Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Braised Brisket with Matzo Tart
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
• 5 lb beef breast (point cut)
• 1 bottle Chianti wine or preferred red
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 medium carrot, diced
• 1 stalk celery, diced
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 sprig rosemary
• 5 whole peppercorns, crushed
• 2 ounces unsalted butter
• Potato starch to taste
• 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
• Coarse salt to taste
• 30 minutes preparation + 2 hours and 30 minutes cooking
• Place the meat in a pot, large enough for it to fit snugly. Pour an entire bottle of Chianti on top. Add onion, carrots and celery, the bay leaves and a couple of black peppercorns.
• Let the meat marinate for 24 hours, turning it 3 or 4 times. After marinating, remove the meat from the wine and tie it up using butcher’s twine.
• Place a wide, low pot on the stove. Add the butter and, as soon as it has melted, add the garlic and rosemary. After 2 minutes, add the meat and brown it evenly on all sides, about 5-6 minutes.
• In the meantime, filter the wine from the marinade through a sieve to separate out the herbs and vegetables.
• Season the meat with a pinch of salt, and then baste multiple times with the wine. Cover and cook over medium heat. Use a ladle to skim off the fat from the sauce. Then, thicken the sauce with a couple tablespoons of potato starch dissolved in a little water. After about 3 hours once the meat is cooked (insert fork to check for doneness), cut off the twine and place the meat on a serving dish.
• Carefully slice the braised beef shoulder and serve it with its sauce. You can also pair it with potato puree or soft polenta enhanced with Gorgonzola cheese.
Matzo and onion tart
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3 large onions, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
• 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
• 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 8 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese (1 cups)
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 5 (6 inch by 6 inch) lightly salted matzo
• Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onions, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook onion on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
• Add parsley, and cook, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon for about 15 seconds. Remove from heat, and stir in ricotta, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
• Meanwhile, place matzo in a large bowl. Cover with 6 cups water. Add remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain matzo and squeeze most of the water.
• Combine matzo with the onion, eggs and ricotta mixture. Brush with olive oil a cast-iron pan about 9” in diameter. Pour in the mixture and bake at 325F for 30 minutes until dry in the center when a tooth pick is inserted. Cool, and slice in wedges. Serve next to brisket or as a light lunch accompanied by a crispy salad.
Related Slideshow: 5 New Food Trends to Try in 2014
Upscale Chefs go "Downscale"
It's an incredible expense of time and money to be among the best chefs around. All of those high-end ingredients cost an arm and leg and the pressure to stay on top is enormous. Most cooks began learning at the feet of their older relatives--moms and dads; grandmas and grandpas. It's this food that calls them back. We see local Chef Jake Rojas rejoice in dropping the tweezers and cooking those SoCal family recipes he grew up eating. Local faves Thames Street Kitchen embarked on a burger concept this year and Providence icon Chez Pascal has its "Wurst Window" serving homemade sausage and comfort food. They're upscale food is wonderful, but this might be their best!
More Gluten Free Options
As we continue to pay the "processed food" price, our nation's food allergies continue to soar. Restaurants have been on the forefront of the movement towards options that take these allergies into account. The gluten allergy has taken the fore as bread and pasta and coated French fries became the first food victims of this allergy. Local establishments such as the Grange have taken gluten free to new heights with terrific vegetarian offerings. On the Hill, Pane e Vino has got an almost 40-item menu of gluten free options. It features everything an Italian meal could need without the worry.
Vietnamese as the "Go-To" Asian Cuisine
Every year it seems as though America "discovers" a new Asian country's food and gets hooked. This year it's the foods of Vietnam. Vietnamese food and ingredients have been a part of local Asian food for years now, but this time it stands on its own. Vietnam's food is highlighted by fresh, simple ingredients treated respectfully and flavorfully. Broths and noodles; lightly cooked meats and fresh vegetables all combine in a balanced meal. Locally we love Pho Horn in Pawtucket and Minh Hai in Cranston. Both are very good local versions of this wonderful cuisine.
Look...here's the problem with us Americans: we only eat the mild stuff. The muscle meat. It's chicken breast and tenderloin and striped bass filets. The problem with this style of eating is what it does to our ecosystem. Local fishermen used to be able to catch a bounty of swordfish BETWEEN the mainland and Block Island, now it's a day's trip to find them. Local chefs and fishermen are working diligently to bring back the mackerel and the sardine and the scup. Fish we have long since forgotten, but helped our forefathers thrive. Check out any of our top-notch "farm to table" spots--Persimmon in Bristol or Farmstead in Providence for example--to try a forgotten yet delicious fish.
As with most things food and beverage, the last 10 years have seen a move towards "smaller is better". Big box stores are gone and chain restaurants are suffering locally. It was only a matter of time until these ideas began making their way into our cocktails and boy are we psyched to see what the future holds. Locally we have Sons of Liberty in South Kingstown, producing small-batch whiskey, single malts and, even vodka. Our state features Coastal Extreme Brewery which makes Thomas Tew rum along with their Newport Storm beer. We've only gotten back into the distilling business here in Rhode Island in 2006 but we think tasty things are coming soon!
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