Mini Feast of Lobster & Stuffed Tomatoes à la Julia Child

Homard aux Aromatics

Homard aux Aromatics

My mission was to have a small Julia Child themed dinner party featuring recipes from her famed book Mastering the Art of French Cooking prior to the August 7th premiere of the movie Julie & Julia. I haven’t seen the movie yet so there’s no review here, but the film consists of two parallel stories, one based on Child’s autobiography My Life in France and the other on sorta food blogger Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. Unfortunately, plans went awry and the dinner party would not happen before the movie’s premiere, so instead I decided to throw a mini party just for me.

Tomatoes a la Provencale

Tomatoes a la Provencale

Now this isn’t meant to sound in any way lonely, it’s simply how things worked out. And besides, how could I be lonely eating a delicious, home cooked meal while perusing the cookbook and reading descriptions like “shellfish debris” and “two whole heads of garlic will seem like a horrifying amount…” It was like Julia was right there with me encouraging me to have a second glass of wine.

Me and the lobster

Me and the lobster

It’s funny how the menu came about, in a way it chose me rather than the other way around. It began when I saw that live lobster was on sale at my local grocery store. Living in the Midwest, lobster is often illusive and expensive so when Treasure Island (a grocery store) puts it on sale twice a year I grab it. Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to get my lobster until Tuesday, the last day of the sale. Great, lobster for one! Tasty and affordable.

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Bison Ragù

Bison Ragù & Homemade Tagliatelle

Bison Ragù & Homemade Tagliatelle

Spaghetti with meat sauce is something I never order in restaurants. The few times I’ve tried it I’ve always found the flavor shallow and bland. But that’s not to say I don’t like meat sauce. I do, I just prefer when it’s homemade.

I’ve made meat sauce, or ragù as it’s known in Italy, many times before but usually with ground beef or a combination of beef and veal. But this time I wanted to try it with bison, which is one of my favorite proteins both for it’s beef-like taste and healthy properties (see Bison-Barley Stuffed Peppers). In a nutshell, bison is nutrient-dense, especially in iron and essential fatty acids, and is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than chicken.

Bison Ragù: sweat carrots and onion Bison Ragù: brown ground bison Bison Ragù: pour in red wine

With all the positive traits and delicious taste of bison it shocks me that people still see it as an “ew, gross,” food, which is the exact response elicited from my sister when I invited her to dinner. I keep forgetting she’s a recovered vegetarian so I’ll go easy on her, I just hope her views don’t reflect the majority because that would be very sad.

Back to the sauce. I was a little unsure of how it would work to use bison because it’s such a lean meat, meaning very low in fat. I didn’t want the sauce to be dry and was concerned I’d have to add more oil to make up for the lack of natural fat, which would defeat the purpose of using bison in the first place. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue at all. I used a generous two tablespoons olive oil to sweat the vegetables and brown the bison, and then added a good amount of liquid from the wine, tomatoes and juice. The end result was a rich, tasty, long-simmered bison tomato sauce that was fantastic served over homemade tagliatelle.

Bison Ragù: stir in tomatoes Bison Ragù: add herbs Bison Ragù

The tagliatelle was made from frozen pasta dough (see fresh pasta video) by rolling it thin using a pasta roller, gently folding into thirds, then hand-cutting the dough with a knife in 1/3-inch wide strips. Separate the noodles immediately and sprinkle with flour to prevent them from sticking together.

Tagliatelle: fold rolled pasta dough into thirds Tagliatelle: cut pasta 1/3-inch thick

The tomatoes used in the sauce were fresh but of course it’s fine to use canned tomatoes with their juices (omit the tomato juice from the original recipe). But if you do decide to use fresh tomatoes, you will want to remove the core and the seeds.

Core the tomatoes Remove the seeds Dice the tomatoes

Here’s the recipe for Bison Ragù:

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