Friday, 25 March 2016

Dutch Beef & Onion Hachée

I didn't even think as I was making this that it is yet again a meat stew or braise with fruit and vinegar; but what can I say? Obviously I like such things very much. This one is quite dissimilar from the Guinea Fowl with Carrots & Prunes, being beef with onions, mostly, and spiced quite differently.

My beef was not ideal for this; my local grocery did not appear to have any stewing beef - WHAT, SERIOUSLY? - and I had to make do with a not-quite-right steak that I cut up. You should have a good tough but marbled stewing cut with lots of gelatinous bits to dissolve and leave your meat in delicious shreds. Goddamn, people; there's lots of that on a cow. Where is it? It's still very much stew season after all and even if it wasn't, there's still lots of that on a cow.

Ahem. Anyway, this was still very good! This mainstay of Dutch home cooking, like a lot of meat, vinegar and fruit based dishes, has medieval roots. The sweet note to balance the vinegar may come from apple, as I've done, or the addition of gingersnaps or mild Dutch molasses. I thought I would stick to the apple theme, and threw in a little apple butter instead. The spicing is unusual, but fairly subtle. We served it with mashed potatoes, which is traditional. So is some form of red cabbage. Since everything else was soft and cooked, I served it as a Red Cabbage & Parsley Coleslaw - an excellent choice.

3 or 4 servings
2 to 2 1/2 hours; 1/2 hour prep time

Dutch Beef & Onion Hachée

2 large onions
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon rubbed rosemary

500 grams (1 pound) stewing beef
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups unsalted beef or chicken broth,
OR combination broth and hard cider or red wine (1/2 & 1/2)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 whole cloves
1" piece cinnamon stick
6 to 8 juniper berries
1 medium rather soft apple
1 tablespoon apple butter

Peel and chop your onions.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper, and rosemary in a bowl large enough to hold the beef. Make sure the beef is well trimmed and cut into bite-sized chunks, then toss it with the flour, etc.

Heat the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as it is hot and foaming, toss in the beef with its flour coating. Cook, turning regularly, until browned all over. Add the onions and continue to cook and stir  until they are quite soft and slightly browned as well.

Add the broth or broth and cider/wine. Add the vinegar and bay leaves. Add the cloves, cinnamon, and juniper berries in a tea-ball or tied up in a bit of cheesecloth. Stir well and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is very tender and falling apart.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the apple, and add it, with the apple butter, when the dish has simmered for about half an hour. Mix in well.

This can be made in advance, and re-heats well, as do most stews. It is traditionally served over mashed potatoes, maybe with a carrot added to them. On which note, Clapshot would also work very well. As the descendant of both Dutch and Scottish people I think this a perfectly reasonable idea.

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