. Ha ha. 

The recipe out of the book was a little hard to follow, so I keep looking for others who made it that may have a smoother description of the recipe. I found one here that looked good and easier to follow. I must have read it at least 8 times (seriously!) to make sure I could organize myself.

It came out really tasty. The meat was fall-apart tender and the sauce turned into a rich beefy-winey-bacony-gravy. The onions were browned in butter and oil before being simmered in stock. They were gorgeous. It was a really tasty dinner, but to be honest I doubt I'll make it again. For the amount of time it took (and to be honest, I'd rather drink the wine than simmer beef in it) and the cost of it (about €35), I'll stick with my Irish stew. That being said, it was tasty and I'm glad I did it.

There's something going on with my uploader so I can't show you any more pictures. I'll give it another go tomorrow.

Result: France 25 - Ireland 22

Hmm ... maybe I wasn't more impressed with the beef bourguignon because France won ... ah no. Its a great recipe. If you have 3lb of stew meat and a bottle of red wine going begging give it a go. Do it for Julia :)

So tell me: are you a fan of Julia Child?


Jenn x

1 comment:

  1. i love the sound of the beef :)
    i didn't know who julia child was until i saw the movie!