Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Braised Beef with Fennel and Orange Zest over Bay Scented Mashed Potatoes

What's that?  You say you don't like fennel?  Try this anyway...you can be brave and stick with the fennel or just omit.  Like coffee, everyone has a certain way they prefer to make their mashed potatoes.  Skin on, peeled, with cream and a pound of butter...you get the point. So, make them your way and try adding a couple of cracked, fresh bay leaves to the water while they boil away.  If you enjoy them, try making a small slit in your Russet and slide a bay leaf in the next time you have baked potatoes. Of course, I'm lucky to have a MIL that has a huge bay tree.  I just have to make the .9 mile trek that way...pretty sweet.
This recipe is sort of a combination, Mo twist, on Suzanne Goin's, "Boeuf a la Nicoise" and Patricia Wells'  Beef with Carrots.  Feel free to adjust the amount of beef and carrots. I love my meat, but we prefer to be heavy on the veggies around here. I just bought the stew meat pre-cut.  You can buy chuck and cut it up if your are so inclined.  Or use short ribs.  Or some other cut you fancy.  We tend to go organic or grass fed here as well.

Braised Beef with Fennel and Orange Zest

1.5 pounds stew meat cut into 1-2 inch cubes 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced fennel
1/2 cup diced carrot
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
Zest of one organic orange
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (we had some from the garden, but canned is fine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups red wine 
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
4-5 large carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Season the beef with salt and pepper to your liking.  Heat the oil over high heat until smoking.  In a large dutch oven, brown the beef in single layers-don't crowd.  If using more than amount above, you may need to brown in batches.  Sear until well browned on all sides and remove.

Turn the heat down to medium and  cook the onion, fennel, diced carrots.  Scrape up the brown bits.  Add the thyme sprigs, bay, garlic, and orange zest.  Cook 6-8 minutes or until the veggies caramelize.  
Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to coat the veggies.  Add the balsamic and reduce to a glaze.  Add the wine and reduce by half.  Add the beef stock and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots and reserved meat with juices.  Cover the pan with foil and a tight fitting lid.  Braise for about 3 hours in the oven.
During the last half hour, make the potatoes or boil up some fresh egg noodles.

Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.  Enjoy!

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