Bifteck Hache a La Lyonnaise! for Eat the World - France

So, I have joined a new Challenge group, called Eat the World!  This month the group is virtually visiting France, and every month, under the direction of Evelyne of CulturEatz, we visit a new country. Since I love exploring other countries and especially food, this should be a fine adventure.

On the subject of books (don't worry, things will connect eventually) I've been working my way through the wonderful novels of Nevil Shute, and finally decided it was about time I reviewed one.  This most recent read, The Far Country, is as well written as his other books, but with the added very interesting context of England and France as compared to Australia, in the years following WWII.

Up to now, I had no idea of the horribly impoverished state England and Europe were reduced to post WWII.  Probably a result of reading too many "cozy" mystery novels set in England. The end of the war did not mark the beginning of better times at all.  In fact, things got worse for quite awhile.  Probably due as much to the "new era of Socialism" as to the loss of all those young men. This novel takes place in the Korean War years of the '50s, and taxes are rising continually, rationing is even more strict, and meat almost totally unavailable. People are starving to death (usually the elderly who don't ask in the right places for help or are ashamed to) in both England and France -  Italy as well from what I've read in other books.

Australia, the US and Canada on the other hand were booming.  There was plenty of food, jobs were abundant and the people enjoyed much more freedom.  From the publishers:

"Jennifer fled the drab monotony of post-war London. When she landed in Australia, it was like coming home. She loved it and when she met Carl, she had every reason to stay. But the two of them came from quite different worlds, and it is the story of their building a life together that Nevil Shute tells in his matchless way. With warmth and understanding, and with his natural affection for the people he creates, the author brings to life his characters and the pioneer country in which they live. We are delighted to publish this classic book as part of our extensive Classic Library collection."

Good to see classics revived.  Highly recommended, enjoyable for the beautiful Australian setting, some adventure and mystery in the bush, a lovely romance, and fascinating from the historical standpoint as well.  I really love his writing.

Jenny, in Australia, now had plenty of meat for the first time in her life, so we are serving up some, from another book, recently purchased after all these years, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child.  Speaking of classics!  I can't believe it took me so long.  Truth be told, it was there at the used books shop, where I had built up some credit, and in beautifully new condition.  Who could resist?

And to top it off with a bit of irony, the first recipe I decided to make was hamburgers!  Of course they sound much better in French - Bifteck Hache a La Lyonnaise!  No bun, but a very French sauce of reduced wine and pan juices with some broth, and added butter.  Served with Pan Frites, or you could have them over noodles or even mashed potatoes.  A bit of veg or nice salad is all it needs. Mine was avocado with pineapple and cucumber. Though not something they would have had out on a sheep ranch in Australia.  Served a bit simpler perhaps.   Frequently mentioned were slabs of thick steak, quickly grilled over an open fire.

Bifteck Hache a La Lyonnaise

Ground Beef with Onions and Thyme

1/4 cup minced onion
7-8 TB butter, divided
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp thyme
1 egg
1 TBflour
1 TB oil
1/2 cup beef stock, beef bouillon, dry white wine, dry white vermouth, red wine or 1/4 cup water or a combination (I used dry white wine and beef stock).

In a heavy skillet, melt 2 TB butter. Cook the onions in the butter until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the onions, beef, 2 TB softened butter, salt, pepper, thyme and egg. Mix until thoroughly blended. Form the mixture into 6 patties, about 3/4 inch thick.

At this point you can cover them and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook. Note: it's good to make a full batch and freeze any extra patties for a quick meal.

Just before sauteing, lightly dust each patty in flour, shaking off any excess.

Over medium-high heat, melt 1 TB butter along with the oil. When the foam from the butter begins to subside, indicating it is hot enough to sear the meat, saute the patties for 2-3 minutes or more on each side, depending on how you like your meat, rare, medium, or well done. I took mine off in time to be pretty pink inside. Perfect in my book. Remove and keep warm while making the sauce.

Pour the fat out of the skillet. Add the liquid of your choice and rapidly boil down until it has reduced almost to a syrup, scraping up the coagulated pan juices as you go. Turn off heat, and swirl the butter by teaspoons into the sauce until it is absorbed. Pour the sauce over the beef patties. In the book, she offers a number of alternative sauces you could try. Which I fully intend to do. Julia's version of hamburger was quite delicious, and very accessible, easy French cooking.

This post will be shared with the Eat the World Recipe Challenge, currently visiting France. 

Check out all the wonderful French dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members listed below:

Amy: Fougasse (Provençal Flat Bread)

Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us! Will also be sharing my post with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event. Lots of good food and books to check out.


A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

Thanks for the book reviews (I have Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and for the recipe that I will be looking up in my copy.

Jules said...

I love home sometimes the most elegant and delicious stuff is the simplest. Congrats on trying something from Julia Book, I got it as a gift a year ago and have only tried a few recipes but have all been awesome.

Margaret@Kitchen Frau said...

Hamburger patties served without buns are a childhood comfort food for me. Love the idea of the elegant wine reduction gravy! I'm definitely going to follow your recipe and 'fancify' mine up like that next time I make them!

Nicoletta said...

Mastering the art of French cooking is a must-have :-). Great choice, this one, tasty, and juicy!

Mae Travels said...

I'm a lifelong admirer and user of Julia Child's books -- I think you made a good decision to try her recipes!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Carole said...

Good one. Cheers from carole's chatter

Gail Gauthier said...

I'll try this recipe. Maybe this week, even.

Amy said...

I just bought Julia's book as well and I'm loving it! Your meatballs look delicious!

Tina said...

I also like Nevil Shute. And this time period is one that has always drawn me in in memoirs or historical fiction. Will have to check out this new challenge you joined, it sounds interesting.

Tina said...

I checked the link and it sounds like fun. I'm not on FB though so I will watch what you post.

Gail Gauthier said...

I made these burgers tonight. Unfortunately, I got to the point of making the sauce at the end and realized I didn't have any broth. They were decent without it, but I'll definitely try again.