Monday, 22 February 2010

Too much beef

What am I going to do with my Boeuf Bourguignon?

Last week I was over the border in France, and came across a special offer of "collier de boeuf". Special offers are always good for weekend cooking, so I grabbed two packs (normally I'll pick up three, but for some reason I stuck to two- a good thing, as it turned out!)- which then sat in the fridge for the rest of the week, which wasn't necessarily a good thing.

Nor did it turn out a bad thing, fortunately, but I really should have been more careful. Having to throw it all out would have got me very cross with myself! I so try not to waste food...

I meant to cook it on Saturday, whilst I was cooking my fish pie, but as I was also roasting a chicken for Greta (who has discovered that she really likes chicken, to the extent of stuffing herself with it with both hands), I didn't quite get around to managing a third dish.

I had to put it off to Sunday- which was the beginning of what I think caused the problem.

I was alone through Sunday lunchtime, so I started assembling. I cut the collier into slightly smaller pieces, and browned each one in a frying pan, taking my time and not over-crowding the pan. I still had a problem towards the end with too much moisture in the pan, but that was remedied by removing my very soggy paper filter/lid, and replacing it with a fresh one. I should remember to do that sooner!

In the meantime, I chopped four sweet potatoes (the orange-fleshed ones) into large chunks, and added those to two large onions, in reasonably thick slices then cut into four, all of which I tossed into my Staub casserole on top of two packs of lard fume, which I'd cut into very thick lardons. I put the lid on, turned the heat on low so the fat from the bacon would start to melt before anything burned, and got on with searing the beef. Every so often, I opened the casserole and gave it all a good stir around.

When all my beef was browned and my vegetables were soft, I added thyme, oregano, and freshly ground black-green-pink pepper to the casserole, after which I tipped in the meat, deglazed my frying-pan with some water and added that... and then poured a bottle of red wine on top. As this didn't quite cover the meat, I added some water.

I put the casserole on to simmer- and then realised the time! Resulting in me turning it all off and almost running out of the door to catch a train.

I was out late that evening, but when I got back I turned the heat on and simmered it for about two and a half hours before I went to bed, leaving instructions for Peter to turn it off when he came to bed. I suspect he left it on for about another half hour.

The next morning I turned it on again, and it simmered for another three hours.

Peter was supposed to have some for his dinner (I was out for mine, enjoying a minestrone which I really must try to recreate), but he got caught up in feeding Greta, at the end of which he wasn't hungry. Nevertheless, he'd turned it on again, so it cooked some more! I tasted a bit when I came in- and the meat itself is fine, the problem is the sauce, which is pretty uninteresting.

This morning I spooned a large quantity of fat from the top (and should do it again this evening- it is very fatty). However, I'm wondering what to do with it now. Peter isn't around tonight. Greta, as I've mentioned, is currently fixated on chicken (and she's eating much better these days, so I'm really not going to complain! She now eats Weetabix for breakfast, as well as the occasional pain au chocolat, and I can even convince her to swallow some apple sauce now and again. As long as it's in a tube, of course, and not hand-made!), so she won't be eating any.

Me- I'm on a diet. There was a bit too much Christmas this year- we had three!

The freezer is the obvious solution, but although I know that I will freeze half of it, I'd like to do something to improve it first.

My options:
- strain the meat and remaining vegetable pulp from the sauce, thicken the sauce by simmering it down and probably with the addition of a bit of Maizena, re-combine the two. It would work, but I think that there might still be a very one-dimensional flavour to the sauce. Something else is required, and I'm not quite sure what. Some serious spices, I suspect!
- strain the meat from the sauce, shred it, freeze some of it, use the rest to make a pasta sauce. Or just use the rest to flavour a few dishes over the next few days.
- give up on the sauce, and just serve the meat with fresh vegetables and plenty of mustard.
- use the strained sauce as a base for a soup, with plenty of fresh vegetables in it and no meat. I'd really have to do some serious de-greasing first, though.

Update a few days later: next time I make something like this, I think I'm going to adapt the last trick to this post from FoodJunta, namely "set two or three slices of French bread, crusts removed and spread with whole grain mustard, on top of the stew. Over the two hours of simmering the bread flotilla sinks and dissolves, thickening the stew, and leaving behind the sharp taste of mustard." I like the idea of this.

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