The classic Viennese dish of Tafelspitz is, James Bond considers, ‘like no other boiled beef on earth’. As described in John Gardner’s Nobody Lives For Ever (1986), Bond is in a restaurant in Salzburg with Sukie Tempesta and Nannette ‘Nannie’ Norrich for company. Their meal, boiled beef served with a piquant vegetable sauce and accompanied by sautéed potatoes, is a ‘gastronomic delight’.
- c. 0.8-1kg joint of beef, topside
- 550-600g root vegetables (eg turnip, parsnip, carrot, celeriac etc.), peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 stick of celery, thickly sliced
- 1 onion, unpeeled and cut in half
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp peppercorns
- ½ tsp juniper berries
- Water (c. 2-3 litres)
- Salt (optional)
- Chives, finely chopped
Place the onion halves, cut-side down, in a frying-pan without oil over a high heat until the cut surfaces have blackened. Remove the pan from the heat. Place the beef, root vegetables, celery, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and berries in a large flame-resistant cooking-pot or saucepan. Pour enough water into the pot to cover all the ingredients. Place the pot over a high heat, cover with a lid, and bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow the beef to simmer for 2½-3 hours. Keep the pot topped up with freshly boiled water.
After at least 2½ hours check the beef to see if it’s sufficiently tender. You should be able to flake the meat with a fork. Transfer the beef to a plate or bowl and keep it warm with a little of the broth. If wished, the remaining broth can be strained and the liquid consumed as a soup to start (you may add a pinch of salt to the broth, but I don’t think that the broth especially needs it.)
Carve the beef against the grain and serve, drizzling some broth over the meat and garnishing it with a sprinkling of chives. Accompany the beef with the vegetables (removing the onion), and apple or horseradish sauce.
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