Ms. Glaze’s Braised Beef Shank with Rosemary Polenta

March 1, 2009

beef_shank

I wanted to make a beef dish this weekend to get rid of some of the red wine in the basement.  For some reason I settled on beef shanks.  I really like Ms.Glaze’s blog so I thought I’d give her recipe a try.  I’m not going to repeat the whole recipe here, you can follow the directions at her blog, and I highly encourage you to do so.  The dish is very, very tasty.  Melissa, who doesn’t like beef much, said, “I didn’t know beef could taste this good.”  Our guest Phyllis cleaned up her plate completely, which Mellisa noted she had never seen her do.  Personally I thought it was the best thing that’s come out of our kitchen, since I started this food kick a month ago.  The beef was tender.  The sauce was very flavorful, complex with salty, sweet and tart nuances.  The polenta with the rosemary and Parmesan cheese was just, plain creamy goodness.  Since I had a starch and a meat, I thought I’d round the meal out with a vegetable, and chose green beans.  I found a recipe at Cook’s Illustrated, chosen because one of the ingredients was lemon juice.  I hoped the acid would balance the richness of the rest of the dish, and it did.

The wine

nebbiolo1

I chose a Nebbiolo to go with the meal.  Neither one of us had experienced this wine with a meal before, just at a tasting.  This is a great food wine.  Reminiscent of a Sangiovese, but lighter overall.  The wine handled the richness of the beef and polenta well, cleaning but not shocking the pallet.  It also didn’t clash with the green beans.  The predominate taste was tart cherry, with a spicy finish at times.  Also, once in a while, I picked up that leathery, tobacco flavor of Sangiovese.  The wine was on sale for $15.00 because the current distributor is new, and trying to get rid of the old inventory.  So if you get a chance to pick up a bottle, I’d encourage you to do so.

The stock

dark-vegetable-stock

The beef shank recipe called for beef stock.  I don’t like the stock found on grocery store shelves because it has too much sodium, even the low sodium brand.  I’m trying to learn the basics of cooking so I want to make my own anyway.  Making beef stock from bones takes about 9 hours.  So I call the Hy-Vee closest to us and ask someone at the meat department if they had 8 pounds of beef bones I could pick up.  Without a hesitation he tells me, “Yes.”  I ask if I can pick them up the next day, he tells me, “That won’t be a problem.”  I thanked him and he gave me an enthusiastic, “Thank you!” back.  Friday after work I stop by to pick up the bones and the manager of the meat department gives me a funny look, goes to the cooler, comes back and tells me there are no bones for me to pick up.  He asked me who I talked to, I of course couldn’t remember.  He then proceeds to tell me that none of the meat that arrives at there store has any bones they need to cut out.  The only way to get bones to the store is to special order them, which it sounds like they rarely if ever do.  Great, now what do I do.  So I reluctantly grab a couple boxes of beef stock off the shelf.  On the way home I start thinking about all these vegetables I’ve already purchased to make stock, and what I’m going to do with them.  Vegetable stock pops into my head.  I decide to make a dark vegetable stock and then add beef stock I bought, until the sodium content is about right.  Here’s how I made the dark vegetable stock.

Ingredients:

  • 3 onions, sliced
  • carrots, 1/4 the amount of onions, sliced
  • celery, 1/4 the amount of onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 turnip, sliced
  • Bouquet garni, consisting of parsley stems, 2 bay leaves, sprigs of fresh thyme.
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1-1/2 onion, sliced
  • carrots, 1/4 the amount of onions, sliced
  • celery, 1/4 the amount of onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions:

Start by caramelizing the miropoix of 3 onions, carrots and celery in the oil.  Add garlic and turnip.  After garlic has released it’s flavor, about one minute, add the rests of the ingredients: miropoix of 1-1/2 onion, carrots, celery; bouquet garni and peppercorns.  Add water until the ingredients are just covered.  Quickly bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.  Strain through a colander, pressing liquid out of the vegetables with a spoon.  Then strain liquid a second time, through a fine screen.

Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter , softened
  • 3 medium garlic cloves , minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound green beans , stem ends snapped off
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, about 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large nonstick saute pan bring oil to the point of just smoking, over medium heat.  Add beans, salt and pepper.  Cook beans, stirring, until they begin to get brown spots.  Add water and cover, cook until water is gone.  Check beans for tenderness.  If you like them more tender add more water.  Once the beans are as just about as tender as you like, add the butter, garlic and thyme.  Cook beans until they are as tender as you like.  Make sure you don’t burn the garlic.  Move beans to a serving bowl and toss with lemon juice and parsley.

By Kenton

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Icebox risotto

February 23, 2009

icebox_risotto

Cleaning the refrigerator had been long overdue.  So I finally screwed up the courage this past weekend, and while doing so made an inventory of the bits of food that needed to be used soon.  I’m trying to get better about using all the food we purchase, so I let those found bits drive what I was going to prepare.  What I had to work with: 2 chicken breasts, 2 carrots, 1/2 cup cream, 1 red bell pepper, 1 acorn squash, 5 green onions, salad greens, 3 strips of bacon, 1 baby bok choy, 1 tomato, 2 cups rice.  I decided to use the majority of the ingredients for a risotto and the rest for making kimchi and a miso soup.  I had never made risotto before and I was in the mood to pair a dish with wine, so I dug out Andrea Immer’s, Everyday Dining with Wine. The Butternut squash with bacon and Sage risotto recipe, paired with a dry Riesling, was the winner.

The wine

alsace_riesling

Neither of us could remember tasting a true dry Riesling before.  We chose one from Alsace.  The nose on this wine was subtle but nice.  Neither of us could really nail the bouquet in words.  I was thinking of a light floral and Melissa was thinking of grass.  The color was light gold, I’m guessing due to the age of the wine.  The taste was one dimensional and I don’t mean that in a negative sense.  It had a light citrus quality, reminiscent of lemon.  It didn’t clash with the “vinaigrette” dressing I made with lemon juice, mustard and canola oil.  The pairing with the risotto was equally as successful.   The Riesling offset the richness of the dish, subtly cleansing the pallet.

The Risotto

I made a few modifications to the recipe in order to fit in the leftover ingredients.  Acorn squash was substituted for the butternut squash.  I added chicken, red bell pepper and cream to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Bring the stock to simmer in a saucepan, then reduce heat so the stock is just under a simmer.  Saute chicken and peppers, then lower heat and keep warm.  In the pan you plan to cook your risotto, crisp bacon and pull out to cool.  Pour off bacon fat and add 1 tablespoon of butter.  Once butter has melted, cook shallot until translucent, then  stir in sage and squash.  Add wine and 1 cup stock, bring to a light simmer and cook squash till it’s softened.  Add rice and 1 cup stock, stir frequently until rice just absorbs stock.  Keep adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, until rice becomes al dente.  Stir in remaining butter, Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, chicken and bell pepper.  Plate and top with crumbled bacon to serve.

By Kenton


Spaghetti Bolognese

February 8, 2009

piccini_chiantiLately I’ve been working with recipes from Cooking, by James Peterson.  On Friday I was leafing through the pages looking for some weekend cooking inspiration.  The Shellfish Risotto with Saffron sounded interesting.  I’ve never cooked with shellfish.  I was also thinking, maybe a fish dish of some kind…  And then a bottle of wine popped into my head.  A Chianti I had tried about a year ago.  When I first started getting interested in wine and food pairing, sangiovese was one of the the grapes I gravitated toward.  I like the earthy, smoky, old world taste of the varietal.  The Piccini Chianti I’m talking about, fits that bill nicely.  Even better, the wine is $10.99 a bottle!  Red meat and tomato goes great with this wine, and making my own pasta sounded like a challenge, so spaghetti bolognese it was.

The sauce went together rather quickly, but the cooking time was quite long.  I modified the ingredients a bit from the original recipe.  The biggest change was using 2.5 pounds of meat instead of the 5 pounds listed.  This is the first time I’ve made pasta from scratch.  I was a little worried about it, since I haven’t worked with dough much, but it was actually fun.  In terms of taste, Melissa seemed to enjoy the dish more than I did.  I thought the pasta needed a little salt and the sauce less salt.  I used canned tomatoes in the sauce because fresh tomatoes this time of year aren’t very good here.  Unfortunately the canned tomatoes contained salt.  Next time I’ll use fresh or make sure I get canned without salt.  I’ll also use even less meat, I would have liked more sauce in this dish.

speghetti_bolognese

The Sauce

  • 2.5 pounds beef stew meat
  • 4 tablespoons of an equal mixture of olive and canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • Four 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
  • One 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • Bouquet garni (about 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 4 sprigs fresh oregano, 1 dried bay leaf)
  • 2 cups chianti
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons of granulated sugar

In 3 tablespoons of oil brown the meat.  Pull meat out and set aside.  In the same pan add oil if needed and over low heat, toss in the onion and carrots.  Cook until the onion becomes translucent.  Add garlic, stir for thirty seconds, then add the wine, 1/4 cup wine vinegar, bouquet garni and the meat.  Simmer slowly uncovered for about three hours, stirring occasionally.  At this point the meat should be tender, with just a few small puddles of liquid simmering at the top.  Take off heat, pull the bouquet garni, stir to break up and shred the pieces of meat.  Add salt, black pepper and sugar to taste.  If sauce is too acidic add the rest of the vinegar.

spaghetti

The Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs, (add more if needed)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Knead these ingredients together until you can form a ball.  Once you’ve pulled the dough together, it should be moist but not sticky to the touch.  Adjust by adding flour or egg as needed.  If you use a pasta machine start with the largest setting, running the dough through until it has the consistency of suede.  As you cut the dough, break apart the strands if needed and sprinkle liberally with flour to keep them from sticking.  To cook, bring a pot of water and two tablespoons of oil to boil, and add the pasta.  The pasta is done when al dente, check by tasting.  It should only take a minute or two for the pasta to cook.

Author: Kenton