dutch oven love - sunday beef ŕ la cocotte

I have a new cast iron 'cocotte' dutch oven. I blame the lack of insulation in my 1930's era house: it encourages one to want to make long-braised stews just to keep the oven going all day.

It being the weekend, I wanted to improvise a bit and putter. I had the seed of a recipe based on about five cookbooks: First, you marinate everything the night before. In the morning, you start with some bacon, render the fat, pull it out, brown some beef, pull that out, glaze some kind of mirepoix, pull that out, go back to the meat and braise it half the time in your cooker, add the mirepoix back, and wait...

So here is what I actually did, which isn't exactly like any of my recipes but has the parts I liked best from all of them. It's sort of a variation on beef bourgignon.

Cut 2 lbs trimmed beef chuck into 1 in. cubes
Chop some carrots and onions (this was 1 onion, 3 carrots, all that would fit in the covered dish)
Coarsely chop some garlic.
Marinate that in about a half bottle of red wine. I used a Rioja I had on hand. Add cracked black pepper. Add a generous dash of cognac.
(Go to bed. Wake up.)
Turn on the oven to 350F. this is premature, but the kitchen is cold.
Strain the veg and meat from the marinade. Pick out the meat and dry it with paper towels. Drying the meat ensures that it will brown nicely.
Put the cocotte on the stove on med-high heat (higher if you don't have cast iron). Add some olive oil.
Cut 4 slices thick cut bacon into 1 in. strips.
Sizzle the bacon until most of the bacon fat is rendered.
Take the bacon out.
Dry the meat some more with paper towels.
Brown the meat in batches.
Take the meat out and set it in the dish with the bacon.
Sauté about 1/3 lb. chanterelle mushrooms if you have them. (It's fall! I have them! Any mushrooms would do here if you like mushrooms.)
Set the mushrooms aside.
Put the veg in the cocotte. Add 2 tbsp sugar. (I like raw demerara sugar, but any sugar will do.)
Add some chopped rutabaga, more carrots, more onions.
Caramelize the veg about 8 minutes.
Take the veg out again. set them aside with the mushrooms.
Pour the reserved marinade in the cocotte.
Add about 1.5 c. beef broth.
Bring it to a boil. scrape up any browned bits on the bottom.
Add 2 tbsp apple jelly (or any clear fruit jelly)
Add 1 tbsp butter. Everything is better with a little butter.
Put the meat back into the pot.
Add a bunch of halved small red potatoes (I had 8).
Add some more minced garlic. (1.5 tbsp? I think was up to 6 cloves by now.)
Add a bouquet garni in a tea ball: I used sage and bay leaves and thyme.
Cover the cocotte and put it in the oven.
Wait 45 minutes to an hour. Die of the deliciousness wafting through the house.
Add the veg back in.
Add some more mushrooms (whole crimini, this time.) Because there's still room for a few more mushrooms.
add about 1 c. seeded, coarsely chopped roma tomatoes. (mine were some other variety, but a fleshy tomato rather than a juicy one.)
Put the lid back on. Top up the liquid if you have to.
Wait another 45 min to an hour, or until the beef is tender.
Eat in your nice warm house.

Posted by naomi on November 23, 2006 | TrackBack
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