|Lamb stew, ready for cooking|
Then I watched another episode of The French Chef. Julia was working with chicken livers and made timbales. Oh, how I wanted to make those right now (which was quite impossible, as I was watching tv in bed, it was late, and I had no chicken livers in the house). An appetizer of timbales followed by the lamb. A lovely French meal.
I had, by the time I was watching Julia make timbales, already bought my lamb. Everything was ready. My beans were soaking. The lamb recipe contains only a few ingredients (one of which is butter). I did have some reservations about it. It is a stovetop meal, while I prefer to see my bean dishes cook slowly in the oven. There were other items too, but this time I was going to make it exactly as the recipe said. It it were a success, I could tweak it later.
I also knew I was breaking the First Rule of Dinner Party Planning. Yeah, we were having a small dinner party and I was trying new dishes. Probably not the best idea, but I really did want to experiment. And I now that I won't be having much opportunity to experiment in the kitchen in the next few days. As part of my tasks on Sunday, I bought some chicken livers for the timbales.
|The remains, after things|
The recipe called for topping the dish with a béarnaise. I'd never made one before, not even a hollandaise. All that cooking; I just don't do fussy French sauces. It's not too bad. When I was done with it, it was smooth, rich, and bright with tarragon and vinegar. I wanted to drizzle béchamel across everything. It was worth the effort in getting it done.
Thought I shouldn't have bothered hurrying. The sauce ended up ready long before I could corral people into eating the timbales. I was worried that the béarnaise was going to cool and coagulate, so I kept it on a very low flame. While I was unmolding the timbales, the sauce broke. I was ready to cry. This couldn't be worse.
And the timbales. Our guests were polite; I didn't have to be. These were unimpressive. Kinda dull, actually. The clotted béarnaise didn't improve matter any. This was a kitchen failure. The successful part was the biggest failure. A rich dish that just wasn't worth eating.
I redeemed myself a little with the lamb. This was an easy dish, but it had some problems. Despite that Bernard directed that a spoonful of flour be stirred in before the stewing, the liquid was thin (though flavorful). The next time I do this, I'm going to try it in the oven for a longer, slower braise, and at the end, I'll thicken the sauce, perhaps taking a cue from Julia Child and use a beurre manié. And maybe those little onions too.
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