Beef a la Daube Le Maire

Kitchen Tested
  • Yield 8 servings
  • Prep 90 mins
  • Cook 200 mins

An unusual beef roast, with aspic -- serve it and people will talk!

This recipe was copied out by Thomas Jefferson himself. We took a few details from his cousin Mary Randolph's recipe in The Virginia House-Wife. Note the difference between lean salt pork and fat back (salt cured pork fat), since both are used here. You will need to start at least a day ahead to allow time for the clarifying and jelling of the aspic.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Whole nutmeg
Generous pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
8 ounces salt-cured fat back, sliced into long ¼-inch-thick strips
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef eye or top round
salt
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 pound beef shank (bone-in), cut into ½-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
4 ounces (2 to 3 slices) lean salt pork
4 large Whites and shells of eggs
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Begin a day ahead. Grind the cloves, allspice, and pepper to a powder using a mortar and pestle or an electric spice mill. Grate in 2 teaspoons of nutmeg and add the cayenne pepper. Mix the spices and parsley in a wide shallow bowl. Roll the fat back in the spices and put them on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse and dry the beef. With a long thin narrow-bladed boning knife, poke all the way through the meat, leaving the blade in place. Take a strip of chilled fat back and clamp it onto a larding needle. Slide the needle along the blade of the filet knife until it protrudes from the other side. Carefully pull the needle all the way through, threading the pork into the meat, and remove the knife. Loosen the needle and repeat at 1-inch intervals. All the fat back may not be needed. Rub the meat with the remaining spice mixture and a little salt, keeping in mind that the seasoned fat back will also flavor the meat.
  3. Spread the onion and carrots on the bottom of a deep heavy-bottomed Dutch oven that is just large enough to hold all the meat in a snug fit. Put in the meat, surround it with the slices of beef shank, and sprinkle with thyme. Lay any remaining seasoned fat back and salt pork slices over the meat and add enough water to just cover.
  4. Bring slowly to a simmer over medium heat, loosely covered, and carefully skim any scum as it rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and cook at a bare simmer until the meat is tender, about 3 hours. Remove it to a platter, let it cool, and then cover it loosely. Raise the heat to medium and continue simmering the broth until reduced by one-third. Strain and let it cool. Refrigerate both the meat and broth until well chilled, about 4 hours.
  5. Carefully remove and discard the solidified fat from the broth and put the jellied broth in a large saucepan. If it has not sufficiently jelled, return it to a simmer and cook until reduced by about one-quarter. Let cool. If sufficiently jelled, warm it over medium-low heat until barely melted. Whisk the egg whites until frothy. Crush the eggshells and mix them into the whites. Stir this into the broth and slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until the eggs solidify and rise to the top. Gently push their mass aside and take a spoonful of broth with a bright metal spoon to make sure it is sparkling clear. Set a strainer lined with clean cotton muslin into a shallow pan and carefully ladle the broth into it, letting it drip through. Cool once more until it begins to thicken but not yet jell.
  6. Thinly slice the beef across the grain and arrange it, overlapping slightly, on a platter. Spoon some of the broth over the beef, cover, and chill until it jells. Spoon on a second layer of broth and chill until jelled. Meanwhile, pour the remaining broth into a shallow 9-inch-square pan and chill until solid. Break up the jelly by raking it with a fork or knife and use it to garnish the platter. Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Recipe from Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance, edited by Damon Lee Fowler and published by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., 2005. Distributed by the University of North Carolina Press.

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