Living in Toronto means that come January and February, I often look for reasons to turn on the oven and keep it on for a while. Braises are my favorite recipes to make on cold Saturdays and Sundays, since they fill my tiny apartment with warmth and delicious smells. They also are best when you make them with tough cuts of meat, which also makes them a great dish for when you’re trying to save some money at the butcher.
There are a couple important things to remember with braises. First, sear your meats well and develop that dark brown color on them. Second, make sure that your liquid is
Braised Grass Fed Beef with Root Vegetables and Mushrooms
- 1 lb grass fed beef stew meat, cut into ~1 inch chuncks
- 1 medium sized white onion, diced
- 4 cups sliced mushrooms (about two cartons)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 can (156 mL) tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 can (400 mL) diced tomatoes
- 1 cup celeriac root peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup sunchokes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes or smaller
- 1 bunch parsley
- 3 springs thyme
- 3 springs sage (or other fresh hearty herb)
- Fresh herbs for garnishing
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Toss the meat in 1 tsp salt and let rest in a bowl.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet with a lid, or a large dutch oven on medium heat. Add a swirl of extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is shimmering just a little, add the diced onion and 1/2 tsp of salt and stir occasionally to sweat the onion for 4-5 minutes.
- Once the onion is starting to soften and turn translucent, add the chopped mushrooms and another 1/2 tsp of salt. Continue stirring and cooking until the mushroom begins to soften.
- Remove the vegetables from the pot, and add another glug of extra virgin olive oil to the pan. Using a paper towel, dab the meat dry to remove any excess moisture. Turn the heat up a tad to medium-high on the stove. When the oil is dancing and shimmering, add the meat, being careful not to crowd the pan. You want the meat to sizzle as soon as it touches the oil, if it doesn't, wait a minute or turn the heat up a little more. Once the meat is in the pan, leave it undisturbed for 2 minutes, letting it develop a nice crust. After the meat has a nice sear, turn it, searing the other side for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the canned tomato paste to the pan, stirring it with the meat and cooking out the tinned flavor for 2-3 minutes.
- Next, add the can of crushed tomatoes and the white wine to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Make sure to scrap all the little crusty bits from bottom and sides of the pan into the sauce.
- Dump in the cubed celeriac root and sunchokes and mix everything up.
- Take your herbs and a bit of kitchen twine, and make a boutique garni by tying them all up together. Place in the middle of the pot, cover with the lid (make sure it's oven safe) and place into the oven.
- Let everything braise for 3-4 hours, checking every hour or so just to make sure nothing is burning or bubbling over. Do not stir, just crack the lid and if it looks like some things are burning, add a 1/2 cup of stock or water or wine and cover again.
- When the vegetables are all cooked, and everything has a deep brown cooked appearance, remove from the oven and pull out the herbs. Give a generous dusting of fresh cracked black pepper and stir.
- Serve with a garnishing of fresh parsley. Goes well with potatoes, rice or just on it's own.