Braised Beef with Mushrooms and Cabernet Sauce
Braising is a cooking method I’ve been wanting to try ever since I treated myself to a Le Creuset dutch oven last year. What is braising, you ask? Allow me to provide a quick tutorial:
Braising is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with some liquid. Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down tough connective tissue and collagens in meat. A classic braised dish is Coq au Vin (which, incidentally, is on my big list of things to make). The basic steps to braising include: searing the meat at a high temperature, deglazing the pan with an acidic liquid such as wine and often combining it with stock, additional vegetables and/or seasonings are added to the pot and it is covered and left to a slow simmer or put in an oven at a low temperature to finish cooking.
The result? Fork-tender meat that melts in your mouth.
This definitely is the not the quickest meal you’ll ever make, but the time spent doing some prep work and letting the meat slow cook in the oven pays handsomely when it is time to eat. The flavor of the meat and mushrooms is rich and complex thanks to the vegetables, herbs, and seasonings that help to flavor the sauce of wine and stock. Once the sauce is returned to the stove to thicken the flavors are even more intense, serving as a perfect accent to the now-tender meat. Although the recipe doesn’t mention removing the carrots from the strained stock, I chose to serve them as a side to the beef and mushrooms, and they were fabulous. Tender but not mushy, and perfectly seasoned. You could serve this dish over a variety of accompaniaments – mashed potatoes (which is what I did), pasta, rice, or eat it on its own with a large tossed salad. Any way you serve it, you won’t be disappointed.
Now that I’m warmed up, Coq au Vin will be next!
Vegetables and herbs
Searing beef + red wine
Everything in the pot, ready to go in the oven