julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

You’ll Roux the Day!

 

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“For the casual reader (of Mastering the Art of French Cooking), we have tried to make every recipe stand on its own. Cross references are always a problem. If there are not enough, you may miss an important point, and if there are too many you will become enraged.” – Julia Child 

After what seems like an eternal hiatus from French cuisine, I finally got back in the kitchen and cooked up a pretty mean dinner last night: Cotes de Porc Sauce Nenette (pork chops with mustard, cream and tomato sauce) with Chou-Fleur a la Mornay, Gratine (cauliflower au gratin with cheese) and corn on the cob. It seemed simple enough, and overall, it was. I started by browning the pork chops on the stove in some oil, then cooking them in the oven in butter for about thirty minutes at 325 degrees. Meanwhile, I focused on the cauliflower – I chopped an 8″ head of cauliflower into florets, then blanched them in boiling water for about ten minutes, then drained the pot and set it aside. 

pork chops

Next I was to make the mornay sauce for the cauliflower, which I discovered involved some cross-referencing. The mornay sauce begins with two cups of bechamel sauce (a white sauce), so I flipped back a few pages to remember how it was done. Butter and flour are mixed in a small saucepan over low heat until they froth together and form a roux. Then, two cups of heated milk and salt are poured into the pan off the heat and beaten together with a wire whisk before going back on the stove until it all comes to a boil. I added some salt and pepper for taste, then set it aside.
 
The timer was going off for the pork chops, so I turned my atention back to the meat. I removed them from the oven and let them cool a little while I began working on the cream sauce.I simmered cream on the stove, then added it to a mixture of tomato paste and dry mustard. Next, I took the pork chops out of the pan and set them aside and added the cream mixture to the meat juices in the pan. I brought it to a boil, and it was ready to be served over the meat. Easy!
 

Adding the sauce to the cauliflower.

 

Time to finish the cauliflower dish. I followed Julia’s directions and added a third of the white sauce to a casserole, then poured the cauliflower on top. Adding a little salt and pepper, I then poured the rest of the sauce on top, topping it off with some bread crumbs and a little bit of shredded Swiss cheese. This was all coming together quite nicely!  And then I noticed that I still had a bowl of shredded Swiss cheese with parmesan sitting on the counter. Hm. You know that feeling when you’ve just assembled a piece of furniture and it’s up and standing and you’ve come to the end of the directions only to then realize you’ve still got a handful of screws staring you in the face? This was kind of like that. I quickly flipped through the recipe for the pork chops – nope, no Swiss cheese in Sauce Nenette. The cauliflower? Nothing mentioned there. So I went back to the Sauce Mornay – and realized during the cross-reference process, I never made it to the next recipe. So instead of Sauce Mornay, I had only completed the preliminary steps of Sauce Bechamel. Rats. I looked at the bowl of cheese, then back at the cauliflower dish. And I could hear my inner voice calling out to me, “What would Julia do?” So I gave a shrug and sprinkled the cheese over the top of the casserole and popped it into the oven. Because sometimes, all you can do is move on with your life. Am I right?

Cauliflower au Gratin

When Ben got home from work, everything was ready. I served up a plate of pork chop with sauce spooned over the top, a helping of the cauliflower dish (would it be au gratin? we were about to find out!) and an ear of corn on the cob. The meat had been sitting out for about an hour before we were ready to eat, so the meat was a little tougher than I think it would have been had we eaten it straight from the oven. But no matter! The sauce was delicious (no surprise there!). I wondered if the mustard would overpower the tomato, but the flavors complimented each other perfectly. So far, so good! Now time for the test of the cauliflower (sounds like a movement from the Nutcracker, doesn’t it?). 

Dinner is served.

Ben’s first observation about the cauliflower was, “It kind of looks like potatoes au gratin.” Good start! I was skeptical as to how this had turned out, but I’m glad to announce that it was terrific! The Swiss cheese had worked its way down into the cauliflower, so while it wasn’t mixed into the creamy sauce, it still blended all together in the end. The bread crumbs were golden brown on top, and the creamy sauce had thickened a little in the oven, giving a nice contrast to the crunchier texture of the cauliflower itself. Was it a success? Ben, who has repeatedly told me he’s not a fan of cauliflower, went for seconds. I’d consider this a huge success. 

This dinner (with the exception of my own failure to remember all of the steps…*sigh*) was really easy to make. My favorite thing about it is that it was food that was familiar, but with a different twist. And while it pretty much goes without saying, I’ll say it anyway… long live the mustard, cream and tomato sauce. Amen. 

– Jessica

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2 Responses to “You’ll Roux the Day!”

  1. So it’s awesome that you’re doing this and that you’ve stuck it out this far – I don’t know where you find the time! How long does a “normal” dinner like this take you to make? Every time I read your blog I vow to try one of these recipes ASAP but I haven’t yet. I’m hoping that posting this will motivate/shame me into making something this week! :)

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks for following along! A “normal” dinner takes at least an hour…usually more like an hour and a half. Plus, each post takes about an hour to write once I get the links and photos up and running. I really encourage you to give one of these recipes a try. For the most part, they’re really not that difficult, and they’re super tasty! Your husband will love you forever. 😉 Thanks again!!

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