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Archive for the ‘beef’ Category

This is my version of my mother’s partridge stuffing / meatloaf / capón stuffing. Yes, she really uses this recipe for all those things, with very small variations. It’s that good.

Lots of stuff for this one

Lots of stuff for this one

As you can see, a lot of things are needed. So this is not a dish you can whip up at a moments notice (unless you have a fabulously well stocked kitchen), it requires some planning. Let me stress this again: it’s worth it!

The list of ingredients I have (that my mother sent me) is for the stuffing of a capón, which is a huge bird which ends up looking like a vulture when stuffed. As far as I know, there is no such chicken this side of the ocean – and I can’t say I’m really that sorry, as the way they make / raise them seems quite cruel. Anyway, the amounts I had are too much to make meatloaf or stuff a bird – they’re about right for doing both these thins though. So I will give the amounts I used this time that fit the meatloaf like pan perfectly. If you are using it to stuff something, modify accordingly, and you’ll need less for a chicken.

  • 0.5 lb ground beef
  • 0.5 ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/3 of a packet of bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, very finely chopped or grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 or 2 dl cream
  • 50 g pine nuts, lightly roasted
  • Between 5 and 10 dried prunes, you can either coarsely chop them up or leave them whole, whatever you want (I chop ’em)
  • 1 truffle, very fineley chopped – my mother says this is optional, but I think that if you’re going to make such a complex meatloaf you might as well go for it and get the truffle
  • Salt and oil
  • Spices: white pepper, ground nutmeg, a little bit of ground cinnamon and ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup oporto or sweet sherry
  • If you’re using this as stuffing: foie gras. you’ll slide in a couple of pieces with the stuffing, on top of it, close to the breastbone.

The preparation can be summed up as: MIX EVERYTHING. But I can give a few more details.

If you remember, this first step should be done the day before. I didn’t and it came out perfectly fine.

Mix in a bowl the ground meats, bacon, prunes, truffle, spices, salt, liquor, eggs (mix them before). Also slightly saute the onion and garlic till translucent, let cool, and add to said bowl. Refrigerate till the following day, when you need to take it out of the fridge a couple of hours before making the meatloaf so that the mixture can come up to room temperature.

The day before mixure that wasnt

The "day before" mixture that wasn't

If you forgot to roast the pine nuts, now would be a good time to do it.

Almost there

Almost there

Into the bowl they go. My mother says to mix everything by hand as that’s the best way to make sure everything mixes thoroughly. I used a spoonula and it worked fine.

On day #2 you add the missing ingredients: cream and pine nuts. Mix everything well, untill it has an almost doughy consistency.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

And now you bake. At 350. No idea for how long, but I think mine needed about 40 minutes. Put a bigger dish underneath, because there’s a high chance that liquid will over flow. If you play it by eye, use the usual knife-comes-out-clean technique and you should be fine.

If this looks good, you should have smelled it!

If this looks good, you should have smelled it!

Let rest for about 15 minutes so that it can reabsorb some of the liquid you’ll see down the sides.

If you’re making stuffing, my mother suggest making a sauce with white wine, port, chicken stock, squirt of lemon juice, sal and pepper, and a little bit of truffle if you have leftover. Baste the bird with it.

Meatloaf

Meatloaf

This meatloaf is something else. I don’t think it even plays in the same league as most meatloafs. In fact, it deserves some sort of posh, French sounding name, so that it is no longer associated with a vulgar meatloaf. It can be eaten warm or room temperature (good in sandwiches with a little bit of mild mustard and mayo).

Another photo, I can’t have enough of it!

Meatloaf

Meatloaf

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A.K.A. Good ole beef stew. Looking at the recipe it seemed like too fancy a title for what I was supposed to do. And then out of curiosity I looked for photos to see how this dish is supposed to look and realize that mine has no shallots! No carrots! No potatoes! PANIC! How can I call this something it’s not???!?

Because the book says so! So if you think this is not worthy of such a grandiose name or doesn’t look Français, take it up with Inés and Simone, not me.

This is what you need, the bacon is hiding

This is what you need, the bacon is hiding

The other day at the grocery store I saw one of those little trays with pieces of beef for stewing. Which made me think of all the stew recipes I’d seen lately floating around teh Interwebz, which in turn made me drool. I’m classy like that. So into the cart it went. Afterwards I ended going back for a second tray because I like having leftovers – either to take to work as lunch or to freeze. Also to find shallots, which the recipe called for, and for which I had great plans, following a caramelizing / reduction recipe from my mom (for which I could have used what I have left of the chicken stock I have in the fridge) – alas, that was not to be! No shallots or cute little onions at the store.

Chop em all up!

Chop 'em all up!

Not to toot my own horn, but I was actually able to practice that elusive virtue that is moderation! Go me! RAH RAH RAH!

See that onion? I only used half!

See all that bacon? I not only used a third of it, but I was wise enough to freeze the rest in several little one meal sized packages. The things I am able to do when I stop and think about what I have vs. what I need. Amazing.

What? Am I the only one who buys a packet of bacon, uses what she needs right then and leaves the rest to rot in the fridge? I’m sorry but I really can’t believe that I am the only one that forgets all that porky goodness sitting in the fridge untill it’s too late.

This recipe starts just like my carbonara sauce one: cooking the chopped up onion and bacon over low heat till the onion goes from translucent to golden. My carbonara recipe which I totally stole from Alex’s mom – it’s just so good that halfway through this recipe I was very tempted to just say screw it to the beef and have an affair with a bowl of pasta. Ficklness, thy name is woman.

Fry baby FRY!!!!

Fry baby FRY!!!!

Once golden, make them jump ship and patiently wait their turn, because it’s time for the BEEF and things are about to get surreal.

And have you seen just how CUUUUUTE (kawaii!) my lime green Le Creuset pot is? Doesn’t it just make you smile and want to cuddle it and get all hot and dirty with it? Ejem. Maybe that’s just me. Best. Impulsive. Purchase. Ever. It might have been expensive, but I’m definitely making good use of it.

So, back to the moo.

1. Cook it till evenly browned.

Check.

2. Add a little bit of tomato paste.

Check.

Since I seem to be in a practical frame of mind, I actually remembered to put the rest of the tomato paste into little containers and freeze them too! Sometimes I just amaze myself. In this house, tomato paste is another usual victim of the Ooops-I-forgot-I-had-this-in-the-fridge-and-now-that-I’m-going-to-use-it-it’s-moldy disease.

3. Add a tablespoon of heroin.

Check.

This is will give the recipe that certain je ne sais pas quoi little touch.

4. Slit your veins and let the blood pour out until the beef is covered.

Check.

What? You haven’t invited vampires over to dinner? You lot have such closed minds, you’re not open to making new friends and making them feel welcome in your home! Shame on you!

Once its back to a boil you’re going to return the onion and bacon little divers that were sitting patiently nearby, awaiting their turn. Don’t be mean, you know they want to join into the drugs and blood orgy you’ve got going on in your pot, and they’ve been god and silent whilst waiting for their turn.

Dive in, little baconion

Dive in, little baconion

And the last step is so simple even my friend David could do it. Put a lid on it and let it simmer for a few hours. You might want to stir it every once in a while but I’m pretty sure that if I’d forgotten it would not have been the end of the world; maybe a little crunchy, but still edible.

Let it boil, let it boil, let it boil.

(3 x “let it simmer” did not have the same ring to the tongue and you can’t sing it along to Christmas music)

Oh, and chuck in one or two bay leaves, will’ya? The recipe does not call for them. But as far as I’m concerned, anything meaty and earthy and good that’s going to boil for a while can do with a couple of bay leaves.

Shhhhhh, do not disturb

Shhhhhh, do not disturb

And if you’ve hopped around your house, in a counter clockwise direction, alternating feet, three times, and it’s a full moon, and it’s after sunset – then and only then – you might reach Nirvana when you lift the lid and take a whiff.

The SMELL. So so so so so undescribably GOOD.

This smell takes me back to my childhood and I don’t even know what it is I’m smelling! It’s something in between my mother’s stew which she hasn’t made in years, and her partridge, and yet it’s neither of those. This smell can convince you that you even know what to cook.

Creamy and smooth, I just want to bathe in that sauce

Creamy and smooth, I just want to bathe in that sauce

As for the taste? I’ll come back and report in a few hours.

A few hours later: YUM! That one word summarizes it. My only beef with it (har har har, beef, get it?) is that the meat wasn’t very tender even after those hours of cooking, or at least not as much as I expected it to be. On the other hand, it wasn’t like eating a shoe, it was just a little dry inside the pieces of meat and they didn’t come apart by themselves; but since I don’t think cooking it longer would have changed that and that would have meant less sauce, then I’m happy enough.

Here it is, the final product

Here it is, the final product

There should have been enough to feed 4 people, but it was so good we just had to go back for seconds. A definite success. We’ll fight over who gets to eat the leftover portion which went into the freezer at a later time.

The best thing was the sauce, creamy and smooth, yet with enough consistency to be more than just some liquid coating the meat, an element of the dish in its own right. Forget the meat, just give me a bowl of this sauce and I’ll be happy.

Even though the book (and recipes I saw online when I was trying to determine whether this was actually a beef Bourguignonne recipe and not just glorified stew) suggested serving this alongside potatoes, I chose rice (sautéed in garlic paste and then cooked, for a little flavor) in anticipation of The Sauce. Rice as the side means that when the chunks of meat are gone (because you ate them!) you can get the rice to be coated and absorb whatever sauce is left on your plate, making that last bite even better than the first.

What can I say, I just loved it! Amazing what a few hours of cooking can do to a liquid that just smelled of strong (not very good) wine to produce this liquid that though it, quite literally, looks like shit, tastes divine.

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