Friday, November 13, 2015

Baeckeoffe - Alsatian Hotdish

We had this wonderful, hearty dish during a brief stop for lunch in Mulhouse in the Alsace region during our Europe trip this year. Using a recipe from an actual Alsatian, Hubert Keller, we found that our version actually far surpassed the simple fare we had in Mulhouse. The principle of the Baeckeoffe is similar to the Jewish cholent tradition: make a casserole in a earthenware or enameled dish, seal tightly, and allow to cook untouched for several hours (traditionally, by leaving in a baker's oven Friday before sabbath, then retrieve Saturday after sundown, when you are allowed to pick things up again). I opted not to seal the pot with dough because my lid has no vent (see original if you want to try). The heavy cast iron lid provided a plenty good seal. This dish takes some pre-planning because it should marinate overnight, but it is well worth it. Also, amazingly, I was able to find Alsatian Riesling at Total Wine!

Protective and delicious layer of potatoes.

The final product is not much to look at, but is packed with savory flavor and the meat is ultra tender.
The town hall of Mulhouse as viewed from our lunch cafe!

Marinade

  • 2 yellow onions, minced
  • 2 small leeks, white and tender greens sliced
  • 1 carrot, cut into 18" slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. juniper berries
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 c. dry white wine, such as Alsatian Riesling
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper

Meat

  • 1 lb beef chuck roast, cut into 1.25" cubes
  • 1 lb boneless pork butt, trimmed and cut into 1.25" cubes
  • 1 lb boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1.25" cubes
  • 1 lb pigs feet (optional--you can substitute one more pound of one of the above meats)
  • 2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8" slices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. butter

The Day Before

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add all the meats and toss gently. Cover and refrigerate overnight or longer. After it has marinated, remove the bay leaves, juniper berries, and thyme sprig.

Cooking Day

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter a 4.5 qt or larger enameled cast iron pot or casserole. Arrange 2 layers of potato slices in the bottom, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper. Place the marinated vegetables and meat into the casserole, and pour over the remaining marinade liquid. Arrange another 2 layers of potato slices on the top, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper. Dab with butter and cover with a heavy lid. (Using the pastry seal is optional at this point.

Place in the oven and bake for 3.5 hrs. I recommend putting a tin-foil covered baking sheet on the rack below the casserole to catch drips.

Potatoes should be cooked through and golden brown, and meat should be tender. Serve with crusty bread and more Riesling!

No comments: