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What is Tafelspitz?

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  • Written By: Angie Bates
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Tafelspitz is the Austrian national meal consisting of boiled beef, bone, and vegetables. In Europe, it is more common to eat the meal in courses, including the marrow from the bones. In the United States, the bones are often omitted and the broth is usually served over the beef and vegetables.

Created in Vienna in the late 18th century, tafelspitz is said to have come into existence because of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Since guests dining with the emperor were not served before him and could not eat after he was finished, they had little time to eat their meals. To solve this problem, chefs created a filling meal that was able to be served quickly.

Tafelspitz is cooked in a large pot. Water, sometimes salted, is boiled once the meat, bones, and seasonings are added. Meat is usually a slightly fatty rump roast. Seasonings include bay leaves and peppercorns and possibly juniper berries. The beef is boiled for two or three hours, depending on the quality of the meat, before the other ingredients are added. Fat is skimmed off the top of the water during cooking.

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Onions and root vegetables, such as celery, carrots, or beats, are then included in the dish. The onion is usually sliced and fried or roasted, with the skin left on before it is placed in the pot. The skin adds the proper coloring to the dish, though saffron can be a substitute for this purpose. After the onion is added, the vegetables are placed in the pot. Then the whole dish is boiled for another hour.

The resulting soup is sieved to create a broth. The meat is sliced thinly, and if the water was not salted, it is then seasoned. Usually, a small amount of the broth is poured over the top of the meat before the beef is garnished with chopped chives or parsley. The vegetables are served as a side and may also have some of the broth poured over them.

In Austrian restaurants, tafelspitz is eaten in courses. The broth soup is eaten first. Then the bones are served. Diners will remove the marrow from the bones, sometimes placing it on bread, like jam. Finally, the meat and vegetables will be served.

In both the US and Europe, tafelspitz is served with apple-horseradish. Simple apple-horseradish is prepared with apples, horseradish, lemon juice, and salt. Some American recipes also suggest using apple chutney paired with horseradish as a substitute.

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