Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Beef On The Menu

Then, as now, there weren’t a lot of choices on the menu for a steak, steak and more steak. I know I need to take it slow: slapping a steak on the grill and forcing it down is not going to be a trip down memory lane  But the thought of ground beef just did not appeal at all.  I thought a long, slow braise was in order: surely the most tender, falling apart meat would be easier to digest, no? Also, in a rare burst of common sense. So: wine was pretty much a given; jam not too far behind; and I had blueberries in the freezer and a big bottle of balsamic vinegar in the pantry. Three and a half hours, later: dinner!
And the verdict? I loved it: the steak was very high-quality, the beef meltingly tender, and the sauce had incredible flavor. I will say that the blueberry-wine reduction sauce was killer: savory, sweet, tangy, and yummy it had it all going on. But the beef itself? Hmm. It was certainly very tender and the outsides got nicely caramelized, almost like carnitas, during the long braise; the texture was lovely. But the taste? DELICIOUS!

berry braised-beef

Berry Braised Beef with Herbed Rice and Blueberry Reduction

1 lb. beef sirloin tip steak
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. butter
2 c. berry-forward red wine
1 c. blueberry jam
½ c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
3 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
Herbed rice:
2 c. cooked rice
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
To serve
sliced green apple, tossed in lemon juice or white wine vinegar (to prevent browning)
Handful of fresh, or thawed, blueberries
Preheat the oven to 300.
Rinse the beef and pat dry well. Liberally season both sides with salt & pepper. Heat the butter over medium-high in a small Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan (with tight-fitting lid for braising) until butter foam subsides; add beef and sear until browned, about 2 – 3 minutes per side. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add jam, blueberries, vinegar and garlic. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve jam, then cover tightly and place in the preheated oven.
Braise until meat is falling-apart tender, about 3 – 4 hours, checking once an hour or so to flip the meat. When meat is done, remove to a clean plate and allow to rest, under an inverted bowl, while you prepare the rice and reduction.
Combine warm cooked rice, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together thoroughly with a flexible spatula, incorporating the cheese into the rice. Taste and adjust seasonings. For fancy-pants serving, pack rice tightly into a round cutter or ramekin, then invert onto serving dish. Pull apart chunks of beef using two forks; pile a serving of beef on top of rice.
Strain the braising liquid, pressing on the solids to release juice, and return the strained liquid to the Dutch oven. Bring the liquid to a boil and continue to boil until reduced and syrupy, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, about 5 minutes (if using frozen blueberries to serve toss into the reduction sauce in the last minute to thaw). Spoon sauce over beef & rice. Garnish with apple slices and blueberries.

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