Port-braised beef

Impart some personality with Port

Originally appeared in the December 01, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.

Of course it was apocryphal, but a fellow cook once told me that the term “Port” derived thusly:  when shipping casks of wine across long distances, the fermented juice was “turning” (going bad, in other words); and so—with the hopes of preserving the precious beverage—sailors started adding Cognac to the wine as they departed the “Port.”  The only truth here is that bit about the brandy.  Read more after the jump:Port comes from a region in northern Portugal.  And the true derivation of its name comes from where the wine is matured and blended—a place near Vila Nova de Gaia called Oporto.  The wine’s fermentation is arrested by the addition of brandy, qualifying Port as a fortified wine.

Well known as a dessert wine, today I’m employing Port as part of the braising process.  After selecting an economy (read cheap) cut of beef (chuck roast is wonderful for this application), pick up a reasonably-priced bottle of Port, which is rich, fruity, and boasts a robust color.  This is one of those recipes to enjoy on an overcast or snowy afternoon.  Paired with a savory starch (like buttered noodles or mashed potatoes), this braised beef dish is the epitome of winter comfort food—and that’s no lie.

Port-braised beef

Serves 2 – 3

  • 2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • As needed, olive oil
  • ½ white onion, small dice
  • 2 tablespoons small diced peeled carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic, small chop
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups port wine
  • 1 quart (or more) chicken stock
  • 6 – 8 whole green peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  In a high-sided pot, brown meat in batches, salting each installment and adjusting fat as you go; when meat has achieved a mahogany sear, transfer to plate.  Reduce heat, adjust oil, add onion, sweating until translucent.  Add carrot; cook briefly.  Add garlic, being careful not to burn.  Add tomato paste and cook for a minute or so, just until mixture gains a bit of color.  Add some extra oil; add in flour and stir together to make a paste (this is called a roux), cook for about 30 seconds and add port, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.  Allow wine to reduce slightly before adding stock.  Add green peppercorns and bay leaf.  Return seared meat to pot, bring to a gentle simmer and cover.

2.  After allowing meat to gently stew for approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours, remove bay leaf, adjust seasonings, and ensure that meat is fork-tender.  Serve braised beef with mashed potato or other starchy side of choice.

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Published in: on December 1, 2011 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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