I love finding new ways to transform cheap cuts of meat into something spectacular. I think most people feel the same way, as my Eye of Round Roast recipe remains the most popular recipe on my blog. So when I read my friend Peter’s Tjälknöl recipe from earlier this year, I knew that I needed to try it. The method intrigued me: take a frozen chunk of lean beef and slow cook it until it reaches a certain temperature, then remove it and let it sit in a brine for a few hours. The Tjälknöl came out utterly delicious and not unlike roast beef, perfect for thinly slicing and enjoying cold.
I love the story behind the dish, which I pulled straight from Peter’s excellent blog, Striclty Paleo…ish:
“Ragnhild Nilsson, the wife of moose hunter Eskil Nilsson, asked her husband one evening to thaw a frozen moose steak in the oven on low temperature. He did…and forgot about it, and Ragnhild found it still laying in the oven the next day. She understood it would be rather tasteless eating it like that, so in an attempt to save it she placed it in a brine for a few hours. When they later ate it, they both found it to be not only delicious, but also extremely juicy and tender. A year or so later, she submitted the recipe for a national contest to find new regional signature dishes, and won! Tjälknöl was declared the new signature dish of Medelpad (a region of northern Sweden), and it spread nationwide.”
I took a few liberties with the original recipe as I converted it to US measurements, mostly because I’m constantly tweaking things in the kitchen.
As the temperatures fall this month, I expect many people to be hesitant about going outside to grill food. Personally, we keep the grill outside and ready all year long, but I realize that not everyone feels that way (especially my Midwestern readers, whose winters are a little more significant than ours). So I thought it would be a good time to work on a solid, foolproof pan-seared steak recipe.
To be honest, we as a family don’t eat steak much, due to its high price point. But it’s an excellent celebratory meal, or for when you’re looking for a simple, developed taste without having to spend much time preparing your meal. Generally, steaks are made from the most tender cuts of the animal and cooked quickly; their tenderness comes from a lack of tough fibers and connective tissue found in the muscles that are more worked. Applying a light spice rub on a steak is ideal, and right before cooking, so that you have contrasting tastes of the crust and delicate interior. The combination of cacao, peppers, and salt go especially well with steak.
Hey folks! Tonight at 7pm ET (4pm PT) I’ll be one of three home chefs participating in a live Google+ Hangout “Cookalong” with MasterChef Top 4 contestant Jessie Lysiak; be sure to tune in via the MasterChef Google+ page or FOX’s YouTube Channel to watch me in action! Thanks for the support!
Most of the time, I really appreciate a well-marinated chunk of meat. Or something that’s been swimming in a fragrant sauce for a while. But every once in I while I like to bring dishes back to their basics – and this week’s recipe fits the bill nicely. Picanha (pronounced “Pee-cone-ya”) is about as simple as it can get: skewered rump cap roasted over an open fire, flavored with only sea salt. It’s a staple dish of Brazilian barbecue (churrasco) and one of the more prominent dishes from the region.
A rump cap is hard to find in many American butcher shops, as it’s often incorporated into the cut we call rump roast. If you’re lucky enough to find it in North America, the rump cap is usually identified by a thick layer of fat on one side which flavors the meat as it grills. As an alternative, we used a couple top sirloins from US Wellness Meats, which had a nice layer of fat on one side, mimicking the rump cap perfectly.
This week’s recipe, like last week’s Couve a Mineira, is part of a team-up recipe with my friend Alex Boake. Be sure to check out her illustrated version of this recipe!
A while back I decided to try out a few new uses for my harissa recipe, besides the lamb tagine dish I posted last year. One great thing about harissa is that it’s so full-flavored that it can take an otherwise simple dish and make it immediately and exponentially complex (not to mention tasty). For example, I tried simply spooning it onto a couple steaks before grilling them, and the taste was ridiculous: the North African condiment formed a nice crust around the steak, but didn’t fully penetrate the pure meaty taste of the steaks themselves. It was a winning combination.
Warning: this is a super simple recipe. I’m still recovering from my trip to Atlanta for the Ancestral Health Symposium, where I spoke about gourmet culinary practices in a Paleo context. I’ll post more about my trip later this week.
Rouladen is the German version of the French roulade, which is a roll made with thinly-sliced meat. The German version is interesting in that it probably came from Germans using items they had on hand most of the time – mustard, pickles, onion, and pork – to make something that’s unique in its own right. What’s even better is that these characteristics also make it easy to throw together this delicious meal with items you probably already have in your kitchen.
There’s no denying the French influence on this dish, with its use of a wine and broth braise (although Germans sometimes use beer instead) and mirepoix vegetables to add flavor. It’s commonly thought that Rouladen was originally made with strips of pork, although beef has become the most popular meat for this dish over the past century.
Some long-term readers may remember that I posted a Beef Bourguignon recipe about this time last year. While it tasted great, I wasn’t happy with some of the steps in the recipe, and I was really unhappy with the pictures. So this past weekend I put my thinking cap on and tackled the dish from scratch, without consulting my old recipe at all. I’m happy to report that I made some pretty big improvements to my old recipe and cut out a couple unnecessary steps along the way. To avoid confusion, I’ve now happily removed my old, obsolete recipe.
Beef Bourguignon is a dish that originates from the Burgundy region of Eastern France. It’s widely accepted that this dish started as a peasant’s recipe, possibly as far back as the Middle Ages, as a way to slow-cook tough cuts of meat. However, it’s not mentioned in cookbooks until the early 20th century, when it was refined into the staple haute cuisine dish it’s generally regarded as today. Most people associate this dish with Julia Child, as her recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a timeless classic.
This dish is fairly true to the authentic recipes available today, and not terribly unlike Julia’s original recipe. Generally, this dish is cooked with bacon since lean/tough meats were typically used and adding bacon gave this dish some rich fattiness. I’ve also found that fattier cuts turn out really good as well. My personal touches include dusting the beef pieces in rice flour before browning (Julia browned the beef alone, then added flour and roasted the beef for a little while in the oven, turning the beef once halfway through – quite an involved step!). I also decided to keep the pot on the stovetop instead of transferring it to the oven; to me, this better mimics the open-fire method of cooking that birthed this dish, and it doesn’t alienate home chefs that don’t have a dutch oven yet. If you’re rice-free, never fear – while the addition of rice flour helps thicken the sauce and adds a little body to the broth, it’s not a show stopper.
Because of their heavy use, beef cheeks are super lean and tough. While this doesn’t sound like a fun cut of meat to cook, when braised the results are remarkable: with a little liquid, heat, and time, one cheek magically transforms into a dense, succulent, and immensely satisfying meal for two.
A traditional French-style braise in broth, red wine, mirepoix veggies, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs help to bring a full flavor to the meat. But after several hours in the oven I felt like I needed to add something to liven the dish up; so I worked out a new favorite invention of mine, anchovy butter.
I don’t know about you guys, but after our longer-than-expected winter I’ve been in on a month-long grilling bender. And though I love to come up with tasty marinades for my grilling adventures (Exhibit A: Izgara Bonfile), sometimes I just want a tasty creation that’s also quick to make. The solution is pretty easy, really: you just throw a salsa on top of an otherwise basic grilled steak!
This salsa is inspired by Insalata Caprese, a fresh salad originating from the island of Capri in the early 20th century. It’s traditionally made with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, oregano, and arugula, but over time most people have substituted the oregano and arugula with fresh basil. We Americans are even weirder in that we also like to add balsamic vinegar as well. For my salsa I decided to keep a little balsamic vinegar and also add a bit of lemon juice to provide some acidity and sourness without an overpowering vinegar taste.
While spending a few days in Austin last month, I basically dove head-first into Texas barbecue: the pickles, the vinegar-based cole slaw, and man, the brisket! I loved how a dry, blackened crust over their barbecued meats isn’t a bad thing, and how sauce is added according to individual taste, after plating. Even better, the barbecued meats are sold by the quarter pound, so each person gets to choose how much they want to eat. If that’s not the most American way of eating ever, I don’t know what is! These are all concepts that are relatively uncommon in our neck of the woods here in Maryland, so I decided to try my hand at some Texas-style barbecued beef the other day.
When choosing a meat to try, I decided to go the easy route with some boneless short ribs: they are a great size, and fatty enough that I was sure I didn’t need to worry about them drying out while cooking. Turns out I made a great choice – the short ribs were perfectly moist and tasty, and a great change of pace from our typical method of cooking short ribs (braising).