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Dido’s ferment

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Montsant 2011, Dido, Venus la Universal ($26.85, 11376994)
Organically farmed Grenache (75%), Syrah (15%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) and Merlot (5%). Medium-long maceration of the whole grapes. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Around 60% of the wine is matured in barrels of various sizes for 16 months, around 40% in concrete tanks and a fraction in clay amphorae. Minimal amounts of sulphur are the only additive. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importation Épicurienne R.A. Fortin.
Engulfing nose of blackberry and black raspberry, sandalwood spice, turned earth, cigar box, and graphite with a fresh tarragon-like overtone. In the mouth, it’s rich yet elegantly fluid, fruity yet dry, clean and pure at its core. Acidity enlivens while tight, velvety tannins provide backbone and lend an astringency to the long, savoury finish. Cellar for two to five years or carafe an hour before serving, preferably with grilled red meat, braised oxtail or beef stew with red wine and prunes (recipe follows). (Buy again? Def.)

And, yes, the title’s a pun: Dido’s Lament.

Beef Stew with Red Wine and Prunes
Daube aux pruneaux

The dish gains considerably from being cooked three or four days in advance and reheated and cooled once or twice.

4 pounds (1.8 kg) stewing beef, preferably from two or three cuts, in large chunks
1 onion, peeled and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
1 bouquet garni (4 bay leaves, 2–3 thyme sprigs, 6–8 parsley stems, 12 black peppercorns, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with twine)
1 bottle (750 ml) sturdy red wine
1/4 cup (50 ml) Armagnac or brandy
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 pieces fresh fatback, about 4 ounces (110 g) (optional)
12 pearl onions, peeled
1/2 lb. (250 g) pitted prunes
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (or 3–4 canned Italian tomatoes, drained and crushed)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter

1. Place the meat in a large, non-reactive bowl or dish. Add the onion, one carrot, the bouquet garni, wine, Armagnac and salt. Stir to combine. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

2. The next day, remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry. Strain and reserve the marinade.

3. Put the oil and butter in a skillet and turn the heat to medium high. When the foam subsides, add the meat and brown on all sides, in batches if necessary. As the pieces finish browning, transfer them to a large, Dutch oven in which you have laid the fatback.

4. Pour the marinade over the meat. Add the garlic cloves, the remaining two carrots and the pearl onions. Bring the liquid to a boil, turn down the heat to low, cover the Dutch oven and barely simmer until the meat is tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

5. Two hours into the cooking, cover the prunes with warm water. One hour later, drain the prunes and add them and the tomatoes to the pot. Simmer for another half hour.

6. If you are preparing the dish ahead of time, allow it to cool, then refrigerate it until an hour before serving time. Before reheating gently, use a spoon to remove any fat that has congealed on the surface.

7. Adjust the seasoning and serve with boiled new potatoes or buttered noodles.

Five or six servings

– Adpated from La cuisine mijoté by Monique Maine and Janine Pegan (Paris: F.E.P., 1984)

Written by carswell

September 2, 2014 at 20:33

One Response

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  1. […] sprouts, this really needs food that’s darker and more substantial: grilled lamb, say, or a beef daube. (Buy again? Absolutely, just not for Thanksgiving […]

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