This recipe is the result of a dare some years ago. I won, and we’ve been enjoying this braised beef and pears dish ever since. I’ve also made it with dry white wine, but it lacks the “pop” the sparkling wine gives. Be sure you use wine that tastes good to start with, because as the wine condenses in cooking, the flavors become more intense. —ChefJune
- Makes 6 servings
chuck cut in one large chunk, tied
medium-sized onion, finely chopped
small green bell pepper, finely chopped
stalks celery (the young, white part) finely chopped
firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
a bouquet garni containing 1 bay leaf, 6 white peppercorns and 12 crushed cardamom pods
champagne (Gruet Sparkling from New Mexico is tasty and inexpensive.)
concentrated brown stock
sea salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the tied piece of beef with safflower oil and sear on all sides in a sauté pan. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, make a mirepoix of the chopped vegetables, and (using the same pan in which you seared the beef) sweat for about 10 minutes over medium low heat until the onion is translucent. Transfer mirepoix to an ovenproof casserole. Add the beef along with the pears, bouquet garni, 1 1/2 cups champagne and the brown stock.
- Cover the casserole with a sheet of aluminum foil, and place the lid atop the foil to seal the casserole. Place in the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Braise in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
- Turn the meat in the liquid, add salt to taste and braise for another hour or until a sharp pronged fork will go into the meat fairly easily. Remove meat from the casserole and keep warm on a covered platter in the turned-off oven.
- Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve, pressing on the pears to get as much of their flavor (and bulk) as possible. Put the strained liquid into a medium sized saucepan and reduce the liquid until only about 3/4 cup remains. It should be a thick syrup. Set the pears aside.
- Finish the sauce by adding 1-1/2 cups champagne to the reduced syrup. Blend well and heat thoroughly.
- Slice the meat into 1/2-inch thick slices and plate with a spoonful of the cooked pears. Nap with the champagne sauce. Serve with scallion mashed potatoes and broccoli. Accompany by my favorite St. Julien, Ducru- Beaucaillou, or St. Supéry’s Élu, a Bordeaux blend from Napa Valley -- or you could drink Champagne, if you like.