Monday, June 21, 2010

Beef with carrots

My great-grandmother–my mom's mom's mom–called it "bœuf mode". It is a traditional French braised beef dish, one that belongs to the so-called "cuisine bourgeoise" ("simple and of good taste", as Larousse puts it). The recipe is so classic it's in the dictionary: "larded beef cooked with onions and carrots".

My mother learned the recipe from her grandmother when she was a teenager. Over the years, she made a few adjustments. For example she started using a different cut of meat after talking to her friend's dad, who was a butcher (the original cut was more fibrous). She cooks the meat in one piece and slices it once cooked, while her grandmother cooked it in cubes. The sauce is not as thick nor as spicy as my mom remembers it from her childhood. Even the name has changed: my mom calls it "bœuf aux carottes" (beef with carrots) rather than "bœuf mode". But one thing remains: it is the family's favorite comfort food. Every morsel of meat, every slice of carrot melts in the mouth. It is absolutely delicious.

Here is how my mom (and I) prepare it:

Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour (pressure cooker) or 2 hours (regular pot)
  • 2-3 lb boneless beef chuck roast1 ("paleron")
  • about 12 carrots (2-3 per person), sliced2
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, and 3 sprigs parsley, tied together ("bouquet garni")
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube3
  • 1-2 cups dry white wine (e.g. Pino Grigio or Chardonnay)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil (or other mild-flavored oil recommended for high heat)
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pressure cooker ("cocotte minute"). Add the chopped onion and stir for about 2 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the beef roast and brown on all sides.
  3. Add the carrots, garlic, herbs, white wine, and bouillon cube. Close the pressure cooker and set it to its higher pressure level (mine has two levels, one for vegetables and one for meats).
  4. When the pressure cooker whistles, turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (If you are using a regular pot, simmer for 2 hours, lid on.)
You might have some left-over meat. Eat it cold with Dijon mustard.

1 local, organic, 100% grass-fed beef if you can
2 there is this funny controversy in my family about how the carrots should be cut. Some (on my mom's side of the family) swear they should be sliced while others (on my dad's side of the family) prefer them julienned (cut into thin strips). Whoever cooks chooses their favorite carrot shape.
3 my favorite bouillon cube is KUB OR by Maggi but unfortunately it isn't sold in the U.S.


Anwesa said...

looks really nice!!

Estelle said...

Thanks, Anwesa!