Three-Cheese Calzones with Marinara and Salame Toscano

IMG_1166It was a busy day here in the Solberg house, as we are preparing for Spring’s arrival (someday).  There was cleaning to do on every level of the house, by every member of the household.  There was some initial lawnwork to be done – don’t ask – and both the Twins and the Wild were playing.   In the midst of this there was grocery shopping, laundry to be done, a soccer game and a soccer practice.  Busy, busy, busy!

With all of that, Cath looked over her dinner menu for the day and decided, “I don’t think I want this.  Can you make a pizza dough so we can have calzones?”  Are you kidding?  I always have time to make pizza dough.  Especially for calzones!

We hadn’t made this particular recipe before, and Cath assembled the ingredients for the filling ahead of time.  That was very thoughtful, as all I needed to do was make the crusts and then actually bake them.  The last few times we’ve made calzones they were pretty tough, and I have to take full responsibility.  I worked far too much flour into the dough, and it became very difficult to use.  In addition, I’ve never really measured out that dough, and when it came time to make an individual calzone there was just too much crust!

I’ve learned a lot about pizza dough from my experience with the recipes from Bon Appetit, and that experience served me well here.  I didn’t have the 18 hours of rise time I needed for that crust (no exaggeration!), but I was able to give this crust an extended rise throughout the day.  I also worked in the bare minimum amount of flour needed, so that it was quite sticky.  I’ve found that a high moisture content is a key for producing texture that is crispy on the outside, yet tender and chewy on the inside.  Finally, there was almost no kneading of the dough.  I mixed it, let it rise, and that was about it.

One last key to the success of this dough?  I actually measured it out – gasp! – to ensure I used what the recipe called for.  I know, that just sounds wrong doesn’t it?  Turns out it’s a pretty good idea.  I cut off what I thought was the right amount for a single calzone, and then, for kicks, I decided to weigh it.  The recipe specified each crust to be a quarter pound of dough, but when I measured mine I found I had 8 ounces.  Twice as much!  I was a little shocked, but I dutifully cut the dough in half, rolled it into a ball and let it rise for another 45 minutes.  It didn’t look like it would be enough at all, but it worked perfectly.  Who knew?  Lesson learned; when in doubt measure your ingredients.

These calzones were simple, but they tasted terrific.  We served them with a warmed marinara sauce for dipping, as well as a few slices of Salame Toscano from the deli at our local market.  The cheese filling was a savory mixture of the cheese flavors, and I think I enjoyed the ricotta most of all.  The crust was very light and crispy, with the thicker portions on the ends being delightfully chewy.  The warm marinara was perfect for dipping, and we complemented this flavor with a glass of Spanish red tempranillo we had left over from the evening before.  The salame toscano provided a rich contrast to the cheese flavors, which really helped to make this meal interesting with the changes in flavor in every bite.  In all it was a wonderfully hearty meal for the end of a very busy Sunday.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Marinara sauce, warmed, for dipping
  • 4 ounces sliced salame toscano

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  NOTE:  We are big believers in the pizza stone, and that’s what I used for this recipe.  I placed the stones in the oven, and then preheated to 450 degrees F. for 45 minutes to ensure they were at the proper temperature.
  2. Make the filling: Mix the mozzarella, ricotta, basil, scallions, 1/4 cup parmesan and the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl until combined. Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into a 7-to-8-inch round.
  3. Spoon one-quarter of the filling onto one half of each dough round, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Lightly brush the edges of the dough with some of the beaten egg; fold the dough over the filling and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Brush the calzones with the remaining beaten egg and cut 2 slits in the top of each to let steam escape. Sprinkle the calzones with the remaining 2 teaspoons parmesan, then bake until golden brown and cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce and the salami toscano.

Jay’s Signature Pizza Crust

NOTE: I honestly don’t know who Jay is, but I found his pizza crust recipe years ago and it’s been a staple in our house.  It’s very tasty, and wherever Jay is I hope he knows we appreciate it very much!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.
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Guinness Stout-Braised Beef with Irish Soda Bread Buns

Guinness Stout-Braised BeefHappy St. Patrick’s Day!

Here in the Twin Cities we have a bright blue sky, and the sun is shining brilliantly, so you know it’s a lovely day.  In related news, we’re also under a winter weather advisory and, while the predicted blizzard looks like it’s going to bypass us, we are still expecting something like 4-6 inches of snow.  Probably during my morning commute.

So why am I feeling so cheerful?  Who has time to be grumpy on St. Patrick’s Day?  In days long gone we might have been out celebrating with a pint or two of green beer.  That doesn’t happen much anymore, so instead we turn our energy to celebrating with Irish-themed creations in the kitchen.  Usually I try to make my Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey-Caramel Sauce, but this year we’re doing something different.

In the past we’ve enjoyed corned beef in all its variations, but today we’re having a more authentically Irish dinner:  a beef roast braised in Guinness Stout beer and beef stock.  The idea came from Esquire Magazine, in an interesting article on the Americanization of various cultural holidays across the world.  I have to admit, we have a certain influence on the way these things are celebrated!Irish Soda Bread Buns

In addition to the braised beef, I was reading my Sunday New York Times, as I love to do, and I happened to see a great little article on making Irish Soda Bread Buns.  I’ve never tried them before, but they certainly seemed very straightforward, so I knew I had to give them a try.  In a word, they were fantastic!  My girls love when I bake loaves of artisan bread, and this was definitely a hit with them.  They were no trouble at all to make, and we happened to have the ingredients on hand, so I’m very glad I was able to add them to this meal.

The best part of making this meal?  Every time someone walked in the door on this busy day, I got to hear them exclaim, “Oh my gosh, that smells so good!”  Makes me glad we opted for a tender, pull apart beef roast that required a 4-hour braise in the oven.  Yum!

Guinness Stout-Braised Beef

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb. boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, washed and cut into 4 piece
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 10 oz Guinness Stout beer
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • About 1.5 liters veal or beef stock
  • Kosher salt

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Remove any skin or fat surrounding the beef roast, dry it with paper towels, and season it generously with salt. Heat half of the olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven (or other heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot) over medium-high heat and add half of the butter. Once the butter is hot and bubbling, sear the meat in until it reaches deep golden brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer it to a tray along with any liquid. Heat the rest of the olive oil and butter in the pot and add the chopped vegetables, cooking them until browned. Pour in the stout and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the stock and the herbs and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beef — which should sit covered about 2/3 of the way up by liquid — and cover with a lid. Place into the oven for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the meat is very tender.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, transfer the beef to a serving platter and tent it with foil to keep it warm. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and return it to the pan, boiling it over medium heat until it reaches a saucey consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the beef with your desired sides.

Irish Soda Bread Buns

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, more for greasing pan
  • 155 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups), more as needed
  • 95 grams whole wheat pastry flour ( 3/4 cup)
  • 55 grams sugar ( 1/4 cup)
  • 7 grams baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 5 grams salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 5 grams baking soda ( 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk, more for brushing
  • 1 large egg
  • 90 grams dried currants (about 2/3 cup)
  • 8 grams caraway seeds (about1 1/2 teaspoons)

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet.  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Stir wet mixture into dry one until they just form a moist dough. Stir in currants and caraway seeds.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a 7-inch round about 1-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Using lightly floured hands, roll each wedge into a ball and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Using kitchen shears, snip a small “x” into the top of each bun. (You can also use a knife.) Brush tops with a little buttermilk, and dust lightly with flour.
  4. Transfer baking sheet to oven. Bake until buns are golden brown and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Pork Milanese with Arugula and Cherry-Tomato Salad

There are days when simple is wonderful, don’t you think?  When you want to savor a dinner without a big fuss, and enjoy a few moments with your family.  Tonight was that type of evening, and I’d love to say that it was all about our sense of togetherness, but I have to admit that we had a bit of encouragement from the weather.  Did I mention that it’s nearly 100 degrees outside?  Our Minnesota sensibilities have been rocked by this heatwave, and it was obvious that tonight we just needed to move slowly and speak in a leisurely manner.  This meal was a fantastic centerpiece for just such a plan.

The original menu called for hamburgers on the grill, but late in the afternoon a hot wind began buffeting the house and we knew it’d be tough to keep a grill lit for cooking.  Thank goodness!  I offered to give it a try, but Cath had a better idea: pork chops in a pan.  I have to admit that I was secretly relieved.  The scent of these chops frying in olive oil was heavenly, and the crunchy crust was a terrific complement to the savory moist meat.  The arugula salad was quite simple as well, but we very much enjoyed the peppery flavor.  Megan, our oldest, commented on how much she enjoyed the salad as well.  New tastes are developing here in the Solberg house!

This is an easy meal, perfect for an evening when you’re not driven to create culinary art.  Funny, it felt a little artsy as we plated it to serve, so maybe it was an example of a reductionist abstract with a – oh forget that, it was delicious.  And that’s good enough for me!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 8 1/4-inch thick boneless pork chops (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • thick slices white sandwich bread
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 5 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • lemon wedges, for serving

Preparation:

1.  Season the pork shops all over with salt and paper.  Pulse the bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs (you should have about 3 cups).  Transfer the breadcrumbs to a shallow baking dish and toss with the cheese, parsley and rosemary.  Whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl.  Put the flour in another shallow bowl.  Dredge each chop in the flour, then dip in the beaten eggs and coat in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing so the coating sticks.

2.  Heat 1/4-inch olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Working in batches, cook the pork chops until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

3.  Toss the arugula and tomatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Divide the pork chops among plates and season with salt.  Serve with the arugula salad and lemon wedges.

Teriyaki-marinated Flank Steak with Pineapple Rice

Summertime in Minnesota is a lot like summertime anywhere else, only a little more so.  Big words, right?  I mean, why should a summer day in the north mean any more to me than it does to your average Floridian?  I’ll tell you why:  because we just don’t have enough of them!  Not like this, not like today.  When you live in the north you endure months of winter, with cold and snow and ice, with frozen ears and work commutes in darkness both morning and night.  It wears on you and beats you down just a little, until you start to think it’ll never end, because how could it, really?  These days are all you can remember anymore.  It’s really cold out there.

And then, like magic, summer comes.  Suddenly, on a day like today, you really notice how the sunlight washes over you and just makes you feel happy.  You appreciate fully how beautiful this place can be. 

So what’s the big deal?  What brings all this to mind?  Today was a long day of working in the yard under a summer sun, with my dog lounging nearby to keep me company.  When all the days chores were finished and the dirt washed away, my little homestead wasn’t perfect but it sure was beautiful.  For the perfect end to a great day, Cath prepared this delicious meal that truly tasted like summer feels.  Savory seared beef, with a citrusy-tart glaze.  A side of basmati rice infused with pineapple and mixed with edamame and pecans, and a side of  cold Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

I’m sure most of us love summer, no matter where we live, but I continue to believe that it’s special in the north.  We don’t see nearly enough of it, so when it comes we have the non-negotiable urge to wring every bit of enjoyment from it.  If you get the chance, you might want to give this recipe a try.  I suggest you enjoy it on the deck, with a late day summer sun and a cold glass of beer.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Flank Steak:

  • 3 tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Juice from 8-oz can pineapple chunks (reserve pineapple for rice, below)
  • 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
  • 1 flank steak (1-1/2 lb)

Pineapple Rice:

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp plus 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup edamame
  • Drained pineapple chunks from 8-oz can, chopped
  • 2-1/2 tbsp finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preparation:

1.  Flank Steak – Combine teriyaki, vinegar, sugar, pineapple juice and pepper flakes in plastic food-storage bag.  Add flank steak; seal; turn to coat.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

2.  Pineapple Rice – When ready to serve, coat 3-quart saucepan with cooking spray.  Place over medium heat.  Add shallot and 1 tablespoon water; cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add remaining 1-1/2 cups water and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Add rice; lower heat.  Cover, simmer 15 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, heat oven broiler or prepare outdoor grill with hot coals, or heat gas grill to hot.

4.  Remove steak from bag; drain marinade into small saucepan.

5.  Broil or grill steak 4 inches from heat 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare or longer for desired doneness.  Let steak stand 5 minutes, keep warm by covering with foil.  NOTE:  As we don’t have a great broiler, we simply heated a pan over medium-high heat and seared the flank steak for 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.

6.  Meanwhile, bring marinade to a boil; boil 3 minutes.

7.  When rice has finished cooking, stir in edamame and pineapple.  Heat through.  Just before serving, stir in pecans and cayenne.

8.  Thinly slice steak across grain.  Serve with marinade and rice.

Cheesy Mac ‘n’ Bangers Bake

A quiet Friday night alone with my youngest, and dinner to be made.  What to do, right?  Actually, that decision was made for me when Cath left the recipe and ingredients for Rachael Ray’s Cheesy Mac ‘n’ Bangers Bake before taking off for a night out with her sister, Terry and friend, Dawn.  I’ll be honest, I’d heard the term “Bangers” before, but I really didn’t know much about them.  Turns out a banger is just a one of a variety of flavoured sausage made of pork or beef or a Cumberland sausage.  (That’s straight out of Wikipedia, so I really couldn’t tell you much about a Cumberland sausage.  If you do the research, get back to me and let me know!)  We don’t have great access to authentic Irish sausages, so we decided to use the sweet Italian sausage instead.

There were a few steps to the preparation, but once we had all our ingredients in place it was just a matter of assembling and baking the dish.  When I first heard the name I had a mac ‘n’ cheese type of picture in my head. When you look at the ingredients, however, you note that the cheese is cream cheese and grated parmesan.  Hmm, definitely not what I expected, but the flavor was terrific!  We cooked for the recommended time, and then made sure to let it rest for a bit.  Our reward was a perfect square that lifted nicely out the pan and looked beautiful on the plate.

Kelly looked a little bit nervously at the spinach when I was assembling the dish before baking, but after her first taste she exclaimed “Yum!  This is really good!”  I’m going to count that as a great review.  This was a simple, hearty dish of savory comfort food, and it was perfect for a Friday evening dinner at the kitchen island with my lovely young dining companion.

Yummo!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb Irish bangers or sweet italian sausages, casing removed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan (4-1/2 oz)
  • 6 slices white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed

Preparation

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni, stirring often, until al dente.  Drain and cool; do not rinse.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally until crumbly, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.  Melt the butter in the pan, then add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the cream cheese until blended; season with salt and pepper.  Let cool.

In a large bowl, using a fork, beat together the eggs, heavy cream, 2/3 cup parmesan and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.

In a 9-inch square baking dish, evenly layer the macaroni and cover with the bread slices.  Top with the spinach mixture in an even layer, then the sausage.  Pour the egg mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup parmesan.  (Cover and refrigerate overnight if desired.)

Let the casserole stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake until browned and crusty on top and set in the center, about 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

Dry Aged Prime Rib

New Years Eve!  Sure it’s a little bit of a made-up event, a self-selected arbitrary point in the space-time continuum.  No other life on earth seems to notice the change from one year to the next, but maybe that’s the point!  Whatever your beliefs on how we got to this point, there is no disagreement that we humans have the gift (curse?) of self-awareness, and New Years Eve seems like perfect time put that gift to its best use.  Some of us make resolutions to better ourselves, some make plans for the betterment of the world around us.  Me?  I like to roast a big hunk of meat and savor a bottle of fine wine.   Sorry world, you’re on your own for one night…

There are so many great New Years Eve dishes, but prime rib is absolutely my favorite.  I don’t think I’m alone, because a quick Google search for prime rib recipes gave me 4.2 million results.  That seemed a bit much, so I pointed my browser to the Food Network site, where the same search yielded 49 recipes. I could work with that. They were all fantastic, but the Dry Aged Prime Rib Roast from Guy Fieri was the clear winner for me.  I was eight days out from the big night, the perfect amount of time to do my own dry aging, so I got right to work.

If you look at the recipe link above, you’ll find that Guy provides a nice 3:17 minute video where he demonstrates his technique.  It’s very helpful, and I highly recommend you take a minute or three to watch.  I found the process of dry aging to be quite simple.  I simply rinsed our five pound roast and patted it dry, then covered it in cheesecloth and left it alone in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  At that time I removed the cheesecloth, which had soaked up quite a bit of the juices, covered the roast with a fresh layer of cheesecloth, and put it back into the fridge.  There I let it sit undisturbed for another eight days.  At the end of that time (on New Years Eve) I removed the prime rib from the refrigerator and it looked fantastic.

So far so good!  Guy was right, it had a real weathered look at this point, but we trusted him when he said that’s exactly what we wanted.  We trimmed a little of the fat cap on top to remove the excess, and then it was on to the next step, covering the roast with a spice rub.

Full disclosure, our roast came with a seasoning packet, and after a little discussion we decided that we’d just use this rub rather than making the rub Guy lists.  It was purely a matter of convenience, and I certainly intend to try the recipe at some point.  From the ingredient list it looks fantastic.

On to the seasoning.  For this, my daughter – and skilled assistant – Kelly helped me to cover the roast with the seasoning rub.  The scent of the salts and herbs was intoxicating by now.  We took our time to ensure that we covered every square inch of that roast with the rub, and when we we were finished, our mouths were literally watering.

Finally, we’re ready to roast!  For this we peeled and cut our carrots and onions, layering them on the bottom of the pan.  The meat was placed carefully on this bed of vegetables, and then I added two cups of water to the pan.  As noted in the recipe, I was careful to watch the level of liquids during the roasting process, as they would be needed later for the au jus.  I’m well aware that a great au jus can elevate the prime rib experience to something sublime, and I also know that a bad au jus can put a damper on the entire meal.  This was New Years Eve and so I wanted to do it right!

After placing a meat thermometer in the heart of the roast, I placed it in the oven which had been preheated to 450 degrees F.  We’ve had this oven for many years, and so I knew that a good long pre-heat would be necessary to get it to a legitimate 450 degrees.  I held that temperature for 45 minutes beforehand, so ensure that we’d be cooking as prescribed by the recipe.  After 40 minutes at this temperature, I left the door closed and reduced the cooking temperature to 275 degrees F.  After nearly two hours the meat thermometer showed an internal temperature of 135 degrees F, and the roast was removed to a cutting board, and kept under tented aluminum foil for 15 minutes.  During that time I prepared the au jus per the recipe, and the results were fantastic!  The spice rub carmelized in the inital heat to create a slightly crunchy crust of flavor, while internally the meat was perfectly pink and medium rare.

In my mind New Years Eve is a special night, and should be spent with family and friends.  I believe in making the event memorable, and this recipe fit perfectly with that intention.  It required some forethought and care, but the results were well worth the investment of my time.  I’d gladly prepare it again, and probably will!  We savored it with a bottle of 2006 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino which I’d been holding for a special occasion such as this, and the pairing was sensational.  I hope your New Years Eve was special as well.  All the best to you in 2012 and beyond.

Ingredients:

  • 6 rib beef roast, bone in, approximately 10 to 12 pounds
  • 1 package cheesecloth, cut in half (approximately 1 yard)
  • 1 sheet pan
  • 1 roasting rack to fit in sheet pan
  • Special equipment: Space in back of refrigerator for up to 10 days

Seasoning Mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons freshly cracked tri-color pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated onion
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander, toasted and cracked
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, washed, ends trimmed and cut into large (3-inch) chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups water

Au Jus:

  • Pan drippings from roast, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preparation:

For the roast:

Remove roast from packaging, rinse well. Pat completely dry, wrap with 3 layers cheesecloth. Place on a rack on a sheet pan in back of refrigerator, fat side up. After 24 hours, remove, unwrap, discard cheesecloth and wrap with a fresh piece. Place back in refrigerator for 6 to 9 days undisturbed.

Remove roast from refrigerator. Remove cheesecloth, cut away the fat and trim the ends and any discolored parts of roast.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place roast on a rack in a large, heavy roasting pan.

For the seasoning mixture:

In a medium bowl, combine spices and mix well. Be sure to crush the larger spices well for a uniform rub. (You can use mortar and pestle or large wooden end of a pounding mallet in non-glass bowl.) Rub roast with olive oil, then rub with seasoning. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Prepare vegetables, make a bed in the roasting pan with the vegetables and pour in the water. Be sure to check the liquid level in the pan occasionally and add additional water, if necessary. (You will need this liquid to make the au jus.) Place roast on top of vegetables and place in hot oven. Roast at 450 degrees F for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, reduce heat to 275 degrees F and continue to roast for approximately 2 hours, or until internal temperature (stay away from the bone while checking temp) reaches 135 degrees F. Remove from oven, remove from roasting pan, loosely tent and allow to rest for 15 minutes while making the au jus.

For the Au Jus:

Strain drippings from roasting pan, skim fat from drippings. Place roasting pan over 2 burners, heat on medium high and add in drippings, stir to deglaze, add in wine and stock, reduce by 1/3, about 5 minutes on steady boil, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, add in butter. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Strain once more into serving vessel.

Osso Buco

To quote Bob Wiley in “What About Bob?”: “It’s so simple, yet so brilliant!”  I had this dish on my mind for a long time, and Valentine’s Day seemed like a great time to enjoy it once again.  Once upon a time a Valentine dinner was a grownup affair, but now the girls are old enough to be invited as well.  Their palates have matured, and this Osso Buco was met with a rousing chorus of “Yum!”.  As a Dad, I can’t imagine a better compliment.  We enjoyed it with a bottle of wine purchased for a special occasion, a bottle of 2006 Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Le Vieux Donjon. The meal, the wine and the evening were equally incredible.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 (10 oz.) veal shanks (1-1/2 inches thick)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced carrot
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (14-1/2 oz.) can plum tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh rosemary (optional)

Preparation:

Combine first  3 ingredients in a shallow dish; stir well.  Dredge veal in flour mixture.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add veal, and cook 2-1/2 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove from pan; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add carrot and next 4 ingredients, cook for five minutes, stirring frequently to deglaze pan.  Return veal to pan; add tomatoes and next three ingredients.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for two hours or until veal is tender; discard bay leaf.  Garnish with rosemary if desired.  Serve sauce with veal.