As its name might suggest, baeckenoffe, meaning literally ‘the baker’s oven’, is a speciality of Alsace-Lorraine, that northern part of France which abuts Germany
Originally this stew was taken in a sealed pot to the baker’s on a Sunday to be cooked in his oven after the bread was baked. This meant a hot meal would be provided on Monday, when women were apparently occupied in pre-emancipation days with the weekly wash. It is suitably serious fare and just the thing to keep waistbands snug and the cold at bay.
This will feed 6 trenchermen or 8 normal eaters. Apart from the browning of the meat, which improves flavour and appearance, the recipe is fairly orthodox.
Marinate the beef, lamb and pork in the wine overnight.
Next day, when ready to cook, preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas 3. Remove the meat from the marinade. Heat the beef dripping in a heavy frying pan and brown the meat in it.
Heat the lard in a flameproof casserole and fry the onions, garlic and carrots until they start to brown. Arrange the potato slices overlapping on top of the onions. Lay the bouquet garni on that and arrange the meats on top. Season generously with salt and pepper and pour over the marinade.
Bring to the boil on the hob, cover with a tight-fitting lid (use foil if it isn’t) and put into the oven for 2½ hours.
Serve in large soup bowls, scattered with flat-leaved parsley.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.