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Posts Tagged ‘braise’

hmm1

It’s winter and I’m craving braised foods, casseroles, soups and long-cooked meals.  Actually I’ve been craving this kind of food for months, but I was having a hard time getting the rest of my family to desire a long-cooked braised meat and potatoes when it was 90 degrees outside.  Well that’s not the problem any longer, it’s 30 to 40 degrees around here now.  Exciting!

The other exciting news is that I’m going to take my first college culinary class starting in January.  Most everything I’ve learned in my life, computer programming, photography, how to play golf or tennis has been through reading books, a ton of practice and trial and error.  By myself I can usually increase my skills to the level of advanced amateur pretty quickly, but when things start to get hard, I usually give up and move on to something else.

Well I’ve decided that I’m going to try and take my cooking and culinary knowledge to the next level.  At the same time I’m terrified of going back to college after 20 years.  I’m sure there will be a certain level of boredom at times since I do have pretty good knife skills and I do know how to cook but I really need to learn the basics.  I’m one of those people who often times skips the basics and this limits my abilities in the long run.

Well no pain no gain right?  I’ve been working at the restaurant for almost two years now and I’m cooking quite a few things.  It seems like this is going to be my long-term career so I better make sure I’m good at it. I also figure even if I spend the majority of my time on the business side of the restaurant, the more culinary knowledge I have the better off we are!

So on to Grillades… in Creole parlance, it means thinly sliced beef, sometime veal, braised in a roux-thickened stock and served over buttered grits.  We found a ton of rice in the pantry last month so I decided to serve them over rice instead. This recipe is from Molly Stevens’ book All About Braising, which I highly recommend.  I’ve cooked multiple recipes from this book and all are great!

The roux made from the peanut oil and flour in the drippings of the meat was out of control.  The braising liquid was awesome, thick and rich.  The meat was also perfect.  I will be making this again, over polenta/grits next time!

Grillades & Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of boneless beef steaks (chuck, flat iron or top round) about 1/2″ thick
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons of peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped into 3/8″ pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 3/8″ pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock

Slice the steaks crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Season all over with salt and pepper.  Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a small heavy saucepan, pound the strips to a 1/4-inch thickness.

Heat three tablespoons of the oil in a large deep heavy skillet or a Dutch oven (5 or 6 quarts) over medium-high heat.  Lift a strip of steak with tongs and lower just the tip into the hot fat – if it doesn’t sizzle immediately, wait another 20 to 30 seconds before trying again.  Once the fat is hot, add only as many strips of steak as will fit without crowding and sear them, flipping once, until mahogany-colored in spots and around the edges, two to three minutes per side.  Set aside on a large plate without stacking and continue searing the remaining steaks.

Once all the steak strips are browned, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the skillet.  Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a smooth paste, which is known as a roux.  Expect to see black specks in the roux left from browning the meat; the roux itself will be dirty beige.  Continue to stir gently but continuously until the roux begins to glisten, about five minutes.

Stir in the onion, green pepper and celery until evenly coated with the roux.  Cook, still over medium-low, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to become limp and fragrant (you’ll smell the bell pepper most), about 20 minutes. The roux will darken from a dirty beige color to more like caramel, and the moisture released from the vegetables will help keep it from scorching.  Don’t stray far from the stove, through, when the roux and vegetables are cooking.  You have to be vigilant about stirring every few minutes so that nothing sticks or scorches.

Stir the garlic, thyme, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne and a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice, for another three minutes. Slowly pour in the stock, stirring until smooth, increase the heat to medium and boil for a minute or two, stirring once twice, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of gravy.

Adjust the heat to low and wait for the sauce to slow to a quiet simmer.  Return the steak to the skillet, along with any juices that pooled on the plate, stir to combine the meat with the sauce and the vegetables, and cover tightly.  After about five minutes, check to see that the sauce is only simmering sluggishly – if it is too close to a boil, you’ll wind up with tough steak.  If necessary, lower the heat or place a heat diffuser beneath the pan.  Continue to braise, lifting the lid every 25 minutes or so to stir, until the steaks are fork-tender and the sauce is quite thick, about one hour.

During the last 45 minutes make the rice.

Remove the grillades from the heat and taste for salt, pepper and cayenne.  The sauce should be piquant.  Serve over the rice.

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pot1

Wow the holidays have started. Thanksgiving down, Christmas on deck. Time off from the restaurant…good.

We are taking the four day weekend off for Thanksgiving. It’s always bittersweet to close the restaurant since the expenses still continue, power bills, leases, insurance, bills, etc, but there is no revenue coming in. Fortunately we have 10 caterings this upcoming week for the start of the holiday season which will allow us to make up for being closed the two days. Ultimately both Nancy and I love our business and really enjoy everything we do, but when we close before Thanksgiving and around Christmas is like our vacation time.

Before I get into my vacation time let me give you a few updates on what is going on with past topics.

I’ve gained 40% of the weight I lost in the first seven months of the year back in the past four months. It’s unbelievable to me that I can repeat the same patterns over and over again. I’ve been trying to get back on track for the past few weeks and today might be the day.

The new restaurant is still on track. The land is completely cleared, grading has begun and they expect to lay the concrete pad in the next few weeks. We are so busy and still turning down business so we are going to do some work to expand the current restaurant so we have more prep space and room to prepare more food. I’m in the process of turning part of our dry storage area into part of the restaurant.

So we are taking advantage of the time off before the work all starts again. We have been relaxing, seeing friends, cooking, watching movies, and exercising the dog.

eckoblog

I think so far we have made THE turkey, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, gnocchi, pumpkin pancakes (see picture below, and Nancy’s recipe here), Italian sausage and egg breakfast burritos, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, stuffing…holy cow. No wonder I can barely move and have been constantly full for the past three days.

panblog

Last weekend I made pot roast braised in Chianti and served it with glazed parsnips and carrots as well as some mashed potatoes. I’m sure I’ve had parsnips before, but I couldn’t recall the experience. I loved the texture, the flavor, pretty much the whole package. I actually ended up making parsnip soup a few days later as well. Recipe to follow soon!

The pot roast was perfect for a cold fall/winter day. I braised the meat for three hours and it was perfectly fork-tender and super flavorful. I found the recipe in Molly Stevens book “All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking“. This is the 2nd or 3rd recipe I have cooked out of this book and I’ve liked them all.

Chianti Pot Roast with Glazed Parsnips and Carrots – serves 6 to 8

  • 3 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1 cup Chianti or other dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 3 large 3-4″ sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • Parchment Paper

Glazed Parsnips and Carrots – serves 6 to 8

  • 1½ pounds small to medium carrots, peeled, or ¾ pound each carrots or parsnips, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup braising liquid from braised beef
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add beef and brown on all sides, turning with tongs, about 18 minutes. Remove beef and set aside on a large plate to catch juices. Remove charred bits with a damp paper towel.

Return pot to medium-high heat and add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until just starting to brown, about five minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom with a wooden spoon to release caramelized juices. Boil to reduce by about a third, about six minutes. Add broth, return to boil and cook until reduced by about a third, another five minutes. Return meat to pot and add sage, parsley and peppercorns. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, pressing down so it nearly touches the meat and the edges of the paper overhang the pot by about an inch. Set lid in place.

Transfer pot to rack set in lower third of oven and braise at a gentle simmer. After 15 minutes check that the liquid isn’t simmering too vigorously. Lower heat by 10 to 15 degrees if it is. Turn roast once halfway through braising, total time of about 3 hours or until fork tender. (Be careful when opening lid to turn meat — the steam is very hot.)

While the beef is cooking, cut carrots and parsnips into sticks by first cutting crosswise in half. Cut thicker tops lengthwise into quarters and thinner tips in half, then cut into sticks about three inches by ½ inch. Set aside.

Remove pot from oven. Lift beef out with tongs, set on a carving surface and cover loosely with foil. Strain cooking liquid into a saucepan, pressing down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Let braising liquid settle for a few minutes, then spoon off fat with a large spoon. Reserve ½ cup braising liquid for vegetables.

Heat oil and butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add vegetables and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly glazed and browned in spots. Add reserved ½ cup braising liquid. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered six to eight minutes or until tender but not mushy. Uncover and bring back to a boil. Add vinegar, sugar, sage and parsley. Cook about one minute or until liquid is reduced to a glaze.

Heat remaining reserved cooking liquid over medium-high heat and boil for a couple of minutes to concentrate their flavor. (The juices will not be thick.) Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Cut strings from roast and cut meat across the grain into thick slices. Serve with vegetables and juices on the side.

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