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Seared Rainbow Trout With Crispy Rice Cake, Pickled Peppers and Roasted Lettuce


trout trout_pan

 

I love the delicate flavor and crispy skin of rainbow trout. Here in Chicago we are lucky enough to have an amazing sustainable trout farm, Rushing Waters, just a couple hours away, across the border in Wisconsin. If you’re not so lucky, substitute any freshwater fish you can get your hands on – or order from Rushing Waters online; they will ship to you overnight.

4 rainbow trout fillets, or other fish
2 bell peppers, whatever color you prefer
1 poblano pepper
5 C water
1 C champagne or white wine vinegar
1/3 C sugar
1 T salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 T pickling spice or a mixture of whatever you have on hand – coriander seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, etc.
1 C long grain basmati rice
1/4 C rice flour
1 head romaine lettuce
5 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
2 T vegetable oil, or as needed
salt and black pepper to taste

First, pickle the peppers. Place the whole peppers on the floor of your wood oven and allow to roast, turning occasionally, until soft and charred on all sides. Remove to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the peppers to steam for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small pot combine 2 cups of the water with the vinegar, sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, garlic and pickling spices. You can just throw the garlic and spices in, but if you want to skip the step of having to pick them out of your peppers, tie them up in a small square of cheesecloth first and then add them to the brine. The fancy French cooking term for this is a sachet. Bring this mixture to a boil.

Once the peppers are steamed, use a kitchen towel to rub off the peppers’ charred skin and discard. Cut out the stems and seeds and slice the flesh of the peppers into thin strips. Put the peppers back into the bowl and pour the boiling pickle brine over them. Set aside and allow the peppers to marinate for at least 1 hour; they’ll only get better with age.

While the peppers are pickling, cook your rice. Actually, overcook your rice (slightly). Combine the rice with the remaining 3 cups of water and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the rice to steam itself for an additional 3 minutes after the water is gone. It should be soft and sticky but not a pot of mush. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature, then stir in the rice flour and season to taste with salt and pepper. Form the rice into flat, round cakes about 1/2 an inch thick and two inches in diameter. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet and pan fry the rice cakes until golden and crispy on both sides.

Cut the lettuce into quarters through the core so that the leaves stay together, coat lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and cook in your wood oven until wilted and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into strips crosswise and discard the core.

Preheat a large saute pan in your wood oven with the remaining oil. Season the fish with salt only. Once the oil has just begun to smoke, add the fish, skin side down, to the pan and roast in your wood oven. Rainbow trout is so thin that the fish should cook through completely without ever being turned. This should only take 3-5 minutes, depending on the temperature of your oven.

Place the rice cakes and roasted lettuce onto a serving platter. Remove the fish from the pan and place the fillets, skin side up, on top of the rice cakes. Toss the drained peppers and basil together and spoon over the fish.

Eat. Savor. Go back for seconds.

 

 

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Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)

Braised Chicken With Bacon, Fingerling Potatoes and Dried Fruit

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This dish was inspired by a random flip through one of the many cookbooks that line a high shelf just outside the kitchen at the restaurant where I work. The (old) book was a survey of regional French cooking, and one of the recipes I stumbled upon was for a dish that combined potatoes, bacon and dried fruit into a kind of gratin or casserole. I decided to adapt those flavors into a rich, satisfying braise that makes for a great unfussy meal.

1 roaster chicken, broken down into 8 pieces
1 T vegetable oil
8 oz slab bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 C dry white wine
3 C good-quality chicken stock, or make your own (instructions follow)
1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 C dried prunes, roughly chopped
1/2 C dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 T dijon mustard
1 T unsalted butter
2 T fresh chopped parsley
salt and black pepper, to taste

First off, if you want your dish to have that extra little nudge of flavor that will  have people wondering what exactly you did to make it so delicious, make your own chicken stock using the castoffs from butchering your whole chicken. It couldn’t be easier: Throw the chicken back, neck and any trim onto a roasting tray with 2 small sliced carrots, 2 sliced ribs of celery and 1 sliced onion. Roast in a hot oven until the bones are well browned and the vegetables have caramelized. Place in a pot, being sure to scrape in all the brown bits from tray, and add 5 cups of water, a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme and any stems you have from the parsley in this recipe. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for a couple hours. Strain and voilà – better chicken stock than you can ever get in a store. And even if you don’t have time to make the stock before you make this dish, use the bones to make it anyway, freeze it, and you’ll have it for next time.

In a medium-warm wood oven, heat a roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable oil to the pan and then add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Brown the chicken until golden, then flip over and do the same on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the bacon lardons to the pan and slowly render until the bacon is browned and crispy. If the bacon has given off a lot of fat, drain off the excess, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add the sliced onion to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sweat, stirring often, until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes. Add the white wine and allow it to reduce by three-quarters.

Once the wine is reduced, add the chicken stock, potatoes, dried fruit and mustard to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Taste the liquid for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Nestle the chicken pieces back into the pan skin side up. Cover the pan with foil and cook for 15 minutes. You want the liquid in the pan to be just simmering. If it is boiling hard, your oven is too hot and your chicken is going to be dry. Try putting the pan on top of a rack so that it’s not in direct contact with the oven floor.

After 15 minutes, remove the foil and check the potatoes for doneness. If they are starting to get tender, remove the foil and allow the braise to cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are completely soft. Otherwise, put the foil back on and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes before removing the foil.

When your potatoes and chicken are both tender, remove the pan from the oven. If your braise has a lot of fat floating on the top, use a spoon or small ladle to skim off the excess and discard. Remove the chicken from the pan and stir in the butter and parsley. Put the chicken back, adjust the seasoning, and you’re good to go. Serve over rice or noodles if you wish, or just enjoy your savory-sweet-smoky concoction as is with a nice saison-style beer or grüner veltliner near at hand.

 

 

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Rating: 4.1/5 (10 votes cast)

Sunchoke Homefries With Chimichurri

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Once a restaurant-only vegetable, sunchokes are now becoming more widely available. Sunchokes are the root of a variety of sunflower, and have a nutty, sweet flavor. They can be eaten raw, in which case they are crunchy and mild, or cooked, which renders them unctuous and almost meaty. This is a simple side dish preparation for this delicious tuber, but you could also try using them in place of potatoes at your next meal.

1 lb sunchokes, scrubbed well to remove any dirt in the crevices
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 C fresh parsley
2 T fresh oregano
1 C fresh cilantro
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 pinch chili flakes
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
rice flour, as needed
1/2 C vegetable oil, or as needed, for frying
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the sunchokes in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, cover with foil, and place in your wood oven to cook. Allow the sunchokes to roast until soft, 35 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of your oven. When the sunchokes are done, remove the foil and allow them to cool.

While the sunchokes are roasting, make your chimichurri. Place the garlic, parsley, oregano, cilantro, vinegar, cumin, chili flake and salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor. Puree. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. The chimichurri can also be made several hours ahead to give the flavors time to meld.

When the sunchokes are cool enough to handle, use the bottom of a small pot to squash each one into a flat disk. They will be delicate and some will fall apart – that’s ok. Heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil in a large skillet in your wood oven. Dredge the sunchokes in the rice flour and fry them in the oil in batches, turning once. Add more oil to the pan as necessary. Remove the sunchokes to a kitchen towel to drain and season with salt and pepper.

When the sunchokes are all fried and crispy, arrange on a serving vessel and drizzle with the chimichurri. Enjoy your new favorite tuber!

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Brussels Sprouts With Oven Roasted Meyer Lemons

brusselsBrussels sprouts and citrus are a great combination, and Meyer lemons are one of the true treasures of the heirloom citrus season. These extremely fragrant, sweet-sour little devils are a marvel of the citrus family, best enjoyed whole: zest, pith, flesh, juice and all. This extremely simple dish is not really even a recipe, just a perfect, delicious pairing that everyone should enjoy while Meyers are around.

2 Meyer lemons
1 tsp plus 1 T vegetable oil
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
salt and black pepper, to taste

Cut the lemons in quarters lengthwise. Remove any seeds. Cut each wedge into quarter-inch thick chunks. Heat a large skillet in a hot wood oven. Add 1 tsp vegetable oil. When just beginning to smoke, add the Meyer lemon chunks. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the lemons have softened slightly and taken on some char, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Wipe out your skillet and reheat. Add the remaining vegetable oil and the Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper and roast, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts have caramelized and become tender, about 10 minutes. If the sprouts are getting too dark without softening, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and allow it to cook off. Once the sprouts are cooked, stir in the roasted lemons and cook for 1 minute more.

Remove from the oven and serve as a side dish for a roast chicken, or underneath a nicely seared fillet of fish.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (7 votes cast)

Braised Parsnips With Cara Cara Oranges



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Braising is my favorite preparation for parsnips, because it really brings out all the flavors this oft-forgotten root has to offer: delicate sweetness, earthiness and just a hint of minerality. Cara caras, one of the many types of heirloom citrus that become blessedly available in the winter months, are a perfect partner to parsnips. But if you can’t find them, regular navel oranges will work just as well.

2 T butter
1 medium carrot, brunoise
2 stalks celery, brunoise
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
4 good size parsnips, peeled
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 C white wine
1 1/2 C vegetable stock
3 cara cara oranges
1 T fresh chopped parsley
salt and black pepper, to taste

Place the butter in a large saute pan or wide, shallow pot and heat in your wood oven, which should be low- to medium-heat. Once the butter has melted, add the carrot, celery and onion, season, and sweat, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

While the mirepoix is sweating, cut your parsnips into bite-sized pieces. Add them and the sprig of thyme to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sweat for another 2 minutes. Add the white wine and allow it to reduce by 3/4.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest of two of the oranges. Add the strips of zest to the pan along with the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the parsnips are just beginning to become tender, about 8-10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of all three oranges into the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the parsnips are soft but not mushy.

Remove from the oven and adjust seasoning if necessary. Pick out the orange zest and discard. Stir in the chopped parsley. Serve with roasted chicken, or even on its own over some rice or pasta with a little parmesan grated on top for a satisfying vegetable-based meal.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (7 votes cast)

Ash-Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Sage and Honey Butter

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This simple recipe was inspired by the Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, whose cookbook, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, is a fascinating look at cooking with fire – over it, around it, and even in it, as I do here. The end result might look a little scary at first, but the flavor you will achieve is undeniable.

4 like-sized sweet potatoes (I used the garnet variety)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
1/2 C chopped fresh sage
8 oz room temperature butter
1 T honey
salt and black pepper, to taste

Throw your sweet potatoes in the fire in your oven. No, seriously. Ok, fine, set them in the ashes at the edge of your fire. Turn them periodically. They are going to blacken and char and feel crispy and crunchy when you touch them. That is ok. Let them cook that way for 45 minutes to an hour. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large piece of foil, wrap them tightly, and place them back on the edge of the fire to finish cooking. Allow them to steam in the foil until completely tender, 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your compound butter. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium-sized skillet. When it begins to shimmer, add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sweat until just translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the sage and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the pan is very aromatic and everything is soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl of a food processor, along with the butter and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined.

At this point, you can just scoop the butter out into a bowl and use a spoon to dig out dollops. Or, if you want to be fancy, turn the butter out onto a piece of parchment paper. Form into a rough log shape. Fold the parchment down over the butter. Place the straight edge of a bench scraper or spatula where butter, parchment and work surface meet and gently push back toward the butter, tightening the parchment and forming the butter into a round tube. Set the straight edge aside, roll up the parchment bundle and then twist the ends tight so you’re left with what looks like a large Tootsie Roll in its wrapper. Place in the refrigerator to firm up.

When the potatoes are soft, remove from the foil. Cut a lengthwise slit in the top of each potato and squeeze them open to expose the brilliant orange flesh. Season with salt and pepper. Remove your butter from the fridge, unwrap it and cut round pats. Place them on top of the sweet potatoes and serve. The rich, slightly smoky sweetness will complement anything savory you’ve roasted in your oven, particularly game meats or turkey.

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Rating: 3.5/5 (6 votes cast)

Kale and Roasted Leek Gratin

leeks-news-ThumbHere’s a recipe for a hearty winter side dish. I just made this for my family for Christmas, and it seemed to go over well. I know there are folks in some quarters who are sick of kale’s moment in the culinary sun, but I’ve been cooking it for years, and I will keep cooking it, because the stuff is delicious. That said, feel free to substitute any hearty green: collards, turnip greens, even chard, though your cooking time will be much shorter.

1 quart cream
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
3 sprigs fresh thyme
8 oz hearty white bread, crusts removed
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bunches kale, destemmed and washed
1 T sherry vinegar
1/2 C vegetable stock
3 leeks
5 oz pecorino cheese, finely grated
butter, for greasing baking dish
salt and black pepper

Place the cream in a high-sided pot along with the thyme and one strip of zest from the lemon. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the cream is simmering, and allow to reduce by half. Cut the white bread into small cubes and place in a 250°F oven for 15 minutes to dry out.

Meanwhile, heat half the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the aromatics just start to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the kale, vegetable stock, vinegar and juice from the half lemon. Season with salt and pepper, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid in the pot is gone and the kale is tender. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the variety and relative heartiness of the kale you are using. Be patient.

While the kale is cooking, clean and cook the leeks. Remove the darkest green, fibrous portion of each leek and discard. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. Place in a sink or bowl of clean water and wash thoroughly, pulling apart the tops of each leek and allowing the dirt and sand to settle to the bottom. Remove from the water, pat dry, and season with the remaining vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Place in a heat-proof vessel and roast in your wood oven, turning once, until the leeks are tender and well-browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice off the root ends and discard, then cut the leeks into bite-sized pieces.

When all the components are ready, combine everything in the kale pot: Strain the cream into the kale and discard the thyme and lemon peel. Add the leeks, bread cubes an 3 oz of the pecorino. Mix everything together thoroughly and check for seasoning. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 8×8 baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Place in a medium-hot wood oven and allow the gratin to bake for approximately 30 minutes or until it is bubbly and beginning to brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a nice piece of roasted beef and a big hearty cabernet sauvignon and you’ve got yourself a winter meal that will keep the cold at bay.

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Rating: 4.8/5 (6 votes cast)

Wood-Oven Goat Cheese Sandwich With Shallot Relish and Kale

Who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese? That’s a rhetorical question, since everyone loves a good grilled cheese (except you poor souls out there who are unfortunate enough to be lactose intolerant). This is a twist on the classic I came up with as a vegetarian option for a party, and I was surprised to discover it actually ended up outpacing all the meat options in terms of popularity with the guests. The lesson, as always, is good food speaks for itself, and any preconceptions should go right out the window.

3 T unsalted butter
8-10 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 T capers, chopped
1 tsp piparras or pepperoncini, chopped
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 T fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp honey
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch kale
10 oz fresh chevre (goat cheese)
8 slices pumpernickel or marble rye bread
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. You can also do this directly in your oven if it is cool enough. You’ll want it at a relatively low temperature – around 350ºF – to make these sandwiches so they don’t scorch before the cheese melts and the bread crisps up. Add the sliced shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the shallots are very soft and have turned a rich caramel color, about 30 minutes. If the shallots start to stick, add a small amount of water and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, stirring them in with the shallots. Once the shallots are done, remove from the heat and stir in the capers, peppers, vinegar, parsley, honey, lemon zest and half the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.

While the shallots are cooking, massage the kale. Yes, you read that right. It’s a trick I learned from a cook/farmer friend (thanks Abra!), and you’ll never think about kale the same way again. First, remove the woody stems from the leaves. Use your hand to hold the leaves in a tight bundle and use a sharp knife to cut the leaves into thin strips (this is called a chiffonade). Place the kale in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Rub the seasoned kale between your palms and scrunch it in your fists until all the leaves have taken on a dark, shiny and slightly damp appearance, about 2-3 minutes. What you’ve accomplished is breaking down some of the stiff cellulose in the leaves without cooking them, leaving you with tender yet fresh and bright-tasting kale. Set aside.

Melt half of the remaining butter in a pan large enough to hold four sandwiches. Divide the goat cheese among four slices of bread. Top the goat cheese with spoonfuls of shallot relish and then add a layer of massaged kale. Close up the sandwiches with the remaining slices of bread. Place the sandwiches in the pan, put the pan in your wood oven, and cook until the first side of the sandwich is browned and crispy, 3-4 minutes depending on the temp of your oven. Remove the sandwiches to a platter. Add the remaining butter to the pan and, once melted, flip over the sandwiches and put them back in the pan to toast the second side. When both sides are crispy and the cheese is nice and melty, remove from the oven and serve immediately with a cold beer.

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Rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes cast)

Seared Beef Tenderloin With Black Sheep Cheese and Roasted Tomatoes

This is one of those dishes that isn’t really a dish at all – just a confluence of good ingredients that happened to be at hand, with the end result being something beautiful and delicious. You’ll never really be able to recreate this dish: My tomatoes were grown by a family friend, and my cheese came from a farm that anyone outside of Illinois isn’t going to have access to. But that is the beauty of cooking – if you use your favorite tomatoes and seek out your own special cheese, you’ll end up with a finished product that is different from mine, but just as good (or better), and more importantly, one that is personal to you and your dinner companions.

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If you do happen to live in the Midwest, Black Sheep is one of the many delicious cheeses made by Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. It is an ash-washed-rind sheep’s milk cheese similar in style to a Robiola. If you don’t have access to Prairie Fruits cheeses, check out your local artisanal cheese maker or cheese shop for something similar in style.

5 tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 T extra virgin olive oil
10 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh savory
1 T vegetable oil
1 whole tenderloin, cut into 6-oz portions
3 T butter
1 round of Black Sheep or Robiola-style cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Remove your beef from the refrigerator and allow to temper for a least a half hour before cooking. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, place the tomatoes on a wire rack over a sheet tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter half of the thyme and savory sprigs over the top of the tomatoes. Roast in a hot wood oven, rotating once, until soft, about 6-10 minutes depending on your tomatoes and oven temperature. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, discard the herb sprigs and remove the skins from the tomatoes. You should be able to peel them right off with your fingers.

Preheat a large roasting pan or skillet in a very hot wood oven. Add the vegetable oil – it should smoke. Place the steaks in the pan, slide the pan back into the oven, and seal up the oven. Allow the steaks to roast for 4-5 minutes. Remove the oven door and turn the steaks. Scatter the remaining savory and thyme over the steaks and roast for 2-3 minutes more. Add the butter to the pan; when melted, baste the steaks with the hot fat for 1 minute. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven temp and the thickness of your steaks – listed here are the approximate times for this particular session, with the meat cooked to medium rare.

Remove the meat from the roasting pan. Cut your cheese into wedges and top each steak with a piece. Allow to rest for 5-7 minutes, then serve with the roasted tomatoes alongside.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (5 votes cast)

Braised Beef “au Chasseur”

Don’t let the fancy name fool you – what we’re talking about here is pot roast. I took my inspiration for the flavors in this dish from the classic French sauce chasseur, or hunter sauce, so I thought I’d give credit where it’s due. Sauce chasseur is a hearty amalgam of tomatoes, mushrooms and wine, so I have all those flavors working here, plus a couple more just because. This is one you want to cook low and slow, and it’s going to take a while in the oven, so plan ahead. The end result will be worth it, though.

braised-beef

2 C red wine
8 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 chuck roast, about 2.75 lbs
1 lb split beef shank
3 oz bacon, diced
2 T butter
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 T Dijon mustard
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 quart beef stock or broth
8 oz carrots, cut into equal-size pieces
1 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into equal-size pieces
vegetable oil as needed
salt and pepper to taste

Place the red wine in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce by half and set aside. In a large saute pan set over high heat, cook the mushrooms in a small amount of vegetable oil until nicely roasted. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Next, heat the vessel you’re going to cook the pot roast in over medium-high heat – a medium-size roasting pan should do the trick. Add enough vegetable oil to film the bottom of the vessel. Season the chuck roast and the beef shanks liberally with salt and pepper and sear on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the diced bacon to the pan and render until golden brown and crispy. Add the butter and the sliced onions sweat until the onions are soft and just starting to take on a golden hue, about 7-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan, bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes to slightly reduce the tomato liquid.

At this point, bring the rest of the flavoring ingredients to the party – add the reduced wine, Dijon, thyme and beef stock to the pan and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the liquid is going to reduce. Put the chuck and the beef shanks, along with any accumulated juices, into the pan, cover loosely with foil, and transfer to a low-temperature wood oven. You want your braise to be just barely simmering in the oven. If it’s too hot, you’re going to end up with tough, dry meat. Try placing your roasting pan on a rack to cut down on heat conduction from the bottom of the oven.

Cook, rotating the pan every so often, until you think the meat is about halfway done. This is the (only) tricky part of this recipe – judging the doneness of your meat. Cooking times are going to vary depending on your exact cut and type of beef, as well as oven temperature. You could be looking at anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. The difficulty is that you want to add the carrots and potatoes to the pan at a point when they’re going to have enough time to cook and be tender, but not so much time that they’re completely obliterated when the meat is done. I’d say to add them when you think the meat is about 1 1/2 hours from being done. At that point you can add the mushrooms and any accumulated mushroom juices to the pan as well.

When the beef is fall-apart tender and your carrots and potatoes are soft and have soaked up loads of delicious flavor, remove from the oven. Between the starch from the potatoes and the reduction of the cooking process, you should be left with a delicious, unctuous sauce in the pan. If the liquid is a little too thin for your taste, try this: Use a fork (or your fingers) to mash together 2 tablespoons of soft butter with 3 tablespoons of flour. When well mixed into a smooth paste, place your pot roast over low heat so that the liquid is simmering, then whisk in the flour mixture. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes to let the flour work its thickening magic, and you should be left with a beautiful hearty sauce. (For the food-nerd people out there like me, this is called a beurre manié.)

And that’s that – you have a delicious (almost) 1-pot meal. Serve with a simple salad for some acidic contrast and some bread to soak up any sauce left on your plate and you’re good to go.

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Rating: 4.3/5 (4 votes cast)