I’m feeling a bit of a stunned mullet this week, please excuse my not dropping in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.