Saturday, November 22, 2008

One Stew, Three Dinners

Beef Knuckle Stew

I'm a pretty regular customer of the aptly named "Mission Market"*, but when I went last week I was in a bit of a pinch. The stuff they sell is cheap, but the cuts I was used to buying still cost more than I really wanted to pay. So I walked down the counter past the salpicon, rump roast, rib-eye, skirt steak, and new york strip, to the very end where they keep the tongues, livers, livers, hearts, feet, and tails. And there I found the humble "soup bone", for a lowly $1.69 a pound. It looked like there was quite a bit of fat, sinew, and bone compared to real, actual meat, but I still figured I would come out ahead if I treated it right.

*Sorry, guys, but next time I go out for meat, I'll be trying this spot.

Recipe Follows...


Beef Knuckle Stew

What's Guerrilla: A little meat, a little loving care, and a lot of time at low heat makes a great stew that lasted for three different meals.
What's Gourmet: I swear this was about the tenderest meat I have ever had. Also, the cinnamon stick lends a uniquely warm sweetness that was nicely offset by simply prepared, piquant mustard greens.

Materials:

One dutch oven, pot, or saute pan large enough to fit a lot of stew but short enough to fit in the oven. It also helps if the bottom is wide enough to brown the meat in one layer. (If not, brown it in batches.)

Three carrots, three sticks celery, and two onions, roughly chopped. (I replaced the celery with mustard green stems that I was going to throw out anyway.)
A bouquet garni with a stick of cinnamon, and a head of garlic with the top chopped off.
One 28-ounce can of tomatoes.
Half of a bottle of red wine (Chuck excels in this arena.) and some chicken stock on hand.
One beef knuckle, shin, or shank.

Method:

This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe that calls for a beef shin, but all I could find was its close neighbor, the knuckle, and I think any other cut from the lower quarter will do just fine. Begin by trimming the meat off the bone. If sharpen your knife up well and get creative, you'll find a lot more meat than you might expect.

Brown the meat well, then pull it out and saute the vegetables for five minutes. Add the tomatoes and give them a few minutes too, pour in the wine, then add stock until the meat is almost covered. Plop in the bouquet garni and garlic, cover it all up and let it sit in the oven for three hours.

Serve over polenta or mash alongside with prepared greens and another bottle of Chuck.

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