A snowy night calls for comfort food. Which is exactly what this is: the perfect winter meal. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for this dish. It snowed the entire day and I spent it chopping, browning and braising. Absolute heaven. This meal surprised me. I wasn't prepared for the depth of flavor to be had from a chunk of beef, some root vegetables, a bottle of red wine, and.... Grand Marnier?
Yeah, so I got a little creative with the original recipe, which calls for a quarter of a cup of brandy. I didn't have any and wasn't sure I wanted to make a special trip for that amount. I was just going to de-glaze the pan with some of the wine. But then I thought to myself: I have this liqueur in my cupboard. Orange goes with beef. Orange goes with carrots. Well, alright, then. Let's live dangerously. I poured in the Grand Marnier..... and it worked. I mean, it really, really worked. That smell was incredible.
This was my first time working with a large chunk of beef. Dorie calls for a 3 1/2 lb. chuck roast, cut into 2" pieces. I've cut up some meat in my day, but that was the largest slab of protein I've ever had in my kitchen. I found some for a great price, so I grabbed it and decided I would take the extra time to negotiate around the connective tissues. It took some time, but I was very satisfied with the feeling of breaking down a substantial quantity of beef and making it do what I wanted it to do. I'd like to learn how to actually butcher meat. That's a secret a lot of people don't know about me. Just thought I'd share that with you.
Other than the Grand Marnier experiment, I followed the recipe exactly as written and I loved it. I'm usually the vegetable lover in the house and will usually throw all manner of greens into a beef stew. But the beef deserves the limelight this time. Something magical happens when it cooks with wine and herbs and carrots (and parsnips- they're delicious!). Everything becomes homogenous in the most beautiful way possible. The flavors mingle. Characteristics are exchanged. Lives are changed. Mine certainly was.
I can't imagine anything more French, or more delicious, than this meal. Bon Appetit! Don't forget to stop by French Fridays with Dorie to see what else is cooking this week.