Published: Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 1:05 p.m. CDT

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TOM’S COOKBOOK LIBRARY:

Treme’ serves up a Dutch treat

By TOM WITOM

editorial@mysuburbanlife.com

Food and music reach great heights in post-Katrina New Orleans, and both are celebrated in “Treme” (Chronicle), a book by Lolis Eric Elie that drew inspiration from the much-heralded HBO series of the same name co-created by David Simon.

Subtitled “Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans,” the book features many images of familiar characters as they appear in the series, from Janette Desautel, Ladonna Batiste-Williams and Annie Talarico to Davis Mcalry, Albert Lambreaux and Sonny Schilder. Recipe photos, meanwhile, are by Ed Anderson.

This volume includes a noteworthy collection of recipes mined from but not limited to the city’s rich culinary tradition. Among them are Patois Oyster Stew with Pan-Fried Grouper and Fried Parsnips; Herbsaint’s Shrimp and Creole-Stuffed Bell Peppers, Louisiana Brown Rice Risotto, Creole Gumbo and Bayona’s Café au Lait Pots de Creme with Mudslide Cookies.

Reflecting the diverse population, the book also offers such delights as Bun (Vietnamese Vermicelli Salad with Beef), Habanero-Laced Lamb Shanks with Spiced Couscous and an unforgettable Beef Onion Stew with Dark Beer recipe (below).

This latter dish, by Chef Dirk-Jan Zonneveld, who moved to New Orleans from Amsterdam, is a classic Dutch stew – even better if made a day in advance of serving. Readers who try it will want to come back again and again to enjoy this remarkably flavorful preparation.

HACHEE MET LEFFE BIER

(BEEF ONION STEW WITH DARK BEER)

Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1-in. cubes

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

3 Tbl. olive oil

3 yellow onions, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

2 Tbl. unsalted butter

2 Tbl. all-purpose flour

2 cups store-bought beef broth

One 12-oz. bottle dark beer such as Guinness

2 Tbl. red wine vinegar

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 bay leaf

1 whole clove

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. tomato paste

1/2 tsp. dark or light brown sugar

1 Tbl. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

1 Tbl. finely chopped fresh tarragon for garnish

Season the stew meat all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. In a large heavy saucepan or large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until hot, about 2 minutes. Working in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, add the meat to the hot oil and cook until all the pieces are nicely browned, about 15 minutes total. (It’s important not to overcrowd the pan as the meat browns so the meat doesn’t boil in its own juices instead of browning.) During the browning process, stir occasionally and add 1 tablespoon more oil if needed. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl, leaving droppings in the pan.

If the pan of drippings looks very dry, add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Place pan over medium heat and add the onions, slowly sauteeing until nicely browned but not burned, about 30 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside to add to the roux immediately after made.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Meanwhile, prepare the roux: In a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Using a long-handled metal whisk or wooden spoon, stir in the flour until smooth. Continue cooking until the roux turns dark chocolate brown, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the skillet bottom as you stir, to keep the roux from burning. (If it burns, you will need to make a new batch of roux; cook roux over lower heat to have better control of it.) Once the roux is the right color, immediately remove the skillet from heat and stir the reserved browned onions into the roux to help cool it more quickly. Continue stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, or until the roux is no longer darkening.

Transfer the roux and onion mixture to the pan used for browning the meat. Stir in the reserved meat, then add the stock, beer, vinegar, nutmeg, bay leaf, clove, mustard and tomato paste, blending thoroughly. If necessary, add just enough water so that all ingredients are covered with liquid. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and bake in the oven until the meat is fork tender and the juices have reduced to a nice smooth sauce, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally (the sauce will be fairly thin).

Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the brown sugar. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve at once or reheat for serving if made ahead. Garnish with parsley and tarragon just before serving.

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