Wednesday, June 20, 2007
This is going to be the best beef ragout you'll ever make and ever eat. I promise you that! My two judges at home promise you that! Jamie promises you that!
Although we are full blown into the summer with temperatures hitting over 30 degrees C, when I set eyes on this recipe I knew there was no waiting till the seasons changed where a dish like this would be more appropriate in the cooler months.
No, this could not wait. I needed to make it as soon as I read it. It put me in a trance and I just could not stop thinking about it. My thoughts would wander to the ingredients and to the cooking method. I kept wondering if I added this or that how would it taste. See that is the effect this wonderful cookbook has on me at the moment. I am, of course, talking about Jamie Oliver's Cook With Jamie (not available in the USA yet). I raved about the book when I first tried that amazing trout and after this rich ragout I was addicted.
The flavors of this dish are incredibly intense, the meat is unbelievably soft, the sauce deliciously rich and together it melts in your mouth in perfect harmony.
For a change I am not going to go on here and get straight to the recipe. Just remember: as soon as you read this, a supernatural urge to savor the flavors of the dish will take over and you will not be able to think about anything else (vegetarians not included).
I did make a few changes to the recipe, nothing too drastic, as we are not too hot on celery, I substituted it with parsnip.
Melt in Your Mouth Beef Ragout
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Cook With Jamie
1 kg beef brisket - try getting organic beef, removing as much fat from the piece and cut into approx. 5 cm cubes
2 cans (each 400 g) good quality tomatoes
2 red onions - coarsely diced
3 carrots - coarsely diced
3 parsnips - coarsely diced
4-6 garlic cloves - unpeeled
a few rosemary twigs
2 dried bay leaves
1 handful dried porcini
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon flour
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 l Chianti
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. In a large, heavy, oven-proof casserole dish or pot add a good squirt of olive oil and allow to get hot. Add the onions, carrots, parsnip, garlic, herbs, porcini and the cinnamon and sauté for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softer.
In the meantime place the flour in a ziploc bag and add the beef cubes, which you generously salted and peppered before. Close the bag and give it a good shake so that the meat is lightly coated with the flour.
Add the meat to the vegetables and stir together. Add the tomatoes, wine and more salt and pepper. Give it all a good stir and bring to a boil.
Cover the casserole with extra-strong aluminum foil and then place the lid firmly on top. Put into the oven and leave to simmer for approx. 3 hours. Resist yourself from opening the lid and peeling the foil back to taste. It'll be hard because the aromas that fill your kitchen will be irresistible - but please do try. It'll keep all those yummy flavors sealed in the ingredients.
When it's done the meat should be extremely tender and you should be able to cut through it with a spoon. Remove the bay leaves, rosemary and cinnamon stick.
We had this just the way Jamie suggests - with mashed potatoes and fresh baby spinach that I lightly sautéed. Both Tom and Soeren were lured into the kitchen by the aroma of the ragout long before it was finished. They kept asking "What is that?" "It smells great!" "Can we peak and have a tiny taste?" It did get a bit tiresome but when we all sat at the dinner table we were all looking forward to this so much we actually had to take a few deep breaths to relax and stop ourselves from gorging it down.
It was everything I had expected and more. It melted in the mouth and the flavors in this are indescribable ... you'll just have to go and make it yourself to see what I mean.
You'll love every bite - I promise!
A few of those ice-creams are looking good. Send me your creation for July's MM - Scream For Ice Cream over to me soon.
Deadline is July 4th!
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