FLANK STEAK CARNITAS

FELIZ CINCO DE MAYO!

Carnitas are a favorite in our home…  All you need is to place some over a tortilla, add a few toppings and call it a day. Those who prefer a low-carb path can grab a hearty leaf of Romaine lettuce instead of tortilla, and enjoy it while apologizing to the Taco Gods that will certainly frown upon such heresy. In this preparation, we put the pressure cooker to play, giving the flank steak a very pleasant texture. I’ve made it three times already, after seeing the original post from Kalyn. My recipe is a slight modification of hers, with a little additional step at the end.

PRESSURE COOKER FLANK STEAK CARNITAS
(slightly modified from Kalyn’s recipe)

1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 flank steak, about 1.5 pounds
1  cup salsa verde (like Herdez)
1/2 cup tomato salsa (like La Victoria)

Heat the oil in the pressure cooker, add the minced shallot and cook 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add  the ground cumin and chili powder and cook about a minute more.

Cut the steak lengthwise and then again crosswise.  Add the steak pieces to the pressure cooker with the red and green salsa, lock the lid in place,  and cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. Shut down the burner and let the pan cool for 15 minutes, then do a quick release of steam under the kitchen faucet, and open the pan.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the meat, leaving the sauce in the pressure cooker.  Let the meat cool for a few minutes on the cutting board, then use two forks to shred the meat apart. Right before serving,  place it on a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add small amounts of the sauce left behind in the pressure cooker. You can add as much liquid as you feel like it, but allow the pieces of meat to get a bit browned in the pan first.

Use it to top tortillas with all your favorite additions, guacamole, shredded cheese, shredded avocado. Or enjoy it with white rice and beans.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We are not big on cooking with ready-made sauces but make an exception to bottled salsas, because there are so many great brands out there. We love La Victoria, although it is not the easiest one to find. Leftovers go in mini-muffin pans straight to the freezer, and then inside a plastic bag. They do get a bit watery in the freezing-thawing process, but we mainly use them as addition to guacamole or stir-fries, so that’s not too serious a problem.  Sometimes I defrost them over a small sieve, so that the excess water drips away. 

This is one example of a recipe I would never try if it did not come from Kalyn’s site. I can see myself twisting the  nose at something made opening two different bottled products… but she raved about it, and I totally trust her. Indeed, it is a big winner. I don’t know what happens in the mixture of the green and red salsa, but you definitely end up with something that is more than the sum of its parts. In a very good way…

You can make the flank steak in the pressure cooker, in the instant-pot, or in a slow-cooker. Stop by Kalyn’s site to get specific instructions for each method. It is a great way to tame the fibrous texture of this meat, and give it a lot of spice without making it overly hot. I suppose you could go for a very hot salsa if you so desire… I’ve been in a more mellow phase lately. Such is life.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sesame and Poppy Seed Sourdough

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MISSISSIPPI ROAST AND THE OPEN MIND

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of FoodTV’s The Kitchen. The crowd brings a mixture of different types of talent and cooking styles, they are funny, witty, it’s a great way to spend an hour on Saturday mornings. Often they will have guests, but for the most part I don’t care that much for them. Usually they are hosts from other cooking shows in need to advertise their cookbook, some are so in love with themselves that they get me into that state of non-stop eye-roll.  A particular OMG-We-ARE-So-Cool American-Italian couple comes to mind. I had to fast-forward that one, I have my limits. A few months ago they featured Robin Chapman, a nice older woman to share her recipe for a slow-cooker concoction called Mississippi Roast. I know, roast in the slow-cooker seems like a contradiction in terms, but that’s how the recipe goes. Anyway, apparently Mississippi Roast got stellar reviews all over the internet, went fully viral on Pinterest, to the point of calling the attention of Sam Sifton from The New York Times. He went searching for the original author. And that’s how she ended up at FoodTV. As I watched her preparing it, my shock and horror kept growing. I could not picture myself making it for us. A real dump and forget approach to the slow-cooker, involving a bag of powdered ranch dressing to make things more “interesting.”  The fun part was watching Geoffrey Zakarian trying to keep his cool. I would love to know his real thoughts as the cooking went on. Of course, I promptly removed the recipe from my mind. Then, one day I got notification of a new post by Mike, the blogger behind The Iron You. My chin dropped. He made it. He raved about it. He tweaked it with a few modifications (taking it on the same path Sam Sifton suggested), which definitely improved the recipe. No more powdered ranch (wink, wink). I caved. I made it. I absolutely loved it. Have already made it three more times. If you are a meat lover, grab your slow-cooker, and try this one.

MISSISSIPPI ROAST
(slightly modified from The Iron You)

3 lbs boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast
2 teaspoons fine grain salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons butter
8 pepperoncini peppers (I used jarred)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

Rub salt and pepper all over the roast.

Heat oil in a large pan over high heat until it is shimmering and almost starts smoking. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, to create a crust. Remove roast from the pan and place it in the insert of the crock pot.

Make the ranch dressing by mixing mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika. Whisk well to emulsify.  To the meat in the crock pot add butter, pepperoncini, and the ranch dressing. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Using two forks, shred the meat and mix it with the gravy surrounding it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: This was scrumptious. As usual, brown food is pure ordeal to get a nice picture, so you better trust my words. I had never tried pepperoncini and was not sure what kind of flavor they would contribute. It is a very nice pepper, mild, almost lemony. One of the changes I made from Mike’s version was to omit the cornstarch coating of the meat. My sauce turned out a bit thin, but we don’t mind that. I served this “roast” with mashed cauliflower (shown in the picture). with spaghetti squash the second time around, and with rice and beans on the third. Leftovers were always consumed with corn tortillas for a Tex-Mex version. Some Cotija cheese crumbled on top, a little guacamole and we were all set. The original version from Robin Chapman uses a full stick of butter on top of the meat. To me, that is overkill, but if you’d like to try it as initially conceived, jump to the FoodTV link and check it out.

I am very fond of any type of meat that you can shred with a fork, to me it says comfort food right away, and holds the promise of many tasty meals ahead.

So there you have it. I learned a lesson with this one. Don’t twist your nose at something just because it’s not exactly your style of cooking. A few tweaks here and there, and you might end up with a recipe that will win a spot in your regular rotation.  Of course, now I’m wondering if there’s really anything to be said for ham braised in Coca-Cola. Hey, I’m not making that up. It is a real thing!

😉

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ONE YEAR AGO: Walnut-Raisin Bran Muffins

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SEVEN YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: SUNDAY GRAVY WITH BRACIOLE

New Year, New Life, New Secret Recipe Group!

Those who follow my blog might be used to my Secret Recipe Club participation on the fourth Monday of each month. However, I’ve been a member for so long that it seemed like a good idea to move to a new group in the club. So, I switched to Group A, and my SRC posts will fall instead on the first Monday of each month.  Of course it is a bit sad to leave the comfort of my old group, where so many ties were made, but I know they won’t be broken. Actually, if I may share something special, take a look at this post written by our wonderful moderator, Sarah Ellis. What a nice surprise it was! She does that type of Gold Member post on a regular basis, but it was my first time in her spotlight… Felt great!

Obviously, I was anxious to get my first assignment of the year, and was overjoyed when I got the email. Why? Because I was assigned to Sid’s site, a blog I’ve been following for a long time, so it felt like the warmest possible welcome for me…  Sid has been blogging since June 2011 (see her first post here), although in fact she used to have another blog earlier, dedicated to pictures and crafts. Then she decided to start Sid Sea’s Palm Cooking to concentrate on food blogging. Well, I am thrilled she did it!  One of the things  I love the most about her site is her energy, upbeat mood, and wit. Every post gives me a big smile. Plus, she cooks amazing stuff all the time. Two features are quite interesting in her site, the “Tapas” and “Boat Club” posts, organized together in a page you can access here.  Those are monthly events she participates (in real life), and then shares with her readers. If you need inspiration for a tapas or cocktail type party, look no further! I had quite a few recipes selected as possibilities for this assignment like her Yorkshire puddings, her Sweet Potato Samosas, her Sweet and Sour Chicken Meatballs, her elegant Leek Pancakes, but ended up settling for the Sunday Gravy with Braciole because it seemed perfect for the weather: luscious, filling, very complex flavors.  Of course, brown food is not very camera-friendly, but it is fantastic for the taste buds. So there!

Braciole with Sunday Gravy

 

SUNDAY GRAVY WITH BRACIOLE
(slightly modified from Sid’s Sea Palm Cooking)

for Sunday Gravy:
1/4 cup olive oil
6 mild Italian Sausages, cut in thirds
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (5 oz) can of tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 (28 oz.) cans Italian Plum Tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
2-3 Tbsp. of equal parts of dried basil, thyme, sage and oregano
1/4 cup rye whiskey (optional, I used regular whiskey)
 .
for Braciole: 
4 slices of round steak 1/2 inch thick pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
4 slices of bacon
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1 clove finely minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste.
olive oil for browning
.
Make the gravy: Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 6 quart pot, preferably non-stick, brown sausages on all sides.  Add onion and garlic and saute until just soft.    Don’t burn the garlic.   Stir in tomato paste and cook gently 15 minutes being careful not to burn or have mixture stick to pot. Deglaze pot with the red wine and reduce out alcohol.Process in blender the tomatoes with their liquid until slightly chunky and puree like.   Add tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer.    Stir in seasonings and herbs.  Adjust to taste, especially the salt.  Add whiskey if using. This will cut acidity and make a slightly sweeter sauce.  Simmer partially covered for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Sauce can be made in advance.
.
Make the braciole: Mix the parsley, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Lay 1 strip bacon on each braciole, sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over braciole, roll up and tie securely with string.   Heat oil in skillet and brown meat evenly on all sides.   Transfer to the simmering ‘gravy’ and cook at least 2 hours.
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My modification: I simmered the gravy for 2.5 hours.  Used 1/3 of it to cook the braciole under pressure for 35 minutes, after browning them. Froze the leftover gravy for later, in two portions.  Sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese over the braciole when serving.
 .
ENJOY!
to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I’ve always wanted to make Sunday Gravy. The name promises something delicious, don’t you think? Something that cooks slowly for hours… But, I confess I messed it up really bad. Sorry, Sid, I did. I made it on a Saturday. I know, I know, what was I thinking?

Apart from that, I followed the recipe to a T, and loved the outcome! The change in the sauce as it simmered down for 3 hours was a pleasure to witness. I made the gravy on Saturday, saved it in the fridge, removed the congealed fat from the surface on Sunday, and made the braciole that afternoon. Most important step? Browning them well before simmering with the sauce. A process that should not be rushed, allow the browning to take place and it will reward you with amazing flavor later. I promise.

braciole3

 

Another small change I made was to cook the braciole in the pressure cooker. I had the gravy ready, so after browning the little rolls of meat I transferred them to the pressure cooker, added the sauce and cooked under pressure for 35 minutes. After cooking I tasted the sauce and adjusted seasoning just lightly with a bit of salt and pepper.

There you have it, a fantastic meal, meat falling apart tender, a sauce that tastes almost sweet from the long simmering. Comfort food, all the way…

Braciole with Gravy Served

 

I enjoyed it with some spaghetti squash, but of course you can go the more authentic route of polenta, mashed potatoes, pasta, risotto…  I prefer to balance a heavy dish with a lighter side. Do what feels right for you.

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Dinner is served! You won’t even need a knife….

 

Sid, I had a great time stalking your site, it was a thrill to get your blog as my first assignment with the new group… I hope you had as much fun as I did this month!
To see what my new friends cooked up this month, click on the blue frog at the end of this post.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, February 2015

TWO YEARS AGO: Avocado and Orange Salad with Charred Jalapeno Dressing

THREE YEARS AGO: Green Olive, Walnuts and Pomegranate Salad

FOUR YEARS AGO: Romanian Flatbreads

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ziti with Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Blasted Broccoli, Stove-top version

 

HOW ABOUT SOME COFFEE WITH YOUR STEAK?

Have you missed the 6th anniversary of my blog?
Only a few days left to enter my giveaway!
Click here to join…

If you’ve never used coffee in marinades or dry rubs for meat, you are missing a great opportunity to enjoy its mysterious flavor added to usual suspects such as herbs, peppers, and spices.  I’ve blogged before on a take on pork tenderloin that I still think is one of the best recipes I have in the blog, and that uses coffee as one of the ingredients.  But today I’ll switch gears and apply a coffee-based dry rub to beef. The recipe, published by The New York Times,  was recommended by our very dear friend, Marijo, who happens to be a great cook, so when she raves about something, I am all ears. And taste buds. It did not take me too long to jump on it, although it is taking me a long time to share it here.  What else is new?  That’s the way Sally rolls…

Steak_Coffee

ALL-PURPOSE CALIFORNIA BEEF RUB
(as published in The New York Times)

2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ tablespoons granulated garlic
1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Rub on the meat you intend to grill and leave it for at least one hour, overnight works too.

Grill to medium-rare, or to the level of your choice (hopefully not well-done!)

Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe click here

Comments: I’ve made this recipe quite a few times, with flank steak, flatiron steak, tri-tip, and even bison rib eye steaks. For the bison rib eye, I adapted it to sous-vide and it turned out spectacular, but the photos not so much, so I won’t dedicate a special blog article for it.

SOUS-VIDE METHOD: Apply the rub, and seal the meat in a plastic bag (vacuum is fine, water replacement method will work too). Leave the meat in the fridge for one hour or more, whatever is convenient with your schedule.   Place the bag in the water-bath set for 134 F (medium-rare) for a minimum of 3 hours.  I left mine for almost 6 hours, as I started cooking it at lunch time and we enjoyed the meat at dinner time that evening.  Once the meat is cooked, open the bag, discard the liquid accumulated inside, pat-dry the surface with the meat with paper towels.  Sear on a blazing hot grill or cast iron pan.

To our taste, the sous-vide was by far the best method for bison steaks. Same applies to flatiron. For flank and skirt steak, we think there is not much improvement by going the sous-vide route, both cuts of meat cook perfectly fine on the grill. Whatever your method of cooking, this rub is money!  Give it a try…

Marijo, thanks for sending this recipe our way,
looking forward to many more!

ONE YEAR AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Spiral Kick!

TWO YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

THREE YEARS AGO: Granola Bars

FOUR YEARS AGO: Awesome Broccolini

FIVE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

SIX YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: TACO SALAD

This is the last Monday of August.  We are about to say goodbye to Summer, and I cannot stand the thought of it.  Only Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club can bring me some joy under the circumstances. My assignment this month was Flying on Jess Fuel, and I had a blast stalking it and making a list of possibilities to blog about today.  Jess met her husband Nick at a Mexican restaurant, and apparently he went nuts over her jalapeno-eating skills. What a great way to fall in love! They lived in many different places while Nick went to flying school for the Navy, including Enid, a location quite close to Norman, our former home in Oklahoma.

For some reason, I usually pick sweets for my Secret Recipe assignments, but this time I took the road less traveled and went with her Taco Salad, considering that Mexican food would be a fun way to celebrate the way they met.  I find it amusing that some recipes that I order in restaurants on a regular basis are never part of my own cooking at home. Taco Salad is one of those.  For the most part, Tex-Mex restaurants offer dishes over-loaded with cheese, and served with a humongous portion of rice, beans, plus a few flour tortillas for good measure.  Taco Salad is my default request to avoid feeling like a bloated whale as I leave the restaurant.  I made just a few changes in her recipe, and decided to pump up the presentation by making my own tortilla bowls.  Now, that was a ton of fun, but some unexpected problems were encountered.  As I was frantically trying to figure out which cups would be appropriate to shape the tortillas, one of my custard cups fell from the cabinet and crashed on the granite (yes, glass flew everywhere), but not without first hitting my head. OUCH!  And, going on with my usual modus operandi in the kitchen, I burned myself not once, but twice baking those tortilla bowls.  Sometimes I even amaze myself… However, I can tell you it was all worth it!  This recipe rocks, my friends….

TacoSalad

JESS’ TACO SALAD
(slightly modified from Flying on Jess Fuel)

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons bulk taco seasoning mix (or 1 packet)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large head romaine, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Black kalamata olives, chopped (to taste)
Shredded Mexican blend cheese (to taste

To make the dressing, combine sour cream, yogurt and salsa in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oil on a skillet and cook the meat for a few minutes. Season with salt (in case your taco seasoning doesn’t have salt already), then add either a packet of store-bought taco seasoning or 2 Tbs of a bulk product such as Penzey’s. Cook for a couple of minutes, add the amount of water recommended by the mix, and cook further just to thicken it slightly. Add the beans to the pan in the last 2 minutes of cooking.

If serving cold, let the meat and bean mixture cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, place half the lettuce, half the tomatoes, half the scallions and half the olives. Top with half the dressing. Top with the meat and bean mixture (you can reserve a little bit for decorating the top, if you want to be fancy). Sprinkle half the cheese on top. Add the rest of the veggies, dressing, and cheese (and meat mix if you reserved some). You can also serve it warm, adding the cold ingredients to the hot meat/beans mixture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Here you can see some photos of my burning adventure with tortilla cups. You can do this in several ways, but I recommend the muffin tin + custard cup combo.  Using the two custard cups nested together requires that they both fit just right not to tear the tortilla, and also makes it a lot harder to remove the top cup to brown the tortilla in the final moments of baking.

compositeShells

MAKING TACO BOWLS:  Warm a corn tortilla very quickly over an open flame on your stove (I heard you can also use the microwave, but I haven’t tried it).  Spray both sides of the warm tortilla very lightly with canola or olive oil spray.  Immediately place in the muffin tin (or over a custard cup), and place another container on top to keep the shape.  Bake in a 375 F for about 15 minutes, removing the custard cup in the final 5 minutes. Let cool over a rack.

We loved this recipe!  Actually, Phil was raving about it non-stop, and begging me to make it again, and do it soon.  The tortilla cups make it very festive, but the taco stands on its own without any problem, it is fresh, bright, the dressing mixing sour cream and salsa was incredibly tasty!  I used a home-made salsa given to us by Mr. and Mrs. K (thank you, guys!), and it had just the right amount of heat.  Use any store-bought salsa you are fond of, or make your own if you have a chance.

Jess, I loved being assigned to your blog!  This has been one super busy month for us, but I made sure to compose this post within one week of getting the email notification. I fell in love with this recipe right away, and you can bet this will be in a regular rotation in our Bewitching Kitchen! 

To my readers: if you want to see what the other members of my group cooked up this month, poke the blue frog at the end of the post.

ONE YEAR AGO: Semolina Sourdough Boule 

TWO YEARS AGO: Forgive me, for I have sinned

THREE YEARS AGOCracked Wheat Sandwich Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Au Revoir, my Bewitching Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO:  French Bread

PRIME RIB ROAST, MEXICAN STYLE

A prime rib is not cheap. Actually, I should be glad that we live in Kansas, where meat is of excellent quality and, compared to other places in the country, quite affordable. Still, it would be terrible to mess it up, something easy to do if you over-cook it.  I normally keep seasoning to a minimum, but for our dinner last Christmas we went with a recipe from Marcela Valladolid, that gave the roast her unique Mexican twist.  Yes, it is March.  Yes, it took me three months to blog about it.  Better late…. than never!  😉

Prime Rib Roast

PRIME RIB ROAST, MEXICAN STYLE
(from Marcela Valladolid)

1 (4 rib) prime rib roast with ribs  (9-10 pounds)
Salt as needed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup assortment of ground peppercorns
1 tablespoon ground chile de arbol
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoon ground rosemary
Beef broth as needed

Heat oven to 400°F. Let roast stand for 1 hour at room temperature.  Season the roast heavily with salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the rest of ingredients (up to rosemary)  to form a paste. Rub all over prime rib roast.

Place prime rib roast on a roasting rack, add 2 cups beef broth to the roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, until it is browned. Remove from oven, and reduce heat to 350°F. With aluminum foil, form a tent over the prime rib roast to cover it. Make sure the aluminum foil does not touch the prime rib, since it can damage it crust that it is forming. Return to oven and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until thermometer registers 110°F. Add broth to the pan while roasting if liquid begins to evaporate.

Remove from oven and let rest, uncovered, for a least 20 minutes before carving and pour pan drippings into a separate bowl, reserve and set aside for gravy. Internal temperature of meat should rise to 130°F for medium rare.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

What to serve with it?  You can go simple with a humble veggie like green beans decorated with toasted almonds, or you can tell  yourself what I did: there’s only one month of December in the year, and December means festive…  Therefore, green beans were out, cheese souffle was in.  However, there is also a single month of April in the year. May? Another only child.  Those are important things to consider when planning a side dish. In case I convinced you to indulge, follow this link for my default cheese souffle recipe.   😉

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This was a wonderful meal, the prime rib was perfectly cooked, with a delicious spicy coating, not so strong as to mask the flavor of the meat.  I strongly advise using a meat thermometer because just like Beef Wellington, a prime rib must be cooked medium rare and a few minutes longer in the oven can pretty much ruin it.  Marcela Valladolid did it again, another winner recipe at our table!

plated

 Dinner is served! 

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

TWO YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

THREE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

 

BOEUF BOURGUIGNON ON A SNOWY EVENING

Phil rarely requests a specific recipe for dinner, with the exception of my chicken parmigiana, that he craves on a regular basis.  Last weekend, though, he did not even blink when I asked for ideas.  Boeuf Bourguignon.  Clearly, a man of fine tastes! It was my turn to cook on Sunday, so that was a perfect suggestion.  With all our grocery shopping done the day before, I indulged in the preparation of this French classic all afternoon.  The snow falling outside was a perfect setting for our dinner…
served1

BOEUF BOURGUIGNON
(adapted from Julia Child)

6 oz bacon
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup sliced onions
2 cups sliced carrots
1 bottle of red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 bouquet garni (tie 8 parsley sprigs, 1 large bay leaf, a few sprigs of dried thyme and wrap in cheese cloth)
24 pearl onions
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
Chicken stock
1  pound cremini mushrooms, cut in large pieces

Blanch the bacon to remove its smoky taste by dropping the slices into 2 quarts of cold water, bringing to a boil, and simmering for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, and dry on paper towels.

In a large frying pan, sauté the blanched bacon to brown slightly in a little oil; set them aside. Brown the chunks of beef on all sides in the bacon fat and some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put them into a heavy casserole pan with a lid. Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and add to the browned beef.

Remove all but a little fat from the frying pan, add the sliced vegetables and brown them.  Add the veggies to the casserole containing the beef and bacon. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, mixing it well to dissolve all the browned bits left from browning the meat and veggies. Once it’s all deglazed, add the wine into the casserole along with enough stock to almost cover the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and add the herb bouquet. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in a 325°F oven, until the meat is tender, about 3 hours.

While the stew is cooking, prepare the onions. Blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Peel the onions and score the root end with 1/4 inch cuts. Sauté onions in a single layer in a tablespoon of butter until lightly browned. Add chicken stock or water half way up the sides of the onions. Add a teaspoon of sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 minutes or until tender. The onions should absorb most of the water. If there is water remaining after cooking, drain the excess. Set aside.

A few minutes before serving the stew saute’ the mushrooms in butter until browned and cooked through.

When the meat is tender, remove the bouquet garni from the cooking liquid, if necessary cook longer without the lid to reduce it further. Add the onions, mushrooms, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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This is comfort food at its best!  The big batch I made lasted us for three meals, and it was better and better each day.  My only modification of the classic was omitting a beurre manie’ step at the end.  Julia thickens her sauce with a mixture of butter and flour, but instead I cooked the meat longer in the oven, reducing the sauce without any need for thickening agents.  It was luscious and plenty thick for our taste. In fact, on the last evening I had to add some water to the leftovers to thin it slightly.

When you make this dish, I’d say the most important step is browning the meat.  You’ll need all that caramelization on the outside to give maximum flavor and a perfect texture at the end of the cooking time.  It makes me think of a Zen proverb, full of the wise simplicity often associated with them:  “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”    Not to make light of the Chinese wisdom, I’d like to add:  “When browning the meat, brown the meat.”   😉  Do it slowly, do it mindfully, do it well.  No crowding the pieces in the oil, no moving them around until they are properly seared.  Enjoy the process!

ONE YEAR AGO: Chickpea Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche (this bread is simply outstanding!)