Braised Beef in Red Wine

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 111: Cattle Call

An intensely flavored red wine sauce is the hallmark of this dish. My recipe contains nearly a whole bottle, along with a little soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onions, and carrots. Bringing the marinade to a boil before pouring it over the beef makes the meat absorb the flavor much faster.

It’s important to use beef shoulder or shank. These lean yet gelatinous cuts retain their moistness after cooking — a quality essential to the dish.

I cook the beef in a pressure cooker to save time, but you can make it in a Dutch oven. Brown the meat as directed, add the marinade to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, tightly covered, over low heat for 3 hours, or in a 275-degree oven then finish as described in the recipe. Cooking the meat in a closed pot — either a pressure cooker or a Dutch oven — helps keep it moist. —Jacques Pépin

Serves 6


2 onions (about 8 ounces), peeled and quartered
2 carrots (about 6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 head garlic, separated into cloves (12 to 15), but not peeled
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
3 cups dry red wine, preferably a Cabernet Sauvignon or a deep, fruity Rhône Valley-style wine
1 boneless beef shoulder blade (top blade) roast (about 3 pounds) or a boned whole beef shank
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon potato starch (see page 000), dissolved in 4 tablespoons water

About 18 small baby carrots (8 to 10 ounces), peeled
About 18 small pearl onions (about 8 ounces), peeled
About 18 small potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled
About 18 medium mushrooms (about 12 ounces), cleaned
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

FOR THE MARINADE: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, place the meat in a heatproof container. When the marinade comes to a boil, pour it over the meat and let cool. When it is cool, cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or as long as 3 days.

When you are ready to cook, remove the beef, reserving the marinade, and pat it dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat until hot. Add the beef and sprinkle it with the salt. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the meat has browned on all sides.

Add the marinade and bring to a boil. Cover and bring the cooker to the appropriate pressure, following the manufacturer’s guidelines, then reduce the heat to very low and cook for 1 hour.

Depressurize the cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and remove the meat. Transfer the cooking juices to a saucepan and let them rest for 10 minutes to allow the fat to rise to the top. Return the meat to the cooker.

Skim all the visible fat from the surface of the cooking juices and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes, then stir in the dissolved potato starch to thicken the juices. Strain the sauce through a fine strainer and pour all but 1 cup of it over the meat. Set aside.

FOR THE VEGETABLES: Combine the carrots, onions, and 1 cup water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, and boil gently for 5 minutes. (Most of the liquid should have evaporated.) Set aside.

Meanwhile, put the potatoes in another saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil gently for 12 to 15 minutes, uncovered, until they are almost cooked but still firm. Drain, add to the carrots and onions, and set aside.

Pour the reserved cup of wine sauce into a medium saucepan. Add the mushrooms, cover, bring to a boil, and boil gently for 5 minutes. If not ready to serve, set aside.

At serving time, reheat the meat in the sauce over low heat until it is heated through. Meanwhile, add the carrots, onions, and potatoes to the mushrooms and heat until hot.

Cut the meat into 1-inch-thick slices and arrange on a large platter. Surround the meat with the vegetables and pour the sauce over and around them. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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