Maybe someday, we’ll laugh about this, but right now it just illustrates what a horrible cook I am.
Today I payed my parents a visit and I stayed for dinner. My mother asked me to start up the ‘stoofvlees’, which is meat that needs to cook for a few hours before it’s edible (apparently it’s known to be Belgian and called ‘carbonade flamande’, but they add beer, we didn’t). She said that on the bottom of the packaging there should be something about how to cook it. Fool proof, we agreed. But I’d never made stoofvlees. You know, basically any kind of meat isn’t really my kind of deal. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m not some blood crazed carnivore either.
So I checked the fridge and sure enough, there it was: a package of organic meat. It’s cow’s meat and it looked really delicious. So I grabbed the biggest frying pan I could find. I chopped onions, I’m good at that, I can chop onions. I cut up a clove of garlic, because, you’ve guessed it, that’s another thing I actually can do. I added butter to the pan, heated it, and I fryed the onions and garlic. On the meat manual it said the meat needed to be fried on both sides, nice and brown. Ok, I can do that. No really, I can. So I did it. It was great, as if by magic the meat did turn brown, the onions were sizzling and the kitchen was filling with a nice smell of fried onions (you should know, I love that smell!). I read the package. It said: add bouillon (I’m going to keep calling it bouillon, that sounds so much more delicious than broth). That’s when I entered a blissful unknowing place. You know, we have these instant bouillon making cubes. You have to dissolve them in 0.5L of water and that’s it. So I stood there, thinking about it for a few seconds and then I said to myself: I can’t make proper bouillon with too little water. I tried doing something similar to that and I discovered that things get really, really, verrrrrryyyy salty. And you don’t want that. I didn’t want to poison my family with meat I wasn’t going to eat (I don’t like stoofvlees, however Dutch it is, yuck!). So I took 0.5L of water, added it to the frying pan, added the cube and put the lid on. I decided to cut up a tomato, because that’s what the package also advised to add, turned down the heat and read a book.
Then my mother came in… and she discovered I practically drowned the damn meat and successfully made meat soup. It had been cooking for about 1.5 hours, so it was soup alright. So I said: It needs cooking right? She agreed, it needs cooking. So, does it really matter how much water you use? She removed the lid, turned up the heat and let the water evaporate. It worked really well and it kept all the tastiness in the pan. She kind of avoided disaster and reversed my unintentional attempt at making meat soup.
Just so you know, it tasted great and she and my dad ate it all up. Which is great, because that way I didn’t have to feel guilty for not tasting my own cook-up. I did taste it, but only a sliver, and I know for sure I don’t like stoofvlees.
Meat (I should check how much and which meat exactly)
1 chopped up onion
1 chopped up clove of garlic
butter (or olive oil)
1 bouillon cube
a little water (less than 0.5L)
2 leaves of laurel
(2 table spoons of flour)
Fry onions and garlic in butter. Fry meat on both sides until it is brown. Add water (the meat should still stick out of the water), bouillon cube, laurel and cut up tomatoes. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least 2 hours.
If the sauce is still very watery, you can add a bit of flour to give it more texture. Be sure to mix the flour with a little water in a cup before you add it to the pan.
I have no idea, it was my mum’s kitchen. All I know is the laurel came from France, which could be almost anywhere in France. The meat was probably Dutch, but you can’t be certain about that. I don’t know where the supermarket onions and garlic came from, either. It could kind of be local, but there’s no telling.