Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Weather induced Cooking

Since our evening last weekend 'dans la cusine de Dublin 8', I have been thinking  a lot about French food and cooking.  It has gone under my radar a little due to my temporary immersion in Germany for the summer but it will be something that I will revive and embrace once again - it all being down to the Irish weather.  We are having winter-like symptoms and monsoon-like weather conditions and this is simply not good on all fronts, although, to be perfectly honest, I like the excuse of not having to take the boys charging around the park at speed and it gives me a little more time in the kitchen.  Who cares if the rest of the house is a mess!

We really cannot go out because "its lashing mama" to quote my son (see above, Merrion Square, a riot of colours but we are carefully positioned and dry under a large tree canopy). 
So it is us indoors, I have been dreaming about boiled tongue, filet de boeuf au foie gras, pommes de terre au lard and other Perigord-esqe hibernation essentials.

So in our first period of rain-induced captivation, I prepared a deliciously rich, French stew named after the glazed earthenware container it is traditionally cooked in, the daubiere, a pot-bellied-pot with a handle for slow cooking meat which has a tightly closing lid, et voila, Daube de Boeuf à la Provençal.

Tonight I made this in my larger le Creusset casserole dish sealing it tightly with a sheet of grease-proof paper.

You will need, for two and some for lunch:

500g of chuck steak or stewing beef cut into small bite sized pieces
150g smoked pancetta or bacon/lardons
2 large carrots cut thickly
3 medium onions, one finely chopped, the other 2 roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced thickly
6 garlic cloves, sliced
5 black pepper corns, crushed
5 juniper berries, crushed
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
a handful of Nicoise olives(optional)
1 bouquet garnis, or a homemade one -a bunch of thyme, marjoram, a bay leaf, parsley, tied together
sliced rind and juice of 1 unwaxed orange
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tblsps olive oil for frying
250ml dry red wine
100ml aged red vine vinegar

In a large bowl add the beef pieces, the 2 roughly chopped onions, the carrots, celery, garlic, orange juice and rind, red wine vinegar, red wine and the black pepper, a large pinch of sea salt, the bouquet garni, the juniper berries and cloves.  Mix well together, cover and marinade for at least 2 hours.  This is the work done so if you can get this done in the morning, for an evening meal, it is easy after this.

Heat a little oil in a large casserole dish.  Remove the beef pieces from the marinade and pat dry with a piece of kitchen towel. 
Roll each in flour and brown them in the oil - remove from the pan when brown and set aside,
Add the finely chopped onion and the lardons/pancetta to the empty pan and sautee for about 8 minutes.  Add the marinade liquid and vegetables(remove the cinnmon stick) and the return the beef pieces to the pan. 
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to an absolute minimum and stew slowly for about 3 hours.  The liquid will reduce leaving a sticky, dark, rich stock with meltingly soft beef.  When the cooking is complete stir in the olives and serve.  I didnt have any, so I just left them out, but I have included them before and they are a nice addition.

Eat with crusty bread and a hard cheese shaved over if you like.

The beauty of this is that you could make this on a Thursday evening to serve on a Friday, an effortless dinner which just tastes better for sitting for 24 hrs (in the fridge of course).  If you do this, re-heat very gently the next day until it reaches a gentle boil and it is heated through entirely.


Drink with a glass of the dry red wine which you used in the marinade, and follow this with Michael Kelly's delicately fine lemon custard tarts - I ate these last Friday (I will track down the recipe), truely delicous and they would be a perfect end to this rich, indulgent supper - I only wish I had some now!

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to try this! I'll tell Michael to check in again... he'll be well pleased. Think that was an Otto recipe but I'm sure he's happy to share.