Sunday, April 19, 2015

Making Berkshire Lard at Home

When I started cooking with lard, I had a hard time seeing why people were so religious with their affection for lard pastries and pie crusts.  It wasn’t until much later that I realized I was cooking with bad lard.  The only lard I could find anywhere was a commercial brand mixed with the preservatives BTH and BHA to keep it from going rancid, plus hydrogenated fats.  When I came around to real, natural lard from pasture-raised pigs, it was like a light bulb finally clicked.

Berkshire Lard
Comparing commercial blocks of industrial lard to natural, homemade lard is like comparing meat from a industrially raised animal to meat from a pasture-raised, heirloom breed animal that lived a natural, healthy life.  The natural choice has an unparalleled depth of flavor and delivers exceptional results in the kitchen.

Much like making your own stock, making lard is easy, requiring just a little effort and some time.  The good news is that most of that time is leaving the lard alone on the stove to slowly render down.  Plus, lard lasts a long time (especially frozen in mason jars), so I just make one large batch two or three times a year.
Thick block of back fat (L) and ropey sheets of leaf lard (R)

Lard can be made with two types of fat: leaf lard, which is internal fat from around the kidneys, and back fat, which is the fat that lies just below the skin on the pig’s back and sides.  Lard cognoscenti prefer leaf lard, which has a very delicate flavor and produces exceptionally flaky pie crusts.  Lard from back fat shouldn’t be disregarded, as it is still a wonderful cooking fat and performs well in pastries.

Making lard only requires a heavy-bottomed pot and a strainer or sieve of some type.  The pork fat will naturally render out its fat at low temperatures, but it helps to have a ½” of water in your pot.  This water will keep the lard from sticking to the bottom of the pot and browning during the initial cooking.  As the fat slowly warms and renders out the lard, the water will evaporate and leave behind beautiful, clear lard.
To help the lard render out quickly, it’s best to increase the surface area of the fat either by dicing the fat with a knife or extruding it through the smallest plate of a meat grinder.  The first time I made lard I just chopped it into 1”x1” cubes, which produced great lard, but took a loooong time.  The smaller the pieces of fat, the quicker the lard can render out.
Once the lard and starting water are simmering in a pot the process is pretty much hands off, aside from the occasional stirring of the pot.  Keep the heat low; high heat will cause the fat to sear and brown, which isn’t terrible but will make the lard taste like roasted drippings, rather than a neutral fat.  After about 2-3 hours of steady simmering, the cubes of fat will sink to the bottom of the pot and look almost translucent.  This is when it’s time to pour off the lard.  I put the bulk of my lard into 8oz and 16 oz mason jars, which makes it easy to measure out a cup or pound of fat for a recipe. 
At the bottom of the pot will be all the small cubes of fat, which still have some fat in them.  To extract all the fat from them, I wring them out in an old towel or press out the still warm lard using a potato ricer.  This lard should be put aside for sautéing, as it has a stronger flavor than the lard that floated to the top of the pot.   
Greaves, pressed of all their fat and ready to mix into cornbread or biscuits
The leftover nubbins of fat, called greaves, shouldn’t be discarded; they’re a great addition to cornbread or a buckwheat pilaf.  I add a 1/2 cup of greaves to my favorite cornbread recipe for a delicious batch of cracklin' cornbread!

Recipe at a glance:
Any quantity of pork back fat or leaf lard.

1.) Cut the fat into small cubes, or grind it using a meat grinder or pulsing in food processor.

2.) In a pot large enough to easily hold all of the diced fat, cover the bottom of the pot with 1/2" of water to keep the fat from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Add all of the fat and place the pot on the stove and turn heat to medium.  Once the water beings to simmer, the fat will render out.  Once all of the water has evaporated, there should be plenty of rendered fat to keep the fat moist and avoid sticking.

3.) Cook for 2-3 hours.  If you're rendering out large cubes of fat, the rendering will go slower and additional time will be needed.

4.) When the cubes of fat have shriveled and sunk to the bottom, take the lard off the heat.  Ladle off the liquid fat into clean mason jars.  Once cool, screw lids onto the jars and refrigerate for three months or freeze to keep longer.

5.)  At the bottom of the pot will be the greaves, which can be squeeze for the remaining lard.  Save the greaves, which will add some fat and a good amount of flavor to dishes.  Greaves freeze very well, just like lard.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Berkshire Pate de Campagne with Wigle Rye Whiskey

In the immortal words of Carol Cutler, author of the 1983 cook book Pâté“A pâté is nothing more than French meat loaf that’s had a couple of cocktails.”  I love that quote, as it takes away a lot of the mystique about pate, making it feel more accessible to the home cook. Plus, it really hammers home the idea that, just as meatloaf recipes vary widely in ingredients, so can pate recipes. I am often surprised by the number of misconceptions people have about pate. 
Many think “pate” means that the dish is made entirely of liver, and others conflate pate with foie gras, or fattened goose or duck liver. In reality, some pates have no liver, some have a little, and some are bursting with liver.  Just like many people have their own favorite meatloaf recipe, which may vary tremendously from family to family, the ingredients and composition of a pate all comes down to the cook’s personal preference.
Berkshire Pork Liver
I think a country-style pate, or pate de champagne, is a perfect introduction to pate making, so that will the focus of this post. This kind of pate is rustic and has a coarse texture--it is quite different from the smooth mousse-like texture many people associate with the term “pate.”  While some pates contain a mix of meat, poultry, and game, this recipe is entirely pork from North Woods Ranch’s Berkshire pigs.  This pate is half ground pork and half pork liver, with the liver cut into bite-sizes pieces.

Wigle Rye Whiskey
To season this pate, I like the traditional mix of onion, garlic, thyme, and bay. Many pate recipes also include brandy, sherry, or another liqueur to round out the flavor of the dish.  For a bit of local flavor, I decided to substitute Pittsburgh’s Wigle Whiskey. Wigle makes a range of spirits, but I love their Monongahela Rye for its big, spicy aroma and smooth finish.  I think it is a perfect match for the flavor of the pork liver, without overwhelming the rest of the ingredients.

Assembling the pate is very straightforward – just mix all the ingredients together and bind with an egg or two.  One optional step is to sauté the liver for two minutes in a skillet. This firms up the liver and gives it an extra savory flavor.  Next, the ground pork and cubed liver are mixed with two eggs, Wigel rye, chopped onion, thyme, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  When everything is mixed together evenly, I fry a small patty of pate to see if extra salt is needed.

Returning to the notion of pate-as-meatloaf, many pates are wrapped in some kind of outer layer of fat, just as many meat loafs are wrapped in bacon. Fresh pork belly or caul fat is often used to wrap the pate, but I decided to use North Wood’s jowl bacon.
Happy with my seasonings and my wrappings, the pate is packed into a covered loaf pan or terrine mold for cooking in a 325 F oven. To help the pate cook evenly, I cook it in a water bath, or bain marie, which is simply a baking pan filled with hot water. There should be enough water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.  Once the pate reaches an internal temperature of 160 F (about 1.5 hours), I remove it from the oven and let it cool for an hour or so.
To get a firm, sliceable texture, the pate can be weighted down and left to sit overnight in the fridge. To weigh the pate down, I leave the pate in its mold and place two large cans of whole tomatoes on top of the pate to press down the meat overnight. The flavor of a pate, just like a stew, improves greatly the next day.
For serving, I like to enjoy the pate sliced thickly and served with toasted bread.  A fruit spread offers a wonderful contrast to the hearty flavor of the pork--consider tart apple butter or a fruit chutney.  For this pate, I played off the smooth notes from the rye whiskey by pairing it with a fig and rye chutney.
Before I finish up, I want to explain why this type of recipe is so exciting to me. Think about it--in a single dish the pig’s liver, jowl, and meat are all being used. Pate is an easy way to enjoy the entire animal, nose-to-tail. While being easy to prepare, it is also a dish that will delight even those who have hesitations or reservations about about going whole hog for offal.

Recipe at a Glance
1 lb pork liver
1 lb ground pork meat
12 ounces sliced jowl bacon or belly bacon
1/4 cup rye whiskey 
1 medium onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp salt 
2 eggs, lightly beaten to blend
1 tsp white pepper, ground
2 fresh bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Cut the liver into 1/2" cubes and saute in a pan over high heat.  The liver just needs to be seared to add flavor, it doesn't need to be cooked through.  Remove from the pan after two minutes and set aside to cool.

Mix all the ingredients, except for the bay leaves and bacon, together in a large bowl.  Mix for 3-4 minutes by hand, which will make the meat mixture take on a tacky, sticky texture and produce a better bind.  

In a six cup loaf pan or terrine mold, layer the bacon across the terrine loaf so that it will wrap the finished pate.  Pack the meat mixture into the pan, pressing down on the mixture to pack it together tightly.  Fold the ends of bacon over the top of the pate, then lay down the bay leaves on top.  Cover the pan with a lid or a greased piece of foil.

Put a large pan of water into the preheated oven and place the pan with the pate into the larger pan.  Pour enough hot water in to the larger pan to come half-way up the pate pan.

Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until the pate reaches 155 F.  Let the pate cool overnight before slicing.  For a denser textured pate, weigh down the pate with large cans of tomatoes or beans overnight.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Welcome Farm to Table Folk! 

Peruse the site. If you're a social media aficionado follow us for daily photo/vid posts from the Ranch (links top right of page here)!

Thanks for your interest, support, and we look forward to getting to know you better.

Oliver 'n Jodi...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cooking with Pork Blood: Black Pudding

I’m excited to write this post, as I wanted to cook with blood for a long time.  So many old recipes use blood, but in the U.S. it’s incredibly hard to find.  When Oliver and Jodi mentioned they sold pork blood, I jumped at the occasion and purchased ten pints.  Before that, I had only occasionally seen small tubs of frozen pork blood at Asian markets. I was hesitant to purchase any because the packaging had little information, like date or place of origin.  Finding local, pasture-raised Berkshire blood was an absolute thrill.
 North Woods Ranch Berkshire Pork Blood and Back Fat
Although it might seem exotic, cooking with blood is easy. When cooking with blood for the first time, I recommend making a British-style black pudding.  It’s a delicious introduction to cooking with blood and it requires no special equipment.
Use an old cutting board - blood stains are a pain!
To make British-style black pudding, start with two pints of pork blood, a half-pound of pork back fat, 2 cloves minced garlic, and a cereal binder.  I like to use Anson Mill’s red flint polenta, but different regional recipes use various forms of starch, from Scottish and Welsh oats to Eastern European buckwheat groats to Scandinavian mashed potatoes.

The blood will cook quickly, so it is important to give the garlic and back fat a head start by precooking them.  I dice the garlic and fat finely, then gently cook the back fat in a skillet over medium-heat.  Once the back fat begins to turn translucent (about 10-15 minutes of cooking), the garlic goes in and both are sautéed for another two minutes.  Some meat processors salt their blood, so I don't add any seasoning until the end, when all the ingredients are in.

Once the fat and garlic is cooked, it's time to start heating the blood. A double boiler is perfect to use if you have one, but I just pour the blood into a pyrex mixing bowl and set it on top of a simmering pot.  Then I add in the polenta, being sure to stir it regularly to keep it from clumping. The reason the blood is first heated on the stove top is to help thicken the blood and polenta.  If cornmeal  and back fat are added to the raw blood and then baked in the oven, the fat would float to the top of the pudding and the cereal grains would sink to the bottom. By first cooking the blood in a bowl over simmering water, the mixture will begin to thicken and set, holding all the ingredients in an even suspension.
After 10-15 minutes of heating over gently simmering water, the blood will be coagulating and the polenta will be thickening. The mixture is done when it thickens up as if it were a cook-and-serve pudding.  For seasoning, I like a generous spoonful of chile flakes and about 1/2 of dried thyme.  Black pepper can be used instead of red pepper for a milder blood pudding. Now is the time to taste and check the seasoning, adjusting if necessary.
When the pudding is seasoned to taste, the cooked garlic and back fat  are stirred into the thickened blood mixture, which is then poured into a greased loaf pan lined with plastic wrap to ease in removing the pudding from the pan. 
Cover the pan with a lid or foil and bake for 90 minutes in a 350 F oven in a water bath.  I let the pudding cool overnight to firm up, which makes for neater slices; hot out of the oven the blood pudding is delicious, but it is a bit crumbly.
For serving, I love blood pudding served with fried eggs. Just grease a skillet and fry a slice or two of blood pudding on both sides.  The pudding is fully cooked, so this is only done to warm it up and to get a crispy crust on each side; two minutes per side on medium heat should be perfect.
Black Pudding, Eggs, and Buckwheat Toast
Recipe at a Glance:
Two pints pork blood
8 oz diced pork fat
1 cup polenta, cornmeal, or steel cut oats
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Saute the diced pork fat over medium heat until the fat begins to turn translucent but does not brown.  Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until garlic just beings to brown.  Set pork fat and garlic mixture aside to cool.  Save the lard that rendered out from the backfat for greasing the pan later on.

Over a double boiler, slowly heat the blood and polenta.  Stir often to keep the polenta from clumping.  When the blood takes on the texture of a thickened pudding mix in the back fat, garlic, spices, and pepper.

Using the reserved lard, grease a loaf or terrine pan.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap inside the loaf pan, with enough overhanging the edges to wrap completely over the top of the pudding.  This will help with removing the blood pudding later.  Pour the thickened blood pudding into the pan and cover with the excess plastic wrap.

Place the pan into a large oven-safe dish or roasting pan and fill the larger pan with hot water to come half way up the sides of the loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 75-90 minutes, until the pudding reaches 165 F on an instant read thermometer.

The pudding can be sliced and enjoyed warm, or once cooled it can be sliced and fried in a skillet to crisp both sides.

More Recipes for Pork Blood Using North Woods Ranch Berkshire Hogs:

French Boudin Noir Sausage

Polish Kiszka Sausage

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sirloin Tip Roast with Stout Beer

For St. Patrick's Day I wanted to do something a bit different for dinner, but still stay true to the classic pairing of beef, potatoes, and cabbage.  Many classic recipes are heavy braised dishes, like corned beef or lamb stew.  Due to the surprisingly warm March weather here (50+ F!), my thoughts moved away from a robust, wintery braised dish and began to think of something more spring-like.
Seeing this beautiful sirloin tip roast from North Woods Ranch's Scottish Highland cattle, I immediately decided to keep things simple and prepare a roast beef dinner for St. Pat's.  With a cut of beef this great, I'm sure St. Patrick wouldn't mind it coming from Scotch cattle.
Scottish Highland Sirloin Tip Roast
The sirloin tip roast is cut from the sirloin, slightly below where sirloin steaks are cut.  Just like the steak, this lean roast is perfect for searing and finishing in the dry heat of the oven.  Plus, at a weight of about three pounds, it's perfect for a small family and won't take hours to roast.
To begin I salt the roast all over and sear it in an oven-safe skillet greased with butter and olive oil.  While the roast is searing on all sides, the oven is preheated to 350 F.  After each of the sides of the sirloin have developed a nice brown sear the beef and skillet go into the oven. 
Again, the roast will not take very long to roast, so check it after 40 minutes.  This roast was pulled out of the oven at 130 F, and then the residual heat brought the temperature up to 135 to finish.
Buck Snort Stout

Now, for a bit of an Irish twist, I decided to make pan sauce from the beef drippings using a dark stout.  Although Guinness or Murphy's Irish Stout might be more traditional, I wanted to stay local.  I chose Buck Snort Stout, brewed by North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock.

To make the pan sauce, I put the skillet from the sirloin back on the stovetop to heat up while the beef rested.  Since the stout is very robust I added a tablespoon of cracked black pepper and a sprig of rosemary to the pan for a sharp pop of flavor.  Once the drippings from the beef were simmering I poured in half a can of Buck Snort Stout.  From here the stout just simmered and reduced with the drippings until it was reduced by half.
Depending on the bitterness of the beer used, a teaspoon or two of dark honey or molasses can even out the sauce if it's a bit too bitter to taste.
In Goes the Buck Snort Stout
 To serve, slice the sirloin tip roast thinly and drizzle on a bit of the reduced stout gravy.  Serve with your favorite potato and cabbage recipe, plus plenty of good beer. Sláinte!

 Recipe at a Glance:
- One Sirloin Tip Roast (3-3.5 lbs)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 can Buck Snort Stout, or your favorite dark beer.
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarsely ground or just cracked with a rolling pin

Rub the sirloin roast with salt and pepper on all sides.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Put the oil and butter in an oven-safe skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the butter foams.  Sear the roast on all sides until mahogany brown.

Once the roast is browned on all sides, roast in the oven for 40-60 minutes, depending on desired level of doneness.  This roast hit an internal temperature of 135 for medium rare.

Remove roast the roast from the skillet and place on a plate.  Cover the roast with foil to keep warm.

While the roast rests, heat the skillet on the stovetop until the beef drippings begin to bubble.  Remember to use a towel to handle the oven-heated skillet handle!

Add the rosemary and black pepper to the drippings and cook for a minute to release the aromatic oil from the peppercorns. Pour in half a can (6 oz) of stout beer and stir the pan vigorously to deglaze any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until volume reduces by half.  Discard rosemary sprig and adjust salt to taste.

Serve stout reduction over sliced beef, or alongside in sauce pot.

Note:  Some brands of stout may be on the bitter/hoppy side.  If you find your sauce has more bitterness than you like, you can add a small amount of dark honey or molasses to correct the bitterness.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Quick Petite Tender Steaks

For a weeknight dinner, it’s hard to beat a petite tender steak.  Along with the simple luxury of sitting down to a sizzling hot steak for dinner, petite tenders are only 4-5 oz in weight and cook up quickly in a pan with little added prep time.  There’s no need to fuss with searing a hulking 16 oz ribeye on the stove, only to later finish it in the oven.  As an added bonus, it is easy to whip up a simple side dish in the skillet while the steaks rest on the plates.
Scottish Highland Petite Tender Steak
As delicious as they are, petite tenders are not often seen in grocery stores.  Trimming these steaks takes a butcher's time and finesse to extract from the chuck primal.  Much like the popular flat iron steak, the petite tender is taken from the shoulder of the cow (the flat iron actually sits right above it).  By working with small, independent butchers, North Woods Ranch is able to offer this unique steak.  For any steak lover this petite tender is a cut worth trying.

Before cooking the steaks, they should be removed them from the fridge for about 20 minutes to help take off the chill.  I use this time to begin preparing a side dish.  Start by chopping up a small onion, some mushrooms, and 4-5 stalks of Swiss chard.  Saute the onion and the stalks of the Swiss chard until the onion turns translucent, then add the mushrooms and the sliced leaves of the chard.  Cook down until the chard leaves are wilted and the mushrooms begin to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes.  
Next it's time to fire the steaks.  Put the sautéed vegetables aside and heat the pan up to high for the petite tender steaks.  The steaks should be cooked very quickly, so a hot pan is very important. Make sure there is a bit of oil or ghee in the pan (the fat will shimmer in the pan when it is very hot).  Season the steaks on both sides with salt and cook about 2-2.5 minutes per side.
Since the petite tender is cut out of the shoulder, it should be served in the range of rare-to-barely medium to avoid a dry and tough texture.  I like to aim for medium rare.  After searing, remove the steaks from the pan and cover to keep them warm.  Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes so the juices can redistribute within the steaks.
North Woods Ranch Petite Tender Steak
To finish the steaks, I garnished them with a mixture of cream and whole grain mustard.  Pouring the cream/mustard mixture into the skillet helps to deglaze the pan and infuses the cream with a rich, savory flavor from the beef drippings.  Then pile up a mound of vegetables, place the petite tender off on one side, and garnish with the cream sauce.  A deluxe, one-skillet dinner in 30 minutes!

Recipe at a Glance:
2 Petite Tender Steaks
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 small onion, sliced
4 ounces mushrooms (here I used shiitake), sliced
Small bunch of Swiss Chard (about 4-5 stalks)
Oil or Ghee to cook

Remove the leaves from the stalks of chard.  Slice the leaves into strips and cut the stalks into small 1/4" pieces.  Heat some oil or ghee in a skillet and saute the onion and chard stems.  Cook until the onions turn translucent, then add the mushrooms and the leaves of the chard.  I like to cut everything into strips, so there's a weave of vegetables all twisted together, creating a bed for the steak.  Season everything with salt and pepper, and cook until the leaves have softened and the mushrooms are beginning to brown.

Set vegetables aside on a warm plate.  Wipe out the pan and add fresh oil or ghee.  Heat pan to high.  Season steaks on both sides with salt and sear in the hot pan.  Cook to your desired degree of doneness, then remove and place on a plate covered with foil to keep warm.  While the steaks rest, whisk cream and mustard into pan, lowering heat to medium.  Scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan, stirring all the time.  Taste the sauce and adjust for salt or pepper if needed.

Put half of the vegetable mixture on each plate, then place a steak on one side of the vegetables.  Top with mustard cream sauce and serve.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Scottish Highland Chuck Roast a la Chartreuse

Now that Pennsylvania is in the deep of winter, I wanted to make a great slow cooked meal using North Woods Ranch’s Scottish Highland beef.  For this recipe I used a chuck roast, which is similar to the rolled rump roast, but chuck has a few more muscle groups and a bit more fat.  To compare the two, cooking a rump roast will produce thick slices of lean beef, while a chuck roast produces a more traditional pot roast with chunks of tender, moist beef just falling apart.
Scottish Highland Chuck Roast
To start this dish, I sautéed a mix of onions, celery, and carrots with lard in a large, oven safe pot.  Once the vegetables had softened, I removed them from the pot and set them aside to make room for the beef.  Being a large roast, I seasoned the meat generously with salt and browned it on all sides in the hot lard.  Just like the rump roast, I left the netting on while cooking.  When the roast was browned on all sides, the vegetables went back in the pot, and I deglazed the bottom with beef stock.

This was where I changed things up a bit from my previous rump roast post.  While I braised that roast in wine, I used canned whole tomatoes for this recipe.  The tomatoes added a bit of acidity to the dish and rounded out the flavor by adding a rosy hue.  I crushed the whole plum tomatoes a bit with my hand, but just enough that the tomatoes are still in chunks.  
Topping up the pot with enough stock to cover the roast, I brought the liquid in the pot to a simmer.  Once the liquid is simmering on the stove top, the pot gets covered and placed it into the oven.  Again, like with the rolled rump roast, I keep an eye on the pot, and slowly turn down the heat every hour or so to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer.  This roast cooked at just shy of eight hours, with the last four hours cooking at 275 F.
I knew the roast was done when the meat easily pulled away in tender strands with just a fork. I could have stopped there, but I wanted to take it a step further.  As I mentioned earlier, chuck roast has several muscles in it.  So when the netting is cut away from the chuck roast, the tender meat will neatly fall apart into a few large chunks, naturally separating at the different muscles seams.

There’s an old French tradition called la Chartreuse, which puts the meat in a ceramic mold surrounded by a covering of vegetables.  It could be strips of carrot, eggplant, squash, or leafy greens.  The dish is finished when the vegetable-swaddled meat is turned out from from the mold and displayed on a dish. 
In my version, I blanched the outer leaves of a cabbage until they were tender, then placed the cabbage leaves in small bowls.  I filled each leaf with a mixture of cooked, shredded, chuck roast and added a bit of the roasting liquid.  Folding the bottoms of the leaves up, I pushed down on each meat parcel to compact it a bit, and tucked them into little ramekins. Then I turned the ramekins over onto the serving plates to unmold the parcels.  I finished it off by drizzling a bit more of the braising liquid on top of each cabbage bundle. This also helped to the dish moist.  If this sounds like pigs in a blanket, you’re not far off.
Braised Chuck Roast Wrapped in Cabbage
I love Italian gremolata, a finishing touch added to slow-braised dishes.  For this dish, I minced together raw garlic, lemon zest and parsley and lightly sprinkled it over the meat (traditionally veal osso bucco).  The bright, sharp flavor is a wonderful contrast to the deep, savory flavor of the long-cooked meat.  To complete my dish, I dug up a horseradish root from the garden, peeled it, and microplaned a fluffy cloud on top of the cabbages.  It looked like a dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, but it packed a bit more punch.  Because it was grated so fine, each bite had a quick “pop!” of horseradish without overpowering the intense, savory flavor of beef.

Recipe at a Glance:
  • 3-4lb chuck roast
  • 28 oz can whole plum/roma tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 12-16 oz stock (enough to cover roast)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Small knob of fresh horseradish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pot. Brown the roast on all sides, then remove from pot and set aside.  Add chopped vegetables (except garlic, which can burn easily) to pot and cook until browned and beginning to soften, stirring regularly.  

Once vegetables are browned, add garlic and cook for one minute.  Return roast to pot, along with any juices the roast may have dripped out.

Pour stock into pot and stir up the bottom of the pot to deglaze.  Add tomatoes and stock to cover and bring to a simmer on the stove top.  Once the stock is simmering, cover pot and place in oven.  Braise for 6-8 hours, slowly reducing heat to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer.

Once tender, remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes or so before cutting up.Peel rind from horseradish and use a fine microplane or grater to garnish with a few fluffy piles of grated horseradish.  Serve with roasted squash and potatoes with more of the braising liquid drizzled over.