Monday, February 13, 2012

Beef Marengo

This past week we made a visit up to my parents' place in Vermont.  Sometimes I wish I lived up there full time.  The beauty of the outdoors, a more peaceful surrounding, and awesome Canadian cheese.   I also cooked for my parents, Brett, my cousin Bruce and my Aunt Heather while up there.

We arrived earlyish that morning, and my parents decided to take us to their "cheese place" in Canada.

(Note: picture is not the border customs.  No pictures allowed there...)
After passing through a strangely stringent customs, we arrived at the cheese shop.  This shop was amazing.

Inside was an array of cheese, jams, bread, and honey.  I cannot say how much I wish I had a place like this near us in DC.  But it wasn't just the array...but the price!  So much less expensive for some of the best bread and cheese I've had in a while.  It was beautiful shop, and we had a chance to talk to the owner.  I would recommend that if you're ever crossing the border from the Champlaign Islands, stop in at "the cheese shop."

I even picked up a melange provencale spice mix, which I am excited to try at some point.

However, one of the only negatives of the Canada trip was that we thought we were going to the sausage man as well.  Turns out, he was closed, and so was our dinner option.  So, my mom and I figured we could make something else.

My mom has already talked highly of the cookbook Around My French Table.  Filled with great recipes that she's cooked again and again in the last year or two, she touts it everywhere she goes.  And she is an amazing cook, so I usually trust her judgment.  (and in fact, I got this cookbook as a gift the week before we left from my amazing grandparents!)

We decided to pick a recipe from the book.  And something warm, as we were in cold VT.  The recipe that stuck in my mind was the veal marengo.  But here's the thing, I don't eat veal.  I know it's kinda hypocritical of me, but having watched documentaries about how the baby cows are just doesn't sit right with me.

So instead of veal, I substituted with beef chuck.  And in addition to this, I made a lot of other changes just based on what we had around the kitchen in Vermont.  That jar we thought contained rosemary?  Nope, turns out it was that was herbs de provence (could basically tell because of the smell of lavendar).  Or the fact that apparently, no where in Vermont sells PARSLEY!  So there was some improvising along the way.  But this dish was fragrant, hearty, perfect for a cold Vermont winter night, and pretty easy to execute.

Oh and since we had to fly up to Vermont, little buddy couldn't join us.  But instead, my parents dog Kaya, who is an adorable ball of trouble, helped out by lusting around the kitchen wanting me to drop some food for her.

No dice Kaya.

All purpose flour for dredging
1 T salt
1 T pepper
2 lb beef chuck, sliced into 2 inch cubes
2 T vegetable or grapeseed oil
2 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow union
1 can drained diced tomatoes
4 T tomato paste
2 C white wine
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 T italian spice mix, or rosemary if you have it
2 bay leaves

3 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 T salt
1/2 T pepper
12 cipollini mushrooms
2 lb small red potatoes
4 T herbs de provence mix (really try to get one that has lavender in it)

Preheat the oven to 275°.  Cut the beef into 1 inch cubes.  I bought beef chuck that was already someone cut into stew pieces, but cut them a bit smaller.

Dredge the beef in the flour, salt and pepper.

Heat up the oil a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides in batches, make sure not to crowd the pot.  Allow all of the browned bits to collect at the bottom. 

After the meat has browned, put on a plate and allow the meat to rest and let the juices collect.

Melt the butter in the pan and sautee the onions for 5 minutes until soft.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the wine, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and scrape all of the browned bits into the mix.  

 Stir until all of the ingredients have mixed well and then add the thyme, seasoning, and bay leaves.

Add the beef back into the pot with the juices and cover.  Put into the oven for 3-4 hours, or until fork tender.  Stir occasionally.

You can prepare the potato mix when there is about 1/2 hour left of cooking time.  Very roughly chop the onions.

(At this time, Kaya was super super hungry for some beeeeeeef, but sorry pup, you, like little buddy, have a very sensitive stomach and cannot eat anything other than dog food)

Halve the mushrooms and quarter the potatoes.

Heat up the butter in a large pan.  Add the potatoes and the herbs and sautee for at least 15 minutes on medium heat.

Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for another 15-20 minutes until all of the flavors meld together and everything is soft.

Remove the stew from the oven just before you need to serve.

Serve on a single plate with portions of the stew and the potatoes...and perhaps some wine.  Enjoy!

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