FEEDING THE BARBARIAN
Please note that the heathen bastard (of great talent and ability) was, in fact, European. More European than that very able and talented bastard one can scarcely find.
Although, in contrast to many of the modern natives of the area where once he lived, he probably stank less, and washed more.
Perhaps an un-European characteristic of his.
"Ubi nunc est illa ferocia, ubi semper insida mobilitas?"
['Where now is that famed ferocity of yours, that ever insidious fickleness?']
---Eumenius, sneering at the Franks, fourth century C.E.
The area where Eumenius lived was on the border zone of Germanic dominance, and later briefly became the north-easternernmost extent of Muslim military penetration into Europe. Fortunately for the natives, neither curse had much lasting effect on Burgundy.
One suspects that the history of French viticulture might have been quite different otherwise - the Dutch (descendants of the Franks) and Arabs are not known for their wines, though both are notorious for their keen appreciation of intoxicants.
The ferocity of the modern Dutchman may be easily tamed by boeuf à la Bourguignonne with nice crisp frites and a salad on the side. Accompanied by a few glasses of Pinot Noir.
The Arab will necessarily require a different approach.
Beef, onions, and mushrooms, slow-cooked in wine and stock.
With lardoons, carrot, and parsley.
Generously augment a little olive oil at the bottom of a stewpot by rendering the grease from a few chunks of bacon. Remove the bacon before it browns, set it aside. Brown beef chunks herein nicely, remove and set aside also. Gild sliced carrot and onion in the pan, pour off the excess grease, and add the beef and bacon, plus salt, pepper, and a dusting of flour. Toss to coat evenly, and agitate the ingredients over heat. Do this carefully, as you wish the flour to contribute good flavours when browned, rather than a burnt taste if blackened.
Add a smidge of tomato paste, then pour in equal measures of good red wine and beef stock to cover. Add a bay leaf and one or two cloves of garlic. Set it to simmer for two or three hours on very low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
Meanwhile, sauté a number of small onions, rolling them about in the pan, till they are fairly golden evenly all around.
Take some of the liquid from the meat pot and add it to the onions to cover, with another bay leaf, and simmer on very low heat till the liquid has reduced down to zilch. Set the onions aside.
Now sauté a bunch of thick-sliced mushrooms barely golden. And set aside.
When the meat is tender, add the small onions and thick-sliced mushrooms on top. If the stew is too liquid, decant much of the sauce to a saucepan and reduce it to velvety-glazy, then pour it back over. Let everything simmer a few minutes together, before strewing plenty of chopped parsley over and putting it on the table.
If you cannot manage crispy fries alongside, noodles or potatoes are also good accompaniments.
Plus a loaf of good bread.
You will note that I did not give precise quantities.
You know what you want: more meat than small onions, more onions than mushrooms, and more of all of that than the carrot. Just eyeball it. The key is careful sautéing, slow simmering, and a judicious layering of flavours, to achieve a dish of tender chunks with a rich and velvety sauce.
If you are unsure of yourself, invite me over.
I will gladly sample your first attempt.
And I'll even bring the wine.
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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.