By SIMON WEBSTER
When the weather begins to change from summer to fall I begin to crave all of my recipes for braised meat. As the weather cools down and we experience more rainy days, the smell of something cooking low and slow on the stove warms you body and soul.
It reminds me of rainy Sunday afternoons in England sitting in the pub by a warm fire with a pint of ale and a warm bowl of steak and kidney pie or beef and Guinness stew.
The way the meat is prepared in both of those dishes are the perfect example of braising. And speaking of making things better – the beer in the sauce was a great way to add flavor. Who says English food has no flavor? Come and taste mine and you will change your mind.
Braising is typically reserved for larger, less tender cuts of meat and needs plenty of time and low heat to discover their full flavor potential. The technique is simple. Sear the meat in a small amount of oil over high heat until it is browned on all sides. Then add your liquid – broth, water or stock flavored with wine, herbs, beer or juice – and simmer on low heat in the oven or on the stovetop until fork tender.
The liquid should not cover the meat and vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions or parsnips can definitely be added.
In this recipe I used a more tender cut of meat because I wanted to reduce the fat content in the dish. Sirloin or ribeye is a great choice. For the beer, Guinness is a classic, but some other favorites I like to use are Fat Tire, Alaskan Amber or Harpoon IPA.
When cooking with beer a medium to heavy body ale has enough complex flavors – to create the perfect sauce. You can get creative with your choices and create dozens of flavor profiles. With some stores offering create your own six pack you can try a variety of beers – and since the recipe calls for half a beer that leaves the other half for the chef.
BEER BRAISED STEAKS
2 eight ounce steaks
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup beer
1/2 sliced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
1 cup water
Season steaks with salt and pepper. Add oil to a deep skillet and heat to high.
Add steaks and sear on both sides for one minute per side. Take steaks out of pan and place in an oven proof dish. Add sliced mushrooms and onions to pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir until it coats the vegetables. Add the beer, bring to a simmer and deglaze the pan while the beer reduces for about 30 seconds. Add the bouillon and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the contents of the skillet over the steaks. Place in the dish in the oven and cook for 30 to 45 minutes at 300 degrees. Meat should be moist and tender enough to cut with a fork. Serve meat with sauce and vegetables poured over the top.
Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine.
For more information go to www.saborapasion.com or call 903-729-9500.