Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rustic, Red Wine Braised Beef

This yields the most tender, flavorful roast beef. Don’t be afraid of using close to two bottles of wine-- it is not acidic, just full-bodied. This takes the whole of the afternoon to braise and scents the house with the most wonderful fragrance. Remember, only use a wine to cook with, that you would also drink.

1, 4 pound beef roast, tough and cheap (shoulder or butt), whatever is on sale
Sea salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-2 bottles full-bodied red wine
2-3 cups beef stock, canned or boulion is fine
1 stalk celery, trimmed, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 bouquet garni made of fresh thyme, sage, rosemary

1) Preheat the oven to 275F (150C).

2) Pour the veg oil into a large, oven-proof pot and place over high heat. Season the roast with sea salt. When the oil looks as if it is quivering, put the roast in and brown on all sides (about 2 minutes per side)-- adding more oil if the pot gets dry.

3) Pour in the wine and stock to come 2/3 the way up the side of the roast (using a ratio of 2 parts wine, 1 part stock-- exact amounts will depend upon the size pot used). Add in all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover and place into the oven. Cook for 4 to 6 hours (remember you are roasting at a very low temp), until the meat is fork tender. Turn the roast over once in the middle of braising. You may also need to add water once to keep the liquid up around the meat.

4) When it is done, remove the meat from the pot to a platter and tent foil over it. Pour all of the juices through a strainer into a bowl or container, so that the fat rises to the top and can be spooned off. Discard the fat and vegetables used in the braise. After the juices have been defatted, pour them back into a small soup pot and bring to a strong simmer. Simmer until it is reduced by half. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary-- but you shouldn't need to.

5) Slice the beef against the grain, if there is fat, trim that off, and serve with the sauce and roasted potatoes, leeks and fennel.

Serves 4-6

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