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Triple B… and Gluten Free… Beer Braised Beef becomes a take away meal

Finding time to get together with friends can sometimes prove challenging when everyone’s schedules need to converge to make it happen.  We made arrangements last month with new friends who have recently moved into our neighbourhood.  The lady of that house has just recently found out that she needs to eat gluten-free… after years of struggling with a bad stomach, at 40, cut out gluten and the symptoms cleared up.  So when we coordinated on a day, I offered to bring the main meat dish for the meal.

We just filled the freezer up with this years side of beef.  We love knowing where our food is coming from.  We are very fortunate and grateful to have the ability to raise our own cattle and then get the satisfaction of exceptionally great tasting cuts all year.

Our friend Carla Johnson, has written a great book called ‘Cooking With Sin…Great recipes dipped in alcohol and wrapped in a wonderful story…’   She also has a blog, http://cookingwithsin.com/wp-content/themes/cookingwithsin-newtheme/images/headerad.png.

I know… you are wondering where I am going with this…  well Carla wondered if I had a great Gluten Free recipe that featured alcohol (that’s the Sin part of her book!) and whether I could give with her one so that she could share it on her blog.  I got to thinking that I could combine my homegrown beef with a some beer, get a nice hearty winter meal AND a blog post at the same time.

I decided to take an existing recipe and adapt it to Gluten Free.  The recipe also called for it to be cooked in a crock pot and that the beef be cut into stew sized chunks.  I did neither.  I did use the slow cooker setting

on my oven,  but I hadn’t left quite enough time for that so I ended up finishing it on top of the stove.  In the recipe I won’t put the stove option as this step would actually make the recipe more time-consuming and most home cooks are looking for ease these days.  Not everyone is interested in slow food…

Beer Braised Beef (Gluten Free)

5 slices thick bacon, diced
3 large onions, halved and sliced
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
salt
black pepper
vegetable oil
3-4 lbs round steak, 3/4 inch thick cut in desired portion sizes
all-purpose celiac flour or other GF flour
1 bottle, 12 oz, of GF beer or ale
1 cup GF beef stock or other stock or water.
2 tsp dried thyme ( I used more than the original recipe)

Cook the bacon dice until crisp and transfer to paper towels and set aside. Add onions to drippings and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until soft.  Sprinkle brown sugar over onions and increase the heat to medium high and cook onions until they are golden,  about 8 minutes. Add vinegar, salt and pepper.  Transfer the onion mixture to your baking dish. Large enameled oval roaster works well.

Sprinkle the beef with a bit of salt and the flour.  Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the beef on both sides.  Transfer the beef to the roaster on top of the onions.  Add the beer and stock to the heated pan and scrape up the brown bits,  reduce the liquid a bit, then pour it over the beef in the roaster.  Top with the bacon and thyme.

Cook in a 350 over, approx 2 hours.  Check after 1.5 hours for desired tenderness. Alternately, you could slow cook for about 8 hours or braise on the top of the stove for about 1.5 hours.  More stock would be needed for stove top braising.

When I checked my beef about an hour before we left, I realized that I had not left enough time to use the slow cook setting in my oven.  I have a VERY large All Clad straight sided Saute pan so I transferred the beef and liquid to it and braised it on the stove top.  The result was great and the liquid cooked down nicely.

The flavours in this dish are considered Flemish… or Belgian… so our friends cooked up Belgian frites(twice cooked) to go with it.  I must say the combination was fabulous.  Will definitely be adding this one to the cooking roster and with the deep fryer that I hope to be getting for Christmas… I am sure you will be seeing a future post when I start experimenting making fries….yum.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Why do they call it carbonara anyways…?

Spaghetti Carbonara…..The origin of this typical Roman pasta dish is as recent as the Second World War.  One story, which seems more the product of a fertile imagination than fact, tells of how American soldiers would go into Roman trattorie and order bacon and eggs with a side of pasta.  They were served a sunny side up egg and pancetta (or more likely guanciale, cured pork jowl) and a plate of unseasoned spaghetti.  When they mixed the two, Spaghetti alla Carbonara was born. Another story says that it was invented in a small town in southern Italy called Carbonia, by a chef who later moved to Rome and named the dish after his hometown.  Some people simply say it’s called “Carbonara” because the generous grindings of pepper look like coal dust (carbone means coal in Italian).  In any case, it is a luscious dish, whose creaminess comes from the raw eggs’ contact with the hot pasta rather than cream. …..  Thank you to the Educated Palate for that VERY informative description!  http://giulianohazan.com/blog/

It has been a favourite of mine for ages,  I introduced my brother to it somewhere along the way and he was just amazed that a pasta dish that was described at ‘bacon and egg pasta’  could be sooooo good.

Comforting and good it is. Too much of it… and you want to wretch.  There is a fine line between too much of it and too little of this very rich pasta dish.  Don was out tonite, and  as I hadn’t been cooking too much as of late, I needed some food therapy.  The Atlas was acting up,  I am not sure what is going on, but the spaghetti setting seems to be having some jamming issues…. this is the second time that I was troubled by it.  But alas, the spaghetti still turned out fine,  just a little thicker than usual.

Pasta is very easy.  Preferably you take 00 flour and mix with some eggs, salt and olive oil if you want, knead, rest and you have pasta.  Using the Atlas or something like it, makes the actual pasta making part WAY easier. While at cooking school,  the Atlas there had a motor…..Now we’re talking, I will certainly be asking for a motor for mine in the future!

After the dough rests, you run it through the machine, folding it on itself a number of times, then keep changing the settings and you have sheets.  Then add the spaghetti attachment, run it through, add some flour to keep it separated and you have spaghetti.  There are numerous instructions on the internet so I won’t bore you here with the fine details.

When I was at the Italian Bootcamp at the Culinary Institute of America(CIA) in November 2010,  our chef, Chefsky (don’t try to pronounce his last name), suggested a book that would certainly help us in our Italian cooking adventures.  The book, The Fine Art of Italian Cooking (Guiliano Bugialli) a book originally scribed in 1977, updated to 1990 and available on Amazon.com for 99 cents…. oops I stand corrected,  available for 63 cents,  but the 99 cent one was in Oregon and was the closest one to BC and so that was the one I ordered.  $3.99 to ship and so in my hands I had the cookbook recommended… and I felt that I had a ‘green’ book because I paid more to have it sent from a ‘closer’ spot…  sheesh…(what will be doing next!)  Well at least I had ordered a ‘recycled’ book.  This one ended up being in mint condition.

For this job, I decided to use the carbonara recipe from this ever so revered book and I must say, I was not let down.  We have already addressed the spaghetti portion,  so now all you need are the rest of the ingredients.  The recipe called for pancetta,  and as I don’t keep pancetta on hand,  I used thick slab bacon instead.  I followed the instructions and rendered it down with garlic and red pepper flakes.  Let me interrupt here with the garlic here….. I had grabbed the VERY shrivelled garlic from the pantry… and then had the A-HA moment that my garlic in the garden would at this point be…. SPRING GARLIC.  Spring garlic is regular garlic that has not been dried.  The French, who use copious quantities of the stuff, describe garlic use as this:   11 months of dried garlic, 1 month of spring garlic.  For the 1 month of spring garlic, all the same recipes are used… they just taste of ‘spring’ garlic instead of our regular ‘dried’ garlic.

The balance of the recipe is easy,  after you have rendered the pancetta-bacon, you keep it hot, whisk the eggs and the grated parmesan cheese together in anticipation of the final ‘tossing’ into the hot pasta.

So the final stage is the fresh pasta thrown into a LARGE pot of boiling salted water, salted like the sea, according to our CIA chefs.  I use my 8 quart All Clad pot and after a few short minutes, drain it, throw in a large bowl, toss in the rendered bacon, then follow immediately with the egg and cheese mixture and toss away.YUM!!

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Food

 

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