Posts tagged ‘Braised’

November 27, 2011

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Braising season has definitely arrived in the Pacific NW so we decided to dust off one of our favorite braising recipes. I love lamb in general so I was immediately smitten with this dish when Mike served it to me on one of our earliest dates. I was so taken with the dish that Mike claims I didn’t speak for 10 minutes and he feared that something was wrong (alas, he couldn’t have been more wrong). That night, he actually served it over parmesan mashed potatoes but we now sometimes alternate preparing it with the white bean dish as it was originally intended. The mashed potatoes are amazing with it but the white beans give it a healthier edge.

Braised Lamb Shanks over White Beans

The recipe is originally from Gourmet Magazine. We used 2 mammoth-sized lamb shanks and otherwise scaled the proportions of the recipe in half.


Lamb Shanks:

6 lamb shanks

2-4 T. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped coarse

4-5 carrots, chopped coarse

3 ribs celery, chopped coarse

8 garlic cloves, chopped coarse

1 bottle (3 1/3 cups) Bordeaux or Cabernet wine

4 cups chicken stock

3 T. tomato paste

2 sprigs (or more) fresh thyme

Gremolata:

3 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Zest of 1 lemon

3 garlic cloves, minced

Gremolata:

2 T. olive oil

2 small onions, chopped fine

2 carrots, chopped fine

2 celery, chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cans cooked white beans (Great Northern or Navy were recommended but we typically use and enjoy Butter Beans)

2-2 ½ cups chicken stock

2 T. unsalted butter

1 bay leaf

To FINISH:   (we’ve never done this part)

1 T. unsalted butter

1 T. chopped tarragon leaves

Directions

First things first. The recipe didn’t mention this part but I guess it’s assumed for the experienced chef. I took on the task of meat preparation that Mike normally does. After he demonstrated the process for me, I worked on removing both the fat and the “silver skin” (which lends a gristly quality to meat). The key is to remove both while removing as little meat as possible. I have to admit it took me quite a while, but these were also enormous shanks. It definitely made me appreciate Mike’s meat-cleaning skills.

Next, pat lamb shanks dry and season well with salt and pepper. In heavy Dutch oven (we use our Le Creuset) over moderately high heat, brown shanks well in batches, transferring to a plate as browned. Then add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until onion is softened. Add wine and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups. Return lamb shanks to pot and stir in broth, tomato paste, and thyme. Bring liquid to a boil and simmer, covered, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally for 1 hour. Uncover the pot and simmer the shanks another 1.5-2 hours, until shanks are tender.

Lamb Shanks Braising

TO MAKE THE GREMOLATA (while lamb is cooking): In a small bowl, stir together ingredients and set aside.

TO MAKE THE BEANS while lamb is cooking. In a saucepan, heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add beans, 2 cups broth, butter, and bay leaf and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and adding enough broth to keep beans moist and to reach a creamy consistency, about 45 minutes. Discard bay leaf and add half of gremolata and salt and pepper to taste.

White Beans Simmering with Veggies

TO SERVE: Place serving of beans in a shallow bowl, top with shanks and vegetables, then sauce from shanks. Finally, sprinkle with gremolata.

Lamb is Served!

Tags:
May 16, 2011

Braised Beef Short Ribs

In spite of Margie’s recent cholesterol test results, we decided to combat the extra long Pacific NW winter gloom with some of the best comfort food known to man – braised meat. Braising is a slow-cooking technique used to produce tender meats. We like it. A lot. In addition to being tender, the resulting dish tends to be rich since the meat cooks in its own fat and juices. Bring on the fat, but don’t tell Margie’s doctor. When dining out, we’ve started noticing the same technique applied to vegetables like “greens.“

Before embarking on a labor-intensive recipe (such as this one), it’s important to ensure you are properly equipped. From time to time, we’ll try to introduce you to some kitchen tools. For now, we’d like to introduce you to the absolute basics.

Proper Footwear: For time-consuming recipes, you’ll want to ensure your feet remain comfortable and pain-free. For us, this means crocs. Just like our cats, our crocs are “indoor only,” not to be worn in public, by anyone, EVER.

Crocs (our ideal cooking footwear)

Cooking Oil: No, we’re not talking about grapeseed oil or olive oil (although they’re now finding that it does not tolerate heat well)…we’re talking about the fluids that help loosen you up for some good, creative cooking. If your craft is golfing, you know this as “swing oil.” We recommend that you find a bottle of your favorite wine or craft beer and pour yourself a nice glass before embarking on the cooking mission ahead of you.

Cooking Oil

 

Another goal we’d like to accomplish with this blog is to introduce folks to some cooking terminology. As our repertoire expanded beyond collegiate favorites (Margie’s roommates would vouch for the brilliance of “chicken in the mud”), we’ve been forced to learn some hoity-toity kitchen terms. We thought we’d share some of those with you.

Several of the ingredients in this recipe constitute what is called the “trinity.” This describes the medley of chopped carrots, celery, and onions, often used in sauces and braises. Margie is NOT a fan of cooked carrots, but is oddly accepting of them in this somewhat camouflaged form.  If you are over for dinner and hear Margie refer to it as the “trifecta” or “triumvirate”, nod in agreement, but keep in mind she meant trinity.

Trinity

And now for the recipe…

Braised Beef Short Ribs

3.5 lbs           beef short ribs

salt

pepper

2 T.                  cooking oil  (we used grapeseed oil, but vegetable or olive would work)

1T.                   cooking oil

1                      yellow onion, diced small

3                      garlic cloves, minced

3                      carrots, diced small

2                      celery stalks, diced small

2 T.                  thyme, chopped

750ml             red wine (preferably a strong one like cabernet sauvignon)

4 shots           espresso

32 oz.              beef stock

15.5 oz.           canned diced tomatoes

3 oz.                canned tomato paste

4 T.                  grainy mustard

3 T.                  flat leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim all beef ribs of excess fat and any silver skin.  Season meat generously with salt and pepper, on all sides.  In a heavy, cast iron pot (we used Le Creuset) heat 2 T. cooking oil over med-high heat .  Add short ribs to pot and brown on all sides.  Cook meat in batches if necessary.   Once browned, remove from pot and discard rendered fat.  Wipe pot clean.

Meat browning in progress

Ingredients

Heat remaining 1 T. cooking oil in pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and sauté until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Add carrots and celery, continuing to sauté for 3-4 minutes more.  Add thyme and stir to mix.

Add the wine, espresso, and half of the beef stock to the vegetable mixture and bring to a boil.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato stock and mustard and mix well.

Braising begins...

When we decided to make this recipe, Mike invited our good friend Scott to join us.  Mike and Scott decided the meal was worthy of one of their “big guns” wines. Both Mike and Scott had acquired a bottle of this fantastic wine, a 1997 Super Tuscan, Bacio Divino, years ago. We opened the first one while we were still cooking to sample the wares. While both wines were excellent, they had both aged to have very different taste profiles. Ours was fairly earthy while Scott’s was a bit more fruit forward.  Both were excellent wines, and it was interesting to taste two identical bottles next to each other and compare difference, bottle to bottle.

Mmm, tasty!

Return the browned short ribs to pot and add beef stock until all ribs are covered by liquid.  Place pot in oven, covered and braise for 3-3.5 hours until meat is tender, flipping occasionally throughout braising period.

Remove short ribs from pot and set aside.  Reduce liquid over med-high heat until reduce by at least 1/3, or to your desired thickness.

As sides to the braised short ribs, we served some Parmesan polenta, over which the ribs were placed along with some roasted shallots and Brussels sprouts.   Not everyone is a fan of polenta, but Mike has been somewhat fixated on it lately, so that is what we had that night.  The choice of Brussels sprouts was an easy one for us, as it is one of our favorites (look for a blog post about our favorite recipe for them in the future) and simple roast vegetables satisfy Margie’s health quotient while also not detracting from the star of the show.

Veggie Nirvana

Serve beef short ribs over parmesan polenta of mashed potatoes.  Drizzle with reduced sauce.

Sprinkle with parsley to finish.

Voila!

Dinner is served

Did I mention it was a great night?

Good food was had with good wine and good friends.  Sorry we didn’t save any…

CPC (clean plate club)