I am trying something new for Sunday dinner. I enjoy Vietnamese cuisine from time to time. It is the exotic and perfumed side I find so appealing. I am dining with an old friend who loved when I made bo kho. Today I revisit this with adding red wine, tomato, and chicken stock. I keep the perfumed side, but I like a lighter and more elegant broth. This recipe takes a long time; it kept my mind off of some tragic current events, and my old friend meanwhile was more concerned with EUFA football and video games.
Bo kho bourguignon
– 30mL tablespoons duck fat
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 3 star anise
– 1 small piece of ginger
– 1 stick of cinnamon (Saigon)
– 1 onion
– 2 bay leaves
– 3 stalks of lemongrass
– 15mL 5-spice power
Fond blanc de volaille
– 2 wings of a chicken and its carcass
– 1.5L water
– coarse salt
Bo Kho bourguignon
– 1kg beef
– 1.5L fond blanc
– 2 Roma tomatoes
– 750mL red wine (Brouilly)
– 500mL coconut water
– fish sauce
– poached breasts and thighs
– rice vermicelli
– 6 medium carrots, sugar, butter
Proportions are for six people, or one normal person and another really hungry person.
Prepare the ingredients. Garlic cloves that are old should have their germ removed. The ginger is sliced lengthwise. The lemongrass is muddled. The onion is peeled. The tomatoes are peeled, cored, and chopped. The chicken is carved; you should get 2 breasts and thighs, and the carcass and 2 wings. Cut the beef into cubes, rub them in the 5-spice powder. Carrots are peeled and cut into uniform two bite pieces.
In a pan melt 15mL duck fat over moderate heat. Add garlic, star anise, ginger, cinnamon, and lemongrass. Cook a minute or two. Remove the aromatic with a fork and transfer to a large cocotte. In the same pan, colour the chicken carcass and wings. Once coloured, transfer to another pot filled with 1.5L of cold water and start to boil. Meanwhile in the first pan, over high heat and with the rest of the duck fat, sear the pieces of beef and transfer to the cocotte. In the same pan, add the tomatoes and cook, adding some wine if it gets too dry; finally transfer to the cocotte. At this point, if the chicken has boiled, reduce slightly and simmer for 45 minutes. Pour the rest of the wine in the cocotte along with the coconut water and bay leaves. I am using a bottle of good Brouilly, so it’s OK to steal a little sip for a taste. It’s slightly tainted, but still really lovely and charming. It’s showing the lighter side of red fruits and delicately floral. The structure is silky and it finishes with energy. I am going to get more of these bottles as I regret slightly dumping this into a stew.
Meanwhile prepare another pot of water with a handful of coarse salt. There should be enough water to submerge the breasts and thighs. When the water reaches a roiling boil, plunge the pieces of chicken skin side first, and turn off the heat. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
Now glaze the carrots. In a pan with a tight fitting lid, place the carrots, with either a bit of white wine or a bit of the liquid from the chicken stock, about 30mL. Cover and let the liquid steam, then reduce the heat and let cook 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle some sugar, and drop in a lump of butter. Cook over moderate heat and roll the carrots around the pan. They should become shiny and appetizing. Set aside.
It is time to verify the chicken after 30 minutes. If the probe inserted into the thigh is not hot enough, bring the water to a slight boil again, and turn off again.
Uncover the cocotte and pour in the chicken stock through a sieve. Bring to a boil and skim off impurities. Cover and simmer 2 hours.
Submerge rice vermicelli in hot water. Remove the breast and thighs because I’m sure they are done by now. Let cool and then slice.
For the service, I divide up the rice vermicelli into bowls with carrots and basil leaves. The hot cocotte is brought to the table and hot liquid is ladled into the bowls. If the beef used were flank, brisket, shank, or even shoulder, the meat would still taste nice. But if you are dealing with a meathead who bought stir frying steak, it will be dry and tasteless, yet they will still eat it because it apparently will become muscle. Not that I’m complaining, he looks good, but wouldn’t be fantastic if it went to brain matter instead. Fish sauce is optional for those who like it salty. This is very perfumed and delicate yet balanced on the palate. As you try to enjoy the food over your convive’s pointless chatter about EUFA football interrupted only by the burp caused by his Stella Artois… you start to realise again why it didn’t work out at first, and then you wonder if you’ll ever find someone you can stand to sit across who doesn’t annoy or bore you… “Should I settle?” you ask yourself, at first in passing, a light jest, but the question doesn’t leave your train of thought, it repeats, gaining weight at each iteration, you look at his mouth, his lousy kissing mouth that is at least really good at accepting shovels of food, as you wonder if he even properly chews his food, you hear Deborah Kerr, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories”, so should you settle with him you ask yourself again, but he’s not Carey Grant, you’re certainly not Deborah Kerr, and in the end it feels more like a decision to hug or not one last time a loved one who goes on a long voyage… so you take another spoonful of broth, at least food is there, pliable, always giving back as much love as it received, but quiet… so again, you ask, “Should I settle?”
Bo kho bourguignon