Paleron is a cut of beef from the shoulder, called chicken steak or flatiron steak here in the United States. It’s a very beefy, hardy cut for braising, and it gives a nice rich broth for the sauce. In France, paleron de boeuf is a staple, the kind of dish someone’s grandmother would make in the winter when she needed to warm up the family. If you are cooking for a crowd, double this recipe (you’ll need a really big pot). There’s no shame in leftovers, since it reheats so well. If you are short on time, you can skip the marinating.
4 pounds flatiron steak, or other cut beef chuck
6 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup cognac or brandy
1/4 pound country bacon, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Bouquet garni (4 sprigs fresh flat-parsley, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, and 1 bay leaf tied with kitchen string)
6 stalks celery, trimmed and cut on bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 large carrots, peeled, trimmed, and on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 large onions, peeled and cut into inch-thick slices or wedges
2 cups beef stock, low sodium canned beef broth, or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
The day before you want to cook the beef, place it in a nonreactive bowl or Pyrex dish. Remove the zest of 1 orange using a vegetable peeler, including as little of the white pith as possible, and julienne. Juice both oranges and strain the juice. In a large bowl, combine the orange juice and zest, red wine, cognac, bacon, garlic, and bouquet garni. Pour the marinade over the beef, add the celery, carrots, and onions, cover, and marinate for at least 12 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.
Transfer the beef to a platter. Strain the marinade through a colander into a medium saucepan and reserve the vegetables and herbs. Pour the beef stock into the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and keep at a slow, steady simmer.
Warm the vegetable oil and butter in a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry and season all over with salt and the pepper. Dust the beef with the flour on all sides. When the oil is hot, add the beef to the pot and sear until golden brown on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Pour in the hot stock mixture and add the reserved vegetables and bouquet garni.
Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Braise, basting and turning the beef every 30 minutes, until the meat is fork-tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Discard the bouquet garni. If the sauce is too thin or is not flavored intensely enough, ladle most of it off into another pot and simmer it until it thickens and intensifies. Then add it back to the original pot and serve.
From Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine by Chef Daniel Boulud ECCO /Harper Collins - 2006. Reprinted with permission.
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