Sunday, January 9, 2011

Inspired Cooking, Beef Daube

Santa really listened to me this year.  I had a short list of cookbooks that I've been eyeing and boy, did he deliver!  I have an ever growing collection of cookbooks.  I haven't actually counted them, but I think it would be safe to say I have close to 100.  The first cookbooks I ever bought were the Gourmet Cookbooks, Volumes 1 & 2.  I remember how excited I was when I ordered them and had my name embossed in gold on their covers.  That was almost 35 years ago.   They still sit on my bookshelf and now have a lot of company.  I honestly think that they were the last cookbooks I bought for myself.  Over the years, I've received most of my collection as gifts.  I love getting new cookbooks.  This Christmas I've added four more to my collection.  I was excited to receive Nigella Lawson's Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the HomeReady for Dessert: My Best Recipes, by David Lebovitz and Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table.  A gap was also filled in my Ina Garten collection, after receiving Barefoot Contessa Parties!

I was inspired by our recent NY blizzard to dive into Dorie Greenspan's new book, Around My French Table.  This book is beautiful.  What else can I say?  The photographs are gorgeous.  It has made me look at French cooking in a whole new way.  It is one of those books that I will want to cook through the recipes, cover to cover.  Now I know why it is listed in the Top 10 cookbooks of 2010.  Thank you Lauren.

With almost 2 feet of snow on the ground,  and a quiet day alone, I thought I would make a comforting stew.  Matt and Lauren were spending the day in the city and I knew they would be hungry and cold when they returned.  I can pretty much count on Matt being hungry anytime he comes home for a visit.

I followed this recipe pretty much as written.  The only change I made was the addition of mushrooms during the last hour of cooking.  I served it with mashed Yukon Gold potatoes.

My Go To Beef Daube

Ever so slightly adapted from:  Around My French Table    by Dorie Greenspan 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010

Serves 6
  • 4 slices of thick bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 pounds of chuck roast, trimmed of fat and sinew, and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 6 shallots
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots
  • 1/2 pound parsnips
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 750-ml bottle fruity red wine  ( I used a California Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 head garlic
  • bouquet garni : 2 sprigs of thyme and parsley, 1 sprig of rosemary, and a small leafy inner stalk of celery tied together.
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Heat a Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat.  Add the cut bacon.  Cook until the bacon is brown.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon. 
 Blot the beef cubes dry. 
Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to the bacon fat.  When oil is heated add beef, cooking it in batches.  Brown it on all sides.  DO NOT CROWD the pan.  I browned the meat in 4 batches.  When the batch is browned, remove to a bowl and season beef with salt and pepper.

While the beef is browning cut the vegetables.  Slice the shallots, quarter the onion, then slice the quarters.
Cut the garlic in half horizontally, and remove papery layer, but try and keep the garlic together.  Cut carrots and parsnips in half lengthwise, then cut into 2 or 3 pieces.
After all of the beef is browned, remove fat from pan, leaving the browned bits on the bottom.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil.  Add the onions and shallots and season to taste.  Cook for about 8 minutes until onions are softened.  Add the garlic, carrots and parsnips to the pot.  Mix lightly with a wooden spoon.
Next, add the brandy.  Turn up the heat and loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.  Let the brandy cook for a minute then add the bacon and beef to the pot.
Pour in the whole bottle of wine.....mmm.  Add in the bouquet garni and gently stir.  Bring to a boil.  When it reaches a boil, turn off heat.
Cover pot with aluminum foil, and place lid on pot.
Place Dutch oven in the preheated 350 degree oven and allow to braise for 1 hour.  Do not uncover for the first hour.  After 1 hour, remove from oven and uncover, stir the pot and check to be sure the liquid is not evaporating.  If it has reduced a lot, add some water to just cover ingredients.  Mine was fine.  Cover with the foil and lid again and put back in the oven for another  hour and a half.
* At this point I deviated slightly and I cut 10 ounces of mushrooms in half and quickly browned them in 1 tablespoon of butter.  I added them to the Dutch oven the last hour of cooking.  I just stirred them in and returned the foil and lid.  I had mushrooms that I wanted to use up, so I figured what the heck.  After tasting the finished product, I'd do the same thing next time!
A glass of wine helps to pass the time
After 2 1/2 hours of braising, the meat is fall apart fork tender.  Remove the bouquet garni and the garlic halves and discard.  Correct the seasoning if necessary.  If you want to reduce the sauce, feel free, pour into a sauce pan and reduce.  I did not think it was necessary.
Serve meat and vegetables over mashed potatoes with a spoonful of sauce.
This was really yummy!  Paul and I ate it for dinner.  Lauren and Matt had a late nite supper upon their return, and I believe they ate it for breakfast the next day...yes, I said breakfast.
If you want something warm and comforting, make this soon.....better yet, buy the book and start reading while your Beef Daube is in the oven.

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