Yesterday’s post was for Horseradish Cream:
The cream is a dream unto itself, useful in myriad ways atop proteins or salad. Heck, you can use it instead of mayo in that next roast beef sandwich.
But in Curtis Stone’s newest book, Good Food, Good Life, this cream is the “frosting” atop the Porcini-Braised Beef. What is braising? It’s slow cooking in hearty liquid that just covers the meat. I think of it in more military terms. Braising meat is like laying siege to city in medieval times. You take your time, you batter, you wear down, and ultimately you conquest.
Braising is idea for cheaper cuts of meat, like beef chuck roast. It’s much cheaper than steak and it has a reputation for toughness. But, in this preparation, the beef is superb. It does, really and truly, fall apart in your mouth. Why not? It’s been cooked for four hours in wine and beef broth. The toughness has literally been bled out of the meat and, particularly because of the mushrooms, flavor seems to have entered into every last molecule.
This was our first dish we prepared out of Good Food, Good Life and it was a happy and indulgent success.
We did not alter the recipe one single syllable. But next time, I could see adding some carrots, onions, or potatoes into the mix. Not for all four hours, say, but for the last 90 minutes for so. The broth from the braising is indulgently rich and deserves some vegetable accompaniment.
This dish is perfect for a busy weekend when you have things to do and your stovetop can carry the load, four hours at a time.
Porcini-Braised Beef with Horseradish Mascarpone
Yield: serves 6
Timing: prep for 20 minutes and cook for 4 hours
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 3-pound beef chuck roast, cut into 8 large chunks
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 pound white mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 8 garlic cloves, chopped 1 bunch fresh thyme
- Horseradish Mascarpone (see the link above)
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Using a clean coffee grinder or spice mill, grind the porcini mushrooms into a powder.
Heat a Dutch oven or other wide ovenproof pot over high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the hot pot, then add the I beef, and cook, turning the meat occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until well browned on all sides. Add the wine and stir to scrape up I any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, then add the broth, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme, and porcini powder and bring to a simmer.
Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Braise the beef, turning the pieces of meat over halfway through the cooking, for 3 hours.
Uncover the pot and continue cooking the beef for about 1 hour, or until it is tender enough to pull apart with a spoon and the liquid has reduced by about one-third. Discard the thyme stems.
Transfer the beef to four shallow serving bowls, spoon the mushrooms and braising liquid over, and serve with the horseradish mascarpone.
Source: Curtis Stone Good Food, Good Life [Ballantine Books, 2015]
Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑400
Here is a contmporary Mexican cookbook that is designed for you, the American home cook. Author Hugh Carpenter does the recipes and his wife Teri Sandison is the most accomplished photographer. Together, the couple have a renowned Napa Valley cooking school and fifteen cookbooks under their belts. Some of those books, The Great Wings Cookbook and Great Ribs, have been featured on this blog.
Hugh is an expert in Asian and Mexican cuisines. This book features his experiences based employing the specific cuisine of San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage Site north of Mexico City. Hugh and Teri teach there and have fallen in love with the flavors and recipes that complement cobblestone streets. This is heritage cuisine, refined over centuries with both native and Spanish influence and ingredients.
In this book, Hugh has captured the essence of those recipes and framed them using the language and techniques familiar to the American home cook. Mexican ingredients are now widely available to us. Hugh has written this book in terms that let us easily use our home kitchens, our own home equipment, to prepare flavors that resonate with authenticity.
The book begins with a chapter, Flavor Building Blocks, that is a Mexican market placed on the page. The discussion of ingredients here, particularly the chilies, is excellent. Have you ever seen a dozen chilies laid out in bins at the supermarket and been embarrassingly mystified? They don’t all look the same, and that’s part of the problem. Big, small, red, green, brown, black. It can be overwhelming. Read this chapter and the mystery may disappear. Or, like me, just take the book to your market and compare the lovely photos with the chilies in the bins. It’s actual easy. If anyone stares at you, just stare back.
As with many cuisines, Mexican food is often layered with multiple ingredients and preparations being used as components for the ultimate dish. Chapter 2, Core Recipes, introduces the recipes that are foundations for completed dishes. Here you will find, for example, and quite naturally including:
Banana Salsa with Four Variation
Ancho Chile Jam
The remaining chapters of the book are where the pieces come together, chilies are applied, and Hugh’s creative juices spill onto the page. His experience, his imagination, and Mexican heritage are blended into a phalanx of formidable flavors. Let’s tour the chapters and see some of the outstanding ideas:
Gravlax Infused with Chiles, Cilantro and Tequila
Marinate Goat Cheese with Chiles and Mint
Shrimp Dumpling with Chile Cream Sauce
Quesadillas with Papaya and Brie
- Four Beloved Country Foods
Sea Bass Tacos with Limes, Chilies and Guacamole
BBQ Chicken Tostados
Chile Rellenos with Goat Cheese, Pine Nut and Corn Filling
Red and Green Chicken Enchiladas
- Salad Surprises and Complex-Tasting Soups
Caesar Salad with Chile Croutons
Avocado Salad with Seared Tuna
Serrano Gazpacho Served in Shot Glasses
Coconut-ancho Soup with Mushrooms
Shrimp with Chile-Tangerine Glaze
Mexican Seafood Risotto
- Poultry and Meat
Grilled Quail with Hibiscus Sauce
BBQ Pork in Yucatan Achiote Sauce
Rack of Lamb with Coffee, Chiles and Chocolate
Chocolate-Grand Marnier Sauce with Ancho Chile
Chocolate Fudge Tart with Hints of Chile
Fallen Kahlua Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Coulis
Mexican Bloody Mary
Café de Olla
Hugh’s recipes are, as you can see, inspired by Mexico but adorned with world flavors. The Papaya and Brie quesadillas, for example. Or the seafood risotto. Yet, you make any of these delights and you’ll be craving a margarita and wishing you could actually hear the breezes rustling through the palm trees.
Hugh’s food is exciting and colorful. This post ends with this vibrant picture of his Red and Green Chicken Enchiladas. In just over a month it will be Cinco de Mayo. You have time to buy Mexican Flavors, test recipes, and throw the best darn party of your life. From appetizers to drinks, this is a book to enjoy day by day, fiesta by fiesta.
In tomorrow’s post, you’ll find a recipe for Porcini-Braised Beef with Horseradish Mascarpone from Curtis Stone’s new book Good Food, Good Life. It was the Horseradish Mascarpone that hooked Suzen and me on making the recipe.
Curtis always has these little side things, like the Horseradish Mascarpone, that enliven and broaden the base recipe. This Horseradish Mascarpone has a life of its own, for you can it use many, many ways: not just braised beef but a sizzling steak off the grill, atop chicken, over roasted salmon, and surely with smoked fish for a brunch. Heck, it's creamy enough that you could dollop it atop tomatoes and greens for a spritely salad.
The Curtis Stone recipe is below, but if you google around, you’ll find many ways that you can create a horseradish cream. Here are ideas you might try to fashion your own flavor enhancer. These first two ideas are drastic departures from the original Curtis recipe, but they are ones you might consider depending on what is in your refrigerator:
- Use whipped cream or sour cream instead of mascarpone
- Use a tablespoon [or more] instead of prepared horseradish sauce rather than grating fresh horseradish
- Use sour cream instead of heavy cream in the recipe below
- Add chopped dill or other herbs, about ½ to 1 teaspoon for a cup of mascarpone
- Include few drops of hot sauce
- Add few drops of vinegar instead of the lemon juice suggested here
- Going full citrus with lime, grapefruit or even orange juice!
Personally, I liked the impact of freshly grated horseradish. The heavy cream certainly affected the consistency and applied just a tad of muting to the overall taste. This particular combination does not smack you in the mouth. It’s subtle and does not distract from the main dish it is used with, the Porcini-Braised Beef. You can use any of the ideas above to modify this recipe and achieve a higher mouth impact.
Yield: 1 ¼ cups
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- ⅓ cup finely grated fresh horseradish
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix the mascarpone, horseradish, heavy cream, and lemon juice until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑200