an evening of wolfgang

This past Sunday, we opted for an evening dinner of beef stew and spaetzle, celebrating combined German roots, and newly discovered recipes by Wolfgang Puck.  I recently read that one of the food trends for 2012 will be more preparation of comfort foods, sometimes, with a twist.  New twists on old favorites, such as the addition of jelly in this beef stew recipe.  There’s nothing better than a warm, comfort food on a Sunday in January, cooking on the stove all. day. long.  Mmm… And, the aroma coming from your kitchen might just tempt friends to knock at your front door…

We cooked our beef stew in an enameled cast iron dutch oven.  Perfect for browning meats and slow cooking them, which is key for tender, fall apart results.  Enameled cast iron pans are a “must buy”, by the way.  LOVE them.

The kids found the spaetzle very intriguing and were a little skeptical when their plates were presented before them. However, they couldn’t get enough of it!  Yay!  Always love a new recipe success, especially when enjoyed by the whole family.  The kids’ version of spaetzle was served minus the caramelized onions.  Perfect because Jeff and I love a few extra onions, caramelized… even better.

The spaetzle preparation was interesting…and, I now know that I will be on the search for a colander with slightly bigger holes.  The batter was to be pressed through the holes of the colander into a pot of salted boiling water.  Our colander worked, but made for mostly mini spaetzle.  Once boiled and drained, the soft, egg noodles were spread in a baking dish, dotted with butter and topped with shredded, gruyere cheese.  I don’t care much for gruyere on its own, but once melted and baked, it gives an amazing flavor.

Menu for the evening?

BEEF STEW WITH RED CURRANT JELLY & CREAM AND SPAETZLE WITH CARAMELIZED ONION & GRUYERE CHEESE

The beef stew is perfect alongside the spaetzle.  Enjoy!

Beef Stew with Red Currant Jelly and Cream
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

4 pounds well-trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons juniper berries (I substituted 2 tbsp dry gin)
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 cup red currant jelly (I substituted blackberry jam)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large bowl, toss the beef with the celery, carrots, onions, wine, bay leaves, juniper berries, rosemary and thyme. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.

Drain the meat and vegetables in a colander set over a bowl. Pick out the juniper berries and discard them; reserve the marinade. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the meat and vegetables and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir and cook until lightly browned all over, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the meat and vegetables.

Return the meat and vegetables to the casserole. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole. Add the reserved marinade and the tomato paste and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the currant jelly, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Drain the stew in a colander set over a bowl. Transfer the pieces of meat to a platter. Press on the solids in the colander to extract as much liquid as possible. Pour the liquid back into the casserole and return the meat to the pot. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Season the stew with salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of red currant jelly over moderate heat, stirring. Ladle the stew into large shallow bowls. Drizzle the warm jelly over the stew and serve with the spaetzle.

Serve along side Spaetzle with Gruyère and Caramelized Onions  (RECIPE BELOW)

Spaetzle with Gruyere and Caramelized Onions
adapted from Wolfgang Puck

1 3/4 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (5 ounces)
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the egg yolks and egg. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg mixture into the flour, leaving a few lumps. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Carefully hold a colander with large holes over the boiling water. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter to the colander and press it into the simmering water with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Repeat until all of the batter has been used. Cook the spaetzle for 2 minutes longer, then drain. Immediately transfer the spaetzle to the ice water, swirling the dumplings until all of the ice melts. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the spaetzle in the dish and dot with the butter. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the spaetzle is hot and the cheese is just melted.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and cook over high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Scatter the onion over the spaetzle and serve.

Note:
The spaetzle can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Serve Spaetzle With Beef Stew with Red Currant Jelly and Cream in shallow bowls.

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