January 21, 2013

Wintering Menu

Braised Beef with Spinach Salad

This braised beef recipe honors simple, quality ingredients with tested braising techniques. This is one you put in the oven & forget about, until the smells draw you back to the kitchen (plenty of time for a round of scrabble in between). The resulting beef is so rich, you will want to keep portions light & sides refreshing. This spinach salad made a nice match & was easy to pull together while the beef cooled off a bit. A slice of crusty white bread could be used to sop up all the savory drippings.

Beer-Braised Beef Shanks

2 bone-in beef shanks, or according to desired serving number
salt & pepper to cover shanks
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
6 brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 oz amber ale (we used ommegang rare voz)

1. pre-heat the oven to 325F

2. season the beef shanks on all sides with salt & pepper

3. bring olive oil into a large dutch oven pot to medium heat & then add beef shanks. be careful to not crowd the pot.

4. sear meat, rotating as necessary, until all sides have taken on a rich brown color. then remove cooked meat & set aside.

5. in the drippings from the meat, saute onions, carrots, brussel sprouts & garlic. stir frequently over medium heat & cook until onions have reached a caramel-like brown color. be careful to not scorch your ingredients.

6. once vegetables have browned, add the ale. using a wooden spatula scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

7. return the meat to the pot, with juices & braising liquids. add more ale as necessary, but do not submerge the meat. 

8. bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover & cook in a 325F oven until meat is falling off the bone to the light touch of a fork. 

note: about 45 minutes after you place the meat in the oven, you may want to check that there is enough braising liquid - add more if there is less than an inch of liquid remaining. on the other hand, if you have too much sauce as the meat finishes, you will want to reduce the sauce. remove the meat & any vegetables from the sauce, skim fat off the surface, then simmer down the sauce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 15-20 minutes). return the meat & any vegetables to the pot to heat through.

Spinach Salad with 
Sauteed Pears, Shaved Parmesean & Pine Nuts

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 bosc pear, thinly sliced
1/4 vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 cups baby spinach
shaved aged parmesean
handful of pine nuts
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp mustard
honey, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

1. warm olive oil over low heat in a non-stick pan

2. add pears & onions & cook until pears caramelize & onions brown a bit

3. in a medium sized bowl, combine cooked pears & onions with spinach, several shaves of aged parmesean & a handful of pine nuts. note: the cooked vegetables will cause the spinach to wilt a bit - if you prefer the spinach to maintain its raw shape, wait to combine ingredients until pears & onions have cooled completely. 

4. in a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar & mustard. add honey, salt & pepper to taste.

5. fold olive oil dressing into the spinach

6. serve immediately on the side of the beef shanks & a slice of crusty white bread

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