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Pulled Beef Poutine

pulled beef poutine 2

Hockey playoffs! You’re gonna need some poutine.

browning roast
pulled beef poutine 8

Rather than make a packet of gravy (St Hubert is authentic), I like to just go ahead and make a big pot of sloppy pulled beef, which generates its own gravy. You’ll need a pot roast or brisket – something that has tons of tough connective tissues that requires a low, slow braise to break down. At the end it will be ultra-tender and flavourful, soft enough to pull apart with forks.

pulled beef poutine 4
pulled beef poutine 5

Leftovers make for good sandwiches, served on soft white buns. I figure when I do a roast I may as well do a big one and have leftovers – it takes exactly the same amount of time and effort, with leftovers to keep in the fridge or freeze for another day.

pulled beef poutine 3
pulled beef poutine 1

Pulled Beef Poutine

This works just as well in the slow cooker – brown it first if you like, or just toss it all in – and you can get away with cutting back on the stock by half or more.

canola or olive oil, for cooking
2-3 lb. beef pot roast, such as blade, cross rib or brisket
salt and pepper
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Potato wedges:
3-4 russet or Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into thin wedges
canola oil

1 cup cheese curds
green onions, chopped

Preheat the oven to 275F.

Set a heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Pat the beef dry with paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper; brown the meat on all sides in the pot. Push it to the side (or remove it and set it aside) and add the onion to the pot; cook for a few minutes, until starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Return the meat to the pan and add the stock, barbecue sauce, wine and Worcestershire. Cover and braise in the oven for 3 hours – or put everything into a slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

When the meat is done, pull it apart with two forks right in the pot, and turn the oven up to 425F. Put the potatoes on a heavy baking sheet, drizzle generously with oil, toss with your hands to coat the wedges well and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.

Top the fries with warm beef and sauce, cheese curds and green onion. Serve immediately.

Serves 4, with extra beef left over for sandwiches.

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April 16 2015 | beef & bison | 5 Comments »

Braised Brisket

brisket 6

Brisket! ‘Tis the season.

I mean to make brisket more than I actually do. I keep hoping a smoker will magically appear in my back yard, so that I might spend a day in a lawn chair like a lady in waiting to an enormous brisket, mopping it hourly, in pursuit of the perfect smoke ring.

But braising will do too. Because brisket comes from the lower chest of the animal, it contains plenty of connective tissue, requiring a long, slow braise to break it all down. Because smokers have not yet become a common household item, braising is by far the most common way to cook brisket – and there are as many ways to do it as there are people making it.

Brisket Collage 1

Braising is simple – all you need is a heavy pot, a chunk of meat, low heat and some liquid. I love my enamel-coated cast iron braising pots – you can set them on the stovetop, brown your meat and veg, then add liquid and slide the whole thing into the oven, making use of those browned bits in the bottom of the pan, the heavy lid keeping just enough moisture in to reduce everything to an intensely thick, rich gravy. (With no need for flour to thicken.) You could do all this in the slow cooker, but I like the darker, deeper sauce you get from a pot in the oven.

Brisket Collage 2

I started mine with a dry rub of paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. Common enough. Brown it until it has dark, crispy edges, then do the same with the onions, until they’re soft and turning golden. Then return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes and stock (or beer, or wine) and some sprigs of thyme and bay leaves, if you have them, and then let the oven do the rest.

Brisket Collage 3

I like to let brisket go for a good 4 hours – it’s even better the next day, so feel free to make it one day, cool, cover the pot and refrigerate the whole thing overnight, then slide it back into the oven to rewarm when you’re ready to serve it. I’ve heard of Jewish grandmas making it days in advance of their big dinners, or freezing it for weeks beforehand. (Because everything has broken down so well, braised dishes are perfect candidates for freezing.)

Brisket Collage 4

Apologies for the quick, early morning brisket shot on a white tile that makes it look as if it’s floating –

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Braised Brisket

Some people add a splash of vinegar to the pot – red wine or balsamic – others use red wine as the liquid, or a combination of wine and stock. If you like, add a sprig or two of fresh thyme or oregano to the pot instead of rubbing it over the meat. Enamel-coated cast iron is ideal for brisket; if you don’t have one, brown your meat in a heavy skillet, then transfer it to a baking dish and cover with foil to braise. Or use the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.

2-3 lb. brisket
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. thyme or oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
canola or olive oil, for cooking
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 14 oz (398 mL) can whole or diced tomatoes, with their juices
3 cups chicken or beef stock
2 bay leaves (optional)

Pat your brisket dry and sprinkle it with paprika, thyme, and plenty of salt and pepper; rub it all over the surface on both sides.

Set an ovenproof pot (one in which the brisket will fit fairly snugly is ideal) over medium-high heat and add a generous drizzle of oil. Brown the brisket on both sides, then transfer to a plate and add the onions to the pan. Cook for a few minutes, until starting to soften and turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Return the brisket to the pan and add the tomatoes, stock and bay leaves. Cover and braise at 325F for 3-4 hours, lifting the lid to flip the meat once or twice – and leave the lid off for a bit if you want to reduce the liquid. If it’s cooking off too quickly and looking dry, add a splash more stock, or even some water.

To serve, slice against the grain and spread out on a platter, topped with sauce. If you like, prepare the brisket a day ahead to allow the flavours to develop – cool then refrigerate in the pot overnight, then reheat in the oven when you’re ready for it. Serve leftovers in soft buns, or make tacos or fajitas.

Serves 6-8.

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April 04 2015 | beef & bison | 5 Comments »

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