This is such a classic dish with so many variations that help to personalize it. Essentially, the dish requires a good braising meat like boneless short ribs or beef cheek, which is marinated in Pinot Noir for 48 hours before braising. Treating the stock properly is the key to this preparation. The stock must be carefully skimmed and strained frequently to lend a creamy texture to the finished sauce. Although red Burgundy is recommended, any sturdy Pinot Noir will do.
- 4 pounds Certified Piedmontese chuck short ribs, cut in 3-inch cubes
- 1 bottle Pinot Noir (preferably red Burgundy)
- 2 quarts beef stock
- Fresh bay leaf
- Fresh thyme, to taste
- Fresh rosemary, to taste
- ¼ pound blanched bacon
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 2 leeks, washed and chopped
- 1 head garlic, cut horizontally
- Ground Espelette pepper, to taste*
- Salt, to taste
- Cheesecloth, as needed
- For Garnish
- Baby Leeks
- Spring Carrots
- Fingerling Potatoes
- *Espelette pepper hails from the southwest French village that after which it was named. A mild pepper, dried and ground Espelette pepper (sometimes labeled Piment d’Espelette) can be purchased at French grocers, gourmet food stores, spice stores, and online.
Before braising, marinate the beef, covered in the refrigerator, in the Pinot Noir for 48 hours. When ready to prepare, remove the beef from the marinade. In a stock pot, combine the red wine and beef stock and cook until reduced about four fifths. Skim and season the sauce with salt.
For The Braise:
Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper. In a pan over medium high heat, brown the meat on all sides. To an oven safe casserole dish, add the herbs, bacon, onion, carrot, leeks, garlic, and fennel and cover with cheese cloth. Place the browned meat on top of the cloth.
Dab the fat from the browning pan and deglaze with a little beef stock. Add the deglazing liquid and reduced stock to the casserole to just barely cover the short ribs. Wrap the top of the casserole dish with foil. Place in a 300°F oven and braise for 6 hours or until the meat is tender enough to pierce with the back of a wooden spoon.
Let the meat cool in the liquid. When it reaches room temperature, remove the meat and store separately. Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer lined with two layers of cheese cloth or a thin serviette. Refrigerate.
The next day, skim the fat. (This can be used to sauté vegetables or eggs in separate recipes.) Heat the liquid and strain again. Be careful to discard any solids that may have dropped to the bottom. Begin reducing the braising liquid at a simmer. Reduce by two thirds. Be careful not to over reduce or the sauce will become too salty. Reserve.
For The Garnish:
Clean and peel the garnishing vegetables. In boiling seasoned beef stock, blanch all of the green vegetables and poach the root vegetables until tender, then shock in ice water. Reserve cooked, tender vegetables until ready to serve.
Sweat the vegetables in the braising fat. Gently heat the sauce and add enough braising liquid to achieve desired flavor and texture. Add the braised meat. Serve the meat and vegetables in a bowl, with a generous pool of sauce over top.
Wine Pairing: A rustic red wine from Burgundy. A wine from Aloxe-Corton or Nuits-Saint-Georges would work well with good structure, depth, and coarser tanins.
Food For Thought: Blanched Bacon
Blanching bacon is a French cooking technique used to slightly mellow the meat’s smoky, salty flavors. This technique is common in dishes like coq au vin and beef bourgiugnon, where bacon is intended to add a subtle flavor and small amount of fat. To blanch bacon, simmer it in water for five to ten minutes, then transfer to an ice bath.