66. Carbonnade of Beef

Dinner is Served! you are a liar. Or, if not a liar, then very uninformed and poorly researched.

I, having never tasted a carbonnade, wanted to do a background check on it. This sounded French to me. And I was right. Partly. The French definition, literally, is a dish of grilled meat. Which, yeah, this has grilled meat in it. But Carbonnade is more widely known as a Belgian dish with 3 main ingredients: beef, onions, and beer. Beer? Where’s the beer? I don’t see no beer!

Let’s take a look at the DiS! version of Carbonnade of Beef:

Beef and onions. Check. And maybe the wine is a beer substitute? This dish is often served on top of rice, so that makes sense.

But in no carbonnade recipe–French, Belgian, Flemish–does it say anything about corn. Where the hell did the corn come from? I can just imagine the test kitchens at Marjon Promotions, Inc. back in 1972…

Lynn: Hi, Carol. How’s it going?

Carol: I’ve been working on the Carbonnade recipe, but I feel like it’s missing something. Isn’t there supposed to be beer?

Lynn: No, it’s corn. That’s what’s missing. 

Carol: Corn? Really?

Lynn: Yep. That definitely needs some corn. And maybe a can of tomatoes. 

Carol: Well, if you want more vegetables in this dish I think that mushrooms would be more appropriate–

Lynn: Carol, are you the one holding the folder? 

Carol: No, Lynn. 

Lynn: Well, bitch, you best stop asking questions. And Jan! Don’t you even look at me before you have peeled all of the apples for that pie!


Ready for the oven!

So Dinner is Served! was just playing fast and loose with Carbonnade, amiright? I mean, there’s frickin saffron in this dish. For the love of God where did that come from?

Well, ultimately that didn’t matter much. I didn’t have saffron on my spice rack so I busted out some Goya Sazon,  “the secret to creating the authentic flavors of Latino cuisine!” Yeah, so with that my Carbonnade is now Latino-French-Belgian fusion. I should start a Latino-French-Belgian fusion restaurant in Manhattan. I’d use foams and make tomatillo flavored ice cream and Lambic goat pate. All the pretentious foodies would be falling all over themselves for it.

OK, long story short: I don’t know the reasoning behind #66. All I know is that I made it like #66 told me to…

I began with #66 at 2pm by cooking the rice and the corn. This was completely pointless since the rice and corn do not go into the casserole dish until the last 30 minutes of cooking. Why DiS! felt it necessary to have these 2 items cooked and ready at the get go is beyond me. Whatever. I used the microwave. No big.

I then browned the beef, yadda yadda yadda.

2:50pm: My carbonnade of beef is oven-ready. And I paused. If this were only to cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes that would still put me earlier than a 6pm dinnertime. WTF?

3pm: I put the damn thing in the oven. And nuked my green beans, which came in a handy-dandy, nifty steamer pack. They went into the fridge to chill with my cooked corn and rice.

3:07pm: Everything was done except for the green bean dressing. Crap. What was I going to do with all that extra time? Well, what I did do was give my self a manicure and watch some Lifetime Movie Network. And boy did I watch the hell out of some LMN. All I am going to say is that the Lifetime Movie was called Bitter Blood, it stars Kelly McGillis, Keith Carradine, Holland Taylor, Harry Hamlin (and his beard) and includes a love scene with candles, wine, automatic weapons, and Kelly McGillis telling Harry Hamlin as he goes in for a kiss, “We shouldn’t. You’re my cousin.”

Damn straight, Latrice!

This movie was a whole lot of fucked-up amazing. Bitter Blood will be on LMN again on Sunday April 29 at 12pm. It’s appointment viewing. Set your DVRs, kiddos.

OK, so at 4:30 I checked on the progress of my carbonnade. The meat was tender. But it could be more tender. Tenderer. So I added some extra salt and pepper and threw it back in the oven.

5:00pm: I checked the meat/flavor again. Meat is tenderer! So I added the rice and corn, some vegetable broth, and back into the oven it went yet again. The goal was for it to go in for another hour. I mean, who wants to eat before 6pm?

I then shifted my focus to #66’s side dish, Green Beans Vinaigrette.

That recipe seemed quite simple: French dressing + pimento + parsley + green onion+ pickle. Yeah, but not that simple because when DiS! says French dressing they don’t mean the orange bottled stuff (which is awesome. I love both an orange or a red French), DiS! calls for a French Vinaigrette. So shit, I had to make one.

I consulted the book of St. Irma, The Joy of Cooking. Because if any cookbook was going to have a classic French dressing it would be Irma.

So that was my guide. But of course I went rogue and just did whatever the hell I wanted.

I used the juice of 1 whole lemon, only 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and dry mustard. Then added 1 tbsp pimento (I first typed pimpento which would be an excellent title for a film about Italian pimps), 1/2 tsp dill pickle relish, 1 chopped green onion and 1 and 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley. I shook it up in a little jar and tasted it. All I could taste was the dill relish. So then I tried to add some Grey Poupon. And some garlic. And some pepper. And none of that really did anything to solve that problem. My vinaigrette just tasted like Vlasic. Vinaigrette fail!

Whatever. I put on the green beans and put it all back in the fridge to get all chilly.

6pm: Dinner is Served!

Yep. There you have it. #66.

I looked back at my notes and post-dinner I wrote the following: “the dinner was the equivalent of Muzak–not even Muzak–it’s like background noise. White noise. Completely unoffensive.” Which I guess it was. Bor-ing!

In fact, the best thing about this dinner was that I got to use my new Americana Pyrex. That’s the 2 qt. there in the photo. I got 2 others in the same pattern when I was back in Pittsburgh at the same place where I got all of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks.

So I guess that says it all.

Oh! Here was dessert:

Yeah, just coffee ice cream. We didn’t need any sponge cake.

But you know what we did need–or, in my case, did NOT need? MARSHMALLOW FLUFF! I bought it on a whim. I was picking up peanut butter and it was right there staring at me. I had never tried it before and it had the most darling retro packaging. And look at that enticing dollop of spooned sweetness!

Fluff is fabulous. Fluff is delicious. Fluff has the most wonderful texture: part marshmallow, part whipped cream. And it is for these reasons that this will be the first time and the last time I will have it in my house. I seriously would’ve eaten this entire jar in one sitting if it weren’t for that red lid getting itself caught in a jar-top ridge and my shitty, carpal-tunnel ridden wrists. I couldn’t reopen the jar. Thank you, Jesus!

FYI, when I first typed marshmallow I typed “marshamallow” which then made me think of Marsha “Monster” Mellow, one of Pittsburgh’s most popular queens, with whom I’ve had a cocktail:

Isn’t she darling? I’ve seen her shtick and she’s good. But if we’re gonna talk queens, and we’ve already referenced RuPaul’s Drag Race (see one Miss Latrice Royale above), then I just have to end with Pittsburgh’s own Sharon Needles (Gosh, I think I may have to dedicate a whole dinner to Sharon Needles). She is the fiercest of the fierce and I will shed a tear if she’s not crowned America’s Next Top Drag Queen. Here she is in all her glory in her original song 412/724 Whore. She’s giving Yinzer realness up and down Liberty Avenue from Bloomfield to dahntown. A must-watch if you’re from the Burgh. Later, darlings!

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10 Responses to 66. Carbonnade of Beef

  1. mum says:

    i would definitely watch a film entitled “Pimpento”. I laughed out loud several times while reading this…from the test kitchen script to the harry hamlin movie to marshmallow fluff…thanks for a good start to my day!

  2. iamsurly says:

    Carbonnade sounds like a medieval weapon. By the looks of it. That’s not a far off assessment.

  3. Wendi says:

    Seriously girl, the stream of your consciousness is infreakingsane.
    PS. That Marshmallow Fluff makes the most perfect frosting in the world. I’m just sayin’.

  4. You had me with the Haagen-Das and the carpal-tunnel. Gasp.

  5. Veg-o-matic says:

    You have, of course, enjoyed an official Fluffernutter, no?

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  8. Jenny says:

    I am so very late to the party. I am sick and I am working my way through your archives cackling like a sociopathic chicken. I took a deep breath and did not try to convince you of the the Awesome of Meatloaf but I cannot keep my mouth shut here.

    DiS! calls for white sauce and brown sauce FROM A CAN but a homemade French vinaigrette? What the actual FUCK? I think I permanently damaged my neck from the head tilt that little fact caused. I am laughing so hard woke the cat, the dog AND the man up. Bonus, I have fever so he cannot kick me out of bed, FTW.

    My college roommate introduced me to marshmallow fluff and fluffernutters. I honestly avoided all marshmallows before that. She continues to be an unrepentant ass AND my pusher. (You know what kitchen aids excel at? Homemade marshmallows. Just, you know, in case you wanted to learn about something even more heroin-esque.)

    You are crazy and brave I am loving this so much. The men in my life tease me about my ‘fancy’ cooking. I am so going to pull some of this on them. I have one grandmother’s hand written recipe collection and the other’s library of cookbooks including a ton of the Better Homes and Garden’s references, Time Life’s Foods of the World, Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, and a bunch of pamphlets put out by electric companies, ag co ops, local food manufacturers. Thank you for sharing.

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