stew with mustard sauce and currants
is a simple seasonal-culinary formula for this time of year.
days are cold and nights are long, there is nothing more
warming and satisfying than a steaming hot bowl of stew. Or
two. It makes everything seem right with the world.
sorry for our friends in warmer climes. They don’t get to
enjoy the glories of stew. Oh, they may cook up some fish or
a couple of clams simmered in a sauce and call it stew, but
that isn’t really the same thing.
is hearty. Stew is filling. Stew gratifies your soul.
other hand, it also drains your pocketbook. Stew used to be
inexpensive. That was sort of the point — it was a good
way to use the cheapest cuts of meat. Even the toughest of
meats becomes meltingly tender when it is slowly simmered in
a sauce for at least a couple of hours.
the price of even the cheapest, most fibrous cuts of meat
has soared in recent years. Stew was originally a peasant
food, but if there were any peasants anymore they couldn’t
when the temperature drops so much it makes your bones ache,
nothing is as welcome as a steaming bowl of stew.
three, beginning with one of my favorite dishes of all time,
veal stew with mustard sauce and currants. This is more than
a stew, this is a religious experience on a plate.
begin with veal, which in itself is tender and delicious
(but it’s only relatively tender; it still needs to be
cooked for a while). Grainy mustard adds an irresistible
bite, and its faint harshness is counteracted by the
sweetness that comes from carrots and the delicate pop of
currants. A bit of vinegar is all that is needed to give the
meal a subtle sweet and sour depth.
it at least once a year, and I like to serve it on buttered
up is Carbonnade à la Flamande, a Belgian stew made by
braising beef and onions in beer. At its heart, it is like
beef bourguinon, but with hops.
had Carbonnade à la Flamande at many restaurants and have
cooked many versions of it myself, but I have never found a
version that even comes close to the deceptively simple one
created by Julia Child.
are far more complex in preparation, but none has the same
depth of flavor. The redoubtable Ms. Child’s version is
made from little more than beef, onions, beef stock, garlic
and beer. What makes hers so superior is the beer.
beer simmers for a couple of hours, and that makes its
flavor more intense. I have made it with Belgian beer, which
is traditional for the Belgian dish, but when the sauce is
reduced the beer’s floral quality becomes overly flowery.
I have made it with Guinness stout, which is recommended by
some chefs, but that only intensifies the beer’s
chooses a Pilsner, the relatively light flavor of which
becomes just strong enough as it simmers to stand up to the
hearty beef and onions. It is superb.
I made a Lamb Tagine With Green Olives and Lemon. A tagine
is a stew that is typically made in a tagine, an earthenware
Moroccan pot sort of shaped like an upside-down funnel. I
made mine in a Dutch oven because I do not have a tagine;
they are kind of pricey for something I might only use once
or twice a year.
Dutch oven worked fine, but then again anything would work
well for a dish as spectacular as this. What makes it stand
out is the combination of spices in which the lamb
marinates: ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, black pepper,
cayenne pepper, cloves, cinnamon and saffron, plus lemon
zest and plenty of garlic.
the lamb cubes have soaked up all of those flavors, it is
simmered to a delicate tenderness, along with carrots and
onions. Then, when the dish is nearly done, it is given a
shocking jolt of additional flavor from briny olives, plus
cilantro, parsley and lemon juice.
a powerfully flavorful dish, a little hot and very spicy. On
a blustery day, it is the kind of stew that warms you from
the inside out.
A LA FLAMANDE (BEEF AND ONIONS BRAISED IN BEER)
pounds beef chuck or rump roast
2 to 3
tablespoons rendered pork fat or cooking oil (not olive)
pounds (6 cups) onions, sliced thin
garlic cloves, mashed
2 to 3
cups Pilsner beer
tablespoons light brown sugar
teaspoon dried thyme
tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
tablespoons wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut the beef into slices about
2 inches by 4 inches across and 1/2 inch thick. Dry on paper
towels. Put rendered fat or oil in the skillet and heat
until almost smoking. Brown the beef slices quickly, a few
at a time, and set them aside.
Reduce heat to medium. Stir the onions into the fat in the
skillet, adding more fat if necessary, and brown the onions
lightly for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove
from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the
Arrange half the browned beef in a Dutch oven or casserole
and lightly season with salt and pepper. Spread half the
onions over the beef. Repeat with the rest of the beef and
Heat the stock in the browning skillet, scraping up
coagulated cooking juices. Pour it over the meat. Add enough
beer so the meat is barely covered. Stir in the brown sugar.
Tie together the parsley, bay leaf and thyme in a piece of
cheesecloth to make an herb bouquet and bury in the pot, or
simply stir in the herbs. Bring pot to a simmer on top of
the stove. Then cover the pot and place in the lower third
of the preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid remains at a
very slow simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is
Remove herb bouquet or the parsley and bay leaf. Drain the
cooking liquid out of the casserole into a saucepan and skim
off fat. Beat together the cornstarch and vinegar, and then
stir this mixture into the cooking liquid. Simmer for 3 to 4
minutes. Taste and carefully correct seasoning. You should
have about 2 cups of sauce. Pour the sauce back over the
meat. The stew may be prepared in advance to this point.
When ready to serve, cover the pot and simmer slowly for 4
to 5 minutes until the meat is thoroughly heated through.
Serve with parsley potatoes or buttered noodles.
serving: 684 calories; 37 g fat; 15 g saturated fat; 223 mg
cholesterol; 58 g protein; 20 g carbohydrate; 10 g sugar; 2
g fiber; 179 mg sodium; 68 mg calcium.
from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," by
Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck
STEW IN MUSTARD SAUCE
pounds boneless lean veal, such as round, trimmed of fat and
cut into 2-inch cubes
tablespoon vegetable oil
garlic cloves, peeled and minced
carrots, peeled and sliced
cup dried currants
veal stock, chicken stock or a combination of chicken and
tablespoons grainy mustard
teaspoon black pepper
tablespoons cold water
tablespoon white wine vinegar
Wash the veal cubes and pat dry. Heat the oil in a
heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the
veal on all sides, removing the cubes with a slotted spoon
when browned. This will have to be done in a few batches.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion and garlic, and
sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Return the veal
to the pan and add the carrots, currants, stock, mustard and
pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the stew is just
simmering and cook the stew, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or
until the meat is fork-tender.
together the cornstarch and cold water and stir into the
stew. Allow it to simmer for 2 minutes to thicken. Stir in
serving: 219 calories; 8 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 69 mg
cholesterol; 19 g protein; 17 g carbohydrate; 11 g sugar; 2
g fiber; 230 mg sodium; 38 mg calcium.
from "The Gourmet Gazelle Cookbook," by Ellen
TAGINE WITH GREEN OLIVES AND LEMON
cup extra-virgin olive oil
garlic cloves, minced
1/2-inch) strips of lemon zest
teaspoons ground ginger
teaspoons sweet paprika
teaspoons ground coriander
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground black pepper
teaspoon cayenne pepper
teaspoon ground cloves
of saffron threads, crumbled
(3-inch) cinnamon stick
tablespoon kosher salt
pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
large carrots, thinly sliced
onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
pitted green Picholine olives, rinsed
flat-leaf parsley, chopped
tablespoons fresh lemon juice
a large bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, ginger,
paprika, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, cloves,
saffron, cinnamon stick and salt. Add the lamb and toss to
coat. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
the lamb and spices into a tagine or medium enameled
cast-iron casserole; discard the lemon zest. Add the water,
carrots and onion, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook
over low heat until the lamb is very tender, about 2 hours.
Spoon off any fat from the broth. Stir in the olives, season
with salt and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and
stir in the parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Serve with
serving: 478 calories; 31 g fat; 8 g saturated fat; 107 mg
cholesterol; 13 g protein; 13 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 3 g
fiber; 2,018 mg sodium; 82 mg calcium.
from Food & Wine