Sunday, March 1, 2009

Boeuf Bourguignon Inspired Sliders

We made this dish to complement our wine choice for "Open That Bottle Night", 2009. The challenge was to turn boeuf bourguignon into finger food, so we served the braise inside small, home made ciabatta rolls.

Ingredients – for the braise

4 lbs English cut beef short ribs
2T canola oil
3 onions – peeled and chopped roughly
3 carrots – peeled and chopped roughly
1 stalk celery – chopped roughly
1 head garlic – individual cloves peeled and chopped
2T tomato paste
1/4 Cup flour
1/2 bottle Red Burgundy
1 28 oz can Italian style tomatoes –no juice, tomatoes chopped
1T Soy sauce (hardly traditional!)
6 prunes (hardly traditional)
3 bay leaves
Ingredients – for the finish

1T canola oil
2 Oz guanciale (can substitute pancetta or non- smoked bacon)
10 oz pearl onions (I used frozen)
6 oz white or cremini mushrooms – cleaned and chopped into ¼ inch pieces
8 thyme sprigs
6T Dry sherry (Madeira would be better, but we had sherry!)

Method – Braise
Note: This can be done the day before – in fact it is probably better if it is done the day before. Separate the ribs into individual pieces and pat dry. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the ribs for about five minutes on each cut surface. Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
Remove the ribs, and pour off all about 1T of the fat in the pan. Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery to the pan and sweat the vegetables over medium low heat, scraping up the browned bits. After about 5-8 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook until you can smell the garlic. Then add the tomato paste and ensure that it starts to brown on the bottom of the pan. This adds extra flavor depth to the dish. Once the tomato paste has browned a little, add the flour. Stir to cook. Add the tomatoes, wine and soy sauce and mix the contents well.
Transfer the contents of the skillet to a slow-cooker and sprinkle the prunes on top of the vegetables. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Nestle the ribs into the vegetable mixture thin edges first. You want the ribs pushed into the vegetables, not lying on top of them. Turn the slow cooker to low and leave cooking for at least 6 hours – or until the meat is fork tender. At first as you peer through the lid it will look dry, but then as the vegetables give up their juices, it looks pretty wet.
After it has finished cooking, extract the ribs and strain the juices into a fat separator. The goal is to collect all the juices, but none of the solids. The carrots, onions, etc. have no flavor left by this time.
Pour the juices back over the ribs, taking care to retain as much fat as possible in the separator. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, any surplus fat will have congealed on the surface. Scrape it off. Remove the ribs and trim the meat off the bones. Chop into very small pieces. Note if serving this as a main dish, you could leave the meat on the bone, but I wanted to put it into sliders.
Strain the liquids, pushing the prunes, tomato pulp etc against the strainer to extract maximum flavor. You should now have about 1 ½ cups thick, smooth liquid. Pour it back over the chopped meat, cover, and refrigerate.
Method – Finish
Do this after you have refrigerated the chopped meat.
Heat the oil over medium high heat, in a skillet until shimmering. Add the finely chopped guanciale (or pancetta) and cook on low until crispy. Pour off most of the fat. Set the cooked guanciale aside. Turn the heat up to medium, add the pearl onions (still frozen) and sauté (still on medium heat) until they are slightly browned. You will need to shake the pan frequently. Add the chopped mushrooms and the thyme and cook until the mushrooms have given up all their liquid. Add the guanciale back into the skillet. Turn the heat off while adding 3T sherry (or marsala). Turn the heat back on, and cook the mixture down until almost dry. Repeat for the next sherry addition.
Remove the thyme and allow to cool. When cool mix into the beef mixture.
Gently reheat the dish in a saucepot on the stove top. You will need to stir pretty constantly. Reheating in the microwave is not advised, the mixture is thick and tends to scorch and explode!
Slice some small ciabatta rolls (see ciabatta recipe in this blog) so that they have a hinge. Open each roll and insert 1-2T of the meat mixture. Close the lid on the roll.
Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

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