Nothing up my Sleeve

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

Asparagus Soup, Crostini with Coat Cheese

when it really tasted like this

And sometimes you take pictures like this,

Saag Paneer

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.

And while my leftovers looked like this


It really tasted like this


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.

  1. Elaine said:

    Cute post! I agree with your husband – it was even better the second day. I am going to have to try that celery root puree – it looks great!

    • Do! It is very light compared to mashed potatoes and has a hint of celery. A little cream and butter don’t hurt either.

    • It was! I’ve been asked where it will be appearing on the table again.

  2. teaandscones said:

    It’s not the look, it’s the taste. Since the way to a man’s heart is thru’ his stomach I think you have a hit on your hands.

    • Absolutely 🙂 I think I’ve got this one right where I want him.

  3. Cakelaw said:

    I am glad that you had leftovers so that you were not utilimately disappointed by this recipe. My mother never cooked anything in red wine, but as an adult, I had flatmates who loved the stuff – so now I have an appreciation for it too, even in stews. I know what you mean about photos – they are not always representative of how wonderful or awful something is.

    • Thanks, it is so hard sometimes to get the right feeling from a photograph. They really need to develop scratch and sniff technology for the computer. Someone on on the food network calls it Smellavision. Then we’d all have hits on our hands.

  4. What a fun post! It was definitely even better the next day. Oh, and day three…fabulous!

    • Thanks Steph, I didn’t even get to day three, they we so good day too I was mopping out the Tupperware with bread crust to get every last bite!

  5. Patti said:

    Glad it turned out in the end! I haven’t tried this one yet but love a good pot roast…minus the cooked carrots.

    • THank you! Me too. I try to buy all my animal products organic, and I would have cried if $16.00 worth of meat had turned out poor.

  6. Lana said:

    I am yet to make the beef daube, and I’ll try to remember to prepare it the day ahead:)
    I make a lot of comfort foods that do not photograph well, but I am not willing to cheat (not that I would know how:)
    We love braised dishes, and cooking something like this daube is the only reason I can even tolerate the deluge that is relentlessly pounding SoCal.
    I loved your post. It made me laugh several time, and that’s just what I need to battle the eternal greyness:)

    • Thanks Lana! Every time I look at the picture of the two cats hugging I giggle. Hoping for clearer skies in SoCal and that you weren’t affected by any of those land/mud slides.

  7. Teresa said:

    Loved your take on food photography – it’s so true! I am looking forward to this dish – I think it will round out the year nicely.

    • Thanks! Agreed. This would have been a great dish for holiday dinners.

  8. Tabitha said:

    Let me say your post was quite charming! Fun to read.

    • Thank you, thank you. It was fun to gather all those pictures. Especially the one of the two cats hugging! Love it!

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