Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ossobuco Style Beef Shanks

Ossobuco Style Beef Shanks
I scored some beef shanks at Zion market for a super great price at the same time that I was shopping for beef marrow bones for stock.  Beef shanks are lean and tough, but also extremely flavorful.  Meat like this is perfect for braising.
Why would I want to cook a dish that will heat up my tiny apartment in this heat wave?  Because I really like bone marrow and fall-off-the-bone-tender beef.  Especially when it comes with a luscious sauce like this one.  The braising liquid is thickened by the collagen that is naturally abundant in this cut of beef.  It will coat the back of a spoon without the addition of thickeners or roux.  

Fall off the bone tender
And because I am going to cut down the cooking time with my pressure cooker.  Next to my grill, it is my second most used cooking appliance in the summer. It is a crazy, irrational home cook's best friend. It cuts down on cooking time for recipes that call for a slow braise, which breaks down the collagen in the meat, which in turn makes the meat tough and the braising liquid thicker.  That is one mouthwatering domino effect, isn't it?
Ossobuco traditionally uses veal and white wine.  However, I think red wine stands up to the more robust flavor of beef much better.  The acidity from the red wine and tomatoes helps tenderize the meat as well as infuse intensely complimentary flavors.  
By the way, only use wine that you like to drink.  It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be good.  And good means that you like the way it tastes.  Not sweet though.  The reason to cook with wine is to impart its flavor onto the dish.  If you don't like the wine in a glass, you won't like it in a dish.
Enough talking, start cooking.

Ossobuco Style Beef Shanks
1 lb beef shanks, butcher cut 1-inch thick
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock (can sub with chicken stock), unsalted
salt & pepper
1 tsp beef tallow or cooking oil

Coat the beef shanks with salt and pepper.  Heat the beef tallow or cooking oil in the pressure cooker.  Sear the beef shanks on all sides.  Set beef shanks aside.
Cook the onions over medium heat in the pressure cooker until translucent, scraping at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Stir in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. 
Add beef shanks, diced tomatoes, red wine and beef stock to pressure cooker.  Arrange the beef shanks so that it is covered by all the other ingredients.
Lock the lid on pressure cooker according to instruction manual.   Bring heat up to high to build up to high pressure.
Reduce heat to medium-low for 30 minutes.  
Turn off heat and let pressure reduce on its own for another 30 minutes.
Carefully remove lid.  Serve braising liquid over rice, risotto, mash potatoes or pasta.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Goat Milk-Braised Pork Loin

Goat Milk-Braised Pork Loin
This recipe traditionally uses regular cow milk.  However, I had goat milk in the fridge.  Goat milk is thicker and has a tangy flavor.  It is also easier on the stomach for those who have lactose sensitivities.  The gravy from the braising liquid is delicious over rice or mashed potatoes.  You can either leave the milk curds as is or blend it up into a smoother sauce.  Tasty either way.  The acid from the milk and slow braising makes the pork loin fork tender.

Goat Milk-Braised Pork Loin
1 lb pork loin
1 1/2 cup goat milk
1 tbsp avocado oil (or any cooking oil)
salt & pepper
small pot with lid, wide enough to fit pork loin

Lightly season the pork loin with salt and pepper.  Coat bottom of pot with oil.  Heat over medium-high heat.  Sear the pork loin on all sides until light golden brown.  
Add goat milk.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a gentle simmer and cover.  Allow to simmer for  2 hours.  Turning the pork loin every 30 minutes.

The braising liquid should have a golden brown tint.  Milk curds would have formed.
Carefully transfer the pork loin onto a serving platter and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Optional step: Allow the braising liquid to cool enough to blend.  Unless you are using a handheld blender, hot liquid will expand in your blender and you'll have a gravy explosion coming out of your blender.  Pulse 4-5 times in a blender or until smooth.

Pour the gravy into a gravy boat or small bowl with a spoon.

Slice the pork loin against the grain into 1 inch thick slices.  Serve with the gravy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fresh Lychee

One of the joys in life that makes the end of summer a little more bearable is fresh lychees.  This tropical fruit reminds me that I love fresh fruit.  
I saw some on sale for $0.99/lb and grabbed up a bundle for myself.  I'm sure that there are a myriad of fresh lychee recipes out there, but I love just peeling and eating.  There's never any leftover after one sitting.
They have a thin, leathery, pink skin that's fairly easy to peel off.  There's usually a little stub of a stem left.  Pull that off and some of the skin should come off with it.  Or just pierce the skin with your nails.  There is a brown seed in the center that is usually about a quarter the size of the whole fruit.  Peel off the rest and enjoy the slightly translucent white flesh. 
It taste like skinless grape.  Only sweeter.  It tastes like summer.
Peeled lychee