Beef Marengo, flavored by history Dish takes its name from Napoleon battle

FAST & FRESH

June 16, 1993|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

Here is a simple dish to prepare that is satisfying while fittin our Fast & Fresh time frame. The dish has an ancient history -- it has been said it was requested by Napoleon after his victory in the Battle of Marengo in the 1800's.

Traditionally, the braised entree is made with chicken or veal, but I have chosen an economical cut of beef that can be prepared quickly. The beef chuck cubes are quickly seared and then simmered with tomatoes, baby onions, mushrooms, wine and herbs.

I suggest serving it over crunchy slices of toasted French bread, but pasta or rice would also complement the Marengo.

Fresh steamed zucchini slices make a nice accompaniment and take only about eight minutes cooked on the stove top while the Marengo is simmering. For dessert, offer a most satisfying indulgence of cream puff cookies sandwiching your favorite ice cream, frozen yogurt or sherbet. Prepare the confection first by slicing the cookie or cream puff in half horizontally and then fill each with a spoonful of ice cream. The puff sandwiches can be frozen until dessert.

Items you should have as staples are: all-purpose flour, olive oil, dry white wine, rosemary, tarragon, salt, pepper, ice cream of choice.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list:

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck cubes

6 ounces fresh button mushrooms

1 (16-ounce) jar pearl onions

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes

1 baguette (long, thin French bread loaf)

zucchini squash

puff cookies called Anginetti (found in the Stella Dora section) or cream puffs

Beef Marengo on toasted French bread

Serves 4

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 pound beef chuck cubes ( 1/2 inch)

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces fresh button mushrooms

(or larger mushrooms, quartered)

1 (16-ounce) jar pearls onions with juice

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped and liquid reserved

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon rosemary, finely crumbled

1 teaspoon tarragon

Place flour on a large plate or in a medium size plastic bag. Add beef cubes and toss to coat lightly with flour. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. When hot, add beef cubes and sear for five minutes, turning twice. Add mushrooms, onions (with juices), plum tomatoes (with liquid), tomato paste, wine and herbs. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (At this point, toast the bread slices. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over warm toasted bread allowing two to three slices per person depending on width of bread.

To toast bread: Heat the broiler.

Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1-inch thick ovals. Drizzle or brush both sides with olive oil and place on a flat baking pan. Place under broiler until just beginning to brown. Repeat with other side. Turn off the oven and hold in the warmed oven until beef is ready.

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