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    Ragu alla Bolognese

    One of my all time favorite sauces for pasta is a rich bolognese. Originated in Bologna, Italy the traditional version incorporates beef with pancetta and according to Accademia Italiana della Cucina there is an official recipe that should be followed. My version however kicks it up a bit by mingling beef, veal and pork which to me creates a distinct taste and texture.

    One of basic items used is a basic battuto or you may have heard it called sofrito which is a simple combination of onion, carrot and celery, not unlike the French Mirepoix it’s used to give a sweet underlying flavor.

    As with some of my other recipes this one is great to make a large batch as it freezes well and can be used in a lasagna or as a gravy for pasta such as tagliatelle or rigatoni.

    You will need:

    Beef Chuck — One pound, ground to medium in a food processor, you can purchase pre-ground but I find the texture too smooth.
    Pork Shoulder — One pound, ground to medium in a food processor, again you can purchase pre-ground.
    Veal Shoulder — One pound, ground to medium or pre-ground. Alternatively you can use ground turkey
    Onion — One large sweet or about one cup, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia
    Carrot — Two large or about one cup
    Celery — three stalks or about one cup
    Garlic — Two cloves
    Tomato Paste — four TBSP
    White Wine — use a good dry such as Chardonnay, two cups
    Whole Milk &#151 Two cups
    Dried Oregano &#151 One TBSP
    Olive Oil &#151 Two TBSP
    Sea Salt/Pepper — Two tsp each

    Rough chop the onion, carrot and celery, place in a food processor and grind to a fine dice, set aside. In a large bowl place the beef, pork and veal/turkey and mix until well combined. Dice the pancetta to about ⅛” dice, set aside.

    Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the protein to medium high add the olive oil. Sauté the meat(s) until most of the pink is gone. Remove the meat from the pan and strain out all of the juice left, set aside. In the same pan add the pancetta and sauté until crisp then add the battuto and sauté until translucent.

    If there isn’t enough fat left from the pancetta add a little olive oil. Make an opening in the center of the pan and add the crushed garlic, sauté until the garlic is just softened. Stir well to combine, make an opening in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste, sauté until it loosens up a bit and then stir all to combine. Return the meat to the pan, add the oregano and mix well, sauté until warmed through. Spread the meat out into a level layer and add the white wine. Cook through until the wine is dissipated add the milk and cook until most of the milk is gone. If there isn’t enough liquid in the sauce you can adjust with some pasta water.

    Serve immediately reserving some to cool and freeze for another day. Enjoy!

    Chorizo Beef Burger

    I love chorizo to be more specific the fresh Mexican style. I decided I wanted some with eggs one morning so I purchased enough to breakfast with a little left for another meal. I began to think of other ways to use it that are not typical in any cuisine. Additionally, I had a taste for a good home made burger and a light went off, how about using the chorizo with some beef and away I went. I usually grind my own meat for burgers using my trusty Cuisinart so when I purchased the chorizo I also bought some sirloin which is my staple for burgers. Here is a quick burger that I think you’ll love.

    You will need:

    Sirloin Steak – approximately 3/4 pound/2 servings.
    Fresh Chorizo – try to get bulk sausage if you can find it at your butcher buy links and remove from casing – approximately 1/4 pound/2 servings.

    Cut the sirloin into 1 inch pieces, place in your food processor with the chorizo, pulse just long enough to grind up the sirloin. Carefully remove from the mixture and gently form into 2 patties. You won’t need to add any additional fat since the sausage will have a sufficient amount. In a sauté pan large enough to hold the patties add approximately 1 TBSP of olive oil, heat the oil to shimmering reduce the heat to low and slowly add the burgers. Sauté on each side approximately 5 minutes, the patties will be loose so make sure you don’t peek or try to move them until the time limit has been reached. If you want once you turn them over you can add a slice of Jack Cheese for a great cheeseburger. Enjoy!

    Polpette (Meatballs)

    There is nothing better than homemade meatballs. Known as polpette in the Italian kitchen there are as many recipes available as there are stars in the sky. This is my version of the classic polpette.

    You will need:

    Two parts ground chuck
    One part ground pork
    One part ground veal or turkey*
    One part – stale bread (I used leftover Italian bread)
    Milk – enough to soak the bread
    Two cups shredded Parmesan cheese
    Large eggs – quantity depends on amount of meats used. Typically 2 large eggs is sufficient for four pounds of meat.
    Sea Salt/Fresh Ground Pepper
    Peanut or other low smoke oil.
    Flour

    Preparation:

    In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients place crumbled bread and milk with very clean hands work the bread and milk together until it comes to a semi-thick paste. Add the meats, eggs, salt/pepper and cheese and work together until everything is completely combined. Form the meat into balls, I use an ice cream scoop – I like mine large. As you finish each ball place on baking sheet until ready to cook. Dust balls lightly with flour.

    Heat skillet large enough to hold meatballs, don’t worry this step can be done in batches, add enough oil to go up to 1/4 the size of the meatballs. When oil starts to dance (shimmer) reduce heat and carefully place balls into oil with room in between each. With a slotted spoon move balls around making sure that all sides are browned equally. If cooking in batches put finished balls on a plate until all are completed.

    At this point they are ready to serve, however, I find that if you place them into a pot large enough to hold them all and add your favorite pasta sauce they take on a deep, rich flavor.

    Buon appetito!

    * The choice between veal and turkey is totally up to you. The taste between the two is relatively minor but the difference in structure might be evident as the veal has a higher fat content.

    Coffee Crusted/Slow Roast Tenderloin of Beef

    There are many recipes found that use coffee to enhance the flavor of beef however using the slow roast method makes this one unique in it’s taste and eye appeal.  Unfortunately I did not take a photograph when I served this for a holiday dinner but promise to add one as soon as I remake this savory dish.  I served horseradish mashed potato and honey glazed carrots as accompaniments.  The following recipe will feed 4 hungry dinners.

    You will need:
    One three pound center cut filet of beef (tied)
    Dark Roast ground coffee – enough to coat roast
    Olive Oil
    Salt/Fresh ground pepper.
    Beef Stock – low sodium

    Preheat oven to 250° F.  Lightly rub olive oil on all sides of roast.  Season roast with salt and pepper.  Roll roast in coffee grounds and shake off the excess.  Place coated beef on a rack and place into roasting pan.  Add some water to bottom of pan, just enough to just below the beef.  Place in preheated oven and cook for approximately 2 hours.  Take the temperature of the beef after the 2 hour time period it should register somewhere between 135 and 145 internal temperature.  Place roast on a board or plate and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

    While beef is resting place roasting pan over medium heat on the stove top add approximately one cup of beef stock scraping up the fond.  Cook until it is reduced and slightly thickened add one or two tablespoons of butter to the sauce to give it body and sheen.  Serve with potato and carrots.

    Sunday Gravy

    Sure, everyone has their family recipe for Sunday gravy, well that is if you were of Italian heritage, others would refer to this as Spaghetti Sauce. Well I’ve made many a Sunday Gravy, had some failures and some great successes, this recipe has always proved to be one of my best.

    This recipe will make approximately 20 cups of gravy.

    For the gravy you will need:
    Four 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
    One small can tomato paste
    Two cups beef stock
    One medium size sweet onion
    Carrots – enough to equal the volume of the onion
    Four or five sprigs fresh oregano
    Four or five garlic cloves
    Fresh ground pepper
    Kosher salt

    Two pounds country ribs
    Two pounds Italian Sausage (your choice of sweet or hot)

    For the meatballs

    Two pounds ground chuck
    One pound ground pork
    One pound ground veal or turkey
    Enough stale bread (I used leftover Italian bread) to equal the volume of the ground meats
    Two cups milk (or more if necessary)
    Two cups shredded Parmesan cheese
    Two large eggs
    Olive oil
    Vegetable oil

    In a heavy bottom stock pot heat four tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Place carrots, onion and garlic in a food processor and run until the vegetables are of a paste consistency. Thoroughly brown the country ribs (in batches if necessary) until a nice brown crust forms, remove and set aside. Pour off any liquid from the stockpot, add four tablespoons olive oil, reheat until shimmering then brown the Italian sausage until a nice brown crust forms, remove and set aside. Pour off any liquid, add two tablespoons olive oil, and reheat until shimmering. Place vegetable past along with tomato paste to the stockpot and cook until the mix is somewhat dry. De-glaze pot with the beef stock scraping up all the fond at the bottom of the pot. Add the four cans of crushed tomatoes, the sprigs of oregano and the ribs and sausage to the stockpot. Reduce heat to very low, place lid over pot and simmer for 5 or 6 hours. To reduce the possibility of the gravy burning I take one of the unused burner grates, place it on top of the burner you are using, make sure that it is firmly in place, put the stockpot on that tiered burner. Stir the gravy every occasionally to insure a good mixture.

    While the gravy is simmering make the meatballs. Break up the stale bread into medium to small chunks, but into a bowl large enough to hold the bread and both meats. Pour one-cup milk into the bowl, as the bread starts to absorb the milk using a fork start to mash the bread. If there is not enough milk continue adding more until you can mash the bread into a paste. Add the parmesan cheese, the eggs, the meats, salt and pepper (to taste) and using very clean hands or hand covered with rubber gloves and work the mixture until it is thoroughly combined. Form the mixture into equal balls (I like mine large). In a sauté pan large enough to hold the meatballs, heat approximately one-quarter cup of vegetable oil until shimmering. Carefully lower meatballs into oil, do not crowd, work in batches if necessary, and cook until a nice brown crust forms rotate balls until all sides have that same rich brown crust. Set aside meatballs until cooled enough then place in the refrigerator. During the last one to one and a half hours of cooking the gravy, add the meatballs submerging them to cover. During the last half hour taste the gravy for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Once the time used in this recipe is completed, cool to room temperature.

    Remove the meatballs, sausage and ribs from the gravy and portion two cups of the liquid into quart freezer bags for future use. Similarly portion out the meatballs, ribs and sausage into quart freezer bags for future use.

    Angus Prime Rib Steak with Garlic/Shallot Crust


    steakdinnerBaked Potato with Horseradish Mayonnaise
    Steamed Broccoli with Tahini Compound Butter

    You will need:
    Angus or other good quality Rib Eye Steak – one/serving (I used a steak that was cut one inch thick)
    Broccoli Crown – one/per serving
    Baking Potato – one small/per serving
    Garlic clove – two/serving
    Shallot clove – two/serving
    Olive Oil – two TBSP/serving
    Panko Bread Crumbs – approximately three TBSP/serving
    Tahini – approximately one TBSP/serving
    Softened Unsalted Butter – approximately one TBSP/Serving
    Sea or Kosher Salt – to taste
    Fresh Ground Pepper – to taste
    Mayonnaise (jarred will do) – one TBSP/serving
    Horseradish (jarred will do) – one TBSP/serving

    Prepare crust:
    Finely dice garlic and shallot cloves place into preheated sauté pan and cook until just translucent (do not brown) set aside to cool. When garlic/shallot mixture is cool add Panko crumbs to coat, set aside.

    For Horseradish Mayonnaise:
    Combine horseradish and mayonnaise and set aside. If you decide to use fresh horseradish you will have too grate a little more than the stated one TBSP and combine with a little vinegar and sugar.

    For Tahini Compound Butter:
    Bring butter to room temperature to soften then combine well with Tahini Paste and set aside.

    Prepare the Potato:
    Coat the potato with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake as you would normally when the potato is finished baking start with the balance of the steps to follow (keep warm)

    Prepare the steak:
    I used an oven ready grill pan however you can sauté the steak if you desire. Coat both sides of the steak with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté/grill steak on one side for approximately five minutes or until a good crust/grill marks are evident. Turn steak and coat with the bread crumb mixture. If you are using a sauté pan you will need to turn the steak over one additional time to get the crust mixture crisped and browned. This step will take a little practice since you might lose some of the coating. Finish steak to desired doneness

    In the meantime steam the broccoli crown(s) until just al denté.

    Top the broccoli with compound butter, cut open the potato and top with horseradish/mayonnaise plate and serve.

    Bone-in New York Strip Steak with Marsala Mushrooms


    I like a good steak occasionally and although I, at times, like it with a little steak sauce [my latest favorite is A-1 Cracked Peppercorn] I decided to do something with mushrooms, onions and Marsala wine. It is simple, quick and easy and hits the spot. I served this with Baby Brussels Sprouts.

    You will need:
    Bone-in New York Strip steak approximately 8 ounces/serving.
    Coarse Sea Salt
    Cracked Pepper
    Olive Oil
    Baby Brussels Sprouts approximately 4 ounces/serving
    Butter (unsalted) approximately two tablespoons/serving.
    Button Mushrooms, sliced, approximately 4 ounces/serving
    Sweet Onion such as Walla Walla or Vidalia, sliced thin.
    Dry Marsala Wine approximately 4 TBSP/serving.
    Kosher Salt/Pepper

    Rub olive oil on both sides of steak, season with sea salt and cracked pepper then grill or pan sauté to desired doneness. While steak is cooking pour olive oil into a sauté pan large enough to hold all ingredients add butter when oil is warm, add sliced mushrooms and onions, season with salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms lose most of their moisture and onions are translucent. Add Marsala wine and continue to cook until wine is absorbed.

    While the steak and mushrooms are cooking place Brussels Sprouts in a pot of boiling water, make sure the pot is large enough to hold all the sprouts without crowding. Depending on the size of the sprouts boil, until they are fork tender then remove from pot and keep warm. In a small sauce pot melt butter until just foamy, add salt/pepper to taste, add a small amount of cornstarch or arrowroot to some water to form a smooth paste whisk into butter until slightly thickened add Brussels sprouts to coat.

    Individual Beef Wellington

    Photobucket

    Making the classic Beef Wellington could be intimidating but it is a relatively easy dish to prepare and is well worth the effort. I have taken liberties with my version, actually two versions, by adding onion to one and spinach to the other. The version here uses onion but by simply replacing the onion in the recipe/technique below with spinach you get a completely different experience.

    You will need:
    Filet of beef approximately 1 1/2″ – 2″ thick 6 – 8 oz./serving.
    Puff pastry – 12″ square piece 1/serving.
    Sweet Onion such as Walla Walla or Vidalia – 1/4″ slice 1/person (be careful here as you want to keep the slabs of onion intact – you can pierce each with a toothpick to insure the rings stay together).
    Shallot – diced fine approximately 1 TBS/serving.
    White button or crimini mushrooms – approximately 3 oz./serving.
    White wine, Sherry or Vermouth – approximately 1TBS/serving.
    Shallot – approximately 1 TBS/serving.
    Garlic approximately one small clove/serving.
    Egg wash (combine egg with a little water and whip until combined).
    Olive Oil/Butter – approximately 1TBS each/serving
    Butcher’s twine.

    Prepare the filets – Tie each filet, with a piece of twine placed at half the thickness of the beef, tight enough to give the filet some height and uniformity in circumference. In a sauté pan large enough to hold filets without crowding place approximately 1 TBS each of oil and butter. When oil/butter began to bubble sauté filets on both sides until a rich crust is formed. Remove from pan, set aside to cool completely. All you are doing with this step is searing the meat, it will cook through when baking the Wellingtons.

    Prepare the mushrooms – (Mushroom Duxelles) – Place mushrooms, shallot and garlic in a food processor and chop until the mixture has a paste consistency. Using the same pan for the beef add more oil/butter if the pan is too dry bring up to temperature and add the mushroom mixture. Sauté mixture until it starts to dry out then add the White wine/sherry/vermouth. Continue to cook until the mixture is completely dry. Remove from pan, set aside to cool completely.

    Prepare the Onion – in the same pan used for the beef and mushroom add a little oil/butter if the pan is too dry. Season both sides of onion with salt and pepper then place in heated pan. Sauté onions on both sides until golden brown. Carefully remove onion slabs from pan, set aside to cool completely.

    Prepare the dough – It is not a difficult task to do this step. It is easier to give you a visual so I have included this visual aid.

    Assembly and cooking – Separate all of the above items into portions equal to the amount of tenderloins used. Place a portion of the mushroom mixture in the center of the dough square spread until it matches the circumference of the steak, remove twine from tenderloin and place on top of the mushrooms, place one onion plank on top of beef, follow the instructions provided to fold dough over beef to form a package. Roast individual Beef Wellington(s) until the internal temperature reaches 130° for rare, 140° for medium. Serve with a vegetable and mashed potatoes.

    If you decide to add cooked spinach instead of the onion simply replace it at the step indicated above.

    NB You must make sure that all items are completely dry otherwise the dough will become gooey and you will not get a good crisp crust.

    Filet de boeuf Bourgogne


    I’ve taken the traditional Burgundy Beef and went a little upscale while reducing the amount of time to prepare this wonderful meal.

    You will need:

    Beef Filet (approximately 4 oz. /person)
    Small button mushrooms or medium/large cut into quarters
    Pearl onion (I used frozen par-cooked) 4 or 5/per person
    Carrot (I used bagged baby carrots) 4 or 5/per person
    Red wine (I used a good Merlot instead of Burgundy) approximately 1/2 cup/person
    Salt/Pepper
    Beef broth (no salt) approximately 1/4 cup/person
    Egg Noodles approximately 4 oz. /person
    Fresh Thyme
    Butter and Olive Oil

    Cut filet(s) into one-inch pieces, set aside. Defrost pearl onions. Clean mushrooms, if using larger mushrooms quarter them at this point, set aside. Fill a small saucepot with water and carrots; cook until the carrots are fork tender. Put approximately 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a sauté pan heat until butter starts to bubble. Sauté beef cubes until just seared, do not crowd pan, sauté in batches if necessary remove as the beef browns and place in a bowl. Deglaze sauté pan with the wine scraping brown bits (fond in culinary terms) on bottom of pan. Add one or two twigs of thyme, there is no need to strip the leaves, as it will be remove later. Continue to cook wine and thyme until wine is reduced by half, remove thyme set aside in bowl.

    Place approximately one tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in sauté pan Sauté mushrooms, carrots and onions until caramelized (salt and pepper the vegetables to taste). Put wine reduction, beef broth and vegetables in a sauce pot bring to a rolling simmer (at this time you should prepare noodles according to package directions). Add beef filet cubes with any accumulated juices to sauce pot turn off heat (the beef will warm through with the residual heat in the pot, caution do not overcook beef).
    Place cooked noodles on a serving plate, ladle beef, the vegetables and stock over noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley.
    Filet De Boeuf Bourgogne on Foodista

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