beef

Veal Saltimbocca

I often get in the trap of boneless chicken breasts, flank steak and pork tenderloin on repeat for weeknight dinners.  They are all quick, easy and pretty lean but when I saw veal cutlets or scallopini the other day I thought them perfect for a break in my routine.  These cook super fast so really the only hassle is “sewing” the prosciutto and sage to the cutlets.  Set up a little assembly line like below and  do it in the morning or the night before and then just dredge and cook, cutting the time to dinner even more.  This would be delicious all sitting over a bed of pasta or rice to sop up the sauce, or served with a green salad and some crusty bread (uh again to sop up that sauce).  I always order this when I see this on a menu but now I may just add it to my own weeknight repertoire!

Veal Saltimbocca 

  • 1 pound veal scallopini
  • 5-6 ounces prosciutto
  • several sprigs of sage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of lemon
  • juice of lemon

First prepare the scallopini – salt and pepper the veal then top with a slice of prosciutto (you may have to cut the slices to fit.  Lay several sage leaves on top.  Using a toothpick or small skewer (a regular skewer cut in half works as well) thread in between the veal and the toppings to affix them to each other.

Do this for each piece of veal – it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, just make sure the veal can lay pretty flat and that the prosciutto wont fall off the veal.  Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess.  In a large skillet heat over medium high 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add as many veal pieces that comfortably fit in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.

Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the veal, adding more olive oil if needed.  Once all the veal is cooked reserve it on the plate covered with foil.  Add the white wine to the plan and deglaze any browned bits.  Swirl in the butter, lemon zest and juice and let cook together for about 3 minutes until it thickens a bit and comes together as a sauce. Carefully take out the skewers, pour the sauce over the veal and serve.

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Osso Bucco

For the holidays I usually like to splurge a little and do a premium piece of meat for my loved ones.  However, I find crown roasts or cuts of that nature pretty intimidating because what if you have everyone over, hungry and ready to sit down but the middle is still totally raw?  Braised meats are totally in my comfort zone because they can be made ahead to avert a crisis and they are really satisfying.  For a special occasion, like say Easter, my answer is osso bucco.  This Italian braised veal shank dish is a classic for a reason – the meat is unbelievably tender and luscious and then you get the benefit of having the bone you can scoop the marrow out of.  Now I know veal is sort of controversial but you know what is more so?  Rabbit – my mother served it once on Easter and I locked myself in my room thinking she was serving the Easter bunny for dinner!  The quality of the meat here is key.  I got mine at Harvey’s in Union Market which is excellent but any good butcher should carry osso bucco shanks.  Make sure to specify osso bucco otherwise you could get a whole shank which is basically the leg (I would call ahead a day in advance and ask them to set them aside for you).  Osso bucco should be cut about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick and ideally the butcher will tie them for you, if not I suggest doing that when you get home.

Having them be tied helps keep them together during the cooking process but you will see once they have braised for several hours they literally fall off the bone.  And that bone!  If there are any marrow fans in your family they will be so excited to see this – make sure to serve a nice crusty bread on the side so people can slater it with the marrow.  Since it’s a long braised dish but I want it to be sort of springy I suggest adding what the Italians call a gremolata to the top.

It’s essentially an herb topping made with lemon zest, garlic and parsley that adds a bright punch to the meat.  If you are having lots of folks over make this several days in advance, let it cool and then pop the whole thing, pan and all in the fridge and then reheat over low heat.  I cannot think of a simpler way to impress the family for a special occasion.

Osso Bucco 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 veal osso bucco shanks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick) tied with butchers twine if you have it
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest from 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped very finely (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Salt and pepper the veal then dredge in the flour (i.e. dunk it in, get it covered in flour then shake off the excess).

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  When hot add the veal and cook for 5 minutes.  Flip and cook for 5 minutes more and then remove the veal to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.  Once the butter is melted add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions start to soften.  Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.  Splash in some of the wine to deglaze the pan (i.e. get up the nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan) then add in all the rest of the wine, the beef stock and the can of tomatoes.

Stir to combine.  Nestle the veal back into the pan – the liquid should come up about halfway up the shank, if not add more stock or wine.  Tie the herbs together with butchers twine and add to the pot or just toss them in separately.  Bring to a simmer then cover and place in the oven.

Cook for 1 hour, then carefully, using tongs, flip the veal and cook for an additional hour.  After 2 hours the meat should be very tender and falling off of the bone.  Fish out the herbs and remove the veal to a plate.  If the shanks were tied, cut off the string.  If you are going rustic serve the shanks with the sauce as is, for a more elevated dish use a fine mesh strainer to remove the vegetables from the sauce (I served it on the side in a gravy boat with some poured over the top for presentation).

The osso bucco can be served right away, stored in the fridge for several days and then reheated on the stove top or frozen for 3 months (make sure to freeze the shanks in the sauce).  If you would like to serve the osso bucco with gremolata on top, combine the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl then sprinkle on top.

Patrick’s Irish Stew

Growing up in an Irish family in Boston, you pretty much take it for granted that everyone celebrates St. Patrick’s day.  I didn’t realize until I left the nest that EVERYONE celebrates St. Patrick’s day.  And who could blame them?  The Irish are the friendliest people you will ever meet, love to drink, eat, dance and have a good time.  No wonder everyone wants to be Irish!  St. Patrick’s day is a terrific excuse to have a party or at the very least a nice tall Guinness.  However, I had to take my celebrations to a whole new level when I met my husband, Patrick.

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In Adare, Ireland

Every March 17th I make this incredible soda bread made with brown butter and rosemary and have plenty of Irish whiskey and beer on hand to share with our friends.  This year I thought my man should have his very own stew with all of his favorite things included.  Jameson, Guinness and coffee pretty much fuel Patrick so I added those to a hearty beef stew and came up with the perfect way to celebrate this year.  Sláinte!

Patrick’s Irish Stew

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds of beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of Guinness
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Make sure all of the pieces of beef are around the same size, if not cut them until they are.  Sometimes I am lazy and buy the precut stuff (or it is on sale) but often they are all weirdly shaped.  It’s worth taking the time to cut them all the same so they cook at the same time.  Salt and pepper the beef cubes.  In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat.  When hot add half of the beef cubes, making sure not to crowd them.  Let them cook about 5 minutes and don’t mess with them much or they won’t get brown.  Flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes and then remove them to a plate.  Add another tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and add the remaining beef cubes, repeating the 5 minutes then flip and 5 minutes more routine.  Add the second batch to the plate and toss in the bacon.  Let the bacon cook until starting to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes and then add in the chopped onion, leek, carrots, garlic and butter.

Salt and pepper everything.  Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the onion and leek have softened.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute until all the flour is absorbed.  Add the Jameson and let cook for 1 minute.  If you have butchers twine tie the herbs together and add, otherwise just toss them in.  Add the beef broth, Guinness and coffee and stir to combine.

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Bring to a simmer then cover and put it in the oven.  Cook for an hour and a half, stirring once.  At the very end fish out the herbs then stir in the frozen pearl onions and frozen peas and cook for a minute or two more either in the oven or on the stovetop until they are heated through. The stew can be served right away, kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for several months.

Short Rib Nachos

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These are O.M.G good.  Life changing.  You can also make them in less than 10 minutes, give or take grating cheese time.  How is that possible you ask?  Your best friend the freezer.  Remember these amazing short rib tacos from a couple of months ago?  Well you made a big batch like instructed and froze a bunch for later.  Now is the time to dig them out of the freezer and spread them all over a huge mound of chips and cheese.  Seriously, if you are going to take the time to make a slow cooked item like short ribs, it takes the exact same time to cook enough for 4 as it does for 6 (or 10 for that matter) so go ahead and make way more than you need.  Then when Thursday night football rolls around and you realize you don’t have a fabulous football meal planned for mid-week you can absolutely kill it with these nachos.

If you don’t have those short ribs tucked away in your freezer go ahead and throw some shredded chicken on here – really this is just a method.  Swap out cheddar for jack cheese or red salsa for green – it’s a great way to get rid of stuff hanging around in your fridge.  One pro tip courtesy of my husband – make sure to take the extra step of tossing half the chips and cheese together before topping with the rest.  That ensures you don’t just end up with one layer of cheese, neglecting lots of the chips.  This made the perfect football dinner (yep just for two people, no judging) but it would also make a great appetizer for Fiesta Friday.  I went ahead and just ate these babies straight off of the cookie sheet because I didn’t want to waste time transferring them to something nicer but for a dinner party just use two spatulas to transfer, should happen pretty easy with all that cheese acting as glue!

Short Rib Tacos 

  • 10 ounces of tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces of grated jack cheese
  • 1 to 3 fresno chilis (or jalapenos) thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover short ribs (or other shredded meat) – room temperature or rewarmed
  • 4 tablespoons salsa verde
  • 2 scallions, green and white part, chopped
  • sour cream to serve

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a cookie sheet spread half of the chips and half of the cheese and toss together.  Top with the rest of the chips, then evenly distribute over top the rest of the cheese, the chilis, the short ribs and the salsa.  Bake for 6 to 7 minutes until all the cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with the scallions and dollop on the sour cream or serve on the side.

Short Rib Tacos

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Yea I know, what won’t this woman put in a taco??  Pretty much nothing but honestly these are incredible, not just because of the flavor but how easy they are.  Time consuming sure but the “hands on” time is almost zero.  I got the methodology from Cooks Illustrated – if you have never picked up their magazine it’s definitely worth a try.  They basically do all the work for you by testing and retesting different ingredients, proportions and cooking methods in a super methodical, almost scientific way.  I can find sometimes the flavors a bit lacking, but the techniques they share are always spot on and flavor is easy to enhance with some tweaks.  This method is just genius because it cuts out the two most annoying things about slow cooking – browning and chopping.  Browning meat is incredibly important to flavor, as the heat carmelizes the sugars in the meat and really develops them.  By lifting the short ribs out of the liquid it’s braising in on onion slices these folks have discovered a way to get the browned meat without having to spend the time cooking each side before adding it to the pot with the aromatics.  Also by pureeing the sauce you lose the need to chop any of the veggies, meaning all you have to do is slice an onion and then everything else is just tossed in the pot.  I did this in a dutch oven but you could easily convert this to a slow cooker (especially in the summer not to heat up the house).  I included both so you can do either.  This recipe makes a ton so perfect for your next taco party.  It can be frozen for up to 6 months so if you don’t eat it right away divide the rest into smaller portions and then you can have pulled short rib tacos on a week night and blow everyone away.

Short Rib Tacos 

  • 1 ½ cups beer (I used Negro Modelo)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 6 ancho chiles, stemmed and torn into 1 inch pieces (I leave the seeds in but you can take them out for less heat)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano (dried)
  • ½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1-2 large onions, sliced ½ inch thick slices
  • 3 pounds boneless short ribs

Take the short ribs out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you are going to cook.  Pat them dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (if using the dutch oven).  Then dump in the beer, vinegar, anchos, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, clove and cinnamon in a large dutch oven (or slow cooker).  Season with salt and pepper again and then nestle in the onion rounds so they form a layer on the bottom of the pot (or slow cooker) that will keep the short ribs from touching the bottom.

Depending on the size of your onion it will probably only take one but have a second on hand just in case.  Place the short ribs on top and cover.  Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours (if using a slow cooker cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours).  The meat, even without browning, should have a nice crust on it.

Take out the meat and put it in a bowl.  Pull out the bay leaves and then blend the onions and the liquid in a blender or food processor.  The original said to trash the onions but why throw away flavor??  At this point you could probably just use the sauce but I like to get as much fat out of it as possible.  Easiest way to do this if you have time it to place it in the fridge or freezer until the fat creates a solid layer on top that you can scrape off (that will take a couple of hours).  If not just let sit until the fat rises to the top and skim it off.

Shred the meat with 2 forks or your fingers and stir it into the sauce.  It can be served right away, or stored in the fridge for a couple of days and the freezer for a couple of months.

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