Beer Braised Beef
This is one of my husband's favorite meals. Mind you one of my favorites too for its facility! Not many dishes, easy, not hands on, and delicious! By the time it is done simmering, the meat just falls apart on your plate with a spoon and has so many layers of flavor. It's more of a wintery dish, or fall if you actually have a fall (Not so much in Arizona) but when we were in Montreal it was something I always made once October hit.
Montreal Fall (Parc St. Cicile, Villeray) VS Arizona Fall (Telaquepaque, Sedona)
We as a family are not big meat eaters so this is a rare moment where I cook a HUGE hunk of meat. Mind you this lasts us a good week as we pick at it and indulge in various sides to make it different, but whatever your meat eating food style is, this can be adapted to other meats, like mutton, or chicken even! (I will post that recipe later) and the theory is the same. Braising!
I learned the importance of braising in one of my Cordon Bleu mastery classes I took years ago in Arizona (when we still had a Cordon Bleu). There are lots of techniques they went over, to obtain the liquid color and tint and flavor profile you want. What you need to know for this recipe is this:
* High heat searing of seasoned meat with a high smoke point oil (healthier choices are studied to be those like avocado oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil etc.) Click here for more reading on the importance of choosing your oil in accordance to your cooking techniques.
* Basic aromatic veggies and spices to your black bits at the bottom of your pan once your meat is fried (your fond for technical French terms). - In most cooking, your simple onion and garlic are enough. You can vary with more root veggies like carrots potatoes, yams, celery, to add to make the meal more in the flavor pallet you are use to or striving for. Same goes for herbs and spices.
* Then, deglaze! I use one can or bottle of my favorite beer or even a couple cups of wine works if you don't have a beer handy. Pick quality alcohol because the taste adds to your dish. Don't stress too much for the choice of alcohol, what you are doing is just rounding out the flavors with deeper notes so most alcohol will be great for this job.
As a general rule: if you like drinking it, you will enjoy eating it. Voilà!
Unlike bbq, that heats the meat, braising is a process of cooking that changes the chemical state of the meat known as the Maillard reaction.
SERVES 8 meals
Top Round or any tougher nicely marbled cut of meat. (usually one of the least expensive cuts) 4 lbs
1 onion roughly chopped
2 big bulbs of garlic smashed and peeled or peeled and halved
1 bottle of beer (chose your local fave for bonus points!)
3 cups other liquid either broth of choice or water (if you chose broth taste for salt because so you adjust in other areas of seasoning)
(more water as it evaporates)
3 table spoons oil (Bacon fat if possible)
Montreal steak spice (enough to generously coat your meat) OR Salt and pepper again generous coating on meat. You can also go fancy and make it as personalized with your spices and herbs as you'd like.
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Couple strips of any type of bacon cooked or uncooked (just a bonus if you have it. Definitely adds depth to the dish but still amazing if you don't have it).
Prepare and chop the veggies you chose to add to your pot set aside (onions garlic included at least).
Prepare a plate big enough to hold the hot seared meat you will soon have.
Bring your beer and liquids close by and ready to use, can/bottle ready and open. (Things happen fast and you want to be ready).
Coat your meat with the salt and pepper or montreal steak spice on both sides Generously because this is all the salt you'll be adding to the whole braise.
Heat your pan so it is scorching hot.
Add your oil, and gently place your meat down laying it away from you and allow to sizzle away. This takes minutes not seconds so be patient.
Your goal is to make a dark brown (almost black) sear on your meat. This caramelization is what adds most of the flavor to your braise.
Place your meat in a dish aside. Quickly add the veggies allow the liquids to evaporate and loosen the black parts left on the bottom of your pan (your fond) as you help it off the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon. Once the veggies get a bit translucent, add your beer and liquids stirring and scraping off the black bits off the pot so nothing is stuck to the bottom at this point (or it will just burn later so be dilligient).
NOTE: IF YOUR VEGGIES are NOT translucent and your black bits are just charcoalizing, BEFORE it gets too bad, add the liquid so it lifts and cools the pot and stops the burning. That's why it's important to have your liquids ready (I have learned the hard way :P) The dance is between maintaining your pan searing hot and your fond not becoming charcoal. Be aware and prepared, and all will be DELICIOUS!
Then add everything into the pot the juices of your meat that has rested as well. Close the lid on your pot and let it simmer on medium/low heat for at least 4 hours. I make this meal a day ahead so I let it simmer for a good 5-8 hours on a low heat. Be sure the liquid level stays higher than lower because you don't want it to completely evaporate and then everything burns and dries out.
I turn it the meat about every hour so one side doesn't get dry.
Lastly, your veggies will be MUSH. So if you are looking to have more than aroma to your dish, and still have a one pot meal, have a second batch of chunky root veggies to add like an hour before serving so it is cooked with some texture and you can just use that as your side.
I serve this with rice or mashed potatoes and sautéed or steamed veggies on the side.
Serve it up, and