Friday, August 15, 2008

Julia Child is the Reason I'm a Personal Chef

Today is Julia Child's birthday. 

She would have been 96. 

Born August 15, 1912 Julia started her storied career as "The French Chef" in 1963. Her cookbook bible "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (1961), a 734~page door stop was originally rejected from the publisher Houghton Mifflin as "being too much like an encyclopedia." My copy is dog~eared and has a broken spine but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  

I remember watching the later years of "The French Chef" and later, "Julia Child & Company" (1978-1979). Truth be told, I didn't understand much of what she was saying and doing ~ I just know that I liked watching her combine everyday ingredients turning out beautiful masterpieces. Or, tell us when it didn't quite turn out right. 

Regardless, the most important thing she taught me is that no matter how good you are in the kitchen, sometimes things don't go according to plan. Cakes don't rise, omelets fall apart, you forget an ingredient.  

Believe me, if there's a mistake to be made in the kitchen, I've made it.  

So thank you Julia Child. For your amazing recipes, your selflessness and most of all your humor.  

Here's one of my favorite recipes from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

As Julia would say ~ Bon Appétit!

Chicken Broiled With Mustard, Herbs and Breadcrumbs
Serves 8

2 ~ 2 1/2 pound broiler~fryer chickens, quartered
1/3c butter
2T olive oil
1/3c Dijon mustard
3T shallots, finely minced
1/2t dried thyme, basil or tarragon
1/8t black pepper, freshly ground
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4c breadcrumbs, fresh ~ do not use packaged crumbs

Preheat broiler.

Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Melt butter and olive oil together and baste chicken with the mixture.

Place chicken, skin side down, in bottom of a broiling pan, rack removed. Place pan in oven so that chicken is 5~6" away from the heat.

Broil 10 minutes per side, basting every 5 minutes. Chicken should be very lightly browned. Sprinkle with salt.

Blend Dijon mustard with shallots, herbs, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Drop by drop, beat in 1/2 of the basting fat from the broiler pan whisking constantly until emulsified into a mayonnaise~like cream. Brush the mustard mixture onto the chicken pieces.

Pour breadcrumbs onto a large plate, roll mustard~coated chicken in crumbs and arrange chicken, skin side down, on the broiling rack. Dribble half of the remaining basting fat over chicken pieces.

Brown under broiler, about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken, baste with remaining fat, and cook another 10 minutes, or until juices run clear.


Chef Debbie said...

And now we know she and her husband were both OSS agents! She certainly was a multi-faceted woman, and what an exciting life she led.

I'll try this chicken recipe. My favorite is her Beef Burgundy (although I have to admit that I don't peel all those tiny onions, I just use frozen or chopped white onions). She holds a warm place in my heart, too.

Yummy~issimo! said...

I love the OSS story ~ it just adds even more color to this already larger than life lady. Who knows what more tasty tidbits we'll find out in the future...