Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Aromatic Beef Soup with Mushrooms and Chard

We are by no means on the full primal plan but we are working to incorporate more of it into our daily routines. Recipes like this from Marks Daily Apple make it pretty easy. This soup is delicious hearty and rich. I diverted from the recipe significantly, mostly due to my lack of short ribs on hand.

From Marks Daily Apple

I did have some beef stock and a stock made with beef pork and lamb that I used to add some extra flavors. I also was not able to find fresh ginger, which was really odd, however I did find some fresh ginger paste in a tube that I used in copious amounts.

I charred the onions as directed and after the onion was nicely charred and added about 4 Tbsp of ginger to the pan to pick up on the char flavor. I added those to my simmering stock, then browned the chuck roast on all sides before adding it to the pot.

Then I added the spices, a cinnamon stick, some toasted fennel, cardamom and mustard seeds to a T-sac , unless they are too small, I use these instead of cheesecloth in any recipe that calls for it. They are incredibly handy.
I let all of that simmer for about 3 hours,removed the spice sack,  then cooled it overnight in the fridge. The next day I skimmed the fat from the top, removed the meat and shredded it before adding it back to the pot and bringing to a boil.
I chopped a bunch of swiss chard and added it to the soup, then added in a small container of sliced mushrooms and a small flat of wild mushrooms. I let it simmer until the chard was wilted and served with a bit of Parmesan cheese. The smell is incredible and the taste is reminiscent of Vietnamese Pho.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs

I got a couple of pounds of spare ribs from the pig we bought from our CSA. Ribs are usually a summertime thing but I could not bear to make these wait in the freezer that long. I pulled them out to thaw earlier in the week without a clear plan beyond, "I'll grill them up this weekend." However, winter finally showed up and the idea of grilling ribs slow and low in the freezing cold was not going to be a good idea. I started to do some research for recipes and stumbled upon this one. I followed the method pretty closely with a few variations.

I also made my own BBQ sauce right along with the ribs but you could certainly add a bottled sauce like the linked recipe.

For the Ribs
2 Lb Spare ribs, cut into 3 rib sections
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil

For the Sauce: from my favorite BBQ cookbook  BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America 

3 cups Ketchup
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 yellow mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 very thin slices of lemon seeded and finely diced
1 small onion, minced
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne

Salt and pepper both sides of the ribs and let them come to room temperature while you prepare the ingredients for the sauce. 
Heat some olive oil in a pan large enough to fit all of the ribs. Once the oil is hot sear the ribs on both sides. 3-4 minutes per side or so.
While the ribs are searing, heat some olive oil in the bottom of your pressure cooker. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Once the onions are soft and starting to brown add the rest of the ingredients.
By this time the ribs should be nicely browned, add them to the pressure cooker and bring the sauce up to a simmer. 

Clamp on the pressure cooker lid and bring it up to full steam. Reduce the heat as low as you can, while still keeping the pressure up,  so it doesn't scorch. The recipe calls for cooking it for 15 minutes at pressure and then letting them sit until you can open the lid. I actually found that they were a little overcooked following that time. Not bad by any measure but a bit overcooked. I would recommend either cooking for 10 minutes and sitting until the lid is ready to come off or cook for the full 15, let it sit for 5 minutes or so and run the pot under cold water to open the lid. The sauce is now fully incorporated and flavored and the ribs should be fully cooked and very tender

Remove the ribs from the sauce and set on a baking sheet, bring the heat back up on the sauce and let it continue simmering while you get the broiler started. Brush the ribs with the sauce on one side, and broil them for 5 minutes until the sauce caramelizes and you have a nice brown color. Keep the sauce simmering as you broil the ribs so it continues to reduce. Pull the ribs out from the broiler, flip and brush sauce on the other side. Kill the heat on  the sauce it should be thickened by now. Broil on the other side for another 5 minutes.

I somehow screwed up the last picture of the nicely browned ribs from the broiler, you will have to trust me, they were delicious looking. Serve with more of the sauce if desired.

While they lacked some of the delicious crust you get with slow grilled ribs, they were exceptionally tender and the sauce was very rich and flavorful. If you have a pressure cooker I would recommend you give these a try.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Brussel Sprouts with cranberries and pumpkin seeds

Have I mentioned I love brussel sprouts. I'm sure I have. They are still fresh crisp and local this time of year so I want to enjoy them as much as possible. Tonight they came in to play alongside some tasty meatloaf. While bacon and brussel sprouts may be a common pairing, they just work together well so why mess with what works. I didn't actually have any bacon on hand but I always have a jar of bacon fat in the fridge. This was kind of an ad hoc dish so all amounts are approximated.

2 Tbsp bacon fat
1 lb brussel sprouts
1/2 cup frozen cranberries
2 Tbsp salted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp maple syrup
kosher salt

Cut the stems from the brussel sprouts and cut them all in half. Discard any of the outer leaves that fall off easily.
Heat the bacon fat in a large, heavy bottom skillet. Once the fat is melted and hot add the sprouts cut side down and begin browning over medium - medium high heat. Once they start to brown add the frozen cranberries to the pan, they should start to thaw and add some much needed liquid to the pan. Lower the heat to medium and continue to saute and stir until the sprouts are browned and the cranberries start to soften. Sprinkle with a tsp or 2 of salt and continue stirring. Once the sprouts are cooked through and the cranberries have burst, deglaze the pan with the wine and maple syrup. Once the liquid has been mostly absorbed and reduced stir in the pumpkin seeds for the last couple minutes to toast them up. Serve as a side to any dish.

The color was really great and the wine and maple cut the tartness of the cranberries perfectly. The pumpkin seeds added a much needed crunch.