Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures
As a young boy, I spent a lot of time skiing with my dad. Occasionally, I was lucky enough to go to Europe with him and ski in the Arlberg, Zermatt, Cervinia or Val d’Isère. The broad bases of the mid-mountains served as pasture land in summer; in the winter, the cows were often moved down valley or housed in large barns in the towns themselves. So, while the cows of the Alps were transient in a sense, the farmers and their families were not. In winter, they would cook food all day, offering two or three items in trencherman-size portions for lunch to the hungry skiers seeking a seat by a fire and a hearty meal as they made their way up and down the mountains. These meal-in-a-bowl soups were my favorites, along with large chunks of dry-cured sausage, smoked pork and cabbage-and-pea soup with ham hocks; these are some of my most vivid food memories of those years. About 10 years ago I tried recreating one of the soups my dad and I had in the early ’70s in the Italian Alps. I am not sure there is anything honest or authentic about it, but it’s about 90 percent spot-on in agreement with my fondest memories. The dish is now one that I regularly serve at home to rave reviews. Paired with a salad tossed with a punchy mustard vinaigrette and a bowl of crisp sweet pears, this makes a superb Sunday supper.—Andrew ZimmernWarming SoupsHearty Stews
1 bay leaf, tied in a cheesecloth bundle with the parsley, thyme and rosemary
1/2 pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 large tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups dry red wine
One 2-pound head of savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 baguette, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1/2 pound Gruyère cheese, shredded
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the beef shanks with salt and pepper and brown them in the oil over moderately high heat, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer the shanks to a plate.
Add the herb bundle to the pot along with the mushrooms, onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and wine, scrape to dislodge any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Return the shanks to the pot, add 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Transfer the casserole to the oven and braise until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Let cool slightly.
When the meat is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and return it to the pot. Discard the bones, cartilage and fat. Cover the stew and refrigerate overnight.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and blanch for 1 minute; drain well.
Discard the fat that has solidified on the top of the stew. Rewarm the stew, then strain the broth into another large pot; reserve the meat and vegetables. Bring the broth to a simmer and add the cabbage. Cover and simmer over moderate heat until the cabbage is very tender, about 1 hour. Add the reserved meat and vegetables, season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over moderate heat. Add half of the baguette slices in a single layer and toast until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the remaining baguette slices.
Line the bottom of a clean casserole or individual ovenproof bowls with half of the baguette toasts. Top with half of the Gruyère and fill with the stew. Cover with the remaining toasts and then with the remaining cheese. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake until the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 20 to 45 minutes. Serve hot.
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