Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cold Night, Warm Braise

As predicted the temperature has continued to drop throughout the day and we are now heading down to zero or below tonight. There was a well marbled chuck roast in the butcher case at the market so it was adopted late this morning.

It was browned in a little grape seed oil, then allowed to rest while onions, carrots, garlic and celery were warmed in the pot. De-glaze was with a little white wine, then the beef was returned to the pot with a couple anchovy fillets and enough chicken stock to come up to the surface. For good measure I added a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes - not enough to create heat, but enough to liven things up a little. It braised for about four hours and was then allowed to rest in its broth for an hour. It was a perfect smell in the house for a cold day.

The beef was removed and the broth was de-fatted. When dinner time was near some leeks and celery were braised in a little butter just until soft, then the beef and the broth were added back to the pot and everything was popped back in the oven while the pasta cooked.

Most of the time I use tomatoes, red wine and beef or veal broth for beef or lamb braises, but this piece of beef was so well marbled with fat that I thought the usual ingredients would make the dish entirely too rich. The red wine braise would have been good, but there was certainly nothing wrong with a "white" braise for this meal.

There were a couple of slices of garlic bread to mop up the juices and a very good wine to keep things refreshed. The wine was a 2004 Fattoria Le Fonti Sangiovese Di Toscana (IGT). Think of it as a little Chianti. Excellent fruit and enough tannin to make the fruit honest and great acidity to cut through the richness that remained in the beef.

When all this settles in an hour or so there will be the last glass (fortunately a large one) from a bottle of Taylor Fladgate 10 year old tawny port while the dogs work on a large rawhide .

Who cares about the weather!

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