Cooking with Julia Childs

All trussed up and ready for the softened butter

I really enjoyed the movie Julie and Julia.

I’d never taken the time to look at Julia Child et al’s famous book Mastering the Art of French Cooking so when I went into Borders this morning armed with my voucher and a ‘must use’ directive, I spent some time flicking through the pages. I decided that I’d buy  it – for the narrative alone. It’s delightful and Meryl Streep playing Julia Child made enough impact to intrigue me!

With no time like the present to try one of her famous recipes, I scanned the index then checked the list of ingredients needed for the Roast Chicken (stuffed) recipe on page 243. Mastering the Art of French Cookery has no glossy pictures, you have to read carefully and use your imagination. I was thinking crispy golden brown. With a fresh free range chicken sitting in the fridge I only needed to get a couple more items. Gizzards proved impossible, as did heart. Sorry JC – our fresh chickens don’t come with all their bits any more.

The recipe uses a stuffing made with those missing bits, plus the livers, cream cheese, butter, bread and herbs and smells delicious once made…we have to make concessions to the French who obviously love their butter and cream. Dieters beware!

Instructions (with line drawn diagrams) for trussing the chicken are found on page 237. Well, I’d never trussed a chicken correctly before, and because I didn’t happen to have a 10inch large-eyed needle on hand (to insert through the widest part of the chicken) – I still didn’t. But I did get close – I learn something new every day!

Once sealed, slathering butter over the plump bird wasn’t a problem – undoubtedly very good for my skin. Getting my hands into the task, messing about in all that soft butter was delicious feeling … the way it squishes through your fingers is like playing with wet clay.

I followed the cooking times, basting it every 15 minutes with the pan juices, and then with cream during the last ten minutes. I made the sauce as instructed, and … hey presto, you see big bird below.

It tasted as good as it looks ... even better actually!

What to try next?

No, I won’t be producing a daily diary of my efforts. That’s been done!

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