It pays to dig into your cookbook collection once in a while. I mean, yes, cookbooks make colorful decor, and collect dust well, and take up gobs of space, but some of them also contain excellent ideas about food to cook and eat.
During one of the lousy winter storms we had a few weeks ago — they’ve all blurred together — I was searching for a kitchen project, as usual, on my phone, but it died. So I moved some stuff off the kitchen hutch so I could see what I had in the way of cookbooks. I found a forgotten favorite “Fine Cooking Soups and Stews.”
A word about “Fine Cooking” recipes. They are not what those in the cookbook publishing world like to label “meals in minutes” or “weeknight whatevers” or “in a flash.” I like simple weeknight recipes that cook in a flash, too. But I also love a challenge. I had time to stretch and I wanted to know what a beef stew that takes six hours to cook (without a slow-cooker) might taste like. And while I was at it, what’s all this talk of “bone broth”? And I threw in Roasted Carrot Soup because, well, I like roasted carrots.
Five things I learned:
1. This kind of stew has a fancy French name, a “daube,” or, more completely, “Daube de Boeuf aux Carottes.” According to Fine Cooking, you pronounce it “dobe,” which denotes a stew with a red wine base.
So say you make a beef stew with a beef broth base and cook it for a while and the flavors are terrific. You’d score them a 9 or 10 and go back for another bowl. OK, well, this stew does not have a lot of liquid, and the liquid it does have (hearty red wine) features its own intense flavor, and then you cook it for pretty much ever. So this concentrates flavors to, like, 11. And you’d better get back to the pot quickly because I might already be there.
2. As for the red wine base, the recipe suggests wines such as Côtes de Provence or Côtes du Rhône. I’m not going to pretend to know those.
And while Orlando Brothers Golden Dawn has a small but serviceable beer and wine section, I did a cursory check for any bottle with the word “Côtes” on the label and, predictably, found nothing. One of the Orlando Brothers saw me staring blankly at the shelves and asked if he could help. I told him I needed a hearty red wine for a beef stew. He grabbed, I kid you not, a jug of Carlo Rossi Burgundy. It was $7.99, and it looked like we’d have, well, plenty leftover for drinking.
I paused, briefly, before I took that jug and thanked him, figuring I could spend twice as much on something fancier, but they didn’t have any Côtes, and I didn’t feel like standing there anymore wondering which reds were hearty and which were — not hearty.
3. I have no idea why the stew recipe calls for a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven. I had room to spare in my 6-quart pot, and after cooking, it was barely half full.
Also, it calls for shallots, but I got away with a thinly sliced medium yellow onion.
4. Perhaps you’ve been hearing ravings about something called “bone broth.” People are drinking it plain for all kinds of ailments. Perhaps in the meantime, you’ve become confused about the difference between bone broth and regular broth and stock. I can’t help you. This is because everybody is confused. The words are used interchangeably and defined arbitrarily.
Just open a Google search and type “difference between bone broth” and you’ll get dozens of attempts at definitions and explanations, each as unique as a flipping snowflake.
Fine Cooking calls this recipe “Roasted Beef Broth,” though I was tempted to call it “Bone Broth” to make it sound more trendy. I did actually purchase and roast beef bones and vegetables to make it. It’s delicious, but I don’t think I’ll be drinking it plain. I used it in a sauce the other day, and I like to boil egg noodles in it for a warm hearty snack. It won’t go to waste, whatever you call it.
5. The Roasted Carrot Soup is delicious. Do open the oven halfway through the roasting process and turn the carrots. I forgot and they got a little black in places.
Beef Stew with Red Wine and Carrots
1 3-pound boneless beef chuck roast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces shallots (8 to 10 medium), thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons brandy, such as Cognac
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 to 3 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
2 cups hearty red wine, such as Côtes de Provence or Côtes du Rhône
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
4 strips orange zest (2½ inches long, removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 pound slender carrots, peeled and cut into ¾- to 1-inch chunks, about 2 cups
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Using your fingers and a thin knife, pull the roast apart along its natural seams. Trim off any thick layers of fat. Carve the roast into 1½- to 2-inch cubes and arrange them on a paper-towel-lined tray to dry. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Heat the oil and bacon together in a 7- or 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until the bacon is browned but not crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small plate.
Season about 1/3 of the beef with salt and pepper, and arrange the cubes in a sparse single layer in the pot to brown. Adjust the heat so the beef sizzles and browns but does not burn. Cook until all sides are a rich brown, a total of about 10 minutes; transfer to a large plate or tray. Season and brown the remaining beef in 2 more batches.
When all the beef chunks are browned, pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of drippings, if necessary. Set the pot over medium-high heat, add the shallots, season with a large pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper, and sauté until they just begin to soften, about 1 minute.
Add the brandy and let it boil away. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbes de Provence, stirring to incorporate, and sauté for another 1 minute. Add the wine, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the caramelized drippings, and bring to a boil. Pour in the liquid from the tomatoes, holding the tomatoes back with your hand. Then one by one, crush the tomatoes with your hand over the pot and drop them in. Add the orange zest, and return the beef (along with accumulated juices) and bacon to the pot. Finally, add the carrots, bring to a simmer, cover, and slide into the oven.
Cook the stew, stirring every 45 minutes until the meat is fork-tender (taste a piece; all trace of toughness should be gone), 2 to 3 hours. Before serving, skim off any surface fat (if there is any), taste for salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley
Nutrition information per serving: 580 calories; 25 g fat (9 g saturated); 160 mg cholesterol; 630 mg sodium; 20 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 49 g protein
Roasted Carrot Soup
Makes about 1 quart; serves 4
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ medium onion, cut into medium dice (to yield about ¾ cup)
1 large rib celery, cut into medium dice (to yield about ½ cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (from about ½-inch piece, peeled)
2 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
Chopped fresh chives or chervil for garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Put the carrots in a medium baking dish (11-by-7-inch is a good size, or any dish that will hold the carrots in a single layer without touching) and drizzle them with the olive oil. Toss them to coat well and roast, stirring once halfway through roasting, until they’re tender, blistered, and lightly browned in a few places, about 1 hour.
Melt the butter in a medium (at least 3-quart) heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the celery and ginger and cook until the celery softens a bit and the onions start to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the roasted carrots, chicken broth, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook at a lively simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the liquid cool somewhat (or completely).
Purée the soup in a blender in batches, never filling the blender more than a third full, and bearing down firmly on the towel-covered lid so the soup doesn’t come flying out. (Or use an immersion blender.) If serving immediately, return the soup to the pot and reheat; garnish with the chives or chervil if you like. Otherwise, refrigerate for up to five days; reheat gently and taste for salt before serving.
Nutrition information per cup: 140 calories; 70 g fat (3 g saturated); 10 mg cholesterol; 720 mg sodium; 15 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 4 g protein
Roasted Beef Broth
Yields about 2½ quarts
5-pound meaty beef or veal bones, such as shanks, knuckles and ribs
2 medium carrots, cut into big chunks
2 medium yellow onions, quartered
1 bouquet garni (1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, and 4 parsley stems, tied with twine)
1 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450 F.
Put the bones on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Add the carrots and onions and continue roasting until the bones and vegetables are very brown, 30 to 45 minutes more.
With a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the roasted bones and vegetables to a stockpot, leaving any rendered fat in the pan. Add the bouquet garni, peppercorns, tomato paste, and 5 to 7 quarts cold water (enough to cover the bones and vegetables by a couple of inches) to the pot. Bring to a boil slowly over medium heat, reduce the heat to medium-low or low, and simmer, uncovered, skimming the surface occasionally with a slotted spoon until the broth is flavorful and reduced enough to just barely cover the bones and vegetables, 4 to 5 hours.
Strain the broth into a large bowl, cover, and chill. Skim off any fat before using.
Nutrition information per cup: 40 calories; 1.5 g fat (0 saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 15 mg sodium; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 fiber; 5 g protein
— Jennie Geisler can be reached on Twitter: @ETNGeisler.