Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Braised Peppercorn Beef Shank

Wow guys, thanks for all the feedback lately! I had no idea the saltimbocca would be such a hit. :) I hope some of you tried it out and found it as delicious as we did.

Today I have one of my favorite, no-fail, comfort food recipes. It's a slow cooked crosscut beef shank. I do most of my meat shopping at Whole Foods and they don't always have these shanks, so when they do I tend to stock up and buy 3-4 of them. I might buy even more if I actually had space for a big freezer. They usually weigh in at about 1.5 lbs a piece and they have a nice fat marrow bone in the middle of them. If you can't get a beef shank, I'm pretty sure any beef cut suitable for braising would work using this technique.

serves 2

1-1.5 lb crosscut beef shank with bone
1-2 T crushed black pepper
generous pinch of sea salt
4-5 peeled garlic cloves
4-5 rosemary sprigs
1/2 bottle dry red wine (I usually use an ~$8-10 cabernet sauvignon)

Preheat the oven to 225.

Place the shank in a casserole dish that is just large enough to hold it. Scatter the garlic and rosemary over it, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pour in the red wine.

Cover the casserole and stick it in the oven for 7-10 hours.

That's it! When you pull it out of the oven, it will fall apart at the slightest touch of a fork. Just shred it all together, mash the garlic cloves and bone marrow into it, and serve it with a slotted spoon so that it's not swimming.

I like to serve it with a green veggie and a squash. Tonight it was steamed green beans (eep! not entirely paleo I know) and roasted buttercup squash. This was the first time we've had buttercup squash and it was delicious. It's really substantial, almost like a potato, and has a lovely sweetness.


Idea for this recipe came from here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/453908

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chicken Saltimbocca and Braised Escarole

serves 2

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
fresh sage leaves
1/4 lb thinly sliced prosciutto ham
olive oil

for pan sauce:
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp arrowroot dissolved in 1 tsp cold water

Take your chicken breasts and slice them as thinly as you possibly can. If you can't slice them thin enough by hand or if your knife is not sharp enough, then just slice them as thin as they'll go and then pound them to 1/4 inch thickness or less. I got 4-5 thin slices out of each breast.

Lay your chicken pieces out and top each slice with several whole fresh sage leaves. Place a slice of prosciutto on top of each piece of chicken and pat it down so it adheres to the chicken.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. You want the pan pretty hot so that it will brown the meat without overcooking it (since it's so thin). Cook the chicken in batches, starting prosciutto side UP first. This will let the chicken contract a little without the prosciutto shrinking. Flip the chicken and let the prosciutto side cook until it looks crispy. Remove to a plate and finish up the rest of the chicken in the same manner, adding more olive oil to the pan if necessary.

Once all the chicken is done, add the white wine and chicken broth to the pan and deglaze by scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Once the liquid has reduced a little, stir in the arrowroot/cold water slurry and stir quickly to thicken. Serve the sauce over the chicken.

1/2 head of escarole, chopped and washed
2 T raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup white wine or chicken broth
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic

Heat a glug of oil over medium heat and add the whole garlic cloves. Once the garlic starts sizzling, add the escarole, raisins, pine nuts, salt, and liquid. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and braise for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and let the liquid cook off. This results in plump raisins, but the pine nuts get kind of plump and soft too. If that's not to your taste, you can leave the pine nuts out and toast them in a skillet or toaster oven and then add them to the dish at the last minute.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pan Roasted Cauliflower with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

serves 2

1/2 head of cauliflower broken up into medium sized florets
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly smooshed
4 T (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

You want to use a not nonstick pan for this in order to achieve the proper level of roastiness. :)

Heat the oil and garlic in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil gets good and hot and the garlic starts sizzling, add the cauliflower in a single layer. Let it go without stirring for longer than you think you should. Peek under a floret and if it is nicely browned use a spatula to flip the florets and get a different side roasty. Once again, let it go until the other side is nice and brown. At this point, turn the heat to low, salt the cauliflower to your taste, cover the pan, and let it steam itself for 10 minutes. Voila! Perfectly tender, roasty cauliflower with the bonus of a few little roasty garlic cloves. Mmm.

This cauliflower goes perfectly with roasted red pepper sauce.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
1 red bell pepper
1 T white wine vinegar
1 peeled and slightly smooshed garlic clove
1.5 T extra virgin olive oil

Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil. Bake the bell pepper until the skin starts to blacken, about 30-40 minutes. Pull the pepper out of the oven and use the foil to wrap it up into a packet. Let it sit steaming in it own residual heat for 10-15 minutes. Unwrap the pepper. The skin should be very loose and quite easy to peel off. Peel the pepper and discard all the skin and seeds.

Heat the vinegar and garlic clove in a small pan until it gets fragrant. Discard the garlic clove.

Puree the bell pepper, garlic infused vinegar, and olive oil in a food processor. You can add a little pinch of salt and some red pepper flakes or cayenne powder if you want a bit of a kick.

Keeps well for a few days in the fridge and makes enough sauce to use several times for different veggies.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Marinated Lamb and Spicy Sweet Eggplant

Sorry for the hiatus. :) We got back from Alaska, but then 3 days later we left for another week and a half to go spend time with my husband's family at the beach. I'm just now getting back and getting cooking again! And let me tell you, I have missed my own food, lol. To make up for it, here's two recipes instead of one.

Again, I apologize for the crummy picture. There's no natural light in the room I take the pictures in and my flash is just awful. :(

serves 2

2 boneless lamb cutlets
red wine vinegar (if your version of paleo doesn't allow for vinegar, substitute a different acid such as lemon or lime juice)
extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley
minced garlic
ground turmeric
crushed coriander seeds
sea salt

Stab the meat all over with a fork. Put it into a plastic bag along with all the other ingredients. I didn't measure anything when I did this...just eyeball it. A good glug of vinegar, two glugs of olive oil, large handful of parsley, a few cloves of garlic, a teaspoon or so of turmeric, a small palmful of coriander, and a large pinch of salt. Let this marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, and longer if you like. Preheat your broiler and then broil the lamb until it is pink in the center (I had 2 4-oz cutlets and I broiled them 5 minutes on each side). The flavors of this were really, really good. I mean really good. I can't wait to make it again good. Try it!

1 medium to large purple eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
1 inch of gingerroot, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T of honey or agave nectar
1/4-1/2 cup water
sea salt

Slice the eggplant into thick rounds. Using the olive oil, brown the slices in two batches in a large skillet. Remove the eggplant to a plate. It will probably have soaked up all of the oil, so add about 1/4 cup water to the pan and then throw in the garlic and ginger and stir until it is fragrant. Add the cumin, hot sauce, lemon juice, and honey and stir to combine. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and make it look saucy. Place the eggplant back into the pan, nestling them all in together. Put the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes until the eggplant has absorbed all of the sauce. You can flip the eggplant at some point if you want, but it's not necessary. By the end of cooking they should be very very soft. Let the eggplant cool slightly and salt to taste. This dish is good both hot and at room temperature. I like it so much that the paper I have it printed on is practically see-through with all the crud I've spilled on it in the kitchen while making this delicious eggplant. :)


As you can see from the picture we also had asparagus with this meal, but all I did was snap the ends off and steam it for 5 minutes. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my husband and I do!