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

Two All-Beef Patties, Special Sauce…

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“I’m not going to blow sunshine up your (skirt), Jus Lie is no miracle or anything, but it’s a nice enough simple clear sauce.” – Julie Powell 

After Wednesday’s powerful fish soup (whose odor, by the way, is still permeating my entire house), I decided we should return to the familiar. And so my next Julia creation was one of our favorites, Bifteck Hache a la Lyonnaise (ground beef with onions and herbs) with Jus Lie (starched-thickened brown sauce). The patties I’ve made before, but the sauce was a new venture.

The exciting thing I discovered about the beef patties was that I remembered how to make them without relying on the cookbook! Granted, this was my third time to cook them, but it was encouraging nonetheless to think that maybe I actually really am learning something from all of this. I sauteed some minced onion in a little bit of butter, then scooped them into a mixing bowl. I then added ground beef, an egg, some salt, pepper and thyme and a little bit of butter. Using a wooden spoon, I stirred the ingredients together until they were well mixed, then formed four patties with my hands.

The stove, hard at work.

I set the patties on wax paper while I heated some oil and butter in a large pan, then (my favorite part) I dusted the meat with flour before setting them carefully into the heated fat. With vents, fans and the air conditioning blazing, I was able to minimize the amount of smoke that filled the kitchen, and it wasn’t long before the patties were cooked through. I set them aside while I focused on the sauce and steamed some corn on the cob (hey, we buy it in bulk and it hangs out in our freezer – it’s readily available and super easy, what can I say?).

The sauce didn’t take long at all to whip up. I scooped a bit of cornstarch into a small saucepan, then stirred in a couple tablespoons of cold beef stock. To that I added a cup of boiling beef stock and let it thicken and simmer for about five minutes. As a final touch I poured in a little Madeira wine for extra flavor and let it cook a little longer to burn off some of the alcohol.

Hamburger patty with sauce and corn

When Ben came home, he served us each a beef patty topped with sauce and an ear of corn. With this sinus infection, I didn’t have much of an appetite, so this was plenty of food for me. I was impressed with my burgers – they were cooked perfectly, tender and juicy on the inside and a little crispy on the outside (that flour coating adds a nice touch). As Ben brought his fork to his mouth, he stopped. “Did you use Cognac in the sauce?” he asked, remembering my faux pas with the filet the other night. I shook my head. “Madeira wine,” I answered, and he looked at me skeptically. “Did you cook it long enough? It smells really strong – like Jack Daniels sauce.” Heck, with this pitiful nose, I could hardly smell anything, so we gave it a taste. He was right. Even though I thought I’d cooked it long enough, the sauce did still taste a bit of alcohol. But more than that, it seemed kind of thin and runny, and the overall flavor didn’t do much for me. Again, it could be that my taste buds are a little wacky right now, but I wasn’t real thrilled with how this turned out. The meat itself was great, so at least there’s that.

Did I mention I made them from memory?

Sometimes it’s okay to realize that a small victory is still a victory.

In other news, I’ve got a duck in the freezer and some carrots to glaze…things are about to get interesting!

– Jessica

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