Archive for September, 2011

September 21, 2011

Beef Stifado Au Jus Reduction

I’ve been meaning to get some Greek food on this blog. No better way to start than with some Stifado.

Traditional Stifado is a Greek stew/soup that uses beef, lamb or rabbit and pairs it with pearl onions and occasionally tomatoes, depending on who you ask. This recipe is my modern take on the original. I changed up some of the ingredients to shift the focus onto the beef, but the biggest change is reducing the jus.

Instead of a stew-style dish that is served with a great deal of bread to sop up all the extra liquid (nothing wrong with that set up though) this dish brings all of the flavors together into a jus reduction that’s served on top of the beef.

This dish has some great flavors and textures you don’t often see in other food. The beef has a great exterior sear that creates a tasty crust and seals in the flavor. At the same time, the low and slow bake keeps every bite tender on the inside. The ingredients of the cooking stock – jus, red wine, vinegar, bay, thyme and cinnamon – come together to create an uncommonly delicious sauce that highlights the flavor of the beef perfectly.

This version of Stifado is hearty but not heavy, and makes the perfect dish as we start hitting the rainy days of late summer/early autumn (same thing in Seattle).

Beef Stifado Au Jus Reduction

  • 1 lb beef, sliced into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoons pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 275°F.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a large plate and toss until evenly distributed. Dredge each piece of beef until thoroughly coated. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture to make the reduction.
  3. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. In whatever size batches you can manage, add the beef to the skillet and sear each major side, approximately 30 seconds each side. As soon they’ve seared, remove the cubes to a spare plate.
  4. Deglaze the pan using 1 cup of chicken stock. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the chicken stock, red wine, red wine vinegar, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a low simmer for 3 minutes then remove from heat.
  5. In a large casserole dish, combine the seared beef, red wine-stock liquid and the remainder of the ingredients. Place the casserole dish in the oven for an hour and a half. After that time remove the dish, stir the contents, and place it back in the oven for another hour.
  6. Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Add 2 cups of the liquid to a small pot and raise to a boil. Once the liquid has reduced by half, add the remaining flour and continue to boil until it reduces by half again. Remove from heat. (The resulting reduction should have the consistency of slightly thin gravy)
  7. To serve, plate the beef and drizzle the reduction over the top.
September 17, 2011

Avocado, Lime and Mint Soup

This soup is a perfect fit for the end of summer.

It combines the lime and mint that are signatures of many zesty, lighthearted summer with more heartier elements typical of autumnal favorites. Rain or shine (literally) it’ll fit the bill.

The rich, creaminess of the avocado forms the perfect base while the tartness of the lime forms the perfect counterbalance. On top of it all, the mint adds refreshing, crisp notes at the end of each bite.

One of the nicest things about this dish is that is can be served both warm or chilled. Straight off the stove top it makes the perfect accompaniment for coconut chicken or Mexican-spiced pork tenderloin. Chilled, its great by itself as an appetizer or as a light main course with bread and salad.

It’s a versatile dish, which means you have plenty of reasons to give it a shot.

Avocado, Lime and Mint Soup

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 avocados, pitted and chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup of mint leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

  1. Heat a skillet to medium and add enough butter to coat. Add the garlic and onions and saute until semi-translucent, approximately 4 minutes.
  2. Add the diced avocado and continue to saute for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and heavy cream and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to simmer.
  3. Empty the contents of the skillet into a food processor. Add the zest and juice of the two limes along with the mint leaves and blend until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Serve either immediately or after it has chilled overnight.
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