Alsatian Meat Stew

When we visited Keysersburg in the Alsace region of France, we had a particularly chilly, drizzly day.  The Alsace borders Germany just along the Rhine river, and its architecture and cuisine really reflect the German influence.

After wandering the beautiful town, we were cold and hungry, so we started searching for someplace for a warm meal.  We menu shopped for a little while and finally saw a restaurant that served up the regional speciality, Baeckeoffe, a meat stew with potatoes, carrots, leeks, and onion.  It turned out to be the perfect dish for us at that moment:  warm, slow-cooked comfort food at its best.  The Alsatians are apparently some of the pioneers of slow cooking.  I thought this would be a great thing to try at home as someone who loves to cook with the crock pot.

I searched online and found that Hubert Keller's recipe seems to pop up everywhere when looking for Baeckeoffe.  I think the key ingredient to me was the juniper berries, which give it a slightly piney flavor.  Marinating overnight was also crucial.

This is a subtle and mildly-flavored dish.  I tried it in the crockpot on high, but still should have cooked it more slowly.  I omitted the pastry (since the one we'd tried didn't have one) and also omitted the lamb and pig's feet.  Obviously, from the looks of it in the photo at the top of the post, the chef in the restaurant where we ate browned our dishes under a broiler, as it was nicely crisped on top.  My first attempt was yummy, but I'll definitely be making this again in the future.

Here is Mr. Keller's recipe for Alsatian Baeckeoffe.