A not-so-instant pot

I wonder what you got up to as the New Year approached.

Did you catch up on some reading, or binge-watch a new favourite TV show? Perhaps you were energetic and got outside for some skiing or hiking.

I did have some extra quality time with my four-legged pal, but my favourite activity in the quiet time of winter is slow cooking.

There is a wonderful satisfaction that comes from mucking about in the kitchen for hours. It’s hard to do in today’s world, with all the other goings-on in almost any given day.

When you have real down time, you can make some delicious food in a simmering pot on the stove and have time to whip up a few nibbles along the way.

I don’t mean Instant Pot or crock pot cooking. I mean working on a dish that requires a bit of attention over time, adding ingredients as they are needed so that everything is perfectly cooked when the pot comes off the stove.

If you don’t know what I mean, try reading this recipe I translated from the original French while living in France. It was in an 18th century cookbook – a time when cooking a good meal was much more of a time-consuming activity.

This example offers a perspective from what we would now call a foodie.

Take one kilogram of good honest beef and tie it lovingly with an untreated string.

Place this generous parcel of meat in a paunchy clay stock pot. Add six litres of cold, clear water. From your antique wooden salt box, take a large handful of coarse crunchy salt. Let this salt also fall into your stock pot.

In the company of the beef, place a cute morsel of lamb breast or a nice pork spleen. This will give the juice in which the meats cook a better flavour.

Put your clay pot on Mr. Fire. Make sure the latter is good and hot. A whitish foam will appear on the surface of the stock. Skim it off without pity, as soon as it forms, continuing until only half of the original volume of stock is left.

Then, put carefully beside the beef three tender leeks which you have cut into pieces the length of tour finger, or thereabouts. Bind them; vagabonds that they are, wandering left and right in the tonic that encircles the cooking beef.

Add two healthy carrots, a small morsel of parsnip, an unsuspecting turnip, a glorious bay leaf and a pot-bellied onion. On the rounded surface of the onion, just like three assassinated flies, should be stuck three black cloves.

As soon as all these delectable vegetables are in your stock pot, stir up the fire so it awakens the bouillon.

You must let six hours of the clock pass by with the pot on the fire. The whole pot should boil gently, grumbling satisfactorily.

Sacrifice a few small onions, burning them shamelessly and throwing them into the pot. They will act as painters, endearing the stock with a lovely brown colour.

Skim the fat from the stock and then purée said stock as smoothly as possible.

Serve the beautiful and tender beef on a sturdy platter, surrounded by the loyal vegetables which cooked in its company. There should be a proud steam and delicious odour escaping from all.

Mustard from Burgundy may aid in the digestion of these foods. For the wine, a red wine will do nicely, not noble but strong – rather thick, full-bodied, and having spent at least six months in a secure cellar.

Condiments for the meal:

Rustic flowers on the table, around which should be the bright and happy faces of women, the familiar face of an old friend, the attentive eyes of a loving dog (who undoubtedly also loves human food), the triangular muzzle (deceivingly indifferent and disdainful) of the cat – who asks for nothing but watches nevertheless; a hearty stomach, happiness and good health; and the absence of thought for anything which is not part of the dinner.

Outside, the fairy scene of sparkling Parisian lights or the touching charm of a country garden.

Without these essential condiments, alas, the most exquisite meal will seem bland.

You might not want to attempt duplicating the recipe verbatim, but doesn’t it sound like something you’d love to savour one evening with friends?

Here is my adapted modern version.

I wish you more down time as the New Year begins – a chance to savour a delectable meal, to sit back and enjoy thinking of only the moment at hand.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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