Brouffade des Mariniers du Rhône

Braised Beef in the Style of Rhône Sailors

No one would want to visit Aries without, if possible, eating at Le Vaccarès, where Bernard Dumas not only serves the best food in town but composes his menus with respect to the location and history of this ancient city. He introduced me to brouffade, a dish which he says often appears incorrectly under the name grillade. But the true brouffade, once frequently prepared by the mariners of the Rhône (who still transport goods from Aries and Marseilles to Lyons, returning with other cargoes, many for export), is a dish of marinated beef. The characteristic of the dish is its intriguing combination of flavours – anchovies, capers and gherkins – which gives the beef an exciting and unusual taste.

Ingredients

  • 680 g( lb) topside of beef
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 fillets of anchovy, chopped
  • tablespoons capers, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ bottle Côtes du Rhône red wine
  • salt, milled pepper
  • 1–2 medium-sized gherkins, finely diced

Method

Cut the beef into thin slices about 0.5 cm(¼ in) thick. In a mortar pound the shallot, garlic, anchovies and capers with 2 tablespoons of the oil and the wine vinegar to make a reasonably smooth purée.

Spread each slice of beef with the purée and arrange them in a shallow dish. Place the thyme and bay leaves on top and pour over half the wine. Cover the dish and leave in a cold place for 8 hours or overnight.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan and lightly brown the sliced beef. Add the liquid from the marinade and a little salt and pepper. Top up with extra wine if necessary so that the liquid almost covers the meat. Cover and cook in a slow oven (Mark 3, 160°C, 325°F) for 1½– 2 hours until the beef is cooked. Transfer the meat to a hot serving dish. Pour the liquid into a pan and reduce by half over high heat. Add the gherkins. Spoon the remaining olive oil over the beef and pour the reduced sauce around it. Serve straight away with pureed potatoes or noodles.

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