Archive for the ‘Beef’ Category

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Braised beef short rib defies definition

October 28, 2008

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Braise (tr.v. braised, brais*ing, brais*es): To cook by browning in fat, then simmering in a small quantity of liquid in a covered container.

Seldom has a definition been so inadequate. Shouldn’t the definition of braise include words like “sublime,” “transcendent,” “gorgeous,” “silky,” or just plain “delicious”? Clearly dictionary writers have not eaten braised meats, or they wouldn’t be so adjectively-challenged.

A braise done right is a thing of beauty and joy to devour. And to eat my husband’s braised beef short ribs is to consume comfort and deliciousness in a bowl. It’s the kind of meal that assaults your senses and your memories… conjuring up the sounds of your grandmother’s kitchen, or the feeling of swinging your legs under the dining room chair when you were seven, or the first time you ever had mashed potatoes. If there were a movie about eating these braised short ribs, it would include a montage of your most favorite childhood memories. Seriously, they’re that good.

The ingenious braising process not only yields fork-tender strands of juicy, flavorful meat, it also produces the most heavenly dark and rich sauce to pour over it (and over the starch of your choice). With subtle hints of the generous veg, wine and of course, meat, that combined forces for hours over low heat, the sauce alone is good enough to lick off the back of your spoon — repeatedly and joyfully.

Still not convinced? Well, if my words aren’t enough to persuade you, perhaps you can feast your eyes on the photographs… Yes, it really is as good as it looks.

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And now the husband’s take…

While I do love to braise, and braise often, there are even better reasons to make this recipe. First, is its versatility. There are really a half dozen ways you can use the short rib you’ve prepared; here I show you two. One, you can simply remove the bone and serve the short rib, as is, covered with sauce. The is classic: Put your protein on a plate, serve with starch (I like spaetzle) and some vegetables, and you are good to go. Or, two, you can shred the short rib and serve it in its sauce over pasta for a one-plate dish. Another way, not shown here, is to serve the short rib on toast or a roll for a truly decadent sandwich. (This is frequently the fate of our leftovers!)

The second thing I love about this recipe is what I think of as its “watch the game” benefits. Sure, this recipe does take time. But it really is a series of 10 minute bursts. The night before you take 10 minutes to start it marinating, and then you forget it. The next day you brown things, add some liquid, put it in the pot, and go “watch the game.” When the game is over, you strain and work for 10 to 15 minutes. An hour or so later, you have one of the best meals you’ve ever eaten. This is huge. While I’m often in the kitchen, I’ve got plenty of time to do other things.

Finally, I’ve attached my recipe for pasta dough. I’ve been playing with it and have never quite been pleased with my results until recently. The biggest change is a shift in mindset. I’ve started to think of it more like a pie crust, meaning, I need just enough moisture to bring it together and then I need to let it rest. Once I began to imagine it this way, I found my pasta was all the better. After I add the eggs, I look for the dough to be a bit like wet sand and not more. I shape it, then let it sit for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Everyone agrees the pasta is even better now.

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Braised Beef Short Rib
Ingredients:
5 lbs. beef short ribs (bone in)
1 large onion (rough chop)
2 medium carrots (rough chop)
3 ribs celery (rough chop)
5 sprigs thyme
1 bunch stems of parsley (just stems)
2 bay leaves
salt
pepper

Marinade:
1 qt. beef stock
2 cups red wine (rec. cabernet sauvignon/shiraz)
1 large onion (rough chop)
3 medium carrots (rough chop)
3 large ribs celery (rough chop)
4 cloves garlic
6 stems fresh parsley
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 peppercorns

Directions:
1. In a large container, combine the ingredients for the marinade and add the short ribs, making sure they are fully submerged. Refrigerate overnight or for no more than 24 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 250F.

3. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, pat dry and set aside. Stain the liquid and reserve both the vegetables and the liquids for later use.

4. Place a large pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the oil shimmers and before it smokes, add the short ribs being careful not to overcrowd. They should sizzle softly. You may need to work in batches. Brown the meat on all sides.

5. Add both the reserved vegetables and new. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the fond (the caramelized bits stuck to the pan). Continue to cook over medium to medium high heat until the onions begin to take on a golden color.

6. Add the reserved liquid from the marinade. Once again, scrape the bottom to remove all the fond. Add the bay leaves, thyme, parsley stems, and meat. If the meat is not covered add just enough water to cover.

7. Place in oven for 4 1/2 hours or until the meat falls from the bone.

8. Remove meat, cover in aluminum foil, place in a warm oven and strain liquid.

9. Place liquid over medium to medium high heat and reduce about 75% or until it forms a viscous sauce. It should coat the back of the spoon easily. At this point, you can serve the short rib with the sauce over it, or add shredded meat to the sauce and serve over pasta. If over pasta, I recommend topping with pecorino or parmesan cheese.

Fresh Pasta
Ingredients:
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tbsp. water

Directions:
1. Place the flour in a food processor and run. Slowly add the beaten eggs. Once integrated stop. Add the water and pulse 5-6 times.

2. The flour should feel/look like wet sand and come together if pressed in the palm of your hand. If it doesn’t, add a small bit of water and pulse again. It should not come together easily.

3. Turn the dough out into a bowl and press into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. If it has rested longer, let it sit out still wrapped for about 10 minutes or until you can work with it more easily.

4. Cut into four pieces and roll out using a pasta machine. Start at the lowest setting and follow your machine’s instructions. You can hand cut to papperadell or tagatali or use machine’s cutting attachments.

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Potstickers: Crowd-pleasers, hunger-appeasers

January 17, 2007

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Like my husband, my parents love to cook. (Hence my, ahem, well-fed appearance.) And my parents love to cook for their parties. Nearly all of their dishes are a success, but there are, of course, a few standouts. Potstickers are one of them. Inevitably as the partygoers would wend their way around the buffet table, a bottleneck would result in front of the plate of delicious, artfully-wrapped beauties.

The result? More manual (and dirt cheap) labor on the part of my siblings and I to produce still more potstickers to satiate our ravenous guests.

My dear husband was a fixture at these parties, and could often be seen planted in front of the potstickers on the buffet table. He’d skillfully take a polite and restrained number of the delicious meat dumplings … and then swoop back in for seconds. Or thirds. Or fourths.

It was only a matter of time before the potsticker-lover (and soon to be family member) was drafted into the process of making them, too. Being an impassioned cook and eater, he quickly caught on and adapted the family recipe as his own. And now that he’s taken command of the kitchen, I’ve been released from my duties as potsticker wench (though I can still make a mean decorative ruffle in that wrapper). But one thing that hasn’t changed: The unabashed success of beef potstickers at parties. Or, frankly, their success at any event where satisfying hunger is the order of the day.

So, if you have a party — or just an empty belly — consider potstickers. They’re guaranteed to satisfy.

Click here to download the recipe for Potstickers.

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Save the silverware and eat roast beef and carmelized onion panini!

December 11, 2006

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Dispense with the fork and the knife. Away with that white dinner napkin.

Sometimes you just want food you can pick up with your hands and gnaw on. Among these foods, hot pressed sandwiches (and french fries) must be royalty.

Since our former panini press met an unfortunate end (involving a three foot drop and untimely meeting with the kitchen floor), we’ve been deprived of hot pressed sandwiches. I blame faulty construction of obviously flimsy sandwich presses that can’t stand one small toss off a kitchen counter. My husband prefers to blame me for creating circumstances where said press could topple off said counter. You say banana, I say tomato.

Anyway, we now have in our possession a far superior (and sturdier) panini press that can conquer the great heights of my husband’s roast beef-havarti-carmelized onion-spicy mustard-Italian bread-style sandwich. Even the name is a mouthful. The sandwich may sound simple, but it is oh-so-satisfying. The trick is to combine quality ingredients — a mound of lovingly carmelized onions, freshly roasted sliced beef, a big thick crusty loaf of bread, and superior brown mustard with those little mustard seeds strewn throughout. Pile those ingredients high and fire up your panini press. You won’t be sorry — and, bonus, you can use your bare mits to heave that sandwich right up to your maw. Enjoy!

Click here to download the recipe for this panini.

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The wife cooks (gasp!) Beef Noodle Casserole

November 10, 2006

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Today’s recipe is striking a blow for feminism! Despite popular culture’s insistence that women don’t belong anywhere near the stove or oven, women can cook! They are more than capable in the kitchen. Of course, I am being facetious. But today’s recipe is a flip of our usual things here at MHC. I, the husband, will be introducing one of my wife’s recipes, well not hers per se, but one that I don’t even attempt because she is its master—Paul Prudomme’s Beef Noodle Casserole.

For those of you who don’t know our story, my wife was the one who got me into cooking in the first place. When we started dating, we were both teenagers and seniors in high school. She is the oldest of three, and her parents, both very successful science types, had let their daughter take over the task of cooking dinner every night for her family. It was by helping her to peel vegetables and chop things, and sitting down to dinner several nights a week with them for a meal (to my own mother’s consternation) that I learned the value of food as a bonding experience.

Flash ahead 12 years today, and the roles are now reversed, but that doesn’t mean my wife can’t hold her own in the kitchen. The girl can really make things happen in there. So I hope you enjoy our culinary version of a Sadie Hawkins dance. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Watch the meatloaf dance… into sliders

September 20, 2006

If you’ve made the meatloaf below, you can make these sliders, too!!

Backgrounder:

For those of you not from the Midwestern US or not burger aficionados, ‘slider’ is a term coined to describe small burgers that can be eaten in a few bites. The term is most commonly associated with White Castle hamburgers. They also get colorful names like ‘gut bombs’ or the more practical name ‘mini-burgers,’ which is showing up on menus at large chain restaurants. Either way, the wife and I think of them as sliders. Enjoy!

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See the meatloaf, eat the meatloaf

September 19, 2006

Southwestern Meatloaf

Southwestern meatloaf

Meatloaf is a food product shrouded in mystery for me. It’s meat. But it’s also a loaf. There’s, like, bread and stuff in it. You can slice it like bread, but you can also eat it like a hamburger. Some people love it, and they wax nostalgic for their mom’s famous recipe. Some people despise it, holding it in the same esteem as the fruit cake they kick aside when they want the door to slam shut.

Like my husband, I never ate meatloaf as a kid. Shock. Horror. I even had a good mom; no, a great mom. Was this lack of meatloaf her one flaw, or a childhood nightmare she spared me from?

Well, judging from the magical meatloaf my husband has produced, maybe it’s the one teeny, tiny flaw my dear mother harbored. It’s true: She did not make meatloaf this good. (Actually, she did not make meatloaf at all.)

The meatloaf my husband made is hearty and thick; it has a lot in common with a good burger. But its texture is more complicated — spotted with vegetables, strewn with tortilla chips, and flavored with Southwestern spices — a mere burger isn’t an adequate comparison. When you add to that the meatloaf’s requisite toppings: fresh salsa, salsa verde and queso fresco, you have a piece de resistance — a loaf of meat for the ages. Or for me. To eat.

Read on for my hubby’s secrets, and fond memories of his similarly meatloaf-less childhood… Read the rest of this entry ?

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Cincinnati chili, baby

August 16, 2006

Coney. Ready for its closeup? A coney, Cincinnati-chili style, is a dog slathered with mustard, swimming in Cincinnati chili, dotted with onion and mounded with freshly grated cheddar. If only it were possible to take a bite out of a photo.

 

'Nati chili

A four-way (hold your laughter) Cincinnati chili platter. Yes, four-ways: 1. Noodles 2. Chili 3. Onion 4. Cheese. Makes perfect sense, no?

Cincinnati chili — and more specifically, Skyline chili — is an acquired taste that quickly becomes an unhealthy addiction. Unhealthy is easy to explain: It’s a meaty chili sauce splashed over spaghetti or a dog with at least 1/4 lb. of cheddar cheese piled on top. Acquired, because most self-respecting Texas-type chili people would not recognize Cincinnati chili as anything of the sort. And since I spent the first part of my childhood in San Diego, the cognitive dissonance of being told I was going to eat chili and being served this was, at first, too much. Chili over noodles? Chili without beans or peppers? What the heck? Why don’t they just all it “weird spaghetti,” I thought.

Fortunately, native-born ‘Natians don’t have to overcome this semantic difficulty. They’re served this stuff in their high chairs (or at least they sample the oyster crackers every chili parlor serves). So they quickly know the joy of ambling up to the counter of a chili parlor and asking for a three-way (I said, no laughing). And ultimately I got over my Cincinnati chili aversion to the point that I actually went through withdrawal when we moved away. It’s hard to come by in any place besides Cincinnati… which, once you’ve gotten the taste, will be hard to fathom. So, I insisted on hunting down some semblance of a recipe and making it. God bless the Internet.

Now my husband has taken that faithful to Skyline (king of chili parlors) recipe and forced it to submit to his will. The result is a spicier, and slightly hotter, concotion that is quite delicious. Although I still splash mine liberally with Tabasco. It’s the secret ingredient to making Cincinnati chili perfect. How some go without is beyond me…

Read on for my husband’s recipe and backgrounder… Read the rest of this entry ?