Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ranch Recipes: Brisket, burgers, and steaks

Braised Brisket in Porter

Jodi’s notes: I cut a lot of corners from the original recipe (www.epicurious.com) to make it less high-maintenance, and it still turned out fabulous.  This version is the easier version, but you can cut more corners to make it work for you, without running to the grocery - substitute dry for the fresh herbs and garlic (I didn’t have the fresh garlic and actually used powdered), omit the veggies if you don’t have them (we did), and I used olive oil because I didn’t have bacon thawed.  We used a bottle of Guinness for the stout.

This is delicious right away, but if made a day or two ahead, the flavors only get better with time.  Nicely accompanied with baby red skin potatoes and fresh green salad.

Total cooking time:  4 hours
Prep time:  approximately 35 minutes
Feeds family of five with some left-overs

Special equipment: Heavy extra-large wide ovenproof pot with lid.

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard (such as Colman's)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 3-pound brisket
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat or olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 12-ounce bottle porter or stout (used Guinness)
½ cup raisins
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
3 medium onions,thinly sliced onions
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon (or more) malt vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 300°F. Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Rub herb mixture all over brisket. Heat bacon fat or olive oil in heavy extra-large wide ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add brisket to pot and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer brisket to platter or rimmed baking sheet. Add 2 cups broth to pot and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot. Stir in beer, raisins, bay leaves, and brown sugar; bring to boil. Return brisket to pot; scatter onion slices over to cover meat, then add garlic. Cover pot; place in oven and braise brisket 3 hours.  

Remove brisket from oven. Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Transfer brisket to cutting board using large serving forks. Thinly slice brisket across grain. Whisk in mustard and 1 tablespoon vinegar to liquid. Add mushrooms and carrots. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place brisket slices back into roasting pan and cook 1 more hour in oven.  (This last step can be omitted, as I found the meat cooked through and very tender while cutting. But, the additional hour just made it all the better.) Serve meat with vegetables and sauce and enjoy this wonderful meal you have just prepared!


North Woods Burgers

Jodi’s Notes: We
believe our North Woods burgers stand solid on their own - meaning, no need to season your ground beef before making into patties and cooking. However, I do like some seasoning from time to time. Here are my favorite and quick add-ins. Dehydrated onion was something my dad used for quick flavor, so I always have it on hand and love the convenience, but you may prefer fresh minced onion.

Per pound of ground beef
- 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce - (try Annie’s organic version)
- 2 dashes of Liquid Smoke
- 3-4 dashes of garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper


Burgers and steaks - to grill or skillet fry?

Growing up, my dad always grilled our burgers and steaks outside on the patio gas grill. On the rare occasion that he used the stove to prepare these favorites, it was usually because of cold weather. In my mind, stove top cooking was second best to the taste the grill gave. While I still love the flavor of grilling, I have recently started to truly enjoy skillet cooking as my first choice for a delicious hamburger or savory juicy steak. The reasons are simple. Much of the fabulous juices are lost on the grate of a grill, which can leave you with drier results. Also, the juices saved on the skillet can be used as a topping on their own, or can be lovely when combined with a simple deglazer such as red wine or vinegar, along with some herbs for a quick pan sauce (see recipe below). Lastly, you can monitor your cooking easily as the meat is right before your eyes the entire time, and not in a covered grill, a room away. This can help avoid the dreaded “over-cook” that can be a challenge for a lot of us, even when we really tried to watch it (we’ve all said that a hundred times!).



Simple Deglaze for Steak

From Epicurious:  “The juices from any roast—poultry or meat—caramelize in the pan, leaving a residue of brown glaze with intense flavor. In the process called "deglazing," we melt these brown bits in hot liquid (wine, stock, and/or water), to create a quick sauce of concentrated natural essences.”
- Dry red wine
- Butter
- Dried tarragon, or your favorite spice
- Salt and pepper
- crushed garlic, or minced shallot, or try garlic salt/powder (less fresh, but super easy)
- whipping cream (optional)

After cooking your steak on a skillet (our favorite kind is cast iron) to desired doneness, remove it and place on warmed platter to rest.  Your stove heat should be at medium.  Pour about 3 tablespoons of dry red wine directly onto skillet, being careful of the spattering.  Use your stainless steel spatula to scrape up any browned bits from pan while wine is cooking.  Add 1-2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon of tarragon, 1 garlic/shallot, salt and pepper to season.  For an even richer sauce, add about a tablespoon of whipping cream.  Cook down the pan sauce until it clings to the back of a spoon.  Spoon it over steak when serving.  (Go ahead, it’s okay to lick your plate.)  Cheers!