Stracotto Al Barolo – Braised Beef in Red Wine

Stracotto al Barolo

I know, I know.  I suck.  Not having posted a thing since October is terrible.  But, sometimes life gets in the way, holidays, etc. etc.  But, I am back!  This year, I wanted to do something that I had read about a year ago, it was a group of people who chose a cook book and did a recipe or two from it.  I really can’t remember the fundamentals, but at home I decided it would be a great way to expand my knowledge, and to actually crack open my cook books and magazines.  It also think it will be quite fun because it’s a great way to involve the whole family.  My way of doing it is this: Every month, one of us chooses a cookbook.  I chose this months, “Italy – The Beautiful Cookbook”.  Then, we choose 9 recipes, 3 recipes each, to make in one month.  Obviously, I am going to try to stay true to the ingredients, but will omit or swap some ingredients that I simply can’t find here.

So, today is one of my recipe choices, only because its Sunday and it is a time-consuming recipe, the beef has to marinate overnight.  I chose this recipe because the picture in the book looked divine and the ingredients were promising.  This recipe hails from Piedmont, a northern region in Italy bordering France, so I am not surprised that it is basically like a Beef Bourguignon, but with Barolo wine and different herbs and spices.  That suits me just fine, I basically kind of wanted something heart and belly warming since I am sure we all can agree that this is one helluva cold winter!  This dish is simply delicious.  As the beef is cooking, your house will smell incredible, really mouthwatering.  I could hardly wait until the beef was done!  Rich and complex, it is a perfect sunday lunch meal.  I am absolutely positive it will become a favorite of yours too….my family devoured it!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

2lb (1kg) braising beef (I used eye of round)

2 carrots, cut into several pieces each

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 celery stalks, cut into several pieces

1/2 cup parsley

2 bay leaves

1 tsp juniper berries (which I didn’t find)

1/2 cup diced lard

1/2 bottle aged Barolo wine (or any other full bodied red you have on hand, I used Rioja)

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

Combine the meat, all the vegetables, the herbs, and the wine in a large bowl.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Remove the meat and dry well; reserve marinade.  Make little cuts on the surface of the meat and fill them with lard.  Brown the meat thoroughly in the butter and oil in a flame proof casserole.  Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Lift out the marinade vegetables with a slotted spoon and add to the meat.  Add 1 cup of the wine and salt to taste.  ( I added all the wine from the marinade).  Cover and braise in the oven for about 3 hours, adding more wine as needed to keep meat from drying out.  Halfway through the cooking time, take out the meat, slice thinly, and put back into the wine, with any juice on the cutting board.

Remove meat when done and place on a platter.  Put the vegetables and wine through a food mill or grind to a textured purée in a food processor.  Reheat this and pour over the meat.  Serve at once,  with potatoes, but I chose polenta.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Carne en Posta – Braised Beef Colombian Style


Carne en Posta

Carne en Posta is a staple of Colombian cuisine. You can basically find anything “En Posta”, from chicken to fish, but at my house, beef was the norm. Traditionally it is from the Caribbean region of Colombia, where my family is from (Barranquilla!) but now you can find it almost everywhere. This recipe was passed down from generation to generation in my family, and now I am the proud recipient! At my house we serve it with Arroz Con Coco (coconut rice, a staple in Cartagena) and Ensalada de Repollo (cabbage salad).

posta

As always, there are endless variations because everyone in Colombia has their own unique recipe. I am happy to share mine with you.  Make sure you have a side, like rice or bread, because this sauce is DIVINE my friends, truly finger lickin’ good!

 

2 lb. eye of round (cleaned of all fat)

1 tbsp ground cumin + 1/2 tsp

1 tbsp garlic salt + 1 tbsp

1 tbsp achiote (annatto seed)

1 tsp ground coffee

3/4 cup vegetable oil

dash of vinegar (whichever will do)

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 large green pepper, chopped

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

10 cups of hot water

1/4 can coca cola

 

Rub 1 tbsp of cumin, 1tbsp of garlic salt and 1tsp coffee over roast, and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, add the 3/4 cup of oil to the achiote seed in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until oil is red and fragrant. Be careful not to let the oil burn. Strain 1/4 cup of oil into a large heavy bottomed stock pot, and set aside the rest of the oil and seeds. Turn heat to high, and brown meat all over. Take pot off of the heat, take out meat and reserve on a plate and strain the rest of your oil into your stockpot and lower your burner to low. Place pot back on the burner and add the dash of vinegar and deglaze your pan.

Add your chopped vegetables, the remaining 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1 tbsp of garlic salt and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, place the meat and its juices back into pot and cover with the water. Raise heat to high, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Take off the cover, lower the heat to medium and boil for 1 hour.

Take the meat out and slice into 1/2 inch slices, put back into pot with any juices that have accumulated and add the coca cola, boil for another 2 hours approximately or until the meat is fork tender.

When it is done, take the meat slices out, strain the liquid into another bowl, wipe your original pot so there are no vegetable bits and discard the veggies if you like (or not, sometimes I don’t strain but it is a matter of personal taste). Return your cooking liquid and the meat to the pot and cook for a little more if the sauce needs thickening.

posta3

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Arroz con Pollo – Colombian Chicken and Rice

 

 

Arroz con Pollo

The last time I made this dish, was 5 years ago.  5 YEARS AGO?!?  Why the heck has it taken me so long to make it again?  As a child, this was the staple dish for large gatherings with my mum’s side of the family.  Really, what can be simpler, a crowd pleasing dish, that is full of protein, veggies, and best of all, flavor.

There a many variations of Arroz con Pollo, every family has their own recipe, and many latin american cultures have their methods too.  For example, the cuban variety uses the chicken on the bone, and the rice is a little soupier, almost like an Arroz Caldoso,  or soupy rice.

My version is probably influenced by my Italian grandfather, with the addition of olives and capers.  Either way, it is awesome.  It’s a dish that has a few steps, but totally worth it, because it’s a whole meal on a plate.  My daughter loves it, and always has, it was a great way for me to sneak it some vegetables that she would never normally eat.  As I said, there are many, many variations.  I like to use annatto seed, or as some call it, achiote.  This is a small red seed, and it is used for food coloring, much like saffron but with a nuttier taste.  In some countries, like Mexico, they grind the outer layer into a paste, but in Colombia you boil the seeds in oil or water until it releases its natural color.  The longer you boil, the deeper the hue you get, so it can turn your oil from yellow to deep red.  Then you discard the seeds and use the oil in your food.

Annato Seeds

 

I also like to use cabbage, well, because I love cabbage.  Then I add some raisins, because I love having every other bite give you a surprise of sweetness amid the saltiness of the olives and capers.

Ingredients for Arroz con Pollo

This dish is very heartwarming, and tastes of home and family to me.  I hope you take the time and make it so you and your family and friends can savour the tastes of Colombia!

So here’s what you’re gonna need:

Serves 8

For your basic white rice:

1/4 onion, finely minced

1/4 green pepper, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups long grain white rice

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

For the braised chicken:

1/4 cup annatto seeds

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 small green peppers, chopped

4 small tomatoes, chopped

4 scallions, sliced and set in a bowl of water to wash, then drained

1 heaping tbsp of cumin powder

2 tsp of salt, more to taste

1 packet of Sazon Tropical

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 chicken, cut in pieces, skinned

1 1/2 cups of cabbage, chopped, plus one large leaf to “cover the pot”

1 handful of green beans, chopped

2 tbsp of pimento stuffed green olives, sliced

3 tbsp raisins

1 tbsp capers, rinsed

1 cup water, or more to cover and braise the chicken

First, make your basic white rice.  In a medium heavy bottomed pot, add the vegetable oil, minced onion, green pepper and garlic over medium low heat.  Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and fragrant.  Wash your rice, and strain.  Add the rice, and then the four cups of water and the salt, and raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil, covered.  When the rice boils, lower the heat to medium low again, and leave the rice partially covered.  When the water is almost all evaporated, about 15 minutes, with a large wooden spoon, “turn” your rice, which basically means to flip the rice with the spoon so the bottom layer goes to the top and vice versa, and let it dry out, another 10 minutes.  Switch off the heat, and leave to further dry out, partially covered.

In the meantime, in a small saucepan, add the annatto seeds and the 1/4 cup oil and boil, for about 3-4 minutes or until the oil is a deep red hue.  Take off the heat and strain the oil into a large stock pot, discard the seeds.

Heat the oil over medium heat,  now you are going to make the Sofrito.

Sofrito, Ingredients

Add the onions, green pepper, tomatoes, scallions, cumin powder and salt.  Saute for about 15-20 minutes, until very soft, the vegetables have released their flavors and reduced, but not browned.  Add the carrot and cook another 5 minutes.  Now add your chicken and brown on all sides.  Add the water, sazon tropical, cabbage and bring to a boil.  When it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and “cover” it with the large cabbage leaf.

Arroz con Pollo

Let the chicken braise for about 15 minutes, and check to see how the breast is doing.  We don’t want to over cook the breast, so check it to see if it is cooked through, and if it is, take it out and keep cooking the rest of the chicken parts.  Add the green beans.  After about 10 more minutes, check the legs, thighs, and wings to see if they are cooked through.  If they are, remove and let cool along with the breast.  Add the olives, raisins and capers at this point.

When the chicken is cool to the touch, shred it and discard the bones.  Check the vegetables and see how much water has reduced.  You want it to be a bit liquidy, but not so much so as when you mix it with the rice it will be soupy.  If the liquid has almost reduced, turn off the heat.  If not, wait another 5 minutes.  You want about 1/8 cup of liquid, approximately.  Add the chicken back to the braising liquids, and then add your white rice and stir, so everything mixes up together and it is all beautifully colored a vibrant yellow.  Turn the heat down to low, and let “dry” a few more minutes, now fluffing with a fork.

You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to let it sit over night in the fridge, that way all the flavors meld.  Serve with a wedge of avocado and and ice-cold beer!

Buen Provecho!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla