Beef is stunningly expensive, so it needs to go a long way when we get it. It is winter right now, a time when we long for slow braises which fill the air with the aromas of warmth and comfort.
There are only two of us, though, and while it is possible to make Stew For Two, it’s not so much fun. I also find it frustrating to have a mass quantity of something with a very strong flavor profile, as meals can get repetitive after a while.
This dish is quite simple. It’s easy to ignore for hours, it’s easy to use in many different ways.
It’s very mild, so it will match quite nicely with many options of sides, and the beef flavor will shine.
The wine you choose will be important here, as the goal is a brightness from the verjus. A new wine is appropriate, something with a bit of acid such as a “two buck” or taverna wine.
A rather large bounty of beef
25. Verjuice soup of chicken or whatever meat you wish.
BROUET DE VERJUS DE POULLAILLE OU DE TEL GRAIN COMME
VOUS VOULDREZ. Cuisiez en vin, en eaue et en verjuz tellement
que le goust du verjus passe tout l’autre, puis broyez
gingenbre et des moyeulx d’oeufz tous cruz grant foison,
et passez tout parmy l’estamine ensemble, et mettez boullir;
puis gectez sur vostre grain, quant il sera friolé, et mettez
du lart, au cuire, pour luy donner goust.
Cook in wine, water, and enough verjus that it tastes mostly of verjus. Add some pork fat to give flavor.
Crush ginger and bread, and moisten with egg yolk, and strain this through a cheesecloth.
Boil it and throw it onto your meat, when it is browned.
4 LBS of beef (or a whole lot less, it’s OK)
2 cups wine
1 cup water
1 cup verjus
4 oz pork fat, prosciutto rind, or other barding,
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 raw egg yolks
Wash the beef and place it in a vessel of the size that seems best; close but with room for wine and some simmering space. Be sure the lid fits well.
Layer the fat over the meat, if you wish to use it.This fat is partly to protect the meat, partly to allow the richness to melt in. Higher collagen cuts will rely less on this, though they would still benefit. A layer of cheesecloth with olive oil would work for a very lean cut in which you prefer not to add pork.
Add the liquids and permit to simmer until the meat is fully cooked. I choose to simmer it til the meat falls apart, much like for Ropa Viejo
Remove the meat, allow the broth to cool slightly,
Blend the ginger with the breadcrumbs, and fold some broth into the bowl of breadcrumbs,
Allow them to soak up the broth for a time, then add them to the pot.
Separate your eggs, and either fold them cautiously into the pot of cooled broth, or temper the broth into the eggs, then
add them to the pot.
Simmer the broth with the egg yolks and bread crumbs til thick.
Meanwhile, in a pan, sautee your meat and allow it to brown. The instructions are pretty clear that the meat and broth should be separated before the broth is thickened.
Another choice is to allow the meat to settle in the pot and brown within the broth, but I find this lends a somewhat burnt taste. I believe this might have been a not-unknown method, as there are several notes explaining how to remove the burnt taste from a brewet as required.
Serve the meat well sauteed, with the thick, seasoned sauce.
Please note; There are many translations of this dish which are written differently. There are other varietions of instruction in related books, some calling for more specific seasonings.
I disagree firmly with the instruction placed in one translation of this recipe to brown the meat before braising, as the entire mindset of Medieval cookery is counter to that method, for humoral reasons.
I will go more into depth on humours some other time.
Scully, T. (1995). The art of cookery in the Middle Ages (p. 223). Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press.