Guinness Braised Beef with Shallots & Mushrooms

IMG_6493When I get an idea for a recipe in my head, it tumbles around until the pieces get sorted.  It takes several tries to get it right, and sometimes it needs to be left alone for a long while, until something pops into my head to make it right.

Last year when we were in Oceanside, Washington, we had an amazing Guinness and beef soup.  It was delicious. But at the time, their fabulous Irish Soda Bread was what set my wheels turning, so the soup was relegated to a back shelf in my brain for the time being.

When our beef was cut this fall, we came home with several good-sized Eye of Round roasts.  They would be perfect for a large group dinner, so that idea was put on a shelf, maybe beside the Guinness soup, for thinking about later.

Knowing I would be cooking for a large Seniors Dinner in late February, I started “playing” with Guinness braised steaks sometime in January.  The length of time cooking, so that the steaks were tender, but not over done, took some tweaking.  The thickness of the sauce and its ratio to the steaks was important, as well.

It may not be a soup, but the soup definitely inspired the dish.  After eating more steaks than originally planned, here’s the recipe.  I suggest it be served with fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes. Continue reading

Pulled Pork

IMG_2510We used to raise pigs.  We started with two, Murdoch and Ogilvie.  Each year they would arrive in the spring, and be butchered in the late fall.  The next spring we’d go pick up that year’s version. And so on.  Until we decided three would be better.  The third became McIntyre, named for our dear Saeko’s publishing company.

When my sister was writing “The Lotus Eaters”, she morphed the names into Mortimer and Ogilvie for the film’s two pigs, and her production company.  At some point the three pigs, became Mortimer, Ogilvie and McIntyre.

The joy of raising a few pigs is their personality and stubbornness.  They are funny, smart and bond to their handlers.  We also were able to have exactly what cuts and curing we desired.  There is something very special about smoked jowl.  The sticky sweetness of it cannot be replicated.

Our pig years ran simultaneously to our dairy goat years.  The pigs loved the goat’s milk, which we’d mix with crushed barley, apples and malformed carrots.  They grew beautifully on this feed, and the meat had a richness that we’ve never tasted since.

Our neighbours at Jollity Farm are now growing a few pigs each year, and they have a couple of dairy goats as well.  As they have a large market garden, their pigs get lots of fresh veg, too.  We’re looking forward to some more “real” pork! Continue reading

Beef Short Ribs with Bordelaise Sauce

One of the advantages of growing our own beef is that we get to have it custom cut.  We always make sure that we get the ribs.  Short Ribs used to be one of the thrifty leftover cuts, such as Lamb Shanks.  When the art of slow cooking resurfaced in restaurants, these cuts became more expensive.  Treating them with the respect that they deserve results in an amazing meal.

Raising animals for food makes me very aware of using the whole.  I must admit that there are bits and pieces that find their way into homemade dog food, but for the most part all of it makes for good eating.  It’s all in the preparation.  Take your time, and enjoy the scents of slow cooking, and especially the amazing results.  You don’t have to do it every day, but it will make for a memorable meal when you do.

The Bordelaise sauce is a lovely mix of caramelized root vegetables & celery (mirepoix), that are cooked in wine as it reduces, then mixed with stock to cook the ribs in.  When all is done, the vegetables and liquids get blended together to create a deep, rich sauce.  Try to include parsnips in this, as they create a depth to the sauce that the other vegetables only hint at.  To be honest, I even had to forgo the celery.  Unfortunately I wanted to make the Ribs so much I had to do without. It’s that island thing again! Make-do, make-do!

Short Ribs are an excellent dinner party food.  Most of the work may be done the day before; in fact I think it is better.  So relax and enjoy this rich meal with a lovely glass of deep red wine.  Or two. Continue reading