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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baekoffe

During our five years in Europe, we lived in Belgium and Germany, both within easy reach of the city Strasbourg, a lovely French city on the Rhine River. When we visited the whole family loved to eat a dish, similar to my Mom's pot roast (but better) baked in a decorated clay pot. Since I had purchased a few of the pots, I tried to imitate the dish at home. This was long before easy access to recipes online and cookbooks were hard to come by so my efforts, though appreciated and eaten, weren't authentic. In later years I found a recipe that has served as a guide and taught me to add some white wine to the marinade (which really does improve the flavor).

Apparently Baekoffe is an old dish that got its name because home cooks would bring their pots to be cooked in the residual heat in local bakery ovens after a day's baking had finished. It is homey, satisfying, and unpretentious.

One of the coldest days I spent in those years was in this Alsatian region, a day late in December. We visited the town of Colmar a bit south of Strasbourg and our destination was an unheated old stone cathedral serving as an art museum. It was cold inside and out and even with six layers on, I was uncomfortably cold until we ate dinner. Sitting down to a steaming hot Baekoffe was just about as good as it comes. This is a true winter-time comfort food to me because it reminds me of days when meals with my kids weren't rare and because it is just plain great to eat.

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Baekoffe


I found this years ago on the internet and didn't keep record of the source.

Serves 4

There is no need to strictly follow this recipe; use it as a guide. I usually add more meat, more potatoes, and throw in some carrots. Lamb is hard for me to come by so I rarely use it. I also cook it longer at a lower temperature (3-4 hours at 275F). This can be cooked in a covered casserole or roasting pan and it can be tinkered with as far as proportions and ingredients are concerned. (I've seen this with green beans and have eaten a seafood Baekoffe. A recent internet search turned up one that includes bacon--haven't tried that yet.)

1/2 lb pork shoulder
1/2 lb boneless lamb shoulder
1 lb lean beef chuck
1/2 teas fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teas dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T chopped parsley
1/2 teas salt, or to taste
1/4 teas fresh ground pepper, plus 6 cracked peppercorns
2 c Alsatian Sylvaner or Riesling wine (a Sauvignon Blanc can be substituted)
1 T butter
4 large onions, sliced
4 large potatoes, sliced
4 bay leaves

Cut meat into 3-inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the herbs, garlic, and cracked peppercorns. Pour wine over the mixture and marinate overnight. Remove meat from marinade. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of a 3-quart earthenware casserole. Begin with a layer of potatoes and onions (season each layer with salt and pepper), then add a layer of combined meats. Continue alternating layers, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Pour marinade over all, place the bay leaves on top, and cover the pot. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I still love this meal. It really is good but like you it also evokes memories of a love- and fun-filled time.

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