Braised beef with star anis

This is an easy recipe from Josée di Stasio that is just so delicious and perfect for a winter feast.

4 lbs beef osso bucco, blade roast or cross-rib roast
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 onions, quartered
6 big carrots in big pieces
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cups beef broth
1/3 cup Tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste (ketchup works also, trust me)
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
4 star anis

Preheat oven to 325 F. Salt and pepper your meat pieces. In a Dutch oven, color the meat on all sides on medium to high heat in 2 tbsp of oil. Remove from pot and add remaining oil along with carrots and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Place meat on veggies, add stock, tamari, tomato paste, sugar, ginger and star anis. Bring to a boil, cover and bake for approximately 3 hours or until meat comes off bones easily. After an hour of baking, turn the meat around and make sure the stock level covers about half of the meat. Enjoy with mashed potatoes!

Roast X-mas chicken with gravy and pork and merguez stuffing.


This recipe is inspired from Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas turkey. We tried it a few times, and we like it better without the apricots. And we like chicken better than turkey! Here are the three parts!

Stuffing

Here is the video for visuals:
1 lb ground pork
salt and pepper
1 large apple, grated
(in the original recipe there were apricots)
about a handful of pistachio nuts, shelled and roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
a handfull of chopped parsley
olive oil
a lot of fresh sage leaves
2 merguez sausages

Mix ground pork, grated apple, pistachios, zest and parsley together. Add salt and pepper, On a large sheet of aluminum, drizzle olive oil and arrange the sage leaves right side down so they stick to the oil and overlap in two rows so they form a rectangle of sorts the length of 1.5 to two merguez sausages placed end to end. Season. Spread half of the pork mixture onto the leaves, run your finger down the middle to make a groove for the sausages. Place sausages in groove and cover with remaining pork. Wrap foil around the stuffing, twisting ends to seal. Roll package to get a tight and even log shape. IF making ahead, refrigerate at this stage. Place in a baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 400 F for about 40 minutes. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Chicken

Here is the video in case you need visual cues.
1 chicken (or Turkey, but we prefer chicken)
salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled and halved
2 lemons
3 garlic cloves crushed
small bunch of parsley chopped
375 gr unsalted butter at room temp.
1 tbsp olive oil
3 bay leaves
bacon slices

Preheat oven to 430 F. Prepare herb butter by mixing butter with salt and pepper,  parsley, zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1 lemon, crushed garlic, olive oil and parsley. Set aside.
Season chicken cavity, stuff with onions, 1 lemon cut in two and bay leaves. Loosen skin on the breast with your hands, being gentle so as not to tear. Do the same with the thighs. Stuff half the butter mixture between the skin and meat and gently massage the butter into hard to reach areas. Place bird in roasting tray (not glass!) breast side up. Spread rest of butter onto bird, season with salt and pepper then drizzle a bit of olive oil. If preparing ahead, cover with foil and refrigerate.

Roast turkey in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Take bird out of oven, and place bacon strips over breast. Lower heat to 360 F and cook until done (use thermometer! it avoids errors), they say 30 minutes per kg, but it always takes more time here! When done, remove from oven, let chicken rest under foil. Remove parson’s nose (the butt) and wings for the gravy. Remove lemon and onion from cavity for gravy and bacon from breast!

Gravy

This has got to be the best tasting gravy I have ever eaten. here is a link to the youtube video in case you need visual cues.

3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 fresh tomatoes chopped
1 cup apple cider (I never have this in house so I end up using leftover pear wine someone once gifted us)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup walnuts chopped

Drain the roasting pan juices and reserve. Heat up roasting pan on the stove and add all the stuff you took from the roasted chicken- chopped up bacon, chopped up lemon and onion. Add 2 sprigs of rosemary and tomatoes. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add wings and parson’s nose to pan and stir. Pour in cider and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits on bottom of pan. Reduce by half then add reserved juices. Reduce once more by half. Crush everything with a potato masher to bring out their juices. Pour in chicken broth, bring to a boil and add remaining rosemary. In your gravy boat, place walnuts. Strain gravy into boat and serve.

Bon appetit!

Pear tartare and marinated pear brochettes

Some lesser known cuts of meat deserve more attention…

The pear, a very lean muscle from the beef thigh that gets its name from its pear shape, is great for cutting into brochette cubes and marinating, slicing into thin steaks and cooking in butter in a cast iron pan, or… to make tartare.

In fact, the pear is the ideal cut for tartar: lean, not much to trim off, and very flavorful!

A pear weighs about 3lbs, so you can take what you need for your tartare, cube the rest and marinate (no more than 4 hours if using vinegars or alcohol). Here is a great marinade for pear brochettes:

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2.5 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

This way, you get two meals out of one cut!

There are many different variations of tartare, but here’s two of our favorites… Both start the same way- Dice the pear by hand with a sharp knife to get the texture you desire.

The first variation is asian fusion tartare: for 1.5 lbs of pear, you will need

  • 1 french shallot
  • half a bunch of cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 3 teaspoons light soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds. Chop the shallot and cilantro finely, zest half the lime and squeeze to get a tablespoonful of juice. Mix lime, soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil and sambal oelek together. Add meat, shallot, cilantro and lime zest. Plate and sprinkle sesame seeds. Enjoy with a spicy mango salad!

The second variation is more of a classic Belgian tartare. For 1.5 lbs of pear, use

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1-2 french shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon gherkins (Maille)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • Worcestershire sauce to taste
  • 1 farm fresh egg yolk
  • 3-4 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise.

Mix all together, season with lots of salt and freshly ground pepper and enjoy with slices of baguette you drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven.

How to choose and cook grass-fed beef

Know your cuts

Not all parts of a beef are equally tender. Some parts are only useful for ground beef, some parts make excellent slow roasts. Others are a little less tender, but more tasty. Some parts that are unspectacular on their own can become mind-blowing once smoked or marinated.

The ribeye, tomahawk and ribsteak are ways of cutting from the prime rib, the most delicious and expensive part of a beef. They are the ideal steaks.

The tenderloin is the most tender, but not the most tasty, part of the beef.

The round is less popular, not so tender and contains no marbling. We use it for jerky, smoked meat, etc.

We consider the tri-tip as the best kept butcher’s secret: use our special tri-tip rub for a spectacular eating experience.

Beef cooking basics

The process of raising flavorful and tender beef doesn’t stop when the cattle leave the pasture. Cooking strategy matters. A lot.
There are two rules:

If the temperature of your beef changes too rapidly during the cooking process, it can cause the meat fibers to contract, which will make your meat tough.

A rapid temperature change will also cause moisture to be escape from the beef through condensation. Moisture is a key component of beef tenderness.

Before cooking

When thawing beef, always remove the original wrapping paper, cellophane, or butcher paper to prevent the tastes and smells of the packaging from leaching into the meat.
It is also a good idea to rinse your frozen beef immediately after removing it from the packaging to remove any ice that may have absorbed the flavors and smells of the packaging.

Remove your steaks from the refrigerator an hour before cooking so your steaks can warm up to room temperature before they are thrown on the grill.

Korean style shortribs

Grilling

For best results when grilling, begin by searing the outside of your steaks to create a crust to lock in moisture. Then turn the grill to low to finish the cooking process on low (slow) heat to prevent excessive moisture losses and protein fiber contraction.

Beef bacon is mindblowing

What determines eating quality?

High quality lean beef requires slightly lower cooking temperatures and slightly shorter cooking times than marbled beef, yet marbling in itself is a poor indicator of quality. Continental beef such as Limousins and Belgian Blues are less marbled. Angus is marbled and Wagyu is extremely marbled.

Age is also a poor indicator of quality. Slow growing animals do not taste better.

Eating quality depends first and foremost on whether a beef is properly finished. Properly finished beef has lots of microscopic fat and a fat cap is present .

Most beeves finish around 750-900 lb carcass weight (500-650 lbs of meat). Males from large breeds such as Charolais, Wagyu or BBB should exceed this range. Females from small breeds such as Galloway or Highland cattle can be butchered at slightly lower weight.

A lot of direct marketed and especially grass-fed beef is butchered at much lower weights (unfinished!). This type of beef is sometimes referred to as baby beef. All we can say is that it is hard to give good advice on how to cook an inferior product.

Dry aging is another very important determinant of eating quality. Direct marketed beef carcasses are usually hung for 2-3 weeks. For dry aging, a fat cap (finished beef!) is important to prevent waste and spoilage.

Some parts of beef, such as the rib primal and New York strip can be aged longer. Water loss during the aging process and enzymatic reactions in the meat are in large part responsible for a more concentrated taste and a more elevated price tag.

Beef jerky made from the round steak