When the Cat’s Away…

The mice will eat beef.

Boeuf Bourguignon

I saw a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon in the local paper a couple of weeks ago. The article claimed that it tasted just like the Boeuf Bourguignon served at a former restaurant in Salt Lake called “Le Parisien”. The restaurant, owned by Max Mercier, was an icon in Salt Lake from 1970 until 2001. It was one of the first (and few) French restaurants in Utah, and really brought French cuisine to the average Joe. The food was not only incredibly good, it was very reasonably priced. They served fabulous Italian food as well, for those who weren’t quite sure about that weird French stuff. Like many people in Utah, this was the restaurant where I first had escargot. Since it was so close to my office, I went there frequently for lunch. I actually cried when it closed. I don’t remember the details, but I think it was an issue with the property. The lot it once stood on is now a bank drive-through. “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot” always springs to mind when I drive by the former location.

When I saw this recipe, it brought back a lot of memories. Knowing that the Pontiff would be gone this weekend, I decided I’d use the opportunity to make it.

Does it taste just like Max’s? Well, to be honest, it’s been so long since I had it at Le Parisien, I can’t really say for sure. But it’s definitely yummy. I was originally planning to share some with my neighbor, but I decided to keep it all for myself, greedy thing that I am.

But let me tell you – it’s a real labor of love. I’m glad I made it, but it took two days, a sinkload of pots, pans and bowls, and hours of work. And it’s not exactly a bargain meal, either. Would I make it again? To be honest, probably not. At least, not unless I planned to have a very special dinner party for fellow mourners of Le Parisien. After all, my husband can’t eat it, and I wouldn’t bother making it again just for myself. I like to cook, but I’m lazy. I don’t relish spending hours of my time cooking, if I can get similar results with far less time and effort. If I can get a good meal done in less than an hour, I’m happy. (More time for knitting.)

On the other hand, I know some people who love the actual preparation, and enjoy making things that take hours to create. This is right up their alley.

This recipe was really fussy – marinate the beef with a bunch of vegetables, then pick out the beef and brown it. Then put the beef back with the veggies and marinade and cook it all together. Then pick out all of the beef, strain the veggies out of the broth, boil the broth, then mix the broth and beef together. Meanwhile, boil bacon in water and then fry it in a pan. Mix with the beef. Then saute mushrooms in a pan. Mix with the beef. The whole time I was making it, I was laughing, since all I could think of was the “Kramp Easy Lube Fourth of July Heritage Loaf” segment from “The Groove Tube“. Yes, I’m that old. And I know this isn’t quite as funny as it was in 1975, but it pretty much sums up how I felt while making this recipe.

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10 Responses to When the Cat’s Away…

  1. Carole says:

    It sounds delicious! I don’t mind meals that take time to prepare but what I mostly mean is something I throw in the oven and then leave, like a roast chicken or pot roast or something.
    As for escargot, I had them first at Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston and I thought I was so elegant! I was 12. đŸ™‚

  2. stephie says:

    Le Parisien is where my hubsand and I had our first date and he got me to try escargot. It is also where I met my future father-in-law for the first time, where we had our wedding rehearsal dinner. It closed within a year of my father-in-law’s death. It seemed very fitting at the time but my hubby and I have missed the food and the resturant.

  3. Chris says:

    My goodness – I’m not sure there’s anything in the world that could entice me to make such a labor-intensive meal!

  4. debbie says:

    Hilarious video. And you sure go all out when the hub’s gone. At least you got to take a shortcut on the squash!

  5. Cookie says:

    Sounds like a wonderful meal to have someone else make for you. ;^)

  6. Monica says:

    I ate at Le Parisien for the first time at age 12, when my junior high French teacher took a bunch of French I students there for dinner. Repeated when I was in French II, and French III. Once I was an adult, my brother would take me there every year for my birthday dinner. I was also very sad when it closed. Max’s Italian salad dressing was killer. As was the escargot.

  7. margene says:

    It was fun to catch you in the act when I called last night. It looks delicious!!!

  8. Nora says:

    Yum. That’s the sort of thing you need to do once in a while, as an exercise. I’ve made Julia Child’s preparation from The Way to Cook exactly once. Delicious, but effort to reward ratio was not satisfactory – I have a couple of Italian beef stew recipes that take about 20 minutes to get into the pot to simmer away, and they are every bit as delicious – IMHO.

  9. Miss T says:

    Oh good grief, that’s a much more labor intensive version than what I’ve made. Try either Barefoot Contessa or Mark Bittman for a less pesty recipe. I think I made the Contessa’s last time, and it was fabulous.

  10. Laurie says:

    Nope, never saw Kramps, and am sitting here LOL.

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