TAFELSPITZ- the favorite of Emperor Franz Josef

Tafelspitz is a traditional Austrian meal meaning “tip [of meat] for the table.” Big  pots of beef, bones and vegetables (all together) are typically served.  This would include beef or ox tri-tip, beef bones in portions so one can scoop out the marrow and root vegetables. One is supposed to eat them in a certain order to get the full effect. You start with the rich savory broth with noodles, then spread the  marrow of the bones on bread (tastes wonderful /has the texture of avacado) and then enjoy the meat and vegetables with a healthy helping of horse radish-apple and chive sauces. I had tafelspitz the first time in Seefeld, Austria and got the recipe from my good friend,  a trained Austrian chef.

I’ve made Tafelspitz using a fresh brisket roast and oxtails. It’s rare to get beef bones here but when I have found them, that is the best. The broth I save for the foundation of other soups. It’s a great winter dish and I save horseradish in straw just to make the sauce for this gorgeous meal. The secrets of a juicy Tafelspitz are: heating the water to a rolling boil before the piece of meat is put in the water; the sudden sealing of the meat’s juices as soon as the meat’s pores close when the Tafelspitz touches the boiling water; not too much salt, but enough to enhance the meat’s flavour; a few pieces of vegetables, the addition of  sections of bones with marrow, the right cooking time, and the gentle rolling of the boiling water which will cook but not break the meat’s fiber.

What you need:

1 5 lb fresh brisket

oxtails or beef bones (cut into 2 inch pieces)

3 bay leaves

10 pepper corns ,3 juniper berries

2 onions, cut in half

1 leek (white part, cleaned and sliced

3 or 4 big carrots, 1 celeriac, 2 turnips, 2 potatoes  (all cut into chunks)

chopped chives for garnish when serving

For the chive sauce:
3/4 cup bread (sandwich or baguette, crust removed)
1 cup plus 2 tbs  milk
2 egg yolks (raw)
2 eggs yolks (cooked, from hard-boiled eggs)
2 tbsp chives (finely chopped)
1 2/3 cup  oil (vegetable or grapeseed)
salt, vinegar, white pepper
mustard
1 pinch sugar

For the apple & horseradish sauce:
2 large granny smith apples

small pat of butter

2 tbs  fresh horseradish (finely grated)
4 tsp  sugar
1 generous pinch of salt
6 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp oil
1 dash cider vinegar

Cut the onions in half. In a big stockpot, heat some oil and fry the onions, cut-side down until they are blackened. Wash the brisket  and the bones thoroughly. Pour appr. 4 quarts of water into the stockpot and bring to a boil. Carefully place the meat and the bones in the water, making sure that the meat is submerged. Add some more water, if necessary. Add the peppercorns and bay leaves and simmer the meat for at least 3 hours. If you have the time, let it simmer for 5 hours, to make sure the meat is so tender it almost falls apart. Keep skimming off the foam that will eventually form.
About an hour before serving, cut the vegetables into bite-sized chunks. Add the vegetables to the pot, but only add the leek 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
Prepare the sauces: Soak the bread in the milk for about 10 minutes, drain and squeeze out the milk as much as possible. Pulse in a food processer, adding the yolks and seasoning and work up a thick sauce by gradually adding the oil. Shortly before serving, fold in the chives.
For the apple & horseradish sauce: 

Peel and core the apples and cut into chunks. Place them in a small pan and simmer them with the butter, lemon juice, sugar and a small amount of water until the apples are soft. Cool, then mash or puree through a food mill or food processor(depending on how smooth you want it). Mix in the horseradish. Season to taste with a very small amount of vinegar.
Take the meat out, cut into thin slices and return to the pot. Season the soup.
First, serve the soup, with the vegetables and some noodles, if you like.
When serving the meat, put each slice on a plate, pouring over 1 tbsp of soup and sprinkling with fleur de sel (salt). Serve with the sauces, alongside some potatoes and vegetables (creamy spinach being the most traditional).

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