Riffing on a classic: navarin [boeuf] printanier

I’m usually inclined to follow Dorie’s recipes exactly, especially until I feel comfortable with the result.  This week, though, I had several reasons for making some signficant changes. Dorie Greenspan‘s navarin printanier sounded worth a try, but I have never been a big fan of lamb, and since the three pounds of lamb for this meal would have cost me three times as much as the same amount of beef for the stew, I opted for beef.  I suppose I really made boeuf printanier, a riff on Dorie’s classic lamb stew.

My only other small change was to use three cups of beef stock instead of four, subbing in half a cup of sherry and half a cup of water to make up the volume of liquid.  Gorilla Girl pronounced the carrots the best she ever ate, and we all enjoyed the “sauce” and Monkey Man called it — while also demanding more for his beef and rice. I suppose this qualifies as a success.  With the cheaper cut of meat, this stew is quite reasonable, and it has provided us with three substantial family dinners.

Perhaps my willingness to veer from the recipe on this one comes from my growing confidence in the kitchen, and thus my ability to play with the recipe — to adapt, change, make it my own. Perhaps when you start with a solid foundation, a few tweaks here and there to the base give you room to let your creative juices flow.

I’ve been thinking about adapting, sampling, and reclaiming pop all week, in part due to my recent acquisition of Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, which has (thankfully) replaced Taylor Swift on the CD player in my car, and which has been on in my kitchen while I’ve been cooking. Springsteen’s new album, called a “sonic smorgasbord” by Anne Powers at NPR, banks upon this notion that we all bring our creative impulses, our desires and hopes, to the music or art that we make.  As an admirer of music, but not a maker, I have to take Springsteen’s urging about flexibility and redefinition of “classics” to heart in other areas of my life.  Cooking, though perhaps not for me the creation of great art, is certainly a means of expression, a creative outlet, and a means of connection to family and friends. Of course, like a good musician, I have to master the basic chords before I can create my own riffs.

When it comes to my cooking adventures, and for that matter, the many other adventures in which I’m creating, I’ll take Springsteen’s message to heart: “There is no right way, no pure way, of doing. There is just doing.”

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24 Responses to Riffing on a classic: navarin [boeuf] printanier

  1. heidi1169 says:

    Love that you are brave enough to change and adapt a recipe with growing confidence. I too am learning that art and it is oddly freeing. Let’s see what happens next week with the flounder!

  2. Nice post! One tiny note: “beef” is spelled “boeuf”, not “beauf”.
    If you are a beef fan, you might enjoy experimenting with daube, which is a Provencal stew made with cheap cuts of meat.
    Natasha @ CDM

  3. The sherry was a great idea! Your stew looks so rich and glossy! I’m sure the beef was delicious!

  4. nana says:

    Tricia and I both used the “boeuf” instead of lamb. Your presentation looks so delicious, and I
    love the photos. Excellent recipe and will definitely do this one again.

  5. Elin says:

    I can imagine how nice this would be with the addition of a cup of sherry. Great idea and I shall just do that the next time I make this delicious stew . I used leg of lamb and it was yummy good!. Have a nice day!

  6. Mary Hirsch says:

    Well, beouf, beauf, cow, moo, all the same once it gets into the mouth and yours looked very delicious. I’ve been studying French the past seven years. It’s tough to learn as an adult. That word is funny, whether singular or plural, and you probably wrote it more like it sounded! I never get it right. And, I think Bruce would have approved. Thanks for the Bruce lesson – I needed to hear that today.

  7. Kathy says:

    Oh what a great idea to add the sherry! It goes so well with beef. Your stew looks great! Nicely done!

  8. pamkaren says:

    You are braver than I….I wanted to sub the beef but I chickened out (pun sort of intended!). Yours looks very rich and yummy…sherry was a good add I’m thinking!

  9. Ooh, a little alcohol would be great in this dish! Yours looks really good with the beef.

  10. I totally had to google the French spelling of beef – I have no Frenchy skills at all when it comes to the language. Your stew looks great & I’m glad your family enjoyed it so much!

  11. Erin E says:

    Great job on tweaking the recipe! I am always a little nervous when I veer off also, but I figure what is the worse that can happen?! If it isn’t good, there is always pizza! Glad to hear beef worked good, I might have to try that next time!

  12. Great post. I too tend to stick to Dorie’s recipes, but the more I cook with her book the more confidence I gain to change things up now and again. Of course, sometimes that doesn’t work out so well, but it’s all a learning experience.

  13. So chunky! I love that. And beef, lamb, eh. Its all stew and why deny yourself its pleasures due to the high cost of lamb. Great solution and great job! Yum.

  14. Yay! I, too, served this with rice. Your stew looks delicious.

  15. betsy says:

    Nice job on this. Isn’t it great how all this cooking increases our range and confidence! I love your addition of sherry. I’ll bet it added a nice of boost of flavor.

  16. Cher says:

    Being comfortable enough to go and adapt a recipe to your tastes is definitely a sign that you are coming into your own in the kitchen. Bravo! 🙂

  17. Marie says:

    Why make a lamb stew if you don’t like lamb? I’d guess that some French people don’t like lamb either, even if “navarin” does sound pretty. Good work!

  18. Alice says:

    your stew looks great and I think we all make changes (somewhat unwillingly at times) when we just feel that we must, for one reason or another… 🙂 Great job!

  19. Karen says:

    You stew looks delicious! I would like to try it with beef sometime – it seems like it would be a perfect recipe for a “classic” beef stew.

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