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Dark days

March 8, 2010

Even though the sunny clear sky and the crocuses pushing up optimistically in the front garden feel pretty confident its spring, if you go to the farmer’s market in NYC in early March it’s still dark days: no asparagus, no ramps, not yet, no doubt they are still fighting their way out of the cold, hard ground.  So I wandered around looking for inspiration and came home with onions, potatoes, and a gorgeous Grazin’ Angus beef tip tenderloin (the guy at the stand waxed about as lyrical as you can about beef when he told me how his mother in law had recently prepared a similar cut).  I picked up a couple of beers on the way home too.

I decided to turn these few ingredients into the fanciest stew I could create.  When I was done it wouldn’t be stew anymore, it would be the much more exciting sounding “Beef braised in beer and molasses with mascarpone mashed potatoes”.

Slow cooked meats are really easy to make: a few minutes of heating oil, pushing the onions and garlic around and then you put in the meat, spices and liquids and leave it to cook for hours and hours – first covered and later, once the meat is tender, uncovered to thicken the sauce.  I got the pot on the stove and had plenty of time to sit in the living room with my laptop, catching up on my feedly as the rich smell of braised beef filled the apartment.

So I’m sitting there feeling the comfort of comfort food even before I eat it, when I notice in my calendar that its A’s birthday.  Exactly one year ago I was cooking a very similar dish – lamb tagine with prunes  – for his birthday feast.  Today we’re really not speaking after a slow sad breakup for all the right reasons, none of which included our not getting on really well all the time.

And thats why I’m here trying to cook and eat my way to comfort.  Dark days indeed.  But the beef and potatoes where really great, rich enough to almost make it all alright!

Beef braised in beer and molasses with mascarpone mashed potatoes

Serves 4-6

For the beef

  • 3Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2lb stewing beef (I used a beef tip tenderloin), cut into large pieces, about 1″x2″
  • 4 large carrots, halved and cut into 1″ pieces.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 bottles of beer (I used a dark beer from Brooklyn Brewery)
  • approx 2 1/2 cups beef stock (you will need enough to cover the meat)
  • 3 Tbs tomato paste
  • 3 Tbs molasses

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.  Add the beef, carrots, salt and pepper, beer and enough stock to cover about 1″ above the top of the meat in the pot.  Cook, covered, on lowest heat for about 3-4 hours until the meat is soft.  Stir in the molasses and tomato paste and adjust seasoning if required, then cook uncovered about 1 hour more, until the sauce is thick and rich in color.

For the potatoes

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even chunks, about 1″ long
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mascarpone**
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp salt

**Note: If you want to make your own mascarpone, its pretty easy, just cream, lemon juice and some patience

Put the potatoes and garlic in a pot of cool salted water and bring to boil, cook until potatoes are fork tender then drain well.  Mash with a potato masher or ricer until very smooth, add the mascarpone, butter and salt and blend well, to create a smooth, whipped texture which will harmonize beautifully with the braised beef!

–By Talia

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2010 10:41 am

    Wow, this looks good! And I’m totally in love with your little LeCreuset pot! I’ve got to make this with some of my cache of frozen beef…

    Way to go with the mascarpone, too!

    • March 8, 2010 10:45 am

      What doesn’t go w/ mascarpone? (I tried some with my granola – you are a genius!). The pot came courtesy of a friend whose fancy induction stove couldn’t recognize the light colored bottom! Sometimes its good to have a cheap old stove!

  2. March 8, 2010 7:57 pm

    Dearest Talia,
    There is nothing like warm beef to keep the spirits up in a dark winter.
    Viva la Revolucion!
    Nivi

    • March 8, 2010 8:31 pm

      One day spring will come.
      One day there will be hope.
      One day I’ll be your number one favorite blogger.

      Which of these things is likely?!!

  3. arugulove permalink
    March 9, 2010 12:57 am

    Oh my god. I want to lick my screen. This looks amazing!

    • March 9, 2010 7:07 am

      Thank you!!
      (Though I hope if you do indulge in any screen licking that yours is cleaner than mine!!)

  4. March 12, 2010 8:29 pm

    There is no better feeling than a hot beef stew on a cold winter day, thanks for posting such a great recipe!

    • March 12, 2010 8:34 pm

      Thanks Patty: If you try the recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out!

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