Monday, January 27, 2014

Beef Shanks with Vegetables

Over the past two years, I have developed a fondness for a cut of meat called the Beef Shank. The meat requires slow roasting to develop the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness that it is capable of, but the wait is definitely worth it. This recipe was actually inspired after watching an episode of a television cooking show in which the chef created a delectable stewed beef over mashed potatoes. Seeing the mouth-watering meal made me want to recreate the recipe with what I had on hand in my pantry. If you happen to not have beef shanks available to you, this meal can be made with regular stewed beef but I think the wonderful flavor imparted by the bone-in meat will be missing; however, the results will still be amazing! Additionally, you can use baby portobello or white button mushrooms. I actually used a combination of the two and it was perfect.
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
2 Pounds Beef Shanks
1/3 Cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
4 Cloves Garlic, Sliced
1 Large Yellow Onion, Coarsely Chopped
4 Carrots, Cut in Thirds
8 Ounces Mushrooms, Quartered
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Dried Sage
3/4 Cup Merlot
2 Cups Water
1/4 Cup Frozen Peas

1. Preheat a large Dutch Oven with canola oil over Medium High heat. While the pan becomes hot, combine the flour and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place each of the beef shanks into the flour mixture, shaking the excess off each side. Once the oil is hot, place the floured beef into the pan. Allow the meat to brown before turning, approximately 3 minutes. Turn and allow to sear for another 3 minutes. Remove meat from the pan and set aside.
2. Toss the onion, garlic, carrots, mushroom and remaining seasonings into the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrap the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the vegetables to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Use the merlot to deglaze the bottom of the pan. All of the flavor on the bottom needs to be worked up and made part of the broth. Add the water.
4. Return the meat to pan, pressing to partially submerge.
5. Cover and bake in a pre-heated 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
6. Remove from the oven and add the frozen peas. Cover and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
7. Carefully remove the bones from the pot, scraping the marrow into the broth. Using your spoon, gently break the tender meat into bit sized pieces.
8. Serve over your choice of rice, mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, or mashed parsnips. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Loaded Potato Cakes

This recipe was developed out of a necessity to use up leftover mashed potatoes that were just sitting in the refrigerator, taking up space and mocking me every time I looked at them. Okay, maybe they were not really mocking me, but it sure felt like it. Reheated potatoes are not what I believe anyone would call a delicious side dish, however, you also don't want to be wasteful and throw them away. So what do you do?
A common use for leftover mashed potatoes in the South are to make potato cakes. However, although both my husband and I grew up with this dish, neither of us enjoyed them. The typical potato cake from our childhood was just a lump of mashed potatoes mixed with some sliced onions and fried into a bland, bread-like mass. I know plenty of people that enjoy them, but I am not one of them. So, in an effort to reinvent this dish, I drew on the inspiration of a platter of loaded cheese fries. By adding bacon and cheese while also cutting down on the flour, these cakes are creamy while also completely indulgent. With this recipe in my repertoire, I think I will be making excess mashed potatoes on purpose!

2 Cups Leftover/Cold Mashed Potatoes
2 Strips Bacon, Sliced
1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 Egg
1 pinch Salt
1 pinch Black Pepper

Yield: 8 Cakes, 4 Servings
1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil and sliced bacon over medium heat. Cook the bacon bits until completely crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Place the cooked bacon pieces on a paper towel to drain. Remove excess oil from the pan, leaving 2 teaspoons of oil for frying the potato cakes, reserving the excess.
2. While the bacon cooks, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture should be thick but not stiff. Add the bacon pieces. Stir to combine.
3. Spoon the batter into reserved grease with the skillet over medium heat. As you place the batter into the oil, carefully level the top of the mounds. You want each potato cake to be about half an inch thick.
4. Cook on the first side until a deep golden brown. This should take 3 minutes. If the cakes are browning too fast, you need to reduce the heat. When brown and crisp, flip to the other side and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
5. Repeat with for the remaining batter. Depending on the size of your skillet, this may take 1 to 2 additional cookings as you do not want to crowd the pan. If you need to add additional oil to the pan between cookings, simply add the reserved bacon drippings.
6. Enjoy the potato cakes as a side with dinner, during breakfast with eggs, or as an appetizer with a nice glass of wine and chive sour cream.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Naked BBQ

So this recipe is for a roasted pork butt in a spicy dry rub. If you follow my blog, you know that my husband and I have a major pulled pork obsession. While my husband is a big fan of a sauced barbecue, I happen to love the flavor of a perfectly cooked, dry rubbed shredded pork with additional dry seasonings for a little zip! Adding sauce to the finished product is completely optional and allows for everyone to customize to their taste.
I made this pork butt in the slow cooker. You can definitely use the same recipe with a low oven temperature method or even in your outdoor smoker and the results will be amazing. The great thing about the slow cooker method is that you allow the meat to marinade overnight and then just have to place it in the slow cooker in the morning. The meat cooks while you are away and then you come home to a hot, delicious meal just in time to feed the hungry crowd.

9 Pound Pork Butt
2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Apple Juice
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1. Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Rub the outside of the pork butt with yellow mustard. Sprinkle the dry rub over the entire exterior of the pork butt, using your hands to gently push the seasoning into the meat. Tightly wrap with plastic wrap. 
3. Place in the refrigerator to marinade for 8 hours or overnight.
4. Remove the marinaded meat from the refrigerator and place in the slow cooker. Add the apple juice to the slow cooker. 
5. Cook on HIGH for 8 hours.
6. Carefully remove from the slow cooker and place in a large container. Gently shred the pork using forks to pull the meat apart.
7. Combine the finishing seasoning in a small bowl. 
8. Sprinkle the shredded pork with the finishing seasoning. 
9. Serve on a bun or as a plate and ENJOY!

Note: I freeze parts of the shredded pork in vacuum seal bags so that we have an easy, delicious pulled pork meal ready to reheat, any night of the busy week.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Oatmeal

After all of the rich and hearty foods of the holiday season, I find myself longing for a warm bowl of oatmeal to help get my body back in balance. While I am guilty of reaching for the microwave packets every now-and-then, my favorite oatmeal is made the old fashioned way. It is still quick and easy, but the texture of the oats is very different. Additionally, by making your meal from scratch, you are able to control the sodium and sugar as well as make unique flavor combinations that just do not come from a store bought box. This is method that works for any flavor you desire. Simply change up the ingredients and you have a brand new recipe!

1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Quick Cook Oats
1 teaspoon Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Chopped Walnuts
1 Tablespoon Raisins
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Banana, sliced

1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until just getting ready to boil. Add remain ingredients, except bananas, and whisk continually. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir while cooking for 3-5 minutes or until it reaches your desired thickness.
2. Spoon into a bowl and top with sliced bananas.

***Note: If you like your oatmeal sweeter, just add additional sugar or some maple syrup.***