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MARGARET PROUSE: Taste Canada winners announced

A Dutch oven or a large casserole that can be heated on the stovetop is a good choice for making Braised Beef with Pappardelles.
A Dutch oven or a large casserole that can be heated on the stovetop is a good choice for making Braised Beef with Pappardelles. - 123RF Stock Photo

Oct. 27 was an important date for nominees for Canada’s national bilingual food writing awards, the Taste Canada awards.

Winners in the five categories – culinary narratives, general cookbooks, regional/cultural cookbooks, single-subject cookbooks and health and special diet cookbooks – were announced in Toronto.

There was at least one P.E.I. connection among the winners, when “Ship to Shore: Straight Talk from the Seafood Counter” by the late John Bil was named silver winner in the single-subject vookbook category. While he wasn’t an Islander by birth, Bil enthusiastically promoted P.E.I. shellfish, especially the oyster, and opened the Ship to Shore restaurant in Darnley.

The Taste Canada cookbook I am most familiar with actually is written in French. “Montréal l’hiver”, by Susan Semenak and Cindy Boyce, won gold in the Livres de cuisine régionale et culturelle (Regional/Cultural Cookbooks) category. I featured the recipe for Boeuf Braisé et Pappardelles from the book at a food demonstration in October and got great response to the sample servings.

Here is the recipe – my translation and my bracketed editorials. I served it over Island mashed potatoes instead of noodles at the demonstration. Don’t skip the herbs and spices. They create a distinct and delicious flavour blend.

It’s a large recipe, good for company or a big family. The authors say six servings; I think more. Halve it for a smaller batch or freeze some for later.

Braised Beef with Pappardelles

Adapted from Semenak, Susan and Cindy Boyce: “Montréal l’hiver”. Les Éditions Cardinal, Montréal, 2018.

2 kg (4.4 lb) boneless blade or chuck roast (or cross rib) cut in 7.5 cm/3 inch cubes (I cut it smaller)
salt and ground black pepper
75 mL (⅓ cup) all purpose flour
60 mL (¼ cup) olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
125 mL (½ cup) chopped bacon or pancetta
5 cloves of garlic, minced
250 mL (1 cup) dry white wine
2 bay leaves
4 stems of fresh thyme
15 mL (1 tbsp) chopped fresh rosemary
5 mL (1 tsp) fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
1 stick of cinnamon, 5 cm (2 inches) long
125 mL (½ cup) chopped fresh parsley
500 mL (2 cups) chicken or beef broth
2 cans (796 mL each) whole plum tomatoes
pkg (500 g/1 lb) pappardelles (broad, flat pasta noodles)
grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, for serving
red pepper flakes, optional

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).
  • Cube the meat and season with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and dredge the meat in it (or shake meat and flour together in a paper or plastic bag.)
  • In a large casserole (that can be heated on the stovetop) or Dutch oven, heat 30 mL (2 tbsp) of the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides for 10-15 minutes, in several batches if necessary. Set aside on a plate.
  • Add the rest of the oil to the casserole, and cook the onions, carrots, celery and bacon until tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the wine and stir, scraping up the bits that have stuck to the bottom of the casserole. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine has reduced by half. Add bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick, parsley, broth and 1 can of tomatoes, squeezing them to crush slightly. After the liquid comes to a boil, add the browned meat. Add a little broth to cover the pieces of meat if necessary.
  • Cover the casserole with a sheet of parchment paper, and then cover the dish tightly. Cook in the oven for 2½-3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Let it rest overnight in the refrigerator for flavours to meld.
  • The next day, discard any fat that has hardened on the mixture and remove bay leaves, thyme and cinnamon stick. Add the second can of tomatoes, crushing slightly. Reheat the casserole in a moderate (180 C/350 F) oven for 30-45 minutes until the sauce is thick and brown.
  • Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and spoon them into a large serving bowl. Add the stew, and mix. Serve with grated cheese and a pinch of pepper flakes, if desired.

See tastecanada.org/2019-taste-canada-award-winners/ for a complete list of this year’s winners.

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by email at islandgusto@gmail.com.

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