Tag Archives: Braised

By request: Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

I was asked to settle a debate this week and while I’m uncertain whether it was my food knowledge, my part Irish heritage, or simply my well known penchant for eating food that led them to me, I was more than happy to throw in my two cents. The question was “Is corned beef really Irish?” In fact, I told them, it is Irish but the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage on St Patty’s day is uniquely American.

Historically corned beef (named so because the salt used in the process resembled corn kernels) or salt cured beef was an export of Ireland but rarely ever was it eaten by the locals. In those days Beef was generally too expensive for the common people and a dish of boiled “bacon” and cabbage was much more customary. What they called “bacon” was pretty much any part of the pig, other than the ham, that contained a joint…typically what we know as the shoulder or the loin.

Later, when Irish immigrants came to America, beef was actually far more available than pork so they “corned” the beef and cooked it with cabbage in an effort to replicate their comfort food from back home. Loosely, this is assumed to be the origin of the wholly American tradition of corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Interestingly, to this day, corned beef and cabbage in Ireland is generally reserved for the tourists!

For a great read on the subject check out Europeancuisines.com .

Through the years I tried every method known to man for preparing corned beef including boiling, stove-top braising, baking and most recently sous vide. For depth of flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, this slow oven braise remains my go-to recipe for corned beef. Make enough for leftovers because the sandwiches are awesome and the chopped meat makes for an incredible corned beef hash!

Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

1 – 3 to 4 pound First cut corned beef (**See note)
1 or 2 cans – Guinness draft
10 to 12 – Mixed peppercorns (pink, green, black, etc…)
6 to 8 – Cloves of garlic, smashed
4 to 6 – Allspice berries
2 to 3 – Bay leaves
1 to 2 – Star anise pods

Note: Reserve vegetables for later. These can be added and cooked with the roast for the final hour of cooking or boiled in the pot juices while the roast  rests.

1 Head – Green or Napa cabbage, quartered
3 to 4 Large, or 4 to 6 Med – Red bliss potatoes
2 Med – White onions, halved

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the corned beef from its packaging and rinse in cold water while rubbing with your hands to remove any scum left over from the brine. Place the roast, fatty side up, in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (or a pot with a tight fitting lid) and pour in enough beer to come about 1/3 of the way up the sides, sliding the roast around a little to get some liquid underneath. Add the remaining ingredients, distributing them evenly around the beef (if your roast is larger add more / if it is smaller add less of the spice).

Note: If your Corned Beef comes with a spice packet add that too…flavor is flavor!

On your stovetop over medium heat, bring the beer to a gentle boil then cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil placing the Dutch oven lid on top of that for a nice firm seal. Place the whole thing in the oven and roast, without peeking for 3 – ½ to 4 hours again depending on the size. The beef should be very tender after 4 hours…if not put it back in the oven and check it every 30 minutes until it is very tender.

Remove the corned beef and wrap it in the foil to rest. Meanwhile, place quartered cabbage (cut side down), red bliss potatoes, and white onion halves in the cooking liquid, return to a boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes while the Corned Beef is resting. After 15 to 20 minutes of rest, slice the Corned Beef, across the grain and serve with vegetables and your favorite Dijon Mustard.

**Note: Corned beef is generally sold as Whole Brisket, Half Brisket – First Cut (or Flat), or Half Brisket – Point Cut. The first cut (or Flat) is my favorite. This cut comes from the wide flat half of the whole brisket with the Point Cut coming from the thicker, fattier end of the Brisket. The First Cut is generally leaner and more suitable for the dinner plate. The Point Cut is “generally” fattier and more suitable for sandwiches. Hence, most of the time when you see a sale on corned beef it will be the Point Cut. Do yourself a favor and stick with the First Cut.



Mmm…Pork! Country Style Pork Ribs with Tomatoes & Red Wine

Count me among the many meat-eaters that love pork…the flavors, the succulence, the aroma as it cooks…I do love a good hunk of pork! And is it really all that bad for you? The recently shelved “other white meat” campaign would have had us believe it is no worse for you than chicken. While it’s true, there can be about the same amount of fat as chicken, there can also be a significant amount of calories from fat depending on the cut.

In my wiser years I have naturally become more conscious of my eating habits. I hardly ever eat bacon anymore and practice moderation when it comes to all things pork. Believe it or not, I only cook pork twice, maybe three times a month. Even so, the reason it shows up on my blog quite often is because it is indeed one of my favorite things!

While I do make a habit of choosing the leaner cuts, country style pork ribs generally isn’t one of them. I think I actually got a little giddy when I found these nicely lean boneless ribs at Aldi last week. I picked them up and excitedly anticipated giving them a try. With the long cooking of the braise they came out wonderfully tender, had only a little line of fat along one edge and the flavor was chock full of porky goodness!

I have discovered that grating the garlic on a microplane creates an intensely garlicky flavor, so much so that I only used about half the garlic I used to use. Speaking of flavor, the browning in this recipe gives it a nice head start and the tomatoes and the wine contribute to both flavor and tenderness. Lastly, covering the pan with foil creates an extra good seal to prevent moisture loss and helps retain all that good flavor.

I served this dish over spinach pappardelle; the wide noodles did a good job of collecting all that sumptuous sauce. You could also use egg noodles, ziti, or rigatoni.

Country Style Pork Ribs with Tomatoes & Red Wine

4 to 6 – Boneless country style pork ribs
1 – 28 Ounce can whole tomatoes including juice
½ Cup – Dry red wine
1 – Small Onion, diced
1 – Branch of celery, diced
1 – Medium carrot, grated
1 – Clove of garlic, very finely minced
1 – Sprig fresh rosemary
½ tsp. each – dried oregano, dried thyme
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat until almost smoking. Season the ribs well on both sides with kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper and sear until well browned on all sides (about 10 minutes over all). Set ribs on a plate to return to the pan later.

Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and herbs to the same pan and cook stirring often until the onions become transparent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and stir to loosen any browned bits. When the wine has reached a rapid boil add the tomatoes and the juice from the can, gently crushing them as you add them to the pan.

Return the pork to the pan nestling the ribs into the sauce, bring to a light boil then cover the Dutch oven or pan with aluminum foil. Place the lid on the pan pressing to seal it well then flatten the foil around the sides. Bake 1-1/2 hours and allow 15 minutes rest before serving. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.



Menu – Crispy Salmon with Crash Hot Potatoes and Braised Kale

(Another installment in How To Stretch Those Dinner Dollars…)

I am usually wary of grocery store fish counters but I found the nicest, very fresh, fillets of Farm Raised Steelhead on sale at Albertson’s yesterday. As an avid fisherman I have learned to appreciate fresh fish and when or if I do purchase fresh fish it must first pass a few very important tests. First, the fish must never be frozen. I often see “previously frozen” fish at the fish counter, thawed and displayed on ice. If it was frozen why did they thaw it? How long ago was it thawed? I’m not saying I won’t purchase frozen fish. I just prefer to examine the packaging myself (for me it should be flash frozen or vacuum sealed) and I prefer to thaw it myself…thank you very much.

My second test is visual. Does the fish look fresh? If it is a whole fish the eyes should look clear, not clouded. The skin should be firm and glistening and should not look dry or wrinkled and scales should not be loose or falling off. Fillets too should glisten with moisture and should never look dried out. All fresh fish, whole or filleted, should be kept on ice and unwrapped. If the fish is just lying on a rack or shelf, or if it is packaged and wrapped, I’ll usually keep looking.

Next, how does it feel? If you press your finger on a fresh whole fish it should feel firm. The flesh should spring back quickly when you take your finger away. A fillet may not be as firm but if you press your finger into a fillet and remove it, the flesh should immediately spring back. If an indention remains when you take your finger away, or if the fish feels mushy, then the fish is probably not the freshest. Lastly and simply, how does it smell? You may feel a little funny asking but really, I’ve never even had a person behind a fish counter look surprised. I always ask to smell the fish which should smell fresh and clean, perhaps a little like the mist of a breaking wave…and never, ever should it smell fishy or strong.

The Albertson’s Farm Raised Steelhead fillets passed every test with flying colors. Not only that, at $5.99 per pound it was a great deal! The 1-1/2 pound fillet was big enough for two dinners for 2 for Kathy and I which works out to about $2.25 a plate. Not bad for fresh fish! I still had half a bunch of kale from the other night and I wanted to use that up so this Saturday night dinner really was quite the value meal.

Speaking of feeling funny…I feel a little funny posting other people’s recipes on my blog. If this is going to be “Recipes Randy Cooks” though, then it should most definitely include recipes created by others. Kat loves the crispy salmon skin the sushi chefs make so I was looking for a way to crisp the skin when I found this video by Gordon Ramsay. I was getting a little tired of rice so I chose an old favorite potato recipe, Crash Hot Potatoes. Like I told my friends on Facebook, if you have not tried this potato recipe…do it…do it now! You will not be disappointed.

Menu – Crispy Salmon with Crash Hot Potatoes and Braised Kale

For the Kale

About 2 Cups – Fresh Kale, stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Med – Shallots, Halved, then sliced lengthwise
2 Cloves – Garlic, minced
A couple of Lemon Peels (Left over from making the lemon vinaigrette and lemon zest used in the other 2 recipes)
1 Sprig – Fresh Rosemary
¼ Cup – Chicken Stock
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat and cook the shallots and garlic until just beginning to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add another Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and sauté the kale for two minutes before adding the lemon peels, rosemary, chicken stock, and salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Remove the cover, add the shallots & garlic back into the pan and continue simmering uncovered a few minutes more allowing most of the broth to evaporate. Remove the lemon peels and rosemary and serve with a drizzle of the lemon vinaigrette from the fish recipe.

For the Potatoes

4 Med – Red Bliss or Yukon Gold Potatoes, whole, two inches or less in diameter
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Sprig – Fresh Rosemary, stem removed & chopped fine
Lemon Zest (from the fish recipe)
Olive Oil

While pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees, boil the potatoes until they are just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drizzle olive oil on a foil-lined sheet pan and place the potatoes on the pan. Using the bottom of a jar or drinking glass, gently but firmly press the potatoes until they burst, then flatten them to about ½ inch thick while trying not to break them apart. Drizzle each potato with olive oil, season with kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, and sprinkle with the rosemary. Bake until the potatoes are browned and crispy, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with a little of the lemon zest and serve.

For the Fish…

2 Portions – Salmon or Steelhead, 4-6 oz each, skin on
1 Sprig – Fresh Rosemary, stem removed & chopped fine
Zest of 1 Lemon
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
Lemon Vinaigrette (I used 1 recipe of Good Seasons Italian Dressing made with lemon juice instead of vinegar.)

Rinse and pat dry the fish so that it is very dry. Using a very sharp knife, make a series of deep slices into the skin, crossways along the center, about every three eighths of an inch. (The slices should not reach the edges of the fillet.) Season the skin side with kosher salt, lemon zest, and chopped rosemary making sure to get plenty of the seasonings down into the slices. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside until your sides have been cooked and are ready to serve.

When you are ready to cook the fish, Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat until the oil begins to smoke. Carefully place the fish into the pan, skin side down, and do not move it until the fish appears to be cooked about three quarters of the way through. While it is cooking add salt and fresh pepper to the exposed side.

When the fish appears to be cooked about three quarters of the way through, gently turn it over. Cook 2-3 minutes, turn again, and cook one minute more on the skin side. Remove the fish from the pan and plate skin side up. Drizzle lightly with the lemon vinaigrette and serve.



Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

Dear friends of ours stayed at our house for a few days this past week and as dear friends will do, they left a few beers behind. As I surveyed the fridge situation on Sunday morning I was already thinking of beef, maybe a pot roast or a stew, and when I spotted the bottles of Shiner Bock my mind was made up…Carbonnade a La Flamande! At the market I found a sale on beef chuck mock tenderloins and decided this would be a fun challenge.

Carbonnade a La Flamande is a rich Belgian stew of beef, caramelized onions, and beer usually with a sweet and sour flavor not unlike a good sauerbraten. The irony was that I was using Shiner Bock instead of a deeply flavored Belgian ale as the base in a stew of “mock” tenderloin steaks. So while this is NOT a true Carbonnade a La Flamande, it does borrow some of the great character from one of my favorite Belgian dishes.

If you are not familiar with beef chuck mock tenderloins they are simply steaks cut from the chuck eye roast. They produce a mostly round steak that looks something like a tenderloin steak. Chuck is still chuck though and tender they are not, hence the “Mock” part of the name. This cut is flavorful but best suited to slow braising or long tenderizing marinades.

Other notes: Brown the steaks in a pan if you prefer, I kind of like the broiler for larger pieces of meat. A mostly whole star anise should do the trick but be sure to remove any pieces that break off during the cooking. I served these with whole wheat wide egg noodles and blanched then sautéed snap beans with garlic. Oh, and if you want to use a real Belgian ale I recommend Chimay Blue …just be sure to have another one on hand to enjoy with your steak!

Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

5 to 7 – Beef Mock Tenderloin Steaks (About 2 Lbs)
3 – Medium Onions, Sliced
1 Tbsp – Tomato Paste
12 Oz – Medium Bodied Beer
1 Cup – Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp – Beef Soup Base (I used Demi-Glace Gold )
1 Star – Star Anise
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Thyme
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Rosemary
1 Tbsp – Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy stew pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste, star anise, onions, and a ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. As the onions begin to sizzle lower the temperature to medium low and continue cooking stirring often. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a thin film of oil (I used a spritz of Olive Oil Cooking Spray). Use a paper towel to pat the steaks dry and arrange them evenly on the cookie sheet. Brush or drizzle each steak with olive oil and season well on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring the onions 15 minutes or so until they begin to turn a deep golden color then stir in the thyme and rosemary…keep cooking and stirring the onions while you brown the steaks.

Set the oven (broiler) rack 3” below the element or flame. Place the steaks on the rack and turn the broiler on high. (Note: If your broiler is electric leave the door slightly ajar; if your broiler is gas fueled close the door.) Broil the steaks 4-6 minutes watching them closely until a nice brown crust has formed, carefully turn and broil 4 minutes more or until nicely browned.  Remove the steaks and set aside to rest while prepping your braise.

Reduce the oven heat to 300. Remove the star anise from the onions and discard. Stir beer, soup base, and chicken stock into the onions and raise the heat to medium high. Stir occasionally until the liquid just begins to boil, place the steaks into the pot, cover firmly and bake for 2 hours. After two hours remove from heat, leave covered, and set aside to rest.

Wait at least 20 minutes to remove the steaks to a serving platter; place the pot back on the burner over medium high heat. As the liquid comes to a boil reduce the heat to medium, stir in the vinegar and allow the gravy to cook until your desired thickness is reached.

Spoon the gravy over your steaks, serve and enjoy!

Country Style Pork Ribs Braised in Wine and Garlic

OK Ladies, make this one for your man and he will be volunteering to do the dishes! This is one of my favorite easy recipes and there are always plenty of leftovers for lunch.

You don’t need an expensive, ceramic Dutch Oven to make tasty and tender braised dishes; If you don’t have a Dutch Oven try cooking this in a large skillet with a snug fitting lid. For braising, just before putting the dish in the oven, cover the skillet with foil then place the lid on gently but firmly to create a good seal. Similar to pressure cooking this traps in the moisture and adds steam to the cooking equation which results in a moist and very tender end product.

Country Style Pork Ribs Braised in Wine and Garlic

4 to 6 – Country Style Pork Ribs, trimmed of excess fat
1 Cup – Dry White Wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
2 Lg Cloves – Garlic, minced
1 Lg or 2 Med – Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp – Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

On the stovetop heat a heavy bottomed Dutch Oven (or an oven proof Saute Pan with a tight fitting lid) over medium high heat. Meanwhile coat the ribs generously with Salt and Pepper.

Add the oil to the Dutch Oven and heat until the oil is just beginning to smoke then carefully add the ribs browning them well on all sides (about 3 – 4 minutes per side). Remove them to a plate when well browned.

Add the garlic to the pan and stir briskly for about 1 minute then add the wine. Allow the wine to come to a boil while scraping any browned bits loose from the pan. Cook about one minute more.

Return the ribs to the Dutch Oven, add the rosemary sprigs and cover tightly. Carefully place the Dutch Oven in the oven and bake for one hour. Check the ribs for tenderness, cover and bake 20 minutes more if necessary.

Remove the Dutch Oven from the oven, uncover, and allow the ribs to rest 10 minutes before serving, basting occasionally with the pan sauce.

Serve and enjoy!