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Recipe of the week: Boeuf à la mode gets a 21st-century makeover

... and Tawny Port: ‘Autumn in a glass’.

Boeuf à la mode gets a 21st-century makeover

The pot roast began as a 17th-century French dish that relied heavily on a 48-hour marinade, said Sandra Wu in Cook’s Illustrated. Back when boeuf à la mode was devised, probably around 1651, many recipes required several days of labor. I wanted to bring this classic “up to date for the modern home cook.” That meant some fussy techniques and hard-to-find ingredients would have to go. After considerable research, experimentation, and tasting, I was finally able to create an old-fashioned pot roast that was “the best I’d ever tasted.” Best of all, it took only a single day to make.

Recipe of the week French-style Pot Roast 1 boneless beef chuck roast (4 to 5 lbs), pulled apart into 2 pieces and fat trimmed 2 tsp kosher salt 1 bottle red wine (750 ml), medium-bodied 10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves 2 sprigs fresh thyme 2 bay leaves Ground black pepper 4 oz bacon, preferably thick cut, cut into Qr -inch pieces crosswise 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup) 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tbsp) 1 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour 2 cups beef broth 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut on bias into 1 Qw -inch pieces 2 cups frozen pearl onions 3 tbsp unsalted butter 2 tsp sugar Qw cup water, plus Qr cup cold water to bloom gelatin 10 oz white mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, halved if small and quartered if large Table salt 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin (powdered) Season meat with kosher salt, place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, let rest at room temperature 1 hour. Meanwhile, bring wine to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Using kitchen twine, tie parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, bay leaves into bundle. Pat beef dry with paper towels, season generously with pepper. Tie three pieces of kitchen twine around each piece of meat to keep it from falling apart.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, heat oven to 300 degrees. Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate, reserve. Pour off all but 2 tbsp fat; return Dutch oven to medium-high heat, heat until fat begins to smoke. Add beef to pot, brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer beef to large plate, set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 2 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, flour, reserved bacon; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add reduced wine, broth, and herb bundle, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Return roast and accumulated juices to pot; increase heat to high, bring liquid to simmer, place large sheet of foil over pot, cover tightly with lid. Set pot in oven and cook, using tongs to turn beef every hour, until dinner fork slips easily in and out of meat, 2 Qw to 3 hours, adding carrots to pot after 2 hours.

While meat cooks, bring pearl onions, butter, sugar, Qw cup water to boil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until onions are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until all liquid evaporates, 3 to 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and Qr tsp table salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and glazed, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside. Place remaining Qr cup cold water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top.

Transfer beef to cutting board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow braising liquid to settle about 5 minutes; then, using wide, shallow spoon, skim fat off surface. Remove herb bundle and stir in onion-mushroom mixture. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is slightly thickened and reduced to 3 Qr cups, 20 to 30 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Add softened gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Remove kitchen twine from meat and discard. Using chef’s or carving knife, cut meat against grain into Qw -inch-thick slices. Divide meat among warmed bowls or transfer to platter; arrange vegetables around meat, pour sauce on top, and sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Tawny Port: ‘Autumn in a glass’

Few wines match tawny Port’s ability to raise autumnal foods “to thrilling new levels of deliciousness,” said Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg in The Washington Post. Though Port always lends a note of postprandial civility, it’s most enjoyable this time of year. Call it “autumn in a glass.” Nothing else pairs as well with pecan and pumpkin pies, dark-chocolate cakes and puddings, and blue cheeses. Stilton with Port is perhaps “the greatest wine and cheese combination of all time.” Tawny Ports are aged longer in wood than ruby Ports, and share a characteristic reddish-brown color and a flavor of dried figs, nuts, and caramel. Two tawnies we especially recommend:

Churchill’s Tawny Porto 10 Years Old ($29) Wine guru Robert Parker, in The Wine Advocate, called this “unquestionably the finest tawny I’ve tasted in years.”

Sandeman Tawny 20 Year Old Porto ($49) This elegant, flavorful tawny “perfectly echoed the flavors of our pumpkin pie.”

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