Three weeks ago, I started working with a pretty awesome nutrition program called Working Against Gravity. I had been on the wait list for several months. They focus on macronutrient ratios and find a formula that is unique to your body composition. I had run into some frustration with nutrition; while I always ate pretty healthfully and was somewhat mindful, I also wanted to get a little more lean. It seemed like the right time, a time to really focus on what the heck I was putting in my maw. I have learned a few astonishing things:
Primarily, I have been under-eating for years. My calories went up nearly 500/day and I have lost weight (about 6 pounds). I was not eating enough protein or fats. And I was not getting enough carbohydrates from food, and getting way too many from wine.
This is a bit of a shift from “food = pleasure” to “food = fuel”. But I don’t think it is at the expense of flavor or of practicing the craft of cooking, which I really enjoy. So if I told you the classic French dish Boeuf à la Mode could have macros like this: 25 grams fat/31 grams carbohydrates/80 grams protein PER BIG SERVING– would you believe me? Believe me, it’s real.
What the hell on earth is Boeuf à la Mode? Fancy French for good old pot roast, but I like to cut the meat into chunks rather than cook it whole. I neither use butter, nor flour to thicken the stew. These are unnecessary in my opinion, because the dish is already rich enough.
Here is what you will need. Note, this is a 2 day process, but pretty much only 30 minutes of hands on cooking time. This makes 3 servings. Got a smaller appetite? Make it four servings: (1 serving= 19 grams fat/22 grams carbohydrates/60 grams protein)
1 kilogram (2.25 lbs) beef stew meat**
265 grams (9.5 ounces) small red potatoes
3 carrots peeled,then diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 large white onion, diced
500 ml (2 cups) dry red or white wine, your choice
500 ml (2 cups) de-fatted chicken or beef broth
1 tbs. anchovy filets
1 tbs. tomato paste
50 ml (1.6 ounces) Cognac, or bourbon
1 tsp. red wine vinegar (for finishing)
Salt and pepper
**It is important to note that in this recipe I used an arm roast. This is less fatty than some other parts of the chuck. I weighed it raw and trimmed some of the fat. If you use a different cut it may affect your macros, especially in the fat department. In France, try the collier or basses côtes, in England the clod.
- Day One: In a large plastic bag, put in all the vegetables. Cut the beef into small cubes (if purchased whole), and season with salt and pepper (be generous- about 2 tsp. of each) and then throw into the bag on top of the vegetables. Pour in the wine, seal the bag and stick it in the fridge. I put the bag in a small baking dish to reduce the chances of leaking.
- Day 2: Preheat your oven to 350° F (180° C or gas mark 4). Drain the meat and vegetables from the wine, reserving the liquid. Separate the meat from the vegetables and dry with paper towel. Pour the reserved liquid in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes and skim off any scum.
- While the wine is reducing, pour one tbs. of olive oil into the sauté pan and cook the meat. This should be in one layer. If your pan is small, do two batches. Brown the meat on all sides and place it in an ovenproof pot that has a tight fitting lid.
- Clean and slice the red potatoes in half. Add the other tbs. of olive oil to the sauté pan and cook the onions, celery, carrots and potatoes on medium heat. After ten minutes add the tomato paste, anchovy and cognac. Stir this around and scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pan (this is called the fond and baby it’s where the flavor lives). Add this to the meat, add the reduced wine and the broth. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 1.5-2 hours, checking around the 1 hour mark for tenderness and broth level. You may or may not need to add broth depending on your oven. Don’t add too much, maybe another 125 ml (1/2 cup).
- Add the tsp. of vinegar to the pot and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
A note about alcohol and macros. I am learning that the body processes alcohol in a very special, super fatty way, which is disconcerting and sad when you want to drink all the wine all the time. I calculated the macros for the amount of alcohol used in this dish (counting all as carbohydrates which equaled 170 grams) and took 5% of that number, adding it to the total for each serving (about 3 grams extra of carbohydrate). Cooking alcohol for 2 hours will cause 95% of the alcohol to burn off according to this government study.