Wish Upon A Dish: Beef Braised in Red Wine

February 4, 2013

Beef Braised in Red Wine

I know I am not the only cook who sees a recipe, drools over it, saves it only to find that 2 months later it still hasn't been cooked. Although I hate when I do that, I am realistic that with so many really good recipes out there, this happens to lots of us and I am not unique.
I have had this recipe from Jacques on the menu ever since I saw him prepare it on his PBS show. Please, don't ask me how long ago that was but I am happy to announce I finally crossed it off the list.

Yay for me, but yay for us!! This was one of the best braised beef dishes I have ever eaten. Only this recipe comes close.
I have to warn you, you need to plan this dish at least one day in advance (but up to three). Jacques uses a pressure cooker but if you don't have one, a small slow cooker or a Dutch oven will take longer but work just as well.

I used my small 5 cup Crock Pot and it was a good choice. Want to know why? I firmly believe that most slow cooker meals are cooked in the wrong sized vessel. When I use my large one, if the food does not come up to at least over half the sides, I place a small piece of foil over the top to trap the heat and cook the food more efficiently. I also turn the cooker on while I am preparing the ingredients to make cooking time less. Many do not like slow cooker meals because they turn out watery, overcooked and mealy.
What I do only helps to stop that from happening and I have had good success.

What took this recipe from bottom of the list to last night's dinner? I found a little known cut of meat, perfect for this recipe, in a size (1lb) that is great for 3 servings (or dinner for two and a lunch for The Nudge). What was this great find? Well, a top blade flat iron steak. Yup, it's a mouthful in more ways than one.

Here's a little info for you to chew on...........
The Flat Iron is, in a butcher's mind, one of the most versatile pieces of beef. It takes to a marinade like no other, it's tender beyond belief, and you can cook it with much success in many methods. Plus, it's cheap. Since it is from the shoulder, it can be found for as little as $3/lb (I got mine for $3.49/lb). You can grill it, use if for stir fry meat, use it for fajitas, braise it, or pan fry it. Really, it is a great little cut that hopefully you will want to go out and try. If your butcher doesn't carry it, ask them to order it for you and freeze the whole piece.
Since the whole success of this dish relies on the meat soaking up the marinade, I hit the jackpot. The meat was full of flavor, maintained it's chew but was as tender as a filet mignon. I will certainly be stocking up on flat iron steaks if I ever get the chance again. To tell you the truth, I am tired of bad cuts of beef at my local Shop-Rite and when going to the butcher is not an option for most weeks, when I find a gem amongst the rocks, I grab it and run for the checkout.
Ah, Jacques would be proud.

After many considerations and phone calls, the starch of choice was surprisingly cheesy baked polenta, not egg noodles. I have not made polenta in quite some time and was looking forward to it. This was an easy cooking day. Beef in the Crockpot, vegetable garnishes gently simmering in butter on the stove and a pot of cheesy polenta in the oven. All timed to finish just as The Nudge is walking through the door. It's snowing here right now, bitter cold and he will appreciate a warm dinner in his belly.
It seems to be the perfect night for this dish.

What I love about this dish is you can garnish with any seasonal vegetables you like since they are not the vegetables that give the meat it's core flavor. I chose chipollini onions, carrots, parsnips, green beans and cauliflower. This posted recipe includes the vegetable garnishes that Jacques uses.

As for the polenta, I forgot how much I am enamored with it and my usual recipe is good, but this Baked Brie Polenta was over the top.

Beef Braised in Red Wine
Serves 6

2 onions (about 8 ounces), peeled and quartered
2 carrots (about 6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 head garlic, separated into cloves (12 to 15), but not peeled
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
3 cups dry red wine, preferably a Cabernet Sauvignon or a deep, fruity Rhône Valley-style wine
1 boneless beef shoulder blade (top blade) roast (about 3 pounds) or a boned whole beef shank
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon potato starch, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water

About 18 small baby carrots (8 to 10 ounces), peeled
About 18 small pearl onions (about 8 ounces), peeled
About 18 small potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled
About 18 medium mushrooms (about 12 ounces), cleaned
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

FOR THE MARINADE: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, place the meat in a heatproof container. When the marinade comes to a boil, pour it over the meat and let cool. When it is cool, cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or as long as 3 days.
When you are ready to cook, remove the beef, reserving the marinade, and pat it dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot. Add the beef and sprinkle it with the salt. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the meat has browned on all sides. Add the marinade and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered for 2-2 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and almost falling apart. Remove the meat to a warmed platter and tent with foil.
Skim all the visible fat from the surface of the cooking juices and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes, then stir in the dissolved potato starch to thicken the juices. Strain the sauce through a fine strainer and pour all but 1 cup of it over the meat. Set aside.

FOR THE VEGETABLES: Combine the carrots, onions, and 1 cup water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, and boil gently for 5 minutes. (Most of the liquid should have evaporated.) Set aside.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes in another saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil gently for 12 to 15 minutes, uncovered, until they are almost cooked but still firm. Drain, add to the carrots and onions, and set aside.
Pour the reserved cup of wine sauce into a medium saucepan. Add the mushrooms, cover, bring to a boil, and boil gently for 5 minutes. If not ready to serve, set aside.
At serving time, reheat the meat in the sauce over low heat until it is heated through. Meanwhile, add the carrots, onions, and potatoes to the mushrooms and heat until hot.
Cut the meat into 1-inch-thick slices and arrange on a large platter. Surround the meat with the vegetables and pour the sauce over and around them. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

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