Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share by Paula Wolfert, includes recipes like Ribollita in the Style of Siena; Tian of Eggplant, Tomato, and Fresh Cheese; and Beef Paupiettes with Tomatoes and Wild Capers.
In France this rich, wonderful dish is called alouettes sans têtes meaning "doves without heads." The beef slices are stuffed with pancetta, garlic, and herbs and sautéed until brown on the outside. Then they are simmered in a delicious tomato sauce until meltingly tender. The addition of citrusy orange zest, piquant wild capers, and sweet fragrant thyme to a finished dish is particular to some parts of Provence. When you serve this rich, radiant dish directly from the clay pot, accompany it with a platter of buttered noodles or mashed potatoes.
Preferred Clay Pot:
1. Lay the slices of beef out on a work surface and pound gently to flatten slightly. Season with salt and pepper. In a mixing bowl, combine the pancetta, mashed garlic, parsley, celery, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix with your hands to blend well. Divide the stuffing evenly among the beef slices. Roll each slice up over the filling at the wider end, fold in the sides, roll up, and secure with white kitchen string or toothpicks.
2. Place the dried cèpes in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup hot water; let stand for 30 minutes to soften. Remove the cèpes from the soaking liquid, squeezing the mushrooms to release the liquid into the bowl. Reserve the liquid. Chop the cèpes.
3. Heat the olive oil in the cazuela set over mediumlow heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the meat rolls and sauté slowly, turning, until browned all over, 20 minutes. Add the white wine, herb bouquet, garlic halves, tomato paste, cèpes, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and stock. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cover with a sheet of parchment and a lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours, turning the beef rolls once after an hour. Transfer the beef rolls to a side dish and cover with foil. Strain the cooking juices, pressing down on all the vegetables and any bits of pancetta that may have fallen out. Let the beef rolls and sauce cool separately; then cover and refrigerate. (The recipe can be made to this point up to a day in advance.)
4. About 1-1/2 hours before serving, completely degrease the sauce. Cut away the strings from the beef rolls. Return the beef rolls and the sauce to the cazuela. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 1 hour, turning the beef rolls in the sauce from time to time. Stir in the vinegar and capers and simmer for a few minutes longer. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped parsley and thyme, garlic, and orange zest and serve at once.
Note to the Cook:
There is an art to pounding beef for paupiettes. Use a kitchen mallet and a combination swoop and tap, working from the center to the outer edge to achieve even thickness. Be sure not to pound too forcefully, or the beef slice will tear.
This page created January 2010
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