Yes, I know, two words that rarely go together are "lovely" and "leftovers" (as a side note, I feel that lovely is used far to little as it is...), but this moniker was well earned last night. During the fall and winter months I crave soups, stews and casseroles. I will get into nesting moods where I'm Turning out steamy hot, rich and filling dishes for several nights in a row to stave off the numbing cold creeping its way through my less-then-well insulated attic apartment. In these moments, the freezer is my best friend. Hoarding away the leftovers of my cooking binges means that I can then return to enjoy that same meal another day.
So, last night I bravely stared into my freezer and started the long process of eating my way through these winter stores. It is impressive what I've managed to shove into the small freezer space I have. I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty convinced I have a 2/3 size refrigerator. Do they make these? I just know that I've had more space in previous apartments. Besides the frozen lunches (somedays things are just to hectic to make lunch - especially when your alarm doesn't go off and there's no hot water), I found meatballs, butternut squash soup, marinara sauce, sausage and white bean stew, minestrone, beef burgundy and many, many ripe bananas for baking. I chose the beef burgundy (in the Stonyfield Yogurt container, front and center). I had made this for a special Oscar's night dinner party in early March from The New Best Recipe. As usual from this cookbook, the dish was divine. The meat was succulent, tender and bursting with flavor and the additional step of carmelizing the pearl onions and mushrooms before adding them to the meat and sauce definitely lent depth to the dish overall. After re-heating and simmering while waiting for the potatoes to cook, the beef burgundy was just as good as I remembered it - maybe even a bit more tenderized after undergoing a freeze-thaw. The flavors and textures were completely intact, and served over freshly made garlic smashed potatoes, that meal provided me with a second night of hearty happiness.
Beef Burgundy (adapted from "The New Best Recipe", without permission)
This meal takes a considerable amount of time the first time around, but it is well worth the effort. Also, as I learned last night, it freezes extremely well - so tasty leftovers are always an option.
6 oz. salt pork, cut into 1/2 pieces, reserve rind (I used 6 oz. of turkey bacon, sliced thin as I was making it initially for someone who could not eat pork - worked wonderfully as an alternative)
10 sprigs fresh parsley, torn into quarters
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 medium onions, chopped coarse
2 medium carrots, chopped coarse
1 medium garlic head, cloves separated and crushed, but unpeeled
2 bay leaves crumbled
1/2 t. black peppercorns
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed (they say optional in the book, but I wouldn't agree. Cooking the mushrooms with the beef and wine really added a smoky depth to the braising liquid that was essential)
4 lbs. beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 inch chunks
salt and ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups water
4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 bottle (750 ml) wine, red Burgundy or Pinot Noir (same grape, different production location)
1 t. tomato paste
Cheesecloth (don't forget this - it makes the process SO much easier)
(for the onion and mushroom garnish)
36 frozen pearl onions (about 7 oz.) (can use fresh if can't find frozen, just be sure to peel well)
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. sugar
3/4 c. water
10 oz. white mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. brandy
3 T minced fresh parsley leaves
1. Bring the salt pork and salt pork rind and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes and drain well. This is to blanch the meat and remove excess salt - if using turkey bacon you can skip this step if you'd like.
2. Cut two 22 inch lengths of cheesecloth. Wrap the parsley, thyme, onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, porcini mushrooms (if using) and blanched salt pork rind in the cheese cloth and set in a large ovenproof Dutch oven. (I would love a Dutch oven, but I don't have one - I used a large Corningware baking dish) Adjust the oven rack to a lower-middle position and set at 300F.
3. Put the blanched salt pork (bacon) in a 12 inch skillet and set the skillet over medium heat; saute until lightly browned and crisp. With a slotted spoon transfer the pork to the Dutch oven. Pour off all but two tablespoons of the fat and reserve. (If using turkey bacon you will have very little if any fat - use olive oil as a substitute) Dry the beef thoroughly with paper towels and season it generously with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and brown half of the beef in a single layer, until deep brown (about 7 minutes) and transfer to Dutch oven. Pour 1/2 c. water into the skillet to deglaze the pan, scrape with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. When the pan is clean, pour liquid into the Dutch oven. Repeat, adding additional pork fat for the browning, with the second batch of beef.
4. Set now-empty skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the foaming subsides, whisk in the flour until evenly moistened and pasty. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture has a toasty aroma and is the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth and remaining 1 1/2 c. water. Increase heat to medium high and bring the roux to a simmer, stirring frequently until thickened. Pour mixture into Dutch oven. Add 3 c. of the wine and the tomato paste; stir to combine. Cover and place pot into the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
5. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and transfer the vegetable and herb bouquet (in the cheesecloth - this is why you shouldn't forget the cheesecloth - otherwise you're separating by hand) to a mesh strainer over the pot. Press any remaining liquid back into the pot and discard the bouquet. With a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a medium bowl; set aside. Allow the braising liquid to settle about 15 minutes, then, with a wide, shallow spoon, skim the fat from the surface and discard.
6. Bring the liquid in the Dutch oven to a boil over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Simmer briskly and stirring to ensure the bottom is not burning, until the sauce is reduced to about 3 c and thickened to the consistency of heavy cream (about 15 to 20 minutes).
7. Preparing the garnish: While the braising liquid is reducing, bring the pearly onions, butter, sugar, 1/4 t. salt and 1/2 c. water to a boil in a medium skillet over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes (this can be done with the onions coming directly out of the freezer, may take a few more minutes). Uncover, increase the heat to high and simmer until all the liquid evaporates. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 t. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms evaporates and the vegetables are brown and glazed. Transfer the vegetables to a large plate and set aside. Add the remaining 1/4 c. water to deglaze the skillet and add the liquid to the reducing sauce.
8. When the sauce in the Dutch oven has reduced, as described above, reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the beef, mushrooms and onions (with any accumulated juices), the remaining wine and the brandy. Cover the pot and cook until heated through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and, if you'd like, sprinkle each individual serving with minced parsley.
I serve the beef burgundy atop mashed potatoes with roasted garlic. And, because I love the picture - here is my roasted garlic: