Red Wine Braised Oxtail

Red Wine Braised Oxtail

2014-12-14 19.01.41 On a cold winter day, braised meat makes an ideal comfort food to warm your home and your belly.  I got turned on to oxtail several years ago after making an oxtail ragu with friends.  Recently I started buying this cut of beef again, and after a few tries I think I have perfected the recipe.  Oxtail is the relatively inexpensive tail of cattle skinned and cut into short lengths.  The meat has a large bony center with a gelatin rich core, excellent for making stock.  When cooked low and slow the meat will fall off the bone while the gelatin and fat will melt to make an amazingly flavorful and hearty meal.

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You will want to start this dish early in the afternoon to give it adequate time to develop flavor.  Braising is a simple but long process that yields delicious results with cheap cuts of meat.  One thing to keep in mind when braising any cut of meat is to use a wine that you enjoy drinking on its own, since the wine is such an integral part of the dish.  While at the market I was enticed by an even cheaper cut of beef along with the oxtail, the beef shank with bone, which I used in the dish with the oxtail.  I bought it because it basically looked like a larger piece of oxtail.  The friendly butcher at the Paulina Meat Market assured me it would braise beautifully.  He was right, I will definitely be buying and braising this cut again.

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Oxtail (left) and Shank with bone (right)

Previous times braising oxtail I did not bother to make a sauce out of the remaining juices, I just ladled the thin juices on top.  I found several recipes that recommend making a simple roux to thicken the liquid into a sauce, so I thought I’d give it a try.  It took an extra 5 minutes to make the sauce, but it was well worth the effort.  The sauce brought the dish to a whole new level, and if I do say so myself was better than anything I’ve eaten out in a while.

Ingredients:

-4-5 pounds of oxtail (I used 2 lbs of oxtail and 1 large shank of beef with bone)
-6 Tbsp butter, divided into 2 Tbsp pads
-2 large onions, diced
-3-4 large cloves of garlic, minced
-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
-2 stalks of celery, sliced
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-Salt and pepper
-Garlic powder
-2 sprigs of rosemary
-3 bay leaves
-3 Tbsp tomato paste
-1 bottle of red wine
-4 cups of chicken or beef stock
-2Tbsp flour

Directions:

1. Season meat on both sides liberally with salt, pepper, and powdered garlic.

2. In a large dutch oven on medium heat melt 2 Tbsp of butter and brown meat on all sides.  Brown in batches to avoid over crowding the pan.

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3. Remove meat when browned and set aside.  Add onions to dutch oven and season with salt, up to 2 tsp of black pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook on medium/low heat with 2 additional Tbsp of butter until lightly browned.

4. Add garlic, carrots, and celery and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes before adding tomato paste.

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5. Add wine, broth, rosemary sprigs, and bay leaves returning heat to medium, simmer until liquid is reduced to nearly half.

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6. Preheat oven to 325F.  Return meat to dutch oven with juices, bring to a simmer.  Cover with oven proof lid or cover tightly with foil.  Cook in oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

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7. Carefully remove bay leaves and rosemary sprigs.  The rosemary will break off from the stem, which is fine.  Remove 2/3 of the liquid from dutch oven and spoon into a small pan to make a sauce.

8. To make sauce: soften remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and mix with 2 Tbsp of flour to make a roux, stir into hot liquid to thicken into a sauce over medium heat for a few minutes to desired consistency.

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9. Serve over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.

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Enjoy!

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Bison Stuffed Acorn Squash

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As a kid my mom used to stuff squash with meatballs and bake them to make a complete meal in one self contained dish.  She was really onto something.  I have been making these little numbers for years, using my mom’s meatball recipe.  You can use any squash of your choosing, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, etc.  I decided to mix the meatball recipe up a bit when I found some good looking ground bison at the grocery store.  To enhance the fall flavor of the squash the bison was perfect.  I used rounded out the meatball with leeks and fennel.  The result was delicious!  I used 2 pounds of meat and was able to stuff 2 full acorn squash (4 halves) and 2 green peppers.  I don’t like to use bread crumbs in my meatballs, so these are paleo friendly.

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Ingredients:

-2 Acorn squash, halved and seeded.
-2 Green bell peppers, stem and core removed
-1 lb sausage (I used a spicy sausage)
-1 lb ground bison meat (you can use ground beef or turkey if bison isn’t your thing)
-1/2 tsp ground black pepper, heaping
-1/2 tsp celery salt
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp dried thyme, heaping
-1 tsp dried sage, heaping
-1/4 tsp red pepper flake
-1 leek quartered and sliced
-1/2 fennel bulb, diced

Directions:

1. Wash and prepare the squash and green peppers.

2. Mix together the meatballs by adding sausage, bison, seasonings, leeks, and fennel.

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3. Stuff meat mixture into center of squash and green peppers, arrange on a baking sheet.

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4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour (more or less, until meatball is cooked through).  Half way through cooking time I brushed some of the drippings around the top of squash to prevent drying.  You can also rub with oil or butter.

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With this dish I eat the skin of the squash as it gets soft with baking.  If you want you can serve with a small salad for a very healthy and delicious dinner!  A thick piece of toasted bread with goat cheese is also nice with this dish.

Don’t throw away the seeds from the squash, you can season and bake these as well to eat alone or toss onto a salad.  I seasoned mine with salt, pepper, and garlic.

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Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (more or less for desired browning/crisp)

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Enjoy!

Pork Rub

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A smoker is to summer as the crock pot is to winter.  Slow and low cooking of affordable meats yielding moist and delicious results.  Whether you choose to smoke over coals or go the electric route as we have, you are in for a treat.  Our outside setup has driven us the electric route, and we have not been disappointed over the ease and quality of results.  It is now part of our regular Sunday routine, making enough meat or fish to eat for lunch and dinner all week long.  Today we are smoking a pork shoulder-butt with a homemade rub.  I wanted to share this rub recipe as it is easy and flavorful for a summer of grilling or smoking.  Starting out a little spicy and salty there is a hint of sweet that is perfect for pork.

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Ingredients: 

2 Tbsp Paprika (hot or sweet based on preference, I used a mix of the two)
1 Tbsp ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Cayenne Powder
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

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Directions: 

Mix all ingredients together and use liberally over meats 20-30 minutes before cooking.

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Easy Summer Chicken Salad

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Chicken salad is such an easy and seemingly fancy meal to serve at a picnic or pack for lunch.  With a good quality and flavorful chicken, keeping the recipe simple is better.  Today I used a bunch of the beautiful dill we got in our crop share and leftover smoked chicken to make this quick lunch.  I will be starting to post a few of our smoker recipes in the near future, as it is our newest cooking obsession.  If you don’t have homemade smoked chicken you can use grilled, roasted, or even baked chicken for your salad.  This is a great way to recreate your leftovers into an entirely new meal.

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Ingredients: 

1/2 smoked chicken, pulled and diced
1/3 cup of mayo (more or less for desired consistency)
handful of dill chopped
1/8-1/4 cup of red onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

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Directions: 

Combine all ingredients together and serve over a salad, on bread, or wrap!

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NOTE: You can substitute other herbs if you don’t have dill on hand, such as thyme, cilantro, basil, parsley, chives even mint.  Green onions are a nice addition to this in a wrap and of course some tomatoes and avocado to get some extra vegetables on your plate.

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Dijon and Chive Grilled Chicken

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While I was home this past weekend at my parent’s house my mom supplied me with some very delicious fresh herbs.  And when I say some, I mean a seriously hefty amount.  I am going to start up an herb series to help everyone get their own herb garden started and give you ideas of what to do when you are faced with a large amount of fresh cut herb goodness.  Herbs are such an easy way to add flavor and spice to your food without the calories or fear of processed chemicals.  Before I get the series started I wanted to share this amazing chicken recipe.

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In a traditional glaze, which I typically use with a ham, I combine some sort of sugar (brown sugar, regular sugar, honey, agave, etc) with a mustard (honey mustard, yellow mustard, brown mustard, dijon mustard, you get the point), and maybe a splash of citrus (lemon juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, etc).  Today I wanted to use my abundance of chives, so I combined agave and dijon mustard with a small handful of fresh cut chives.  The result was fantastic.  It turned our grilled chicken into a flavorful and juicy treat.  I drizzled the extra glaze over the finished product, you can thicken it with some mayo or greek yogurt if you want a creamy gravy for on top.

The key to a sugary glaze is to hold off on adding it to the meat until the last few minutes of cooking.  The sugars will get activated and can burn if you put it on too soon.  When added at the end and given a few minutes to adhere to the meat, you will get the full benefit of the glaze and you will also seal in moisture!

Ingredients:

2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3-4 Tbsp of agave (or sugar of choice)
1-2 Tbsp of dijon mustard (or mustard of choice)
1-2 Tbsp of fresh cut chives
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  If you want to cut back on cooking time and increase glaze coverage, either butterfly the breasts or beat with meat hammer.

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2. Mix together agave, mustard, and chives in a small bowl.  Adjust proportions to taste preferences.

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3. Grill chicken on a hot grill (around 400-450 degrees).  In the few minutes before the chicken is fully cooked glaze on all sides and finish cooking until center reaches 165 degrees.

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4. Drizzle with extra glaze if desired.

This goes really well over a salad or with a side of grilled vegetables for a complete healthy meal.  Don’t forget you can eat the flower of the chives as well.  Just remove the center stem and sprinkle over your salad or chicken for a little extra chive flavor!

Enjoy and Eat Well!

Summer Turkey Burgers

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Summer is almost here, which means grilling season is upon us.  There is something so magical about coming home from work and smelling the unmistakable fragrance of a hot grill.  Burgers are a classic and easy dinner option that can be put together and grilled in a pinch.  Turkey burgers are not as popular of a choice when grilling as traditional beef patty burgers, the main reason being the fat content.  As much as we don’t want to admit it, the fat content in a good beef burger is where all the extra juicy goodness comes from.  To get past this minor flaw, I brushed the outside of my burgers with avocado oil before grilling to instill some healthy fat into the patty and seal in some moisture.  I chose avocado oil because of its high smoke temperature, indicating to me that it would likely hold up to the heat on the grill well.  This did the trick, the patties turned out both flavorful and juicy.  My other idea was to incorporate some coconut oil into the patty itself, I haven’t tried this yet but imagine it would have a nice result.

The turkey burgers also tend to need a little extra kick in the flavor department.  The green onions and fresh thyme made for a nice flavor profile to these healthy burgers.  As my herb garden grows, I look forward to trying different flavor combinations in the patties.  For serving I chose a bed of lettuce and grilled vegetables, delicious and very healthy.

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Ingredients:

1 pound of lean ground turkey
1 heaping Tbsp of fresh thyme, center stem removed
2 green onions sliced, yellow and white pieces
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
avocado oil for brushing

Directions:

 

1. Mix ingredients together all except for avocado oil.

2. Separate into patties of your desired size and mold into thin disks.

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3. Brush outside with avocado oil and grill on hot grill (400-425 degrees) for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the patties.   Internal temperature should be 165 degrees for eating.

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Enjoy and Eat Well!

Asian Pulled Chicken and Pork with Homemade Hoisin Sauce

2014-04-26 20.09.14This pulled pork and chicken recipe came into existence starting with a recipe  I found online at the site http://www.justataste.com.  I thought it looked amazing and simple to make.  My only problem with the recipe is using a store bought hoisin sauce.  I searched for a way to make a homemade hoisin sauce to avoid any unknown or unnecessary ingredients.  With a little time I found a really easy looking recipe from Gwyneth Paltrwo that totally fit the bill.  This recipe however required red miso paste, which I have never used or even seen for sale at the grocery store before.  This then took me on a trip to the Asian Supermarket, aka, the coolest market ever.  Since this experience I have made several Asian inspired meals that I have never before attempted.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with ramen noodles more in the future.

This is my spin on the initial recipe, in my opinion a little healthier and more flavorful.  I served it the first time over rice with asparagus as pictured.  The next time I tried it both over salad greens and as a slider with coleslaw (check out summer coleslaw recipe in sides section).  All options were really great, I would even like to try the meat in a soft shell taco with coleslaw and fresh cilantro.  The hoisin sauce recipe is a little spiced up as well with red chili paste (another ingredient courtesy of the Asian supermarket).  The hoisin sauce recipe makes an entire cup, so the leftovers can be used in a stir fry or used as a barbecue sauce for ribs, chicken, pork, shrimp, etc.  Use the sauce up within one week, stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Ingredients:

Hoisin Sauce Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil (I used avocado oil, but anything will do)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 cup red miso paste (I don’t know what this is exactly, I found a soybean paste and used that, but it was brown colored)
1 tsp red chili paste (I added this for a little heat)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar (I used regular rice vinegar)

Pulled Chicken and Pork Ingredients:

3-4 pounds of meat (I used a combo of 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and pork tenderloin)
5 slices of thick cut bacon
1/2 cup honey (I used a raw honey), heaping
1/2 cup of soy sauce (low sodium), heaping
1/3 cup blackberry jam
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup red pepper flakes
1 Serrano pepper, sliced thin (any hot pepper will do if you want to add more heat)
1 Tbsp corn starch
sesame seeds, green onions, or chives to garnish.

Directions:

1. Start by making the hoisin sauce first.  Heat oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat, add minced garlic and Chinese five-spice and cook until fragrant less than one minute.

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2. Whisk in remaining hoisin sauce ingredients and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens and is heated through.

3. This will make 1 cup of hoisin sauce, so you will have some remaining.

4. Leave a Tbsp of hoisin sauce in the pan and return heat to medium.  Add bacon and cook through.

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5. Add onion and garlic, cooking for a few minutes until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant.

6. Add honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, blackberry jam, red pepper flakes, and Serrano pepper.  Whisk to dissolve and heat through.

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7. In large crock pot line bottom with chicken and pork, pour heated mixture over top and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

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8. When fully cooked, remove chicken and pork to shred with two forks.

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9. Thicken juices remaining in slow cooker with cornstarch as directed on cornstarch packaging.  Return shredded meat to slow cooker and stir to combine.  Continue to cook on low for 30 minutes before serving.

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10. Garnish with seeds, green onions, or chives served over a green salad, rice, or served on a bun with coleslaw.