March 2010

Posted on March 31, 2010 in Archives

March 31, 2010 Where has the month gone?

I have blamed my lack of blogging this month on my upcoming wedding and writing several speeches I’ve committed to giving, but the fickle spring also sees me planning my garden and cooking not only the new arrivals such as shad roe (pictured above) and asparagus, but also the last of the winter items such as oysters and fresh coconuts (yes, coconuts peak in the fall). I tend to cook tried and true recipes when I’m dealing with oysters and shad roe, though I did recently check a Paula Wolfert recipe from her Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, one of the first cookbooks I bought (it was released in 1973). Paula is working on a revised edition and remembered that I had once told her that I liked the recipe. I must have changed a lot about it when I made, however, because the recipe is flawed — something very strange in a Paula book. Better are the recipes I posted on March 3 and 24, 2008.

Recently at the country home of Betsey Apple, she pan-fried some applewood-smoked bacon, heavy with pepper, and poured off the fat. I deglazed the pan to clean it of any recalcitrant bits that might puncture the delicate membrane covering the lobes, wiped the pan perfectly clean, then added a mixture of butter and strained bacon grease. I lightly dusted the roe sacs with floor and sautéed them on both sides, then placed them in a warm oven with the waiting bacon to be served with lemon slices and scrambled eggs. Roe marries so well with bacon and lemon that I hesitate to mess with tradition too much, but the look of roe is a bit disconcerting to some, so I think the next time I’ll sprinkle lemon juice on the roe (and perhaps poach it off a bit first), then wrap it in phyllo sheets that have been painted with cooled, but not congealed, bacon gresae. About four sheets. Place a lobe on the rear third of the sheets, fold the ends over, and roll the roe up in the phyllo and place on parchment paper seam side down. Bake not long in a medium low oven. A light lemon buerre blanc would be nice with it. I’ll keep you posted.

While in the country, I also got just-laid eggs from naturally raised, heritage breeds of hens. So I’ve been cooking eggs a lot. I’m getting married this weekend, so I’m hoping that I can get back on schedule here next week. Eggs somehow seem appropriate for Easter weekend. I’m going to make devilled eggs with the older ones in my refrigerator. They peel so much more easily than fresh ones. Here’s my sister Sue’s recipe. She uses butter instead of mayonnaise. Just remember to take them out of the fridge at least a half hour before you serve them so that the butter comes to room temperature.

Devilled Eggs from The New Southern Cook

The oyster plate was the wealthy southern bride’s prized piece of china in the mid-nineteenth century. Molded to hold a half-dozen oysters on the half-shell, they were often made in France by the finest porcelain artisans, hand painted and sometimes gilded.


In contrast, the mid-twentieth century’s mass-produced devilled egg plate was a common bridal shower gift in the forties, fifties, and sixties, when the cocktail party was perhaps at its height of popularity. No southern bride, rich or otherwise, was without the funny piece of china with its 24 egg-shaped indentations to hold the stuffed eggs. Often the plate was relegated to the back of a shelf, but it would always come out for parties. In the 1990s, I rarely saw them at estate sales, often alongside the now prohibitively expensive and very collectable oyster plates, but, like cocktails, they’re popular again. Martha Stewat, Target, and Crate & Barrel all sell them.


I don’t use a devilled egg plate, because it doesn’t hold enough eggs for a party, and the eggs are much easier to handle if they are cut in half crosswise rather than lengthwise. You’ll have to cut a little slice off both ends so that they will stand on their own.


Devilled eggs are traditionally loaded with mayonnaise, but my sister Sue makes hers with butter. They’re so much better. If you’re just having a few guests, you may want to cook only a dozen eggs, but if you’re having a party, go ahead and make the full recipe, then watch these disappear from the hors d’oeuvre table. This is another recipe that is meant to be used simply as a guideline. Flavor the eggs however you wish. You can also use mayonnaise if you prefer, or a mixture of olive oil and butter, as they do at DC’s famous pizza joint, Two Amys. The paprika is traditional in the South.

2 dozen eggs at  room temperature

3 tablespoons, more or less, butter at room temperature

1 tablespoon prepared mustard of your choice

1 very small onion, grated (about 1 tablespoon)

salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste

1 tablespoon each , more or less to taste, of any 4 of the following: finely chopped or ground cooked country  

           ham or shrimp, anchovy paste, curry, chopped fresh herbs, grated parmesan, capers, olives, or  sweet

           pickle cubes

paprika (optional)


Place the eggs in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Immediately cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes, then drain the eggs and plunge into cold water. Tap each egg all over, then roll lightly on the counter to loosen the shells. Peel the eggs; it’s easier if you start on the large end. Dip the peeled eggs in the cold water bath to help remove any pieces of shell that want to cling.


When all of the eggs are shelled, slice a bit off both the top and bottom ends of each egg so that the filled halves will stand on end, then cut each in half crosswise. Remove the yolks to a mixing bowl and mash them all together with the butter, mustard, and onion. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.


Divide the egg yolk mixture into 4 small bowls and season each batch differently with ham, shrimp, anchovy paste, curry powder, fresh herbs, parmesan, capers, olives, and/or sweet pickle cubes.


Stuff the egg yolk filling into standing egg white halves. You can use a pastry bag, or a plastic sandwich bag with a corner cut off, or a teaspoon.  Dust with paprika, if desired. Cover the eggs with plastic wrap, arranged so that it does not stick to the eggs, and store in the refrigerator. Be sure to allow them to come back to room temperature before serving.

Makes 48 stuffed egg halves.     

March 24, 2010 Shrimp Creole and Okra

I love that shrimp and okra are coming in fresh from points south now. We’ve had several glorious spring days, my daffodils and hyacinths are up, and the mint is already taking over. I’ve got wild arugula and radishes growing in pots and lettuces from last year are maturing. I’m really surprised they made it after being covered with several feet of snow!

Last night I made two of my favorite dishes — shrimp creole and steamed okra. I’ve written about the okra before, but it bears repeating. Look for bright green okra no bigger than your fingers, with no blemishes whatsoever. If they are bruised or brown at all, you are better off buying frozen, which is flash-frozen in the okra fields and is one of the superior frozen foodstuffs available. Trim the stalks down to, but not into, the pods. Place in a pot with a bare hint of water and let the water boil, covered, for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until a knife tip slips easily into the okra. Drain the water, add a tab of butter and a little salt and pepper, cover the pot for a few minutes, then serve hot. The recipe for the shrimp follows:

Shrimp Creole (from Hoppin’ John’s Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah)

This is classic lowcountry creole cooking, Caribbean in origin and now a favorite throughout the South. The secret to any good shrimp dish is to not overcook the shrimp. You can flavor the dish to suit your own palate by your choice of herbs.


2 1/4 cups long-grain white rice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)

3/4 cup chopped bell pepper (about 1 medium)

1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

3/4 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs of your choice or 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs such as herbes

           de Provence or Italian seasoning, crushed

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (about 6 or 7 large)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled

Fresh lemon juice, optional

Cook the rice lowcountry style, so that each grain stands separately (see below). While the rice is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the onion, peppers, celery, herbs, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally,  about 10 minutes.


Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the juice has cooked out and the flavors are well mingled, about 10 minutes more. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.


Just before serving, add the shrimp and stir them well into the sauce. Cook until they are just cooked, no more than 5 minutes (depending on their size). Taste again for seasoning, sprinkling with a little lemon juice if desired. Serve immediately over the hot rice.

Serves 6


Lowcountry Rice (a rewrite of an essay in Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking)



The numbers are staggering.  By the mid-nineteenth century,  over 75,000 acres of land were producing rice in the Lowcountry, yielding 160 million pounds of rice. In 1860, the total national crop of rice was 5 million bushels, 3-1/2 million of them grown in South Carolina. Nathaniel Heyward, the greatest of the rice planters, owned 2300 slaves. His friend William Aiken had as many as 1000 on his Jehosee Island Plantation alone. Carolina Gold was considered the best rice in the world, said to have been demanded by European royalty and Chinese emperors. It was, as Macky Hill says, the caviar of the early 19th century. And he should know:  a passionate historian, his family owns Middleburg Plantation, where the ruins of the first commercial rice mill (see photos) still stand on an old rice dike on the banks of the Cooper River, and where the lovely old house — the oldest wooden house in South Carolina — stands as the lonely prototype for the distinctive Charleston “single house.”


I know people in the Lowcountry who eat rice — or grits — twice a day. And in the days of the rice plantations, either rice or “hominy” (cooked grits) was served in one form or another at every meal. The Lowcountry was rice. And while early Carolina cookbooks are filled with recipes for rice — always Carolina Gold — no one had a clue as to how it tasted until Richard and Patricia Schulze started growing it again at their Turnbridge Plantation just inside the state line near Savannah, Georgia, in the late 1980s.


Carolina Gold is fragile. It was often broken in the hulling process, as it is today in the Schulzes’ 100-year-old machine. Its flavor is delicate as well, a buttery, almost creamy rice that stands deliciously on its own. The cookbooks tell us to wash the rice, boil it in three times the amount of water for ten minutes, then pour off the water and let it steam over a very slow fire for another fifteen minutes. In Charleston today, many people have in their kitchens what is called a “ Charleston rice steamer,” in which the rice cooks in an equal amount of water in a double boiler modified with steam vents. Unfortunately, most of these steamers are made of aluminum, with questionable side effects, and the two biggest manufacturers of them have discontinued the product. In the steamer, perfect  rice cookery, though,  is effortless: after twenty minutes over a flame, the grains have absorbed all of the water and much of the steam, and need only be fluffed lightly with a fork before serving. You can rig a steamer on your own, using a wok, a heatproof mixing bowl, and a bamboo steamer, but perfect rice cookery is a simple affair in a pot with a tight-fitting lid as well.

Vertamae Grosvenor, with roots in the Lowcountry, is famous for her autobiographical cookbook, VIBRATION COOKING, or THE TRAVEL NOTES OF A GEECHEE GIRL, in which she tell of how she prided herself as a child on her rice cookery. Her foolproof method has made rice cooks of some friends of mine who otherwise cannot boil water:


“Use one part rice to 2 parts water. Always use cold water. Let it come to a boil and cover it with a tight cover. Soon as it comes to a boil you turn it to a simmer and you cover it with a tight cover. Let it cook for exactly 13 minutes and then cut it off. Let it stand for 12 minutes before serving.”

You might want to salt the water, or you might cook the rice in stock instead. But the timing and proportions  in Verta’s recipe are classic.


Plain, steamed rice invites a host of accompaniments, including okra and tomatoes, Sieva (pronounced “siv-vee”) beans, field peas, gravies, and gumbos. In THE CAROLINA HOUSEWIFE (1847) there appear over thirty rice breads and several entries under the heading, “Vegetables.”

It is used in Lowcountry sausages and patés as well, but seldom in our sweets. Rice is the foundation of pilau, the filling for gumbo, and at the heart of many Lowcountry meals. When I am drying tomatoes or making catsup in the summer and fall, and have fresh tomato juice, I cook Sieva beans in a large quantity of salted tomato juice, then add rice to the pot for a side dish of beans and red rice, to which I then can add chicken, shrimp, ham, and/or sausage as a pilau for a main dish.


Legumes are cooked with bits of salted or smoked pork and served over rice, with cornbread on the side. A bottle of hot pepper vinegar is passed with the dish, which may alone comprise supper; a richer meal might include sliced tomatoes and a fried pork chop or grilled birds.

Most soups and stews are poured into bowls holding a mound of rice. Many classic Lowcountry rice meals such as shrimp pilau and Country Captain are found elsewhere on my blog and website.


Oxford American Southern Food Poll

You might get a kick out of this southern food poll that was conducted by Oxford American magazine. I was one of many people queried about the state of food down home.

March 15, 2010: Planning and writing and editing and…

I haven’t blogged in two weeks because I’ve been working on three different speeches I have coming up this summer as well as addressing our wedding announcements. I did manage to have another delicious meal at Acacia Bistro, where I also met Richard Lay of Siema Wines and Mel Goldman of Keuka Lake Vineyards, whose tasty wines from New York’s Finger Lakes we were sampling. I’ve never been much of a riesling fan, but Goldman’s recent gently dry vintages are so elegantly crafted, I would not have been surprised had they told me that they were from a prestigious Alsatian winery. Goldman is the vineyard owner who has passed the winemaking baton on to Staci Nugent. Women winemakers are rare in the US, but in Burgundy that’s not the case. I’ve not yet met Staci, but her vignoles and rieslings are lovely, and, at less than 13% alcohol, they should be perfectly quaffable in the upcoming warmer weather. Staci was featured in this recent Edible Communities article.

Acacia was reviewed in yesterday’s Washington Post Magazine by my good friend Tom Sietsema, who has been the restaurant critic there for eleven years. I’ve been with Tom on several occasions when he dines out, usually anonymously, to prepare for his written critiques. He visits the restaurants at least three times before he writes, and I find that his reviews are very fair. I would have probably given the Dumas family of Acacia another half or full star, but I also wouldn’t have ordered some of the things that Tom did, such as the lamb, which twice he found overcooked. I have not tried Liliana’s gnocchi since her husband Maurice, now retired, made them at their eponymous Trattoria Liliana, but I know that gnocchi are one of the most notoriously difficult dishes to produce, if only because every potato is different. Liliana (pictured here to the left with me in our home last weekend) and I have discussed gnocchi-making and the differences in Ligurian potatoes and the ones we can find here in the States (she’s from Liguria, where I used to live and where I visited again this time last year). Here’s my recipe.

Several local chefs who have received two stars from Tom have complained to me, thinking they deserve more. But TWO STARS from Tom means GOOD, and he means it. He always states the faults that he finds, so that his reviews are like report cards. If Tom found the bread stale and the butter cold, that’s a fairly straightforward problem that a conscientious restaurateur could fix immediately. All of us have room for improvement (note to Staci: your reds seemed unfocused to me.)

Tom was right to mention Michel Dumas’s excellent, affordable wine list (I let Michel choose for me), and he was dead-on about Liliana’s sweets: “Of course, you save room for dessert here.” I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, but Liliana and I have very similar tastes, both sweet and savory. Her light touch is typical of the Ligurian cook, and much of her repertoire, from her brandade to her pistachio cream cake is very nearly ethereal. I wasn’t surprised that she fell in love with my Apple-Nut Torte, which is my version of Charleston’s Huguenot Torte, made with no butter. If you venture into Acacia and see “John’s cake” on the menu, you might want to try it. The recipe is here.

March 1, 2010: A Gift of Truly Local Beef


My next door neighbor, Joe Greene, is a real cowboy. Though in his mid-70s, until very recently he roped steers in rodeos. He still drives over an hour each way on a daily basis to feed and ride his horses and to tend to his small herd of cattle. He recently slaughtered one of his grass- and hay-fed steers and brought me a variety of cuts, including slices of liver, which I soaked in milk and then lightly pan-fried with onions. The recipe follows.

Liver and Onions (from The Fearless Frying Cookbook)


People seem to either love or hate liver; I myself was in the latter group for years, assuming that all liver dishes were the pale gray overcooked varieties I had sampled in “meat-and-threes” — those lunch counters of downtown America where the working class, students, and townsfolk dine on the “meat of the day” and three vegetables for the cost of an appetizer in fancier digs.


Liver and onions are sautéed together in France in butter and in Italy in olive oil, but I prefer the old English version, which became America‘s, with bacon grease. (Pig fat has less than half the cholesterol of butter!) There are but 2 “secrets” to perfectly delicious liver — the quality of the liver itself and not overcooking it. If you have access to a real butcher, have him slice the liver in equal pieces, with no thin ends that will overcook and become tough. Buy veal liver if you can find it. If you use the liver of a mature cow, soak it first in a little milk.


1/4 cup strained bacon grease

1 pound veal or calf’s liver with membrane removed, sliced into equal pieces about  1/2-inch thick

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced


Preheat an oven to 200°. Place a serving platter in the oven to stay warm. Place a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon grease. Pat the liver slices dry and season both sides of the slices with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a bowl and dredge the liver slices in it, dusting off any excess.


When the bacon grease is hot but not yet smoking, add the liver slices to the pan, not crowding it. Cook until browned on the bottom, about  1 to 2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices. Use tongs to turn them to the other side and cook until the second side browns as well. Remove the slices to the warmed platter and finish frying the slices if they all wouldn’t fit in the pan.


Dump all of the onions in the pan at once, gently stirring them around and cooking them until they are  completely limp and have begun to brown, about 7 minutes. Remove the liver from the oven, top with the onions, and serve immediately with mashed potatoes or rice.

Serves 4

Braising Beef 


I wasn’t sure about some of the frozen cuts; nor was Joe. He had aged the beef for a couple of weeks, then had it cut up and vacuum sealed. It got me thinking about what I wanted to do with the larger cuts. In an interview for an upcoming article on southern food, I was recently asked what were the most overlooked, or underappreciated, traditional southern foods. I unhesitatingly replied, “Jellied meat dishes. Aspics. Boeuf en daube glacé.”


Since we will be renting a house inProvence this fall with friends, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about southernFrance. Though I lived on the Italian Riviera and spent several  weeks near Nice several years ago, I’ve never traveled inProvence, though I love the wines of the Rhône perhaps more than any other. I cook with a heavy Provencal hand, the cooking ofLiguria having greatly influenced how I choose, grow, and prepare foods. And though this February was one of the roughest winter months I’ve ever endured, crocuses poked their heads up this week as soon as the banks of snow melted, and I have been longing for the lighter fare of spring and summer.

Braising is my favorite way to prepare the tougher cuts of beef, and I knew that I would probably need some calves’ feet to thicken the dishes I was anticipating. I first began my research on the culinary history of the lowcountry after stumbling on a handmade book of photos and recipes from old South Carolina plantations. The introduction read, “As the swift shuttle of thought brings before me scenes from the past, there are none that I more love to recall than those which have St. Johns Berkeley for a background. United to one another as we were by the ties of blood and tradition, the outstanding feature of our neighborhood was the true spirit of ‘hospitality sitting with gladness’! The exchange of delicacies and first fruits of the season was one of the gracious and kindly customs and much skill went into the concocting of dishes sufficiently delectable to tempt the most jaded palate, such as stong chicken and beef broth, real calf’s foot jelly and rusk as defies modern short cuts. An Epicure sighingly remarked that one of the serious calamities brought about by the surrender at Appomattox was the disappearance of Southern Cookery. Surely this is an exaggeration, but lest it should come true, shall we not endeavor to preserve the recipes which would otherwise soon be but a memory?” Italics mine.

I pulled Madeleine Kamman’s authoritative 1200-page The New Making of a Cook down from the shelf to read about the science and techniques involved: “After the meat is put to braise in the oven, the pressure and the heat around the piece become increasingly intense, causing the collagen to gelatinize.” The jelly I seek! More importantly, I learned to use a cooked wine marinade rather than uncooked. “The cooked marinade has lost almost all of its alcohol and its acidity has been tamed by the sweet juices of the aromatics.” From Madeleine to Daniel Young, whose Made in Marseille advised me to use orange peel for a Provencal flavor, and whose sel d’orange, the recipe for which he got from Chef Lionel Lévy, I have appropriated as my own. (Simply put: finely grate orange zest and allow it to dry. Mix it with fine sea salt – ¼ teaspoon salt to each teaspoon of orange zest. Orange salt! Fish, shrimp, chicken, duck, carrots, salads, and cocktails all love its bittersweet salty zing! Photo of zest drying. It doesn’t take long.)

Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking calls for 2 pounds of pork neck bones, 2 pounds of veal shanks, 4 pigs’ feet, and 4 calves’ feet to make a stock in which a lean bottom round is braised. But Madeleine warns (Italics hers): “Positively do not use round of beef, the fibers of which are coarse and deliver a very dry braise and an average gravy.” I like to braise whole cuts of chuck or shoulder – whether beef or lamb. Recipes for daubes, estouffades, pots-au-feu, pot roasts, carbonades and beef stews vary greatly throughout France and the States. Some call for marinating the meat, some do not. In Provence, white wine is generally used, which, as Richard Olney pointed out in the remarkable Good Cook series that he edited for Time-Life, “is lighter-tasting than red, and when the finished cooking liquid jells, it will be amber-colored.” Bouef à la mode is another classic braise, but the term has come to mean larded beef cooked with wine and carrots. The good news? Today’s well-fed cows boast cuts that are deeply marbled with fat, eliminating the need for extensive larding.

After reading a dozen or more cooking authorities’ takes on the braise I wanted, I headed to a butcher shop to get calves’ and pigs’ feet. Alas, no calves’ feet were to be found, so I bought one large cow’s foot, cleaned and cut up; several pigs’ feet, cleaned and cut up; several pounds of pork neck bones; and several cross sections of beef shank. Rather than cook the pigs’ feet with my braise, I first made a hearty stock. I then simply used the gelatinous stock in my braise to impart flavor and richness. In the end, the cut of meat – a 4-pound bone-in boney piece of the shoulder (with blade) – yielded litte meat, so I shredded the meat with my fingers, parboiled some carrots and small turnips in salted water, tossed the meat with chopped scallions and parsley, and folded it all into the jellied stock for a classic Boeuf en Daube Glacé. I’ll serve it with salad greens and radishes and hard-cooked eggs this evening and we’ll pretend that more snow is not on its way.

First, I browned the feet and bones in a very hot oven, then put them in a 3 gallon stockpot and covered them with water. I poured a little water on the roasting pans, put them on top of the stove, and deglazed the browned bits. I poured the water into a measuring cup and set aside. I let the water slowly come to a boil (it took nearly an hour), carefully skimming away all the scum that rose to the surface. I continually turned down the heat, allowing the water to return to the boil several times, skimming all the scum each time, until only a white froth appeared. I added the water from deglazing, carrots, onions, celery, a bouquet garni and about two tablespoons of salt. I returned the pot to the boil one last time, skimmed it again, then turned down the heat and allowed the pot to cook at a bare whisper of a simmer overnight. I removed all the fat from the surface, strained the stock (discarding the bones and aromatics), then strained it again through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. I refrigerated it most of the day, until it was firmly set, and dabbed away the last bits of fat on the surface. About 3/4 of the cold jellied stock I divided among plastic containers and stored in the freezer for future use.

In the meantime, I tied my cut of beef, and prepared my cooked wine marinade: I sautéed a chopped shallot, a small carrot, an onion, a bit of celery and a tablespoon of parsley stems in a tiny bit of olive oil, then added a full bottle of red Côtes du Rhône (you could use the white if you prefer), a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf, and a clove to the pot and brought it to a boil, reduced the heat and allowed it to simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. I added three crushed white peppercorns and cooked it for another 5 minutes, then allowed the marinade to cool completely. It didn’t take long since I put it outside on our deck. I then tied my roast, added the Provencal orange zest, and placed the roast down in a large plastic bag, which I placed inside a bowl. I added a few fresh herbs from the garden, miraculously still fresh and green after being being buried by snow for several weeks. (The bag makes easy work of making sure the roast is always surrounded by liquid. The bowl, in case the bag breaks.) I poured in the cooled marinade and put the roast in the refrigerator overnight, turning it several times.

Bouef en Daube Glacé

For my braise, I heated the oven to 450o and placed chopped onions, celery, and carrots down in my braising pan, covered. I had cooked bacon for breakfast, so used the bacon fat to coat the vegetables. I baked them for about 25 minutes, then removed the cover and let them roast another 5 minutes. I turned the oven down to 300o and placed the pan on top of the stove, placed a sieve over the pot, and strained in the wine from the marinade. I allowed the wine to come to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze any recalcitrant bits of deliciousness stuck to the pot. I then placed the meat down in the pot on top of the vegetables, added the braising vegetables and enough stock to just barely cover the meat. (A traditional braising pot was placed down inside coals in a pot with a concave lid to hold more coals. You should use a pot that is roughly the same size as the cut of meat.) I then covered the meat with a piece of parchment (so that the acid in the wine would not react with the aluminum foil used to approximate the inverted lid.). See photos.

Finally, the heavy pot gets its own lid and goes into the oven to roast for three hours, or until the meat is falling apart. I opened the pot every 45 minutes, turning the roast over.

When the meat was cooked, I removed it to a platter. At this point you can strain and reduce the sauce if you desire, seasoning it to taste, and serve the meat hot with vegetables, or you can continue making the jellied dish as I did: Shred the meat between your fingers and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid, add a cup of sherry, and adjust the seasoning. Go ahead and add more salt than you think will be necessary because cold foods taste less salty. I season first, then strain the liquid again through cheesecloth. Chop several scallions and a handful of parsley and toss it with the meat.


Pour into a 2-quart mixing bowl a small amount of the stock, swirl it around to coat the bottom, and place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill. This will be your mold for the daube. Place the remaining stock in another bowl set down inside a bowl of ice water. In about 15 minutes, the stock in the refrigerator should have set up. If not, you could add a little gelatin (most of which in this country is made from calves’ feet), but I can’t imagine that it would be necessary. Place blanched vegetables such as baby turnips and carrots down in the bottom of the set aspic in an attractive pattern. When the large bowl of stock begins to set up as aspic, fold in the beef and add to the mold with the vegetables. Chill for at least 8 hours.


To serve, run a thin, sharp knife around the edge to loosen the jelly, then dip the mold in hot water for 5 seconds to soften the jelly and turn out on a platter. Serve it cold, but not chilled, carved into thin slices. I turn it out onto a glass cake plate that has a cover, for easy storage in the refrigerator.