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Tafelspitz and Feeling the Aftershocks

February 25, 2011 · 17 comments

in Austria,Gluten Free,Mains,New Zealand Story,Winter

cooked tafelspitz image sasasunakkuI’m feeling a bit of a stunned mullet this week, please excuse my not dropping in.

aromatics image sasasunakku

On Tuesday morning I was woken by F.’s phone buzzing even though I told him to please turn that thing off when we are sleeping because I don’t want to get beamed at my most vulnerable. Early morning phone activity can make a girl’s gut churn a little though. I turned my own phone on while I was washing my face and that buzzed too. More butterflies.

tafelspitz raw image sasasunakku

I confess though that I avoided looking at it until I’d made myself a cup of tea, which was a smart idea in retrospect.

Over the last few days, people everywhere have digested images of carnage from the Christchurch earthquake. I imagine some feel the way I did when I saw photos from Haiti or the earthquake in China; shocked and sad for a bit but then able to get on with their day.

dark and lovely vegetables image sasasunakku

But Christchurch, I’ve been there. I know people there. People I know have family there. I realise this doesn’t me look like a particularly fine person – to say it only really hurts if it has some direct bearing on me – but I guess there’s no point in lying about it to make myself look better.

Being far away from home this week has been odd; being surrounded by people who feel relatively disconnected from the tragedies and wins that were uncovered hour by hour has made me feel a little isolated. I don’t mean to make it all about me but there’s something to be said for being able to be sad together and I wish I could do something practical to help in community efforts such as the The Great Sunday Bake-Off and a the Kotahitangata concert.

cooking tafelspitz image sasasunakku

There’s no proper end to this post I guess, just that if you feel you can help, there are places that will make sure the money goes to the right people.

The people of Christchurch will go back to rebuilding their lives, the way I saw people do when I was in Thailand after the tsunami, sombrely at first, then able to forget about it for minutes, then hours and days at a time but forever changed. We’re thinking of you at this impossible time, especially you, Sue.

cooked whole tafelspitz image sasasunakku

I made this tafelspitz a little while ago. It’s part of a series that has nothing to do with earthquakes or tragedies of any sort and I won’t try to connect the two, although it is a comforting dish – especially when served the Viennese way with the soup made by simmering the meat to start followed by the sliced beef with schnittlauch (chive) sauce: This is part one.

See part two: Frittatensuppe or part three: Schnittlauch (chive) sauce.


Butchers in different countries divide a carcass in different ways. In the U.K, Australia and New Zealand you could try a piece of silverside and in the U.S, a tri-tip would be the closest to a tafelspitz cut. Whatever piece you get, be sure to ask the butcher to leave the fat on – it protects the meat from drying out as it simmers. Using a small piece doesn’t really work either – only bother cooking this if you have a crowd to feed; probably feeds five or six with side dishes, it does shrink considerably as it cooks.

This is an all day recipe, although the actual hands-on time is actually minimal. Good for a rainy (snowy!) day.

1 kg (2 pounds 2 oz) tafelspitz 

600 grams (1 pounds 3oz) beef marrow bones in 5cm (2 inch) pieces; your butcher will cut these for you

A selection of vegetables for stock, I used:

An onion, peeled and halved

A carrot, washed and cut in half

A leek, washed and cut in half

The roots and stems of a bunch of parsley

A couple of dried or fresh bay leaves

A yellow carrot, washed and cut in half (optional – I’ve never seen them anywhere else, you could use half a turnip or a parsnip)

A slice of celeriac (optional or you could use a third of a celery stem)

10 peppercorns wrapped in a bit of cheesecloth

Bring 5 litres (5.3 quarts) of water to the boil in a stock pot.

Wash the meat. Put the bones in a bowl of water and repeatedly change the water until it runs clear, 3 or 4 times.

Place the 2 cut faces of the onions in a very hot, dry pan and allow to blacken somewhat and set aside (or, if you’re me, take 25 photos of it).

Put first the bones, bay leaves and peppercorns into the boiling water with a set of long tongs and lay the meat atop them. Bring briefly to the boil and skim the froth.

Lower heat to a bare simmer (there should be a bubble every few seconds or so) and leave for 2 1/2 hours, periodically skimming the froth and fat. Put it into a jar to throw away, not down the sink or the fat will congeal and block your pipes.

At this point, add the vegetables to the pot and simmer a further 3 hours.

Remove the meat from the pot with the tongs and rest for 20 minutes.

Pour the stock into another pot through a sieve lined with a clean teatowel, muslin or cheesecloth and discard the solids, or you can save the marrow and serve on toast as is done in Vienna.

If needed, boil the broth furiously until it becomes the colour of tea. You should get about 2 litres (2.1 quarts).

Salt the broth and serve with frittaten or griessnockerl as a first course.

Slice the meat across the grain and serve with a few tablespoons of the broth poured over and chive sauce, potatoes and greens alongside, if liked.

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Suz February 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm

It’s heartbreaking and my thoughts are with everyone affected. I can just imagine how much greater the distance feels at times like these. I hope you’re okay.

Thanks for the link. I’ll be sure to pay it a visit.x

p.s. your Tafelspitz looks great.

H February 25, 2011 at 10:40 am

I can only imagine the devastation that Christchurch must be facing. So many people, not just lost but facing the huge task of rebuilding, resurrecting their lives.
My heart goes out to them all.

hungryandfrozen February 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

Feeling both fortunate and very uncertain. Hope you’re doing okay from afar. Tafelspitz looks like just the right sort of thing to be eating right now.

shaz February 25, 2011 at 11:44 am

The scenes of devastation have left us all feeling a bit “stunned mullet” as you put it :( Will check out those links you highlighted, every bit helps.

Kocinera February 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm

My heart goes out to all those affected by the earthquake, including you. Even if you were miles away when it happened, I can definitely understand the worry and concern that you must be feeling for friends and family back in New Zealand. I think everybody, all around, deserves a nice bowl of yummy comfort food and a big hug. :)

Mairi @ Toast February 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm

A lovely post Sasa, and that food looks so comforting & restorative….perfect :)

Glenn February 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Very, very sad week indeed. Thoughts and prayers for all in NZ.

Zo @ Two Spoons February 26, 2011 at 3:02 am

Thanks for the mention Sasa. I feel so lucky, we weren’t without power and water for very long. Also I know what you mean – when you hear about awful earthquakes somewhere distant it’s just not the same.

Sasa March 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Welcome, I hear you raised over $900! Well done.

SMITH BITES February 26, 2011 at 3:39 am

am so so sad and very sorry for the people in NZ Sasa – it’s hard to grieve alone, when you’re far away and feel so isolated and disconnected from those that are suffering. i’m hugging on you from far away, dear friend . . .

Anna Johnston February 27, 2011 at 5:23 am

I’m going to leave a bit of a disjointed message here & just say I’m sorry & thinking of your homeland & you, times like this its good to all be together & be part of your country’s grief. I get that.
On a ‘up note’…., love the dish, great pics :)

Emily Vanessa February 27, 2011 at 8:50 am

I thought of you when I heard the news – truly dreadful. Hope you’re holding up OK and that those you know are safe. It must be awful being so far away, having everything filtered at a distance as you say. I remember when there were the Tube bombings and how I shocked I was but as least the UK isn’t far. Take care!

Alessandra February 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

I know how you feel. A very tragic event, and some of the people down there are making amazing efforts in cleaning up and coping. I admire them.


Sasa February 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Thanks for sending your good wishes downunder everyone x

Kimberley February 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm

It doesn’t sound selfish at all to want to be with people who understand how you’re feeling – we all need comfort in these moments and I can only imagine how challenging that distance is. Hang in there, Ms. S.

amber March 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

If we felt every tragedy in the world with equal depth and compassion, we’d never get out of bed, Sasa. It’s only natural that something like this on home turf will cut deeper. I think the best we can do is let it help us grow an empathy for the suffering of others, no matter where they’re from.

The enormity of the Chch quake is just tragic. But I think people are rallying the world over to gather resources and help. We love little NZ. xo

Clare March 4, 2011 at 4:47 am

Hi Sasa
I lived and worked in central Christchurch for over 20 years. Every time I look at photos of the earthquake my stomach and heart clench. Photo number 28 is of Shane, who was a baker. He died. Photo 36 is of a house which was just around the corner from mine. I doubt if Sue has been allowed back in her flat. Really terrible.

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