Showing posts with label corned beef. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corned beef. Show all posts

Monday, December 26, 2011

BEEF BURGUNDY, or BEEF STEW IN RED WINE, How I made it for the last party

Beef Burgundy is an old fashioned beef stew in red wine, and one of the first things I learned to cook.  It is an every-day kind of stew, but also and a great recipe to make for a party, as it can be made in advance and it gets better after a few days. It also freezes well. On party day, it can be warmed in a crock pot, or in the oven, leaving the stovetop free. Like any soup or stew, it can be different every time you make it, but it is always good.

Here’s how I made it for a lovely progressive dinner we had recently with our dear friends from the “original neighborhood”. Usually I will add the carrot whole, and remove it when I remove the bouquet garni (and eat it with lunch the next day), but sometimes I'm in the mood for carrots¸ so I diced the carrot and left it in. Sometimes I add garlic, too, but not this time (not in the mood for garlic). And adding a ham hock isn’t traditional, but ham hocks make just about anything better, so I like to add one if I have one around.
No pictures of the beef burgundy, but here we are with our salads!
There are recipes all over the place for beef burgundy, so it might seem silly to bother posting it here, but my friends requested it, so here’s the strategy, formula, and technique. The proportions are more or less, give or take. Multiply or divide as you wish

BEEF BURGUNDY, or BEEF STEW IN RED WINE, How I made it for the last party.
Serves @8 (I made twice as much for party of 13, with some left over)

4 or 6 T olive oil

Beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into ½ - 1” cubes, about 3 lbs
Flour for dredging

¼ lb pancetta or bacon (smoky not sweet variety), finely diced
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
1 small carrot finely diced

2 T Cognac
2 T tomato paste
1 - 2 quart beef broth (homemade is best)
½ bottle red wine, not sweet or light – think petit syrah, pinot noir, or Chianti
1 smoked ham hock

1 bay leaf,
3 sprigs thyme, (dried: 1 tsp)
2 sprigs marjoram, (dried: ½ tsp), all tied together into a bouquet garni with a kitchen string

pearl onions, 35 or 40, if fresh, blanched and peeled, or use frozen pearl onions
mushrooms, lots, at least 20 oz, sliced and sautéed in butter or olive oil until lightly browned

Heat 2-3 T olive oil on medium heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot*. Turn heat to medium or low and add pancetta or bacon, for a minute or two, until edges start to brown. Add onions, cook for just a minute, and then add carrot and cook for another minute or so. Remove from pan.

Season beef with salt and pepper. Dredge lightly in flour.

Add another 2-3 T olive oil to pan and heat briefly. Add beef, and brown, a few pieces at a time so that they are not crowded and have space around them, on medium to low heat. Remove from pan and brown remaining beef in batches. Take your time and keep the heat pretty low. A dark brown crust will form on the bottom of the pot. This is good. Try not to scorch or burn it, though.

After all of the meat is browned and removed from the pan, keep the heat on low. Add Cognac and deglaze the pan, scraping up some of that brown crust on the bottom of the pan. Add tomato paste, stir it in, and then add about half of the beef broth a bit a time, stirring it in and scraping the bottom of the pot.

Return the beef and the carrot, onion, and pancetta/bacon mixture to the pot. Add wine, ham hock, and herbs. Turn heat to very low, and cook, uncovered, for several hours, at least two. I usually cook it on the top of the stove, but you can cook it in the oven at 300, or transfer it to a crock pot. Stir it every once in a while, and add more beef broth or water if it seems to need it.

After about two hours add onions and mushrooms, and cook for at least another hour until the flavors come together and it thickens slightly.

You can serve it right away, but it will be better if you cool and refrigerate it, and reheat it in a day or two.

Before serving remove ham hock and bouquet garni (or bay leaf if using dried herbs). Salt and pepper lightly, to taste.
Serve with egg noodles, rice or potatoes. If you’re on a diet or watching the glycemic index, beef burgundy is just fine on its own, without any starch.

*If you use a thin pot, you’ll have trouble with burning. If you don’t have a heavy bottomed pan, brown the onions, bacon, and carrot, remove from frying pan. Then brown the beef, as described above, in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Deglaze the pan, stir and scrape up browned bits, add a cup or two of beef broth, cook for a minute or two, and then pour it all into a deep soup pot or crock pot, and proceed with recipe.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Colcannon is often made with ham or bacon and cabbage or other greens that have been sautéed in butter, and then mixed into mashed potatoes, with a well of melted butter on top. But leftover Corned Beef and Cabbage is so flavorful against the mild mashed potatoes, and with browned butter to boot you may agree with me that the Colcannon you have for lunch the next day is really the reason to make Corned Beef and Cabbage.

So here’s the strategy, formula, and technique. The proportions are more or less, give or take. Make what you need:

Make your browned butter: In a large pot, slowly melt 1 – 2 T butter per serving and cook over low heat until solids brown, but not burned, and have a nice nutty smell. Pour into a small bowl, but don’t clean the pot as you’ll be using it for your potatoes (that’s why you want a large pot and not a small saucepan).

Cook your potatoes: You’ll need some freshly mashed potatoes for this, so bake, microwave, or boil however many potatoes you’ll need, one or two per serving. I prefer to bake or microwave them. When they’re soft, rice, sieve, or mash potatoes into the brown butter pot. Add some warmed milk (or buttermilk, whey, half and half, or cream) and a very small amount of butter. I like to keep it light on the fat and salt, to balance the high fat and salt in the corned beef and browned butter. Pepper potatoes. Keep warm

Warm leftover corned beef in microwave or oven. Shred it by pressing slices along the grain with the side of a knife. Chop shreds into ½” – 1” pieces.  

Warm leftover cabbage and onions.

Per serving stir a few tablespoons of warm corned beef , a few tablespoons of warm cabbage and a teaspoon or so of minced parsley into mashed potatoes, reserving some to be served on the side. Make sure this potato mixture is good and hot.

To serve, mound piping hot potatoes into a bowl and place warm corned beef, warm cabbage, and minced parsley around the edges. Make a well in the center of the potatoes and fill with browned butter. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Makes a small round loaf

2 1/4 c flour
2 tsp sugar
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 T butter or oil
½ c sour milk or buttermilk
1/3 c beer or soda water

Preheat oven to 375

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in butter or oil as you would for biscuits or pie. Add liquids and mix until just combined. Gather dough together with your hands and form into a round that is 2-3” thick. Place on greased baking sheet and cook for 35 – 45 minutes, until crust is dark and bread is cooked all the way through. Check the center with a skewer or knife to make sure. Brush with soft butter and sprinkle top with salt.
Cool on wire rack. 


This is another of those things we make as part of our seasonal routine, but since Jack loves it so much, we also try to make it whenever he comes home. If it’s a busy day, you can just throw everything in the same pot, adding the cabbage, carrots and potatoes in the last hour of cooking, and everyone will eat it and it will be fine. But it all seems so pale and wan when done that way. When the vegetables are browned and added separately, the color, flavor and texture are all better.

So here’s the strategy, formula, and technique. The proportions are more or less, give or take; make adjustments depending on the size of your meat and how many people you’re serving. Multiply or divide as you wish:

You’ll need a deep pot with a lid that holds your piece of meat snugly, with some room around it, but keep in mind that as it cooks it will shrink some. You may cook this on top of the stove, in the oven, or in a slow cooker, which works very nicely.

Place an onion or two, sliced lengthwise, in the bottom of the pot. I like to rinse the corned beef first, though many people don’t. On top of this place your corned beef and cover with more sliced onions, along with a bay leaf, one or two garlic cloves, and a few tablespoons of pickling spice. You can just throw the spices into the pot, but I prefer to wrap them in a piece of cheesecloth, or a couple of coffee filters, tied at the top, or put them in a tea ball. Otherwise you have to either deal with getting it out or you have to put up with it in your teeth.

Pickling spice: a mix of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, dill, peppercorns, dark and light mustard seeds, and bay leaves. Other spices such as celery seed, chili, caraway, ginger or fenugreek can be added as you like. For corned beef, I go light on the cloves and cinnamon, and heavier on the coriander and mustard.

Pour in a half to a whole beer. I prefer lager or lighter beer, as a darker or black beer can be too strong and cover the other flavors (you may drink the remaining beer, or use it later in your soda bread). Fill pot with water to just cover the meat. Bring heat up to a simmer, turn the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover and let it cook for about two hours, every once in a while skimming any foam off the top. If you’re cooking it in the oven, set temperature to 300˚. If you’re using a slow cooker and it will be in all day, set it on low; if you’ve only got a few hours, set it on high. Whichever way you cook it, keep the heat low and try not to let it boil.

About an hour and a half before you’re ready to eat, melt some butter and/or oil in a sauté pan. Add whole new potatoes or large potatoes that have been peeled and cut into fairly large chunks or rounds, along with a carrot or two that have been peeled and cut into 1-2” pieces. More potatoes, less carrots. Cook, turning frequently so that they don’t stick, until they start to brown. Sprinkle the vegetables with a tablespoon or so of flour, toss it around, and continue to cook until potatoes are nicely browned.

Remove the meat from the pot and set it on a plate, covered. Run the broth through a sieve, pushing the softened onions through the mesh.  Return the meat to the pot, along with the potatoes and carrots, and a fresh bay leaf. Taste the broth to determine the saltiness, and if it is very strong and salty, dilute with water to taste before you add most of it back to the pot, reserving some for the cabbage. Cover and continue to cook on low for another hour or until the potatoes are just soft.

Meanwhile, cut a green or red cabbage in half. Notice how beautiful it is. Cut the core out, and cut into 1-2” wedges and then into 1-2” lengths. In the same pot you used for the potatoes, add a little more butter/oil and brown and onion, cut in thin wedges and then cut in half. Add cabbage. Saute over medium low heat, stirring frequently until it begins to soften and brown around the edges. Again notice how beautiful it is. Add a cup or two of the strained juice from the corned beef, scrape everything up from the bottom, cover and cook on a low heat until very soft. Remove the lid and cook off any excess liquid. Season with pepper, and salt only if needed, remembering that the meat may be fairly salty.

Let the meat rest on a plate or board, covered, for about 10 minutes. Slice corned beef against the grain and serve with cabbage and vegetables in a deep plate or bowl. Pour broth all around and add plenty of chopped parsley and freshly grated pepper.

Pass mustard or horseradish, or if you’re like me, enjoy it plain.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A few years back brining was all over the place. Everywhere you’d look someone was raving about the virtues of brining, and we climbed right on the brining bandwagon. We brined and we brined, and by the time it was finally out of my system, I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me because is seemed to me that it kind of left everything kind of the same. As lovely as it is to have evenly moist and seasoned meat, that is just what it is: even, and that evenness sacrifices variation. I enjoy having each bite of my meat a little different from the last: one bite may be seasoned more strongly than another, one might be a little more dry than another, one might have a texture that is a little different, and for me the experience will be more interesting and more gratifying.
I wasn’t too excited about this Charcutepalooza challenge, but I’d never corned my own beef, and enough time had passed that I was up to revisiting brining. One thing that had bothered me about brining was the dominance of the salt, how it permeated every bite. I also didn’t like the softened texture. That’s why I don’t buy meat that has been injected with anything. I hoped to be able to adjust the technique or recipe so that the meat was improved by the brine, but not taken over by it.

So how to add some flavor and moisture without letting it take over? How about less salt, more herbs/spices, less brining time and more resting time? For each meat, except the corned beef, I cut the salt and brining time by about half, and doubled the herbs/spices and resting time, to see if I could come up with a milder and more flavorful treatment that added something but didn’t take away from the character of the meat. It worked!

Here’s what we did. Recipes to follow:

We made an out of this world corned beef, for corned beef and cabbage, with leftovers for hash, sandwiches and colcannan.

Ham steak from our Amish farmer is not cured, so brining in basic brine with lots of mustard and sage added nice flavor.

We brined and cooked a chicken on the rotisserie. My sister Mary over for dinner that night, and she pointed out that in Italy they frequently brine game, which is leaner and often tougher, to tenderize it. Free range animals are similar to wild animals in this respect, and also respond well to a light brine.

We figured out how to deal with latter day lean pork tenderloin.

And we got a batch of sauerkraut going for good measure, though we didn’t float it in brine, but just kneaded salt into it as we usually do.

James Peale, Still Life with Balsam Apple and Vegetables, at The Met
A Cool Cabbage Hat at the Met
Cabbage Tureen at Minneapolis Museum of Art
Cabbage Field by Simone Nieweg at St. Louis Art Museum