Did I ever mention that I often cook with wine?
Not cooking wine…. One should never, ever cook with a wine not fit to drink.
One can get perfectly quaffable wines to use in cooking without uncorking the Grand Crus.
Wine tenderizes the meat, adds flavors and results in fantastic sauces.
I do like to pair the wine for cooking with the wine we'll be drinking with the finished dish.
For Boeuf Bourguignon I get a village wine from the same côte as the dinner wine.
For this dish, Beef Braised in Chianti, I use a cheaper wine from the same region….
The wine used for cooking may be bit rougher around the ages, a bit more tannic than the drinking wine, but underlying notes will be similar.
For the curious: after 15 minutes of simmering, more than half the alcohol in the wine has dissipated; after 1 hour, about 75% is gone; after 2 hours more than 90% is gone. Three hours will leave only the merest trace of alcohol in your dish.
The weather here has turned unseasonably cold again…. Winter has returned, as has my desire for long, slow braises…. The last one of this winter – I hope!
Beef Braised in Chianti serves 4
2 1/2 lb beef roast, chuck or rump
1 medium onion
1 stalk (rib) celery
2 bay (laurel) leaves
1 tbs juniper berries
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bottle Chianti
1 tbs olive oil
4 oz mushrooms
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes
3 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbs water or reserved marinade
The night before: Remove any big chunks of fat from beef. Put the beef into a bowl just large enough to hold it. Slice the onion, carrot and celery and add to beef. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries and peppercorns. Pour the red wine over, cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours. (24 or 36 is okay).
The afternoon of: 4 1/2 hours before dinner take the meat out of the marinade and let drain, reserving all of the marinade. Heat oil in the braising pot. Add beef and brown on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Strain the vegetables, reserving marinade. Add vegetables to the beef. Open and drain the tomatoes. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to beef. Clean mushrooms. Roughly chop and add to beef. Add 1/2 of the reserved marinade, cover, reduce heat and let simmer, gently, for 4 hours. Check it periodically and add more reserved marinade as needed. It should almost cover the beef. I used all but about 1 cup.
Finishing: Remove beef from pan and keep warm. Strain vegetables, reserving wine/pan juices. Skim off any excess fat if you can (use a spoon or fat separator), then put juices in a saucepan. Heat juices to boiling. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to thicken. You probably won't need all of it so stop periodically and let it cook to test consistency. Remove bay leaves from vegetables and discard. Add reserved vegetables to saucepan and heat through. (You can put them through a food mill for a smooth sauce …I didn't) Slice some of the beef and arrange on a platter. Spoon some sauce around the beef and serve, extra sauce on the side.
Is anyone else really craving the first asparagus of spring?