Monday, August 6, 2012

Algerian Beef, French Army, 1940

Algerian Beef (Merga Beef or Rouquette Beef), French Army, 1940
(Boeuf a l’Algérienne (Boeuf en Merga ou Rouquette de Boeuf))

     Algerian Beef is a dish of stewed beef, flavored with onion, garlic, tomato and herbs. It was listed under blanquette recipes, the explanation being that although it is not a light-colored meat in a white sauce (as in blanquette de veau), the mode of preparation and the end result are the same: a meat stewed in an aromatic broth and served with a thickened sauce.
     As a side note, most recipes in later editions of the French Army cookbook remained unchanged through the 1962 editions. For those interested in historical accuracy or for re-enactors, the 1940 recipes could be used at least through the 1960s.

Yield: 4 servings                     Cooking time: 3 hours

U.S.                            Metric                        Ingredients
16 oz*                         450 g                           beef
1 oz                             20 g                             onions
1 clove                         4 g                               garlic
1 tbsp (finely chopped) 4 g                               parsley, fresh
½ tsp                           4 g                               coarse salt
to taste                         to taste                         pepper
one                              one                               bouquet garni**
1.5 oz                          40 g                              tomato paste
.65 oz/4 tsp                  10 g                              flour
8 fl oz                          240 ml                          water

1.      Bone and trim the beef, cut into pieces of approximately 2 ounces/50-60 grams each; two pieces per serving.
2.      Finely chop the garlic, onion and parsley.
3.      Make a thin paste with the flour and cold water.
4.      Into a pot, add the water, salt, pepper, garlic and onion. Bring to a boil.
5.      Put the meat and return to boil. Add tomato paste and bouquet garni, cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer for three hours.
NOTE: Never stir blanquettes during the time when the meat is cooking. It may be stirred in the last 15 minutes, as the meat will be considered cooked at that time.
6.      Fifteen minutes before the cooking is done, examine the product and:
a) degrease only if there is really too much fat
      b) thicken with more flour if needed
      c) taste and adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper).
7.   Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

* 16 oz/450 g beef after trimming and deboning
**Bouquet garni: herbs tied together or wrapped in a piece of leek and tied with twine,
and added to stocks, soups or stews. It typically consists of a sprig of fresh thyme, parsley stems, and a bay leaf.

1 comment:

  1. Ah! Something to use my newly acquired marmite for. I happen to like stews (because I have to use my slow cooker) and I like them thinner than my wife. One old source, written about the Franco-Prussian War, probably published in the 1870s, suggested the French preferred their meat to be boiled rather than roasted, which was not considered a wholesome way to prepare food. Where I'm from, however, most things are fried anyway.