Among people who could not afford the great traditional cuisine of the wealthy, the meat cuts most commonly consumed were inferior, less tender ones. Nevertheless, even on the most humble stoves, the cuts used for braising were prepared in a most delicious fashion, simmering for many hours. Beef with carrots - just imagine its delicious aromas permeating the stairways of French apartment buildings - is an excellent example of the perfection that can be attained by this slow method of cooking.
- For Beef:
- 3 pounds braising beef: shank (shin), boneless shoulder pot-roast (neck, chuck), blade roast (chuck, blade)
- 5 ounces pork skin (rind), without fat
- For Vegetables:
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 3 pounds carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 garlic cloves, quartered
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 whole cloves
- 4 pinches grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cognac
- 9 young celery leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
FOR BEEF: Ask your butcher to tie the meat, but do not have it larded (strips of fat incised into the meat with the help of a larding needle) or barbed (with bacon).
Cut the pork skin into 1/2 x 1-inch rectangles. Immerse them in boiling water for 2 minutes and drain. Use two-thirds of the skin to line a 4-quart cast-iron casserole.
FOR VEGETABLES: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the oil in an 11-inch nonstick skillet. Add the carrots, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and cloves. Lightly brown the carrots for 7 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat, until they are lightly caramelized. Sprinkle with salt and the nutmeg. Remove the vegetables and set aside in a bowl.
Add the beef and sear on all sides for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Baste the meat with the cognac and cook until it evaporates.
Place the meat in the casserole, surround it with the celery leaves and, on top of them, the carrots. Cover the meat with the rest of the pork skin. Cover the casserole with waxed paper and place the lid over it. Put the casserole in the oven and cook for 4 hours, or until the meat can easily be pierced with the point of a knife. If the meat needs it, increase the cooking time by 30 minutes to 1 hour.
TO SERVE: Serve the meat in slices, surrounded by the glazed carrots and the small pieces of pork skin with their syrupy juice. Just before serving, baste the carrots with the lemon juice and add pepper.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
622 calories; 35g total fat; 159mg cholesterol; 321mg sodium; 25g carbohydrates; 7g fiber; 48g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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