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I keep reading and then obsessing over a short essay by Josef Wechsburg called "Tafelspitz in the Hofrat." Maybe I've got the name a little wrong. In any case the essay is about the heyday of boiled beef in Austria. I really want to try cooking beef in this way but the essay sadly give little instruction from the procedural end. Does anyone out there have any Tafelspitz experience they'd like to share?


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Many of the finest restaurants in Vienna have this dish on their menu. Every Oma has her own version. Think of this as Austrian pot roast. Comes out on a big platter and you serve the meat with applesauce laced with freshly grated horseradish on the side. A bowl for the broth and veggie bits is good on the side as well, but that's just my preference.

Delicious and simple stuff. A good recipe can be found HERE.


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I had a go at tafelspitz last night. We started by poaching a brisket in very lightly salted water with carrot and onion, skimming as we went along to create a mostly clear broth. The vegetables were removed as they became weary and new ones were intoduced. We cooked the brisket for about four hours in this way. About forty minutes before serving we added nicely sliced celeriac, carrot and leek. At around this time in a separate pot (so as not to dirty the broth) I poached beef ribs, from the rib chop but minus the chop, that had only a little meat on them. When they had leached all their blood and were mostly cooked I added them to the main pot. The meat and vegetables were removed and the broth lightly seasoned. We sliced the brisket, served with a ladle of broth, a rib, a few chucks of vegetable and a nice spoonful of fresh horseradish sauce (horseradish grated on a box grater, creme fraiche, heavy cream, salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice).

Tafelspitz is a simple thing that trades on nuance. A delicate hand (and lots of experience) can make this a very special dish.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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In case someone was still interested in this:

Tafelspitz is indeed one of "national dishes" of Austria but I believe it is not merely a boiled beef. It is a bit more complex than that.

Very famous restaurant in Vienna that serves excellent tafelspitz is Plachutta. I have been there and it was indeed marvelous, but more about that later.

First, "real" tafelspitz is made from one specific cut of beef (the cut is called tafelspitz). I know many countries have different cuts and so it is probably not very common to find it - one usually has to request it (providing you are not in Austria and that your butcher is informed enough to know what are you talking about - most butchers here sadly aren't).

Next, what you get when you order tafelspitz at Plachutta (it is possible that elsewhere it is just the meat) is actually a whole menu, not a single dish (and it is enough to feed 2, maybe even more, people). There are toasted slices of rye bread for the bone marrow from the bone which is in the pot with the beef itself. That's your starter. Then there's the incredible meaty broth which you can enjoy by itself or with some of the cooked vegetables (or noodles, which they also bring as a matter of fact) - soup. And finally there's the tender and juicy meat and an assortment of side dishes - traditionally sautéed grated potatoes, beans, spinach with cream and different condiments - horseradish sauce, chive sauce...

During my visit at Plachutta, it was not possible to eat everything - there's simply too much for one person. But let me tell you, it is worth it - even if you are unable to finish everything, every single bite/slurp is a bliss. Some of my fondest memories of Vienna are of the incredible broth which was so clear it might have been called consommé and so flavorful I wanted to be saturated with it :wink:

There are several books with Plachutta recipes. I have none of them but I found a recipe posted in Czech somewhere and according to the poster it is from the Plachutta book.

- 1 onion, unpeeled and halved

- 2 kg tafelspitz

- 3.5 l water

- 10-15 pieces of black pepper

- 250 g of assorted root vegetables (carrot, celery, parsley...) - yellow carrot is a signature vegetable of Plachutta's tafelspitz

- 1/2 leek (white part only)

- granulated bouillon, as needed (I can't believe that great flavor came from granules, but the poster swears it is in the book)

Caramelize the onion halves till almost black, wash the meat with tepid water, drain and bring to boil. Lower the heat, add the onion and pepper and cook over low heat (under 100°C) for at least 2.5 hours until done (pierce the meat with a long metal skewer/fork and lift - if it "tears" by its own weight it is done). Around 25 minutes before 2.5 hour mark add your vegetables.

There are no marrow bones in the recipe but it could be a transcription error or it is a variant without them - I think everyone here can play with the recipe according to their own tastes...

I hope this is helpful...


Edited by Vlcatko (log)
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Vlcatko

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Also, I later found these two recipes which seem really authentic.

The Passionate Cook.com - should be from one of the Plachutta books but seems more complete than the one I re-translated from Czech.

Classic Tafelspitz @ Wien.info - good source if you plan to visit Vianna.

If anyone is interested, I have several of Ewald Plachutta's books (Die gute Küche I + II, Kochschule) and can translate the recipe if necessary. The granuled bouillon could be correct, I was similarly stymied when I reread one of the recipes recently. It seems that these were adapted for home cooks (but the recipes are quite good nonetheless).

If you want a truly classical recipe for Tafelspitz, you'd have to look into Franz Maier-Bruck "Klassische Österreichische Küche" (vormals "Das große Sacher-Kochbuch"). It's a bit old-ish (1975), and I think some procedures where rather old-fashioned even then, but this is the authoritative book an classical Austrian cuisine. Anyway, I have that one available, too.

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If I may interject- not being expert of any kind, I would think that Tafelspitz refers to a very specific cut of meat. The way I understand it, it's a part of chuck (which- I cannot tell... not that I wouldn't if I knew exactly). It comprises of two muscles separated by a sinew running right accross the cut. I woud assume that good dishes (which are those that Austrians call Tafelspitz) exploit the pecularities of this particular cut.

 

In my country (particularly in the region where I come from, which historically has certain culinary Austrian influences) we use that cut of meat in two principal ways- one is for beef broth, and second is for stewing (e.g. goulash, but Austrian style*). The first way produces excellent boiled beef (especially if one adds beef to the brosth when it comes to the boil, as opposed to lesser cuts of meat which are added to the pot before putting it on the stove**). The best way to eat this boiled beef is entirely personal, but in my humble opinion Tafelspitz produces most splendid beef salad, which can be enjoyed both at room temperature (in winter) or refrigerated (in summer). The recipe for this is quite simple- slice boiled beef, hardboiled eggs and onions and dress with salt, pepper, oil & vinegar.

 

But in my humble opinions, stews utilize this meat even better- with stewing and simmering the sinew in this cut (our butchers popularly know it as 'muscle with the line') turns those pieces into small 'umami bombs'. Sinew expands, turns translucent and soft- the mouthfeel is something like a beef flavoured butter. Should anyone be interested, I could post my father's recipe for such goulash which I haven't yet seen bested in terms of flavour and savouriness.

 

* Austrian dish called goulash is much thicker than (original) hungarian dish, but both have in common that the sauce can be thickened only with sauteed onions (as opposed to paprikash and pörkölt, which can be thickened with either cream or flour as well)

 

** don't let this 'old wives tale' discourage you from trying to get the best of both worlds (great broth and boiled beef) by putting the Tafelspitz in cold water- it will still be boiled to perfection this way. But this 'rule of thumb' says- beef in cold water is for better broth, in boiling broth for better boiled beef (BUUUUT, always  cut the onion in half and sear the half that goes into the broth on electric plate before tossing it in)


A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?  - Oscar Wilde

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Please do post your father's recipe for goulash. I enjoy paprikash, and would love to branch out!

 


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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750 g beef (relatively small cubes, I'd say 1-1½ cm)
700-750 g onions (very finely diced)
1½ tablespoon tomato puree/concentrate
2-3 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon Vegeta (or ¼  beef cube)*... this is frowned upon, but great alternative would be to add stock instead of water

1 bay leaf

 

Sautee onions in oil (he uses sunflower oil) until they begin to turn 'mushy' (this amount should take about half an hour, requiring constant stirring towards the end to prevent sticking to the pan). Add beef and sautee until the meat stops giving off liquids (probably 10-20mins, I'd guess). Add the rest of ingredients, add 2-3dl lukewarm water and simmer covered on low heat until the meat gets tender (depends on the cut of meat, but I'd think 1¾ hours would be minimum, tougher cuts requiring upwars of 2½ hours), stirring occassionaly. With tight fitting lid, I don't think one should add liquids, but do if it gets too thick. The resulting dish should be on the thick side.

 

* he uses his own homemade 'condiment' made from ground fresh parsley (both roots and leaves), celery (also root and leaves) and carrots (just roots), drained and adds 20% of the weight of drained puree sea salt. It's then let to drain and packed in mason jars. 

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A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?  - Oscar Wilde

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