Thursday, February 2, 2012

Where's The Beef?

On Monday night Dr. C. and I took at class at Great News here in San Diego given by Stan Glenn and Chris Brill the guys at Iowa Meat Farms/Siesels meats.  These two men teach you more about meats than you will ever learn in culinary school and the class is terrific; that said, I'm not sure I'll eat meat again until next week, I'm still on overload! 
Stan mentioned that the price of beef was going to sky-rocket, and if you've been to the store lately, you've seen the spike in price.  The cattle supply is dwindling due to lots of factors: droughts, pasture land lost in wild fires, and foreign demand.  Outbid by the Japanese, Koreans, Mexicans and Russians for beef, there is now less beef in your market than there was in the 50's.  

A spokesman for the livestock Marketing Information Center says that many supermarkets are cutting steaks thinner, and major steakhouses are serving dinners on smaller plates with more vegetables---charging higher prices. 

Experts say it may take up to three years for the beef supply to restore the herds to their pre-drought, wild fire levels.  That means your meat loaf will cost a bit more in the future.
OOOPS, I mean THIS meatloaf.

Sticking to cheaper cuts you can make some stunning dinners from chuck roast, and bottom round which are available everywhere.  My favorite way to use a chuck roast is for a riff on Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon.
Delicious the day it's made, it's actually better the next day.  Marinating it the night before gives the meat a special flavor and making it in your slow cooker will give you extra time during the day to soak in a hot tub, or do errands. 
 Ode To Julia Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 8

4 tbsp (/60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups/ (7520 ml)   full full-bodied red wine, such as French Burgundy, or Merlot, Zinfandel, or Chianti (see Slow Cooker Savvy)
2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp (4.8 g) dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp (7.2 g) salt
1/2 tsp (2.3 g) freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds lb (/1.80kg8 kg) beef chuck or shoulder roast into 2-inch pieces, trimming the fat
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp beef (45 ml) soup base, or demi-glace (see slow SlowCooker Savvy)
4 tbsp/55 g (45 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 pound lb (/115 g)   pearl onions, peeled
1 pound lb (/450 455 g) Cremini cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour (optional)

1.      In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the wine, shallots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
2.      Place the short ribs into in a 1-gallon zipper zipper-top plastic bag, and pour the marinade over the ribs. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.

3.      Strain the marinade into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.

4.      Add the soup base or demi glace to the marinade and set aside.

5.      In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, and brown the short ribs, a few at a time, transferring them to the insert of a 4 to 6-quart4- to 6-qt/3.5- to 5.5-l slow cooker when they are  done.

6.      Pour the marinade into the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the marinade, to the slow cooker insert.

7.      Cover and cook on low for 10 hours, or on high for 5 hours, until the meat is tender.

8.      Remove the meat to a platter, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Strain the sauce juices into a fat separator, or skim the fat from the top of the sauce and set aside.

9.      In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium high medium-high heat, and cook the onions for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have turned golden. Add the sauce to the onions and mushrooms and bring the sauce to a boil.

1   If you think the sauce is thick enough to your liking, return it to the slow cooker along with the beef.

11 Otherwise, in a small bowl, knead together the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the flour. Whisk in the butter mixture, add 1 teaspoon at a time, and continue whisking until the sauce returns to a boil and is thickened.

12  Return the sauce and the short ribs to the slow cooker and keep on the warm setting until you are ready to serve.This is delicious served with Boursin mashed potatoes!

Slow Cooker Savvy:
The Savvy: The type wine you use here makes all the difference in the world; use a full bodied red such as a French Burgundy, Chianti, Zinfandel or Merlot. Wine that has too much tannin, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, will give the stew a “wine-y” flavor. To counter act this I recommend that you stay away from Cabernet Sauvignon; although Cabernet blends will work.
More Savvy:  Use a soup base such as Superior Touch, Better than Bouillon or a demi-glace such as Provimi or More Than Gourmet, rather than stock or broth.  Cheaper cuts of meat like Chuck will render a lot of liquid, if you add still more, it will become watered down.


This recipe is from my upcoming book, Mediterranean Slow Cooker which will be out in October, 2012.  Take a look at this cover! 

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