You can’t take a food photo for face value. Thanks to Photoshop and food stylists that dreamy scoop of ice cream is really a big ‘ol ball of instant mashed potatoes.
Sure, sometimes you take pictures like this
when it really tasted like this
And sometimes you take pictures like this,
but the food really tasted like this,
Such is the case with Dorie’s* my go-to beef danube.
A couple of disclaimers: I didn’t grow up eating pot roast, and I like cooked carrots.
The first: Pot roast was never on my family’s table. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. My parents arrived in Seattle from Baton Rouge 10 months before I was born, and when my family wasn’t eating red beans and rice, hush puppies, and gumbo, we were eating salmon and halibut (Tangent Story Time! Once, my mother even cooked both salmon and halibut together, as in sliced the fillets into very thin strips and braided, BRAIDED them. It was crazy and wonderful all at once. Even she seemed puzzled as to why anyone would braid fish- a recipe she had clipped- it was fantastical.) So when It comes to roast, I’m going in blind. Having only had it twice as an adult, the nostalgia surrounding meat stewed for hours with root vegetables gracing holiday tables is beyond me.
The second: I’ve always liked cooked carrots, what isn’t to like? They are sweet and if not totally over cooked, toothsome. But having sweated it out for half the day with wine and beef, they take on a heavy, musky flavor and the texture. Even a baby would find them insulting! Too soft! If the only way you know cooked carrots is to have them in pot roast- then I totally get your adversion.
I followed Dorie’s recipe to a T, perhaps to the dish’s demise. I know to salt and pepper meat before searing it. I know to remove excess bacon fat from the pan. I know that braising liquid does not need to cover the food, but only come up halfway. Yet, I trudged on ignoring my hey, wait, shouldn’t I … moments. What I thought could be a proposal dish was just kind of ok. Ella’s dad and I aren’t married yet, and when the proposal comes, I’m guessing I will bring my mid-western boy to his knees with meat and starch. The meat was dry (though there was plenty of liquid), and the sauce had an unpleasant earthy quality to it, not unlike cooked beets.
Until I got this text from my baby daddy the next day. “I think my lunch got better with age…so tasty baby! Thanks! xoxox.” Perhaps this should have been the last step to the recipe. Let sit overnight. The beef danube was transformative day two: velvety, beefy and the carrots and parsnips had time to settle down after a dizzying 3 hour bath in red wine.
I made Dorie’s go-with-everyhting celery root puree to go with the beef, and if you have not tried celeriac this is a wonderful way to go! It comes together quickly AND, it doesn’t get all gummy in the food processor like mashed potatoes.