Most of us who actively collect wines inevitably end up with bottles that, while totally drinkable, are decidedly less drinkable than others. Sometimes we lose interest in a wine, or we forget about them in the back of the cellar and the wine loses its luster. The reds in this collection are affectionately known as "dead reds." In reality, these wines are far from dead. Cooks can profit from the rich and fruity flavors still inherent in the wines and use them in cooking.
In Provençal cooking, the most traditional use of wine is in the red wine daube, where the color, fruitiness and heartiness of a dense red wine serves to create a thoroughly delicious and memorable sauce for a beef stew. In this recipe, shared with Patricia Wells by her local butcher, Franck Peyraud, the beef is marinated in red wine, oil, herbs and spices for 24 to 48 hours, then cooked long and slow over very low heat. The resulting meat is meltingly tender, while the stew is set off with the bright, fresh flavors of orange zest and marinated olives. Patricia Wells likes to serve this with penne pasta, which absorbs the rich sauce nicely. When she takes the time to make this stew, she always make a big batch since any leftovers freeze well.
Affordable Meat Recipes
2 bottles red wine, such as a Gigondas
4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 pounds beef, preferably two or three different cuts, choosing from the top or bottom round, heel of round, shoulder arm or shoulder blade, neck or short ribs of beef, cut into 3-ounce pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
30 whole shallots, peeled and trimmed
Grated zest of 4 organic oranges
2 cups Rainbow Olive Collection or substitute pitted green olives
3 tablespoons course sea salt
1 pound imported penne pasta
How to Make It
In a large, shallow bowl, mix the marinade ingredients. Add the meat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, turning the meat from time to time. Place a large sieve over a bowl. Pour the meat into the sieve; reserving the marinade in the bowl. Discard the bay leaves and thyme.
In a large, heavy-duty casserole (preferably enameled cast iron) heat the olive oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add several pieces of the meat and brown them over moderate heat, regulating the heat to prevent scorching. Do not crowd the pan and be patient: Good browning is essential for the meat to retain flavor and moistness. Thoroughly brown the meat on all sides in several batches, about 10 minutes per batch. As each batch is browned, use tongs (to avoid piercing the meat) to transfer the meat to a platter. Immediately season generously with salt and pepper.
Return all the meat to the casserole. Add the reserved marinade, cover and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a very gentle simmer until the meat is very tender, 3 to 4 hours. Stir from time to time to evenly coat the meat with the liquid. During the last half hour, stir in the shallots, orange zest and olives. The sauce should be glossy and slightly thick. Taste for seasoning.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat, shallots, olives and orange zest to another large covered casserole and cover; leave the sauce in the casserole.
Meanwhile, in a 6-quart pasta pot fitted with a colander, bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the sea salt and the penne, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook the penne until tender but firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Remove the pasta pot from the heat. Remove the colander and drain over a sink, shaking to remove excess water. Immediately add the drained pasta to the sauce in the casserole and toss to evenly coat. Cover and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the penne to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Transfer the pasta to warmed shallow soup bowls. Arrange several pieces of meat, shallots, olives and orange zest on the pasta and serve immediately.
A good red, such as a Gigondas or Vacqueyras.
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