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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A cut above the rest

This global financial crisis has thrown us in an save your penny frenzy ( sorry Marc jacobs wool coat see ya next year). I see family and friends starting to tighten their belts. They are staying home more, cooking more and who would have known that dinner parties would become the new eating out. Making your own-pizza rather then ordering Dominos would be the new trend and the so called " cheap" cuts of meat would make a comeback.

It's a bit ironic though if you think about it. Did we need a worldwide financial crisis to make us look at thing with a different perspective. To actually see things that have been overlooked for such a long time and look at them as for the first time. And so much so that we made them trendy again. For instance the so called " cheap" cuts of meat. These cheap cuts of meat are not reffered to as "cheap" because they are inferior in any way. Oh no. They are nicer to your wallet kind of cheap. You see it all starts and ends with supply and demand. Greater demand for a fillet or a porterhouse steak just means that the price goes higher. So I ask, are we getting played for, suckered into believing that we are buying the best cut of meat? Why not get a nice peice of flank steak or great short ribs that have great flavor and are wallet friendly...

The way i see it is that it's a good thing that short ribs for instance are are considered a " cheap cut". They are the sort of thing I love to cook when the weather is cold outside. And since you slow cook it for hours you end up with a rich moist piece of meat that melts like butter in your mouth. Its a crowd pleaser! What could be better then that? So serve these argodolce (sweet and sour) short ribs on top of a mash potato, polenta or a bowl of rice and a glass of Pinot and sit back and let your taste buds be seduced. Sorry Marc 2011 just wasn't our year. See ya in 2012....

Beef Short Ribs Agrodolce
This dish is based on Paul Bertolli’s recipe in Cooking by Hand (Clarkson Potter).
Serves 4, Cooking Time Prep time 40 mins, cook 2 hours 40 mins

1.2 kg (about 4) beef short ribs
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
50 gm prosciutto, coarsely chopped
3 lg onions, finely chopped
3 finely chopped garlic
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
5 sage leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
15 gm dried porcini, soaked in water for 15 minutes
2 tbsp tomato paste
250 ml (1 cup) red wine
125 ml (½ cup) saba (see note)
60 ml (¼ cup) balsamic vinegar
900 ml beef stock

1 Preheat oven to 180C. Season beef ribs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat olive oil in a wide heavy-based casserole over high heat, brown ribs (on all sides except bone side) in two batches for 2-3 minutes each. Transfer to a tray.
2 Pour off half the oil and discard, then return casserole to heat and add prosciutto, sauté for 1 minute, add onion, carrot, celery, herbs and drained porcini, and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables caramelise (8-10 minutes). Stir in tomato paste, reduce heat to medium and cook until dark red in colour (4-5 minutes). Add red wine, saba and vinegar and cook until reduced by half (10-15 minutes). Add beef stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat, then return beef ribs to casserole and bake, covered, until ribs are tender (2 hours).
3 Transfer ribs to a warm serving platter and pass vegetables and juices through a mouli (see note) into a saucepan. Skim fat from surface, then cook over medium heat until thick (3-5 minutes). Season with 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Pour over beef ribs and serve immediately.

Note: Saba is the sweet reduction of grape must and is available from Williams and Sonoma. A mouli is a rotary sieve available from specialist kitchen supply stores. Alternatively, you can use a coarse sieve and push processed vegetables through using the back of a ladle.

Drink Suggestion a Robust red.

Note: If you cant find Saba you can substitute this Bordeaux Syrup.

Bordeaux Syrup
1/2 bottle Bordeaux Red Wine
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1/3 cup honey

Put all the ingredients in a stainless steel saucepan. Reduce slowly over medium heat, until it becomes a syrup, about 50-55 minutes. .


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