Thursday, December 01, 2005
"French Leftover Beef"
When I was a young bride in Louisville, my husband and I were both school teachers and would occasionally be invited to the home of students for dinner. Since I taught French and he was a Fine Arts teacher, we usually had the kind of student that would allow us to accept: reasonably good students who were reasonably well behaved.
One of the homes we most enjoyed was that of Victor and Harriet Engelhard. They had three sons, all of whom one or the other of us taught. They lived in a real log cabin in the middle of a green woodsy area. Granted, it was a four bedroom, multi-bath home with all the modern conveniences, but the log-walled interior was as warm and welcoming as the hosts.
Mrs. Engelhard is an excellent cook. I have several recipes from her that I still use often. One is for “French Leftover Beef.” a recipe she got from a woman’s magazine years ago. It makes yesterday’s roast or steak worth saving, or as I sometimes do, cooking extra to make this dish. Recently I was left with some leftover roasted beef tenderloin (now that doesn’t happen often, does it?) and decided to make the dish for friends.
As I was getting ready to write about it for you, I was re-reading Elizabeth David’s “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine,” a collection of her newspaper and magazine writings. In it she mentions boeuf miroton, “the time-honored dish of every Frenchwoman who had to deal with…beef leftovers.” Of course I went looking for it in my French cookbooks and in the Larousse Gastronomique, the last word in French cuisine.
I came up with several variations of the recipe; this dish is indeed a version of boeuf miroton. Most of the French recipes call for putting beef slices on an oven-proof dish, covering with the sauce and baking, and none called for sugar, but everything else was present in one version or another. The French usually recommend this for leftovers of pot au feu (boiled beef), but I have used it successfully with roast, braised or even grilled beef.
All you really need to accompany the dish is a big green salad and cheese toasts. Butter slices of French bread, sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese, dust with paprika, and run under the broiler to brown just before serving. I think your friends will enjoy it as much as mine did…and there won’t be any leftovers!
FRENCH LEFTOVER BEEF
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry vermouth (or other dry white wine)
1/2 cup beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sweet paprika
1-1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked beef, in 1” chunks or thick strips
Sauté the onions in the oil until golden. Add the flour and stir until lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients except beef and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the beef and simmer for 15 minutes more, adding a bit more beef stock if it gets too thick. Serve on a platter surrounded with cheese toasts. Serves 4-6.