February 13, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Mango Salsa

Originating in Mexico, salsa simply means "sauce" and in Mexican terms firey and tomatoey with plenty of fresh chilies, onion, cilantro, garlic and salt. Always a blend of chopped, diced or grated fruit and veggies, along with fresh herbs and spices.
One of my favorite condiments for a lean protein is a sweet and spicy salsa. I pair this with fish, chicken and pork, as well as simply serving with tortilla chips.
You will find that this light and refreshing salsa, will be a nice compliment to many of your dishes.

Sweet and Spicy Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small red onion, chopped (a sweet onion could be used here)
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 cup packed, fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno chili, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired)
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Course sea salt, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine mango, tomato, onion, cilantro, chili and zest and juice of lime. Season with salt to taste.
Can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days.


February 8, 2010

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

After watching Julie and Julia, I couldn't wait to try this masterpiece. A classic, adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Julia has taken a simple beef stew and turned it into a bowl of rich decadence.

Now, a dish like this doesn't come without a little work on your part, but the reward you get at the end of the day, is truly worth all the effort. You will need a day of tinkering in your kitchen, which we could all use a little bit more of in this crazy circus of life. It is about 1 hour of prep and 5 hours of cooking time.

All you need to complete this rich bowl of warmth, is some mashed potatoes or some creamy polenta. I promise you will sit down and be very thankful upon your first bite!

Wine Pairing: A full bodied Burgundy would be ideal.

Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 6

For the Stew

6 ounces bacon, solid chunk (you can get at butcher)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used beef tenderloin)
1 carrot peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp flour
3 cups of a full bodied red wine (Burgundy, Chianti or Bordeaux)
2-3 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, mashed (you can add more if you wish)
1 sprig of thyme (1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1 fresh bay leaf

For the Braised Onions
18-24 white pearl onions, peeled
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 sprigs parsley

For the Sauteed Mushrooms
1 lb mushroom, quartered (I used cremini)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Prepare the bacon by cutting off the rind and setting aside. Then cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
3. Put a tbsp of olive in a large dutch oven and warm over moderate heat. Saute the lardons for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
4. Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
5. In the same oil, saute the onion and carrot until softened. Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour. Set the uncovered casserole or dutch oven in the oven for four minutes. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
6. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and remove the casserole from the oven. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
7. While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.
8. For the onions, if using frozen pearl onions, make sure they are defrosted and drained. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onion to the skillet. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onion about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart. Pour in the stock and season to taste with s and p. Add the herbs and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 40 -50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.
9. For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet. As soon as the foam begins to subside, add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about 5 minutes. As soon as they have browned nicely, remove from heat and set aside.
10. Now...onto the finish line!!!
11. When the meat is tender (very tender), remove the casserole from the oven and empty into contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.
12. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to the casserole (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve).
13. Distribute the mushrooms and pearl onions over the meat.
14. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off an additional fat which rises to the surface. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to cat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
15. Taste for seasoning.
16. Pour the sauce over the meat and veggies.

Serve with potatoes, noodles or polenta, garnished with fresh parsley.

Enjoy...as I know you will!