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Tafelspitz – Austria National Dish – Day 18/Dish 10

January 24, 2010

To reach our next destination, we will need to backtrack across the Indian Ocean and travel again through the Red Sea/Suez Canal crossing.  Then north into the Adriatic Sea till we reach the shores of Northern Italy and cross over the Eastern Alps into Austria.  The views are stunning and the chill mountain air reminds me of home in the Northeast US.  Around 8.6 million Austrians call this beautiful land home.   And with a GDP of over $43,000 USD, it is one of the world’s wealthiest countries; with a high standard of living and human development. 

Historically, Austria has suffered major changes in fortune.  Austria was once part of a Roman territory called Noricum, around the 1st century AD.  It was then conquered by Charlemagne in the late 6th century.  Eventually, the Austrian Hapberg Dynasty made Austria a European powerhouse.  Throughout the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s Austria was known as Austria-Hungary and finally fell from power after WW1.  Austria was annexed into Germany in 1938 and was occupied by the Allies after the Nazi’s fell.  Finally in 1959, Austria was re-formed declaring themselves “permanently neutral” and remain so to this day.

The national dish of Austria is called “Tafelspitz” or “Edge of the Table(German).  It is simply boiled Beef, and gets its name from the pointed shape of the beef cut used.  This dish was a favorite of Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916)during the Austro Hungarian Empire, and it is said that “His Majesty’s private table is never without a fine piece of boiled beef, which is one of his favorite dishes.

This dish also shares commonality with other European Dishes.  The famed “Boiled Dinner” of Ireland and several British dishes include various boiled meats, especially beef and pork. 

I will give this dish a 2 for difficulty due to the length of time involved in preparing it.   I liked this dish, but it is not exciting. The flavor profile is savory and mild.  It is a nice dish to serve due to the ease of preparation and relative low cost per serving.  However, several of the listed ingredients in the recipe are not ones I could find easily so I have made several changes.  Perhaps with the authentic European ingredients it would have been even tastier.  It was very tender after 3.5 hrs and fell apart when I was removing it from the broth.  I served a number of side dishes, Spaetzel (Egg Noodles) with Garlic and Rosemary scented Butter, lightly pickeled Beets, Braised Beet stems and leaves in Chicken Stock and made a pan gravy using the “soup” from the Beef mixed with corn starch and water.  All of these accompaniments are very Austrian, and all very tasty.




Appearance: 2 out of 5

Aroma: 3 out of 5

Flavor: 3 out of 5

Total: 8 out of 15


(serves 8)

2.5 to 3 kg fillet of beef; Alternatively, a similar cut of beef from a young ox, properly hung, with firm white fat (not yellow)may be used. The fat must be left on to prevent the meat from becoming dry.

2 slices Beef Shins with Marrow, otherwise 2lb Beef Bones (with Marrow)

3 carrots

1 Heart of Celery or 1 large root of Celeriac

3 leeks

1 Root of Hamburg Parsley (Sub Italian Parsley 1 cup)

Lovage (Sub Celery Seed approx 2 tbsp)

You can add Turnips or Potatoes etc for more filler.

200 g onions

15 grams (1/2 oz)peppercorns


Freshly Ground Sea Salt (I used Austrian Rock Salt)


Place the meat and bones in boiling water (or boil up with the water).  Make sure the roast is covered.  If you need to weigh it down, a sauce pan filled with water and placed on top works well.

Halve the onions without peeling. Fry in a pan with the cut surface down until well browned, then add to the meat with the peppercorns.

Boil gently, skimming off any scum(This clarifies the stock and removes impurities and bitterness).

Boil for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the quality of the meat.  (Poke with a fork to determine tenderness.)

1 hour before the end, add the washed and peeled root vegetables and boil for another hour.

When the meat is tender, remove from the soup and keep warm.

Add the seasoning and pass the soup through a fine sieve.

Cut the meat into finger-thick slices (cutting across the grain), arrange on plates, pour over a little of the soup and sprinkle with sea salt.  Add Garnish of Chives or Stewed Root Vegetables.

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