Entente Cordiale – French Beef Bourguignon With English Dumplings… Umpired With Swiss Chard

“Michael Codron told me this story about Lady Dorothy Macmillan saying to Mme de Gaulle at the Elysée Palace, ‘Now that your husband has achieved so much, is there any particular wish, any desire that you have for the future?’ and Madame replied, ‘Yes – a penis’. Whereupon Gen de Gaulle leaned over and said, ‘No, my dear, in English it is pronounced Happiness'”

From Kenneth William’s diary, 10 April 1966

This is a very French recipe for a beef stew with red wine, with the very English addition of suet dumplings (you can substitute with fried pieces of French bread if you prefer).

In fact, it’s a marriage made in heaven – as Florence White said in Good Things In England,

“There is no reason why the famous French cuisine and our fine traditional English cookery should be bitter rivals”

The pine nuts, raisins and cinnamon in the Swiss chard add a sweetness and depth to the whole. Swiss chard is at its best from July to November.

Boeuf Bourgignon was a favourite of Julia Child – the cookery writer who introduced french cooking into the United States in the early fifties (she used chuck rather than shin). Watch the first few minutes of the first episode of her television series, below, then look at the mastery with which Meryl Streep impersonates her in the film Julia and Julie.

“Or take the beef stew, that favourite of brownie and girl scout leaders for cooking projects. People are always messing it up, mostly men.  A good cook I know was given something really awful by a fellow. It was stew alright, but the meat had the texture of jerky. She was curious, and after almost breaking a tooth, asked how he had achieved this strange, leatherlike substance.

‘The recipe said to sauté until brown’, said the fellow. ‘So I did’.

‘And how long did you do it for?’ she asked.

‘Oh, an hour or so’, he replied.”

-Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking: A Writer In The Kitchen

Below watch both the REAL Julia Child….. and the masterly Meryl Streep, playing her, larger than life, in the trailer of the film, Julia and Julie.

Music to listen to

You might also like…

Our other French recipes

To read our interviews with professional chefs

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