Boeuf à la Mode
Boeuf à la mode is a French dish prepared by browning tough cuts of beef then braised in herb infused red wine and tomatoes. Basically it is similar to the American pot roast but cooked with French herbs and ingredients. It is one of the oldest recipes in French history that still exists today. The term Boeuf à la Mode dates back to 1667, precisely on May 12 an entry in Samuel Pepys’s diary talks about a dinner he took at “a French house” maintained by his perriwig maker, Monsieur Robbins, in London.
Original recipe states that
“The buttock is the most applicable for this savoury dish: procure about ten pounds’ weight of it, and cut it into bits of about a quarter of a pound each. Chop a couple of large onions very fine, and put them into a large stewpan, with a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, or fresh and well clarified beef dripping: whilst this is warming, cover the pieces of beef with flour; put them into the pan, and stir them for ten minutes, adding a little more flour by slow degrees, and taking great care the meat does not burn. Pour in, a little at a time, a gallon of boiling water, then add a couple of drachms of ground allspice, one of black pepper, and a couple of bay leaves. Let all this stew, on a low fire and very gently, for three hours and a quarter; ascertain with a fork if the meat be tender; if so, you may serve it in a tureen or deep dish. A well dressed salad is the proper accompaniment of Boeuf a la Mode.”
Taken from “The Epicure’s Almanac;: Or, Diary of Good Living“
The recipe toady holds most of its key concepts today hence it is still nearly similar the only thing that changed is that the modern versions uses more herbs and spices to give a robust flavour. Also instead of braising it in just water toady wine and cognac is used. Today we will preparing this for dinner but not the original recipe but a modern variant where I also add some mushrooms to give it an earthy flavour.
- 1.5 kg chuck steak, in once piece
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 2 cups good beef stock
- 2 tbsp Cognac
- 12 pcs pickling onions
- 2 large carrots, cubed
- 15 pcs farmers brown mushrooms, sliced in half
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp butter
- freshly ground black pepper
- Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour all over beef then set it aside.
- Prepare a Dutch oven, place on stove top on high heat. Add oil then brown beef on all sides.
- Push beef to the side then sauté garlic and celery.
- Pour dry red wine and beef stock. Add the fresh parsley, dried thyme and bay leaves.
- Cover Dutch oven and place in a 180C pre heated oven and cook for 2½ hours, check once in a while and add water if needed.
- Add the cognac, pickling onions, carrots and mushrooms cover it back then cook for one more hour, add water if needed.
- Place beef and vegetables in a serving platter reserving the liquid.
- Remove bay leaves and any visible sprigs, run though liquid in a fine sieve into a sauce pan then add the butter, simmer until reduced. Pour gravy into the beef in the serving platter then serve.
Boeuf à la Mode