Years ago, I had a dish of boeuf aux carottes in a suburban bistro in Paris. Accompanied with noodles and a glass of beaujolais nouveau, it was absolutely divine (although I had a strong suspicion it was actually horse). I have tried several times since to reproduce this classic French dish, without success. This version, cooked by Steve recently using a recipe in a magazine, is as close as I have ever tasted — the tarragon is an inspired touch. Lovely with either noodles or baked potatoes to mop up the sauce.
Effort versus results: 10 out of 10. It only took me about 10 minutes to prepare, plus another 3 for the buttered cabbage we had with it. Excellent in the pressure cooker; if you don’t have one it will probably need about 3 hours.
This is real traditional French bourgeois cooking. To be truly authentic, it should be served with plainly boiled white rice to soak up the sauce, but pasta or steamed new potatoes are also possibilities.
[note for purists — strictly speaking this should probably be called Fricassée, not Blanquette, as the meat is browned before cooking]
For 4 people:
The Polynesian national dish, as prepared on a Tahitian beach.
Note: when not on a beach in Tahiti it is much more practical to just buy coconut milk in a can or package. We found it was thicker than the fresh-off-the-tree variety so you could dilute it a bit with water.
Devised by Steve from several different recipes, this is the best sauce for mussels I have ever tasted. It deserves small, fresh moules de bouchot (grown on posts in Brittany). Make sure you have lots of French bread for mopping up the sauce. This will serve six as a starter, or 3-4 as a main course.
I must confess I am not fond of cassoulet as it is served in the Aude — too stodgy and grease-laden — but this is something else entirely, lighter and much more digestible.
Mounjettes is the name given to dried haricot beans. They do need to be good quality for this dish, and preferably the new season’s harvest. The dish is much more liquid than cassoulet de Castelnaudary, and it’s traditional to serve the sauce first as a soup, with bread broken into it, followed by the beans and meat. We also had a lovely green salad with this, freshly plucked from the garden.