Niçoise Beef Braised in White Wine; Juliet’s Balcony

When we lived in the US our house was on a lake.  Naturally, we had a deck across the front.

At one point we finally conceded defeat to the hordes of mosquitoes we shared our view with and decided to screen in the deck, turning it into a three season porch.

We duly applied for permission.

As a deck it was fine.

As a porch the far left corner was too close to the property line.

It was 14 feet from the property line.

The property dropped off about 6 feet right at the line with our neighbor’s land being on a lower level.

The distance between our two houses was 30 or 40 meters…. a long way.

Any structure had to be 15 feet from the property line.

We had to cut the corner of our deck/porch off and put in a cute, and expensive, little corner window.

When we moved to France we had been warned that, while one could do most anything inside the house, one had to be very careful about anything to the outside, particularly if one’s house was of a certain age.

They, likely, didn’t want to see cedar decks hanging off of 14th century towers…..

In our house in the Vendée, for example, we could only have non-opening windows out of glass you couldn’t see through…. (in other words, glass blocks) on one side of our house.

It was too close to the property line – actually, that wall was right on the property line.

We have heard many horror stories of people not getting permission to put in a new door; or adding a green house to their property and having to tear it down; not being allowed to turn a cellar into a garage and so on.

We have a little balcony – I call it Juliet’s Balcony for obvious reasons. (Old photo, before mowing, but it was raining today….)

 

It’s right off of our kitchen and we would like to make it a bit larger so we can put a table out there for summer dining.

We’ve already replaced the window with a door, without permission, but it had been a door at one time, so we figured we were putting it back to the original. It’s rather obvious when you look closely because the shutters don’t go all the way to the bottom of the door.

House_back
We have a rather spectacular view and we would like to sit out there, glass of wine in hand, and enjoy it.

Sunflower_storm
Preferably without the balcony falling off the house.  It’s in rather bad shape – besides being too small to do more than step out, turn around and step back in.

Last week we marshaled our arguments, took lots of photos of the crumbling concrete and gaping holes in the wrought iron railing and went off to talk to our Maire (mayor).

He looked at the photos, looked at us, laughed and said of course we didn’t need anyone’s permission to enlarge and fix the balcony.  After all, no one was close enough to see it so how could we offend anyone….

A very pragmatic view of governmental control of building issues, I thought.

Works for us.

We’ll just add another project to mon mari’s list – wouldn’t want him to run out of work.

One normally pairs red wine with beef and white wine with chicken.

Unless, of course one is making Coq au Vin (Chicken in Red Wine) or this delicious beef dish from Nice.

Beef Braised in White Wine

Niçoise Beef Braised in White Wine

24oz (750gr) beef, suitable for braising or stewing
2oz (60gr) smoked bacon
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
6oz (175gr) mushrooms
1 cup (8oz, 240gr) chopped tomatoes
2 cup white wine
2 tbs flour
4 tsp olive oil, divided
15 – 18 Greek, dry-cured black olives
bouquet garni
4 bay (laurel) leaves

Cut beef into cubes, 2″ (5cm).  Roughly chop bacon. Chop onion, mince garlic. Trim mushrooms and quarter. 
Heat t tsp olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, bacon and sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain all but 1 tbs oil / fat from pan.
Return pan to heat, add beef, a few pieces at a time, and brown on all sides.  When all beef is brown, add garlic, sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring, a few minutes longer. Add wine, stirring up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Return bacon, onion to pan, add tomatoes, herbs, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer (small bubbles just breaking the surface), cover and let cook for 2 hours.

To finish: 15 minutes before beef is done, sauté mushrooms in remaining 2 tsp olive oil. 
Remove beef from pan, remove and discard bouquet garni and bay leaves.  Add olives, mushrooms to pan, increase heat and cook, reducing slightly, for 5 minutes.  Return beef and heat through.  Serve on creamy polenta, mashed potatoes or gnocchi.

9 thoughts on “Niçoise Beef Braised in White Wine; Juliet’s Balcony”

  1. Of what will you build your new balcony? I rather like the tracery of the black iron but, if you are sitting down, it may impede that spectacular view. You need something low and unobtrusive.

  2. The laugh, shrug and mais oui seems delightfully whimsical. Too bad you can’t predict when it will be that or a slew of permits and your first-born. 🙂
    Your stew, on the other hand, white wine or not, looks positively delicious.

  3. We have to ask our association if we can do anything to the exterior of our house and we understand that, but it’s annoying when this also pertains to our small garden patio in the back. Rules! That view of yous is really spectacular, as is the beef and wine. I’ve tried a beef with blonde ale recipe before — a French recipe — and it does taste much different.

  4. Zoomie, we’ll do something in wrought iron. The big decision is whether or not to put supports under it – and of what….
    Christine, it would make life simpler if we knew ahead of time…
    Betty, our views really are incredible – but living on a hill has it’s drawbacks – wind!
    Baking Soda, sometimes the simple things can be the most difficult!
    manningroad, and the summmer sunsets are incredible!
    Kelly, I like the ‘if it doesn’t bother anyone don’t worry’ attitude. Very French!
    Ina, I’m hoping I can convince mon mari to not buy the equipment and do it himself!
    Kerry, thanks!

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