"The better I got as a cook," my chef in culinary school once said, "the more I loved the cheap cuts." Anyone can grill a good steak, he meant, but only a real cook can take gristly meat and make it great. On this point, we disagree a little. I think anyone with a couple of hours and some pride can learn to braise bony, tendony meat into tender, delicious submission, to wield the transformative power of a slow, rich, aromatic simmer. Here's a recipe for a simple braised beef, flavored with smoke and beer – but really, you won't even need a recipe once you learn the process behind it. Get comfortable with this method, then mix and match your favorite ingredients and flavors.
Smoky Beer-Braised Beef
- 2 lbs beef chuck or other braising cut, such as short rib
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- 12 oz porter, stout, or other beer
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón), plus more to taste
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 pints beef or chicken stock
- Soy sauce, to taste
- Brown sugar, to taste
- 6 small radishes, thinly sliced, for finishing
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped, for finishing
Read on for preparation instructions.
Step Three: Deglaze
Add just enough beer to your pan to cover the bottom and dissolve the browned bits. Scrape them up, then dump them into the bowl with the meat. Master move: If you're browning in batches, deglaze between each one, quickly rinsing and drying the pan, and then reheating it for the next batch. Some say you can add new meat without burning the pan, but I think those people are either lying or wizards.
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