Boeuf à la Mode {FFwD}

Unlike last week’s Salad Niçoise, which came in just under the wire, I made this week’s recipe early. Really early. Like almost three years early. Having tried and loved Dorie’s Go-to Beef Daube, I couldn’t wait to try this version of pot roast. So I first made it and blogged about it back in January, 2011, long before it came up in the French Fridays rotation. You can see the original Boeuf à la Mode post, complete with process photos, here.

But looking over the post myself the other day, I knew I wanted to make it again. Add to that the fact that we just had a side of the most delicious beef I’ve ever tasted delivered, and it was a no brainer.

Boeuf a la mode - Braised

Since the prior post has lots of detail and pictures (including the one above), I didn’t take any new photos this time. But I did make the following changes to the recipe:

  • Rather than marinate the beef and vegetables overnight, I used my FoodSaver Quick Marinator, which did the job in 20 minutes, while I was getting everything else ready.
  • Dorie’s recipe calls for lots of pans and moving things back and forth between them. I’m a lazy cook, so I always look for ways to eliminate extra steps or dirtying needless piles of dishes. I strained the marinade into a saucepan to reduce, then browned the meat, softened the vegetables, and melted down the anchovies all in the Dutch oven that I used to cook the whole thing. After browning the beef, I removed it to a plate, then added the vegetables to the pot (no dumping out and replacing oil here). When the veggies had softened sufficiently, I added the anchovies and tomato paste to the pot, along with a splash of the marinade and stock mixture.  I cooked that until the anchovies and tomato paste were mixed in, then added back the beef and poured in the rest of the marinade/stock.
  • I have this wonderful mushroom stock base that I got on clearance at Williams Sonoma, so I used that in place of beef stock.
  • Finally, out of pantry necessity, I used bourbon instead of Cognac.

This dish was as good as I remembered. Even dad, whose idea of the perfect pot roast is one cooked to mush in the crock pot with cream of mushroom soup and dried onion soup mix, said it was delicious. And the dogs had no complaints about the wee bit of broth drizzled over their evening kibble.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. Check out the website to see what the other Doristas thought about this recipe.

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The Perfect Burger {Recipe}

If a picture is worth a thousand words, need I say  more than this?

After watching an episode of Good Eats, I was convinced that I needed to buy a cast iron griddle and grind my own hamburger. And, boy, am I glad I did.

This, my friends, is the best hamburger you’ve ever tasted. Made right in your own kitchen. No pink slime; no mystery meat; and no seasonings other than Kosher salt.

The Perfect Burger (based on recipe by Alton Brown)

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces chuck
  • 12 ounces sirloin
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • mayonnaise
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Lightly oil cast iron griddle. Preheat griddle over medium-high heat.
  2. Trim chuck of excess fat and cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Place chuck in food processor and pulse 10 times in 1-second intervals. Scrape meat into large bowl.
  3. Repeat with sirloin, adding to bowl with chuck after grinding.
  4. Add salt to meat and mix well with clean hands by lifting the meat from underneath and turning it over, being careful not to squish or compress meat.
  5. Shape meat into 5- to 5 1/2-ounce patties by forming into balls, tossing gently back and forth from hand to hand, then shaping each patty gently, again without pressing meat very much.
  6. Place patties on preheated griddle pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or 5 minutes per side for medium, turning only once during cooking and resisting the urge to press down on the patties while they cook. (This is not a diner, and your name’s not Mel. Pressing the patties while they cook only serves to squish out all the delicious juiciness. Also, because the meat is freshly ground and not full of who-knows-what, the patties do not need to be cooked beyond medium.)
  7. While the patties are cooking, prepare hamburger buns by spreading the bottom bun with mayonnaise and topping with a bit of freshly cracked black pepper. The juices from the burger will mix with the mayo and pepper to make the most delicious “sauce” you can imagine.
  8. When the burgers are done cooking, place on buns, adorn with desired toppings, and enjoy.

Makes 4 burgers

The first time I made these, I didn’t add any toppings, as I wanted to taste them unadorned with just the mayo, pepper, and burger “sauce”. I can’t describe how good it was this way. Juicy, tender, and oh-so-meaty tasting.

I think what sets this recipe apart from any other burger I’ve tried is the “meatiness” of it. The freshly ground beef, the lack of overpowering seasonings, and the minimal toppings all let the meat flavor shine through.

Give it a try. It’s easier than you think to create the most flavorful, meaty burger you’ve ever had. But be warned: you may never be able to go back to store-bought ground beef again.

Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port {FFwD}

If this looks like a picture from a book, it's only because it is

 This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is another braised beef recipe. I had never cooked short ribs before, so I was excited to try this one. I made the recipe for company the same evening that I made last week’s pancetta green beans. And like the green beans, because I was in the middle of cooking for guests, I didn’t get any pictures.

But fear not. I found a recipe for short ribs in wine by Dorie Greenspan which, while not the exact recipe from Around My French Table, is pretty close. You can find the recipe here. I noticed a few differences when perusing this recipe. First, the recipe in AMFT calls for an entire bottle of red wine and 1 1/2 cups of port. Also, the gremolata in the book uses cilantro instead of parsley, and you have the option of using tangerine, clementine, or orange peel (I used orange).

The short ribs were absolutely delicious. They were fall-off-the-bone tender (in fact, several of the pieces did fall off the bone as I was plating them), and the wine and port gave the dish a deep, slightly sweet flavor.

We all agreed it was one of the best beef dishes we had eaten in a long time. And it definitely made me want to try cooking with short ribs again.

Family Food: Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash {Recipe}

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Today is a special day for my friend, Cheryl Tan. After what I’m sure seems like an eternity, her book, A Tiger in the Kitchen, comes out today. Check it out on Amazon. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s what Cheryl told me about this book and her inspiration for it:

  • A Tiger In The Kitchen,… is about a year that I spent traveling to Singapore to learn about my family by cooking with them. The book is filled with lessons (life, cooking and otherwise) learned in the kitchen, as well as a few recipes.”

To celebrate the release of Cheryl’s book, I would like to share a family recipe with you. This is far and away my favorite recipe from my maternal grandmother, Nanny Faye. Nan made a lot of great recipes. Her fried chicken was nothing short of sublime. But the dish we all looked forward to whenever she would visit was her Hungarian Goulash.

Nan said she was given this recipe by a Hungarian neighbor, and for years she would never share it with anyone. When I was 13 years old, Nan came to live with us for about a year while my mom was in nursing school. During that time, Nan and I started cooking together, and I would help her make goulash whenever it was on the menu for dinner. Eventually, I tried to write down the recipe as best I could from what I observed while we cooked. I showed my attempt to Nan, and without a word, she took it and began to make some corrections. Before long, I had the recipe that no one in my family thought possible to get in writing.

I grew up thinking this dish was fairly representative of Hungarian goulash. In later years, I found that what most people think of as “goulash” is quite different than Nan’s dish. Most other recipes are more like a soup than a stew and are served over spaetzle or some other kind of noodle. They also usually contain onions and green peppers. At some point, I began to question the authenticity of Nan’s goulash. But I eventually realized that goulash is to Hungary as red beans and rice are to New Orleans. That is to say, it’s a dish found in every kitchen, and every cook has her own way of preparing it. So even though this recipe may be different than what you think of when you hear the word “goulash”, if you try it, I am certain you will agree that it is delicious by any name.

The recipe presented below is largely the same as it was when I got it from Nanny Faye, with just a few changes. When Nan made goulash, she did the whole thing on the stovetop, cooking the beef in the sauce for about 45 minutes, then adding the carrots and cooking for another 45 minutes, and finally adding the potatoes and cooking until they were done, 45 minutes to an hour. I like to put the whole thing together and braise it in the oven. It’s easier, takes less attention, and comes out beautifully.

Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash

 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • Salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 18 oz. tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

 Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. Salt lightly. Melt butter in large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown beef on all sides in small batches. As pieces are well-browned, remove them to a bowl.
  3. While meat is browning, mix flour and paprika in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups water, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
  4. After all the meat has browned, reduce heat to medium and return meat to the Dutch oven. Add flour mixture, tomato paste mixture, carrots, and potatoes, in order, stirring well after each addition. Cook until sauce begins to bubble.
  5. Cover Dutch oven and place on center rack of oven. Allow meat to braise for 1 hour. Remove pot from oven, uncover, and stir stew. Add water as necessary – mixture should be thick.
  6. Replace lid, return pot to oven, and cook 1 1/2 hours longer, until beef and vegetables are very tender.
  7. Serve immediately with crusty French bread, or chill overnight and reheat the next day. Like most stewed beef dishes, this goulash benefits from an overnight rest and will taste even better the next day.

Yield: 10-12 generous servings

My Go-to Beef Daube {FFwD}

As Dorie Greenspan notes in Around My French Table, every chef needs a great beef stew recipe in his or her apron pocket. So this week’s entry for French Fridays with Dorie is her — and now my — go-to beef daube.

The recipe begins with beef chuck, which I cut into chunks somewhat larger than I would normally use for stew. With the beef cubed and the rest of my mise en place set up, I was ready to cook.

If you are familiar with Dorie’s recipe, you may notice a few omissions from my mise en place. First, there’s no bacon. I don’t eat pork, and I don’t like turkey bacon (“facon”), so I left the bacon out. Also missing from my mise are carrots. I decided to make Dorie’s spiced butter-glazed carrots to eat with the daube, so I omitted the carrots from the stew.

I began by browning the beef in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. I was careful not to crowd the pot, as I wanted the meat to brown, not steam.

After browning the beef, I sautéed onions and shallots in oil for a few minutes, tossed in garlic and parsnips, then added brandy to deglaze the pan. I returned the beef to the pan, added a fresh herb bouquet garni, and poured in an entire bottle of Shiraz.

After bringing the wine to a boil, I covered the pot with foil, put the lid on, and put the whole thing in the oven. I braised the daube for an hour, then took it out to give it a stir.

I recovered the pot, then returned it to the oven for another 1 1/2 hours. At this point, the meat was fork-tender, and the whole dish tasted delicious. It was hearty, and the wine gave it a deep, rich flavor.

Having grown up in the Midwest, where beef is king, I can safely say this is the best beef stew I have ever tasted. Rich and flavorful, without being too heavy, this could replace the Sunday pot roast on any table, especially served with Dorie’s glazed carrots.

I know it will be making regular appearances on mine.

Hachis Parmentier {FFwD}

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is hachis Parmentier, a French version of shepherd’s pie. Unlike a classic shepherd’s pie, however, this one is made with finely chopped beef chuck and sausage in place of the ground beef. This adds a great depth of flavor that elevates this dish beyond your expectations for meat pie.

After gathering my ingredients, I began by cooking the beef into a broth with vegetables and spices.

The broth cooked down for about an hour and 45 minutes, until it reduced in volume by about half and the beef was cooked through.

For the filling, I removed the beef from the broth, chopped it finely with a chef’s knife, and added it to a skillet with the sausage, a teaspoon of tomato paste, salt, pepper, and some of the broth.

Then I boiled and riced the potatoes for the topping.

I assembled the hachis Parmentier, then topped it with grated Gruyère and dotted the top with butter.

I baked it for 30 minutes at 400°F, until it was bubbly and the top had begun to brown a bit.

I served the hachis Parmentier for dinner with a salad. My whole family loved it. My wife and I agreed that it was way better than any shepherd’s pie either of us had ever tasted.

Another success from Around My French Table. I’m enjoying this journey and the way it’s opening our minds and palates to a whole new world of cuisine.

Up next week: Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake