Beef Fricassée with Root Vegetables

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Although in retrospect this dish is perhaps more suitable for fall, a bout of cooler, less-humid weather plus our preference lately for large-batch cooking (which has been a life saver during weeknights) resulted in this beef stew.

A fricassée is a meat-based stew that is served in white sauce. The meat itself is usually lightly fried, then simmered (the word fricassée is allegedly a combination of two French words - frire and casser, which mean to fry and to break, respectively). In this recipe I've omitted the frying step in the interest of simplicity, so this is not a "true" fricassée. But I'm hoping you'll forgive me because this dish is nonetheless delicious.


Don't be afraid if the meat goes for slightly longer than the time in the recipe; this is one of the instances where the meat will forgive and actually benefit from being cooked longer. Use any cheap, bony cuts you can find. I used beef neck bones. Beef knuckles or ox tail would also work. You can also use lamb.

For this recipe, one should heed Julia Child's sound advice: always use a bigger pot than the one you think you'll need. I sometimes forget this, and my pot ended up almost overflowing once I've added all the vegetables.


I'm usually not big on sauces, mostly because I don't have the luxury of time to prepare one in addition to the main dish and I find a lot of dairy-based sauces heavy. But I've learned to appreciate them when we were living in Norway - they are extremely comforting during cooler weather.

And Norwegians know their sauces. Almost every meat dish I've tried there had a sauce of some kind accompanying it. One trick I learned about adding flour or other thickener to stock to avoid lumps, is to premix the flour with a little bit of water, so you get a kind of slush which mixes evenly when you add it to the sauce.


The sauce in this recipe is light (I used greek yogurt), easy to make, tangy (from lemon juice) and delicious. You can use sour cream instead of yogurt. And of course, dill just makes everything better.

Beef Fricassée with Root Vegetables
Adapted from NRK Mat

Serves about 6

You will need
2 lb beef bone meat (neck bones, ox tail works well)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 medium celery root, peeled and chopped
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, chopped and cleaned
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp fresh dill

1. Fill a large pot with about eight cups of water and bring to a boil. Cut the meat into chunks and add to the pot along with a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the meat, skimming the surface occasionally, about 45 minutes to an hour. Ladle approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the stock into a small saucepan and set aside.

2. After the meat has simmered for about 45 minutes to an hour, add carrots, parsnips, celery root, onion and leeks. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and simmer 10 to 15 minutes more, until the vegetables are soft.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the sauce. Bring the saucepan with the stock you've set aside to a simmer. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and a little bit of water, fully dissolving the flour. Start rapidly whisking the stock as you gradually pour the flour mixture into the stock. Once the sauce begins to thicken, lower the heat. Whisk the greek yogurt and lemon juice into the sauce until the mixture is uniform. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the dill. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

4. Drain the meat and the vegetables (discard the stock or use for something else); return meat and vegetables to the pot. Pour the sauce over them. Mix everything together. Serve over rice, boiled potatoes or as is, sprinkled with a little fresh dill.


Scandinavian Salmon Tartare Appetizer

Sunday, August 3, 2014


When we were living in Norway we noticed a recurring ingredient combined with typically savory things (meat dishes as well as salted/pickled herring): something sweet. Meat would be served with sweet lingon berry jam (you can get a taste of the combination if you order the meatballs with lingon berry jam at Ikea). Salted or pickled fish would be preserved in a sweet, vinegary brine.

In this salmon tartare recipe all of these things are present, combined with another key item: dill. We've adjusted the sweetness so that it is not prominent but goes altogether well with the other ingredients.


We adapted this recipe from one we made at a Scandinavian cooking class we took in NYC. Since then we've been making our own version on a regular basis in our kitchen, especially when we want to have something to snack on before dinner.


This appetizer combines four of the basic flavors: sweet, sour (vinegar), salty, and umami (salmon). As always, please feel free to adjust the ingredients to your taste. Like your savory dish on the sweet side? Double the agave, omit the salt. Don't like horseradish? Skip it. This appetizer responds very well to variations, and although we always use the same ingredients, we don't measure them, relying on taste alone. Sometimes Tony makes it his way, sometimes I make it, it's never exactly the same but the underlying flavor when we both sample it and nod to each other "yes, that's it" remains the same.


This appetizer goes really well with gløgg. If you want to have several options for the smoked salmon tartare appetizer, you can also try the one we made before with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil here.


Scandinavian Salmon Tartare Appetizer
Adapted from ICE (institute of culinary education) recipe

Serves 4

You will need:
4 oz smoked salmon, finely chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp capers, chopped
1/2 tbsp agave
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp horseradish, or to taste
2 tbsp dill
Coarse salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine salmon, onion and capers. Add agave, cider vinegar, horseradish and dill. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper (depending on your preferences, you might find the saltiness of the salmon sufficient for the appetizer). Serve with crackers or cucumber slices.

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