Food from the Hart

Posts Tagged ‘beef’

Shop Smarter: How to Navigate the Meat Counter Like a Pro

In Features on May 12, 2011 at 9:32 pm

It’s no surprise a meal is only as good as the quality of ingredients used in the recipe.  Yet, when it comes to purchasing meat most consumers seem to forget the timeless logic, “you get what you pay for”.  Many of us mindlessly grab the cheapest strip steak or ground beef, whatever is wrapped in the open display cases never giving a second thought to where the meat came from.  Whether you are planning a party for 8 or a quiet dinner a home for 2, it’s important to pay attention to the meat you buy.  While it might seem crazy to spend $10 a pound for organic chicken, trust me, it’s worth every penny.

Tips for Negotiating the Meat Counter

  • Look around at the walls, floor, windows and display cases of your butcher or grocery store.  If things look dirty from where you stand, the back areas where the meat is stored will likely be dirty as well. Just because a store has a “brand” name doesn’t mean they sell quality meat.  Trust you judgement!
  • Take a breeze over the meat display case.  All the protein should be organized and separated in different areas.  Meaning, lamb shouldn’t be on top of beef, on top of chicken.  Cross contamination of proteins can lead to foodborne illness.
  • If you can, avoid purchasing anything pre-packaged in plastic.  It’s always better to get something freshly cut.  You don’t need to buy the most expensive cut like filet mignon to have a good meal.  There are plenty of delicious alternatives like flank or hanger steak that won’t break the bank.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the butcher where the meat comes from, whether it’s organic or free-range.  You will pay a premium for certified organic meat, but it really is worth it.  It not only tastes better, but it’s a much healthier way to go.
  • You can tell almost everything you need to know about meat by just looking at it.  Meat should look matte and dry, never bloody and wet. Protein that is bloody tends to be flavorless and tough.  Quality beef has a dark red, almost purplish hue and creamy white threads running through it.  The white threads, called marbling, is what gives meat flavor.
  • High quality pork, like beef, should be dry and without blood.  Likewise, always look for chicken that has Chicken creamy white or yellow skin without any blemishes or bruises.

Quick Guide to Cuts of Beef


Beef Short Ribs

In Recipes on February 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Yield: 8 servings

Cooking Time: 6 hours

I know you are probably thinking this is way too much work for an Oscar Party. These do take time to make. However, there isn’t that much hands-on cooking time.  And they actually taste best if you make them the day before the party.

This is a recipe adapted from Alice Waters of Chez Panisse.  Of all the recipes I’ve tried, I think this is by far the very best! I promise you it will not disappoint!

6-7 pounds beef short ribs, cut 2 inches thick

Salt and Pepper

3 large yellow peppers, roughly chopped

Canola oil

4 leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery, roughly chopped

2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

8 cloves garlic, smashed

6 sprigs thyme

8 sprigs parsley

3 turkish bay leaves

2 cups red wine

5 cups veal or beef stock, warmed


Trim the short ribs of any extra fat.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

In a large heavy bottom saucepan or dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil.  Once the oil is smoking hot, add the short ribs.  Make sure there is at least 1/2 inch of space between each rib.  You might need to do this in 2 rounds. Brown the short ribs on both sides until they are dark brown.  Remove and set side.

In the same saucepan, saute the onions in a tablespoon or two of canola oil. Add leeks, carrots and celery and cook until slightly soft. Add tomatoes, garlic, thyme, parsley and bay leaves and saute for 2-3 more minutes.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan.  Add the short ribs back, bone side up, to the pot and add enough stock to cover the short ribs. If your pot is not large enough to hold the short ribs, feel free to use a larger earthenware dish. Cover the pot or dish with foil and put in the oven.  Give the ribs about 20 minutes and once they have come to a boil, loosen the foil and reduce the oven to 350 degrees.

After 2 hours being to test the ribs for doneness.  Use a fork, there should be no resistance in the meat and the meat should nearly be falling off the bone. When the ribs are tender, remove from oven and pour off the braising juices, raise oven to 450 degrees, return ribs to the oven for final browning. After 10 minutes, the ribs should be brown and have a nice glaze.  Remove and let them rest.

Strain the braising liquid using a fine mesh strainer.  Pour back over the short ribs and reheat if serving immediately or cool and store to serve the next day.

%d bloggers like this: