Want to turn an inexpensive cut of meat into a gourmet meal?

, Bon Appétit
By Jordan Cox
The Peninsula Club’s Executive Sous Chef

 

Everybody wants the filet mignon or the ribeye! But few are willing to buy inexpensive meat because those cuts can be chewy and tough when cooked wrong. Why? Because the majority of these cuts come from areas that have a lot of intramuscular tissue (which means that part of the animal’s body was used a lot). For example, shanks (which is part of the leg muscle) can be a challenging meat to cook. Slow cooking them for a long period of time will break down those tougher areas into a beautiful, soft cut a meat. And even better, during the cooking process, you can make all your sides and your sauce.

When the weather is terrible out, there is nothing better than a comforting, slow-cooked one-dish meal. Even without a crock pot, you can make delicious meals. If you have a bottle of red wine that’s been open a week too long and some vegetables in the crisper, you have all you need to get started. You can pick up a basic broth at any local grocery store. While you’re there, browse through different cuts of meat. It might become overwhelming with all the choices but don’t get discouraged! Ask the butcher if you’re unsure of what to choose.

Tips for picking your cut of meat

First, think about what types of meat you’d like to try. Beef and pork are two safe beginner meats to try; short ribs, shanks, sirloins, or pork shoulders are also good choices because they have a lot of intramuscular tissue that will break down nicely during the cooking process. Second, when picking a beef product, look at the marbling in the meat. Marbling is the thin white fat that runs through the red meat; the more the marbling, the better the product.

Now you’re ready to cook

  • Get out your favorite cast-iron deep-dish skillet and turn the stove to medium-high heat.
  • Don’t be afraid to season the meat a little heavier than usual.
  • Sear the meat until a deep, rich golden color is achieved. You want heavy caramelization on the meat.
  • Add vegetables and any aromatics that you desire to the skillet and caramelize as well. You will see a lot of darker coloration on the bottom of the pan. It’s not burnt particles but concentrated flavor, which is where the red wine comes in.
  • Add red wine to deglaze, which is a process of adding a liquid to a pan to soak up the concentrated food particles. They will melt into the liquid, which will be your ending sauce.
  • Add broth until the meat is 75 percent covered and then put the lid on.
  • Cook at low temperature, around 300 degrees, for a few hours. The size of the meat will determine how long it takes to cook.

This is just a rough guide; you can substitute whatever you want. Thyme, rosemary, and garlic are excellent additions to your cooking process. Enjoy!

 

Braised Pork Belly

5 pounds raw pork belly

3 stalks lemon grass

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 diced yellow onion

1 cup soy sauce

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup beer

3 tablespoons cilantro

 

Procedure:
  • Gather all ingredients.
  • In a cast-iron skillet, sear the pork belly until golden brown and then remove.
  • Add a couple teaspoons of canola oil and then sauté lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and onion.
  • Deglaze with beer and reduce by half.
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the pork belly back into the pot and cover.
  • Place in pre-heated 300-degree oven and cook for 3 hours. The meat should be almost fork tender.
  • For best result, let rest in braising liquid overnight. The pork belly will actually absorb more of the broth and become more flavorful.
  • Strain the broth from the pork belly and reduce until a glaze is achieved. Be careful of over-reducing because the soy sauce may become too salty.
  • If salty, add a little honey or plum sauce.
  • Slice and sear the pork again.
  • Use the glaze to brush on pork to add an additional gloss.

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