Monthly Archives: October 2013

Naples-Style Braise of Beef

Naples_Braised_Beef1 (1 of 1)This dish seems like your typical pot roast, but it isn’t. It’s a delicious Southern Italian braise of beef, probably prepared as a Sunday afternoon dinner in Naples. The recipe called for bottom round, but I used top round instead, because I think it’s a bit more tender. Braising, the “low and slow” method of cooking, turns this relatively tough (but tasty!) cut of beef into a fork-tender, delicious roast. Although not very Italian, I like to serve it with home-made basel-herbed spaetzle.I hope you’ll try this dish!

2 oz salt pork
1 oz salame
1 oz prosciutto
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs top round beef, tied with butcher’s twine 2-inch intervals
5 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup tomato puree
2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups dry white wine

Finely chop together the salt pork, salame and prosciutto to a paste.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat (the Dutch oven should be just large enough to accommodate the beef and rest of ingredients). Add the salt pork mixture and saute until fat is rendered (about 3 – 4 minutes).

Add the beef to the Dutch oven and brown on all sides. Remove beef and set aside on a plate. Naples_Braised_Beef2 (1 of 1)Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan. Soften the vegetables, but don’t brown (about 5 minutes). The Dutch oven will be full at first, but the vegetables will cook down considerably.

Add the tomato puree, salt and wine. Deglaze pan while bringing to a boil for about 1 minute. Return beef to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for 2 1/2 – 3 hours (I let go for 3), or until beef is tender.

Remove beef and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Increase heat to medium high. Cook liquid until reduced by at least half (about 20 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Slice beef, place on a serving platter and pour sauce over top. Serve.

Serves 6.

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Makassar-Style Chicken (Ayam Makassar)

Makassar_Chicken1 (1 of 1)This simple chicken dish hails from Makassar, which is the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is unique in that the chicken simmers in a spicy coconut milk until the liquid has just about evaporated. The chicken ends up sauceless, but tender and very flavorful! I like to serve it with a spicy condiment, such as sambal ulek or sambal petai. I hope you’ll try this dish!

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced crosswise
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp shredded (unsweetened) coconut
1 lemon grass stalk, outer leaves removed (white part only/bottom 6 inches), very finely chopped
1 cup coconut milk
3 kaffir lime leaves, loosely torn
1 tsp salt

Heat oil in a wok or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the coriander, cumin, black pepper, shredded coconut and lemon grass. Saute until the coconut is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken to the spice mixture and stir-fry for 5 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink. Add the coconut milk, lime leaves and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until liquid has just about evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove lime leaves and serve with steamed rice.

Serves 4.

North African-Inspired White Beans and Chicken

White_Beans_and_Chicken1 (1 of 1)I’ve always thought that chicken and beans go great together. This recipe is a nice, North African-inspired version. The beans dominate the recipe (thus “beans and chicken,” rather than chicken and beans). I think this dish would probably have been prepared with chickpeas in North Africa, but the cannellini beans are delicious with the North-African spice blend. I hope you’ll try this one!

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 lb ground chicken
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp plain flour
1 15-oz can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large saute pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and saute for 2 minutes. Add the celery and jalapeño pepper;  saute for another 2 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high;  add the chicken and brown, stirring to break up clumps (4 minutes). Add the garlic, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cumin. Stir well to combine for 1 minute. Add the flour, stirring well.

Stir in the tomato, stock and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes.

Remove lid. Add beans and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until mixture has thickened. Add the sugar and season with additional salt to taste, if desired. Garnish with the cilantro, sprinkle with black ground pepper and serve.

Serves 4.

Malaysian Braised Beef Sirloin (Semur)

Semur1 (1 of 1)This dish is a Malaysian spin on an Indonesian recipe from Dutch colonial times. The cooking technique is a different style of braising, where you cook a relatively tender cut of beef (such as sirloin) for not a very long period of time — the beef turns out wonderfully, and to me, the cloves, lime juice and fennel seeds are what make the delicious sauce! I hope you’ll give this dish a try!

2 beef sirloin steaks (about 1 1/4 lbs total), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 Tbsp kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fennel
3 candlenuts (or macademia nuts)
2 tsp black pepper corns
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
2 1/2 cups water
5 whole cloves
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 green onion, finely sliced

In a medium glass bowl, whisk together the kecap manis and lime juice. Add the sliced beef and mix well. Set aside and let stand for half an hour.

Combine the ground coriander, cumin, fennel, candlenuts and black peppercorns. Grind to a Semur2 (1 of 1)paste with a mortar and pestle or small food processor, adding a couple teaspoons of water.

Heat oil in a wok or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the spice paste to the pan and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the beef with its marinade, the tamarind, water, cloves, salt and sugar. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for a few more minutes, reducing the sauce until thick. Garnish with the green onion and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4.