Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs

Meat eaters have their place in the food chain too. I love my red meat in moderation. The other morning when asked what to make for dinner that night the overwhelming response was meat. So I grabbed a pack of boneless short ribs I had in the freezer and proceeded to thaw for use that night.

Beer Braised Short Ribs is stupid easy with barely a hand full of ingredients and a couple of easy steps to get dinner going. Braising is the secret to getting an inexpensive and tough cut of beef "fork tender"by cooking it long, low and slow. The added bonus is when you braise is that there is enough liquid that stirring and scorching isn't much of a concern so its low maintenance once its in the oven.

Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs

4-5 lbs boneless beef short ribs
1 bottle beer
1 can beef broth
3 bay leaves.
1 c flour
4T Montreal Steak Seasoning blend
4 strips bacon.
1 large onion
2 medium carrots sliced
2 T garlic minced (or less to taste)

In large dutch oven of similar cooking pot add just enough EVOO to cover the bottom of the pan and add the bacon strips. Cook until crispy. Remove bacon and set aside.

Mix flour and steak seasoning blend. Increase heat in dutch oven to medium-high. Dredge short ribs in flour and add to hot pan. Sear all sides, 3-5 minutes per side. Cook in batches so you do not crowd pan.

When short ribs are all browned let them rest on a platter and add onions and carrots to the pan. Stir constantly and scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When onions are translucent and starting to caramelize add garlic and cook 1 minute longer, stir constantly so as to not burn the garlic. Add bottle of beer and scrape up all remaining bits from bottom of pan.

Arrange short ribs over the browned vegies. Wedge bay leaves in between the short ribs. Add enough beef broth to bring the liquid to just below the top of the meat. (See photo).

Cover and bake in 325F oven for 2 hours. Serve hot with mashed potato or similar on the side using the braising liquid as a "gravy".

The liquid in a braise should just come to the top of the meat. Covering the meat with the liquid would be stewing and yields a similar but not the same result as a braise.
Cooking the short ribs in batches ensures a good sear to the meat. Overcrowding a pan winds up "steaming" the meat in its own juices and does not yield good color. To quote Tyler Florence, "color is flavor and you don't want to lose it".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

The basic recipe here feeds 4 nicely with a few left overs. The glory of this recipe and process is that it can easily be doubled, quadrupled or deca-drupled for parties and large crowds. (In my insanity I once did ribs for 30 so I can attest it is an easy recipe for crowds). The "secret" to this recipe is pre-cooking the ribs low and slow in the oven so they are cooked through and fall off the bone tender. All the grill does is provide smoke flavor and allows your BBQ Sauce to thicken and caramelize on the racks without fear of having undercooked ribs.

BBQ Baby Back Ribs
  • 2 racks pork baby back ribs
  • Dry rub (recipe follows)
  • Favorite BBQ Sauce. (I use my own super secret recipe)

Split the racks in half. Remove the silver membrane on the underside of the racks. To each side of the half-racks apply 1 tablespoon dry rub. Massage into the meat. In a large square of aluminium foil place an ice cube (or 1 table spoon apple juice). Fold foil to form a sealed packet. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining half-racks.

Bake at 32F for 1 1/2 hours. At this point you can cool them down and refrigerate for use the next day to finish them off on a grill or do it right away. To finish on grill, add smoke chips if you have them. Remove the ribs from foil and place on grill bone side down first. Grill on low heat over and allow fat to drip and "smoke" the ribs. After about 5 minutes turn ribs over and baste with BBQ Sauce. Cover and cook 5 minutes then turn over, basting with BBQ Sauce. Cover and cook for 5 minutes over the slow smokey heat until the sauce begins to caramelize. Turn ribs over last time and rebaste the top with additional bbq sauce if you like them "sloppy wet" or remove to platter and split into portion size pieces. Serve with additional BBQ Sauce on the side.

Dry Rub Mix
  • 1 C Paprika
  • 1 C Brown Sugar
  • 1 T sea salt (or kosher)
  • 2 T dried Onion Flakes
  • 2 T dried garlic
  • 1T black pepper
  • 1 T dry mustard
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper
  • ½ t red pepper flakes
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ½ t allspice

Put mix in blender or food processor and pulse until well blended. For large bulk spices I like to use “It’s Delish” brand as its huge quantities very cheap. Sea Salt or Kosher work better than regular table salt as they are sweeter with no metallic aftertaste. Store in cool dark place.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baked Chicken Chop Suey

Some days I just don't want to deal with slicing, dicing and sauteing. Some days, especially one with a migraine involved, I want something I can toss together with minimal effort, preferably in one dish. This is such a dish. Simple, honest to the point grub that feeds the masses.

Baked Chicken Chop Suey
2 cups rice
2 cans chop suey vegetables-drained
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup
1 can water
1/4 c soy sauce
1 lb cooked chicken breast - diced
fresh ground pepper
crispy chow mein noodles.

Cook rice according to package directions (usually 2-1 ratio water to rice).

Put hot rice in baking dish and fold in remaining ingredients. Bake in 350F oven about 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve with crispy chow mein noodles on top.

Oh yeah, this is one of those "hot dishes" or casseroles that clue you in I am less than 6 degrees of separation from being a FOTP (fresh outta the Trailer Park) kinda guy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Drunken Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I got the idea for this one from, you guessed, a few different sources. One was some new cooking show on FoodTV and the other from the Top Chef series. Pulled Pork was a big deal back in MO growing up and the appearance of it on TV made me suddenly crave the stuff. So when the boys said it looked good and wanted me to make them some I was all over that project.

The key is a long braise to make a cheap cut of meat fork tender to pull apart. The pork barely cost me 8 bucks and I only used about half of it for the 4 of us for dinner tonight. A pretty frugal meal too it turns out.

Drunken Pulled Pork

  • 3.5 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • evoo
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 large carrot sliced
  • 1/2 c chopped celery
  • 2 T dry BBQ Rub
  • 1/4 c Worcestershire
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can beef broth

Cut pork shoulder into 3 inch cubes. Season well with salt and pepper. Coat well with smoked paprika. Brown over medium high heat until all sides have a good sear. Remove from pan and reserve.

Add onion, carrot and celery. Cook until onion becomes translucent and begins to brown. Add BBQ Rub and stir well. Add liquids. Return meat to the pan, include any drippings that accumulated while resting. Bring to boil then cover.

Simmer in 325F oven for 2 hours or until fork tender. When done remove pieces of pork from the braising liquid and shred with a fork for making sandwiches or eating as is.

The difference between braising and stewing is pretty nominal. A braise doesn't have the meat covered completely, rather it goes up about 3/4 to the top of your meat. In this case you add enough of the beef broth to get yourself to the right depth without submerging the meat!

Corn and Basil Salad with a little apology

No, I haven't forgotten about this blog, I just have been so busy I've hardly had the time to work on new recipes let alone blog them.
This little recipe is a combination of a few I've seen on TV and in cooking light magazine in recent weeks. The better half wanted me to come up with a "corn salad" to put with grilled Salmon or similar. Since I smoked some salmon on a bed of red onion and basil I figured taking those elements and bringing them to the salad would sort of "marry" the two items flavor wise. It worked and as the better half says "This must be one of your go to recipes". High praise indeed.
Corn and Basil Salad
  • 2 1 lb bags frozen corn thawed and drained
  • cooking spray
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 C loosely packed, chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 3T evoo
  • 1/2 t fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 t coarse ground sea salt
Pre-heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add butter. Add corn and saute for about 5 minutes or until a few kernels begin to brown. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
In mixing bowl add corn and remaining ingredients. Toss lightly until all combined. Serve at room temp or cold.