Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday
It is clear that we live in a “30 minutes meals” society. What a sad statement. In my opinion, cooking is a philosophy, a way of live; not a recipe or chore. Dishes that require longer cooking times are succulent, complex, and have depth of character. The process requires the cook to think and contemplate technique to develop a finished product that elevates a humble ingredient…in this case the short rib. What it really does is separate the cooks from the posers.
I love to use short ribs to make my ragu, or meat sauce. The advantage of using the short ribs is in the bone. Bones are filled with collagen that, when cooked, breaks down and produces gelatin. Marrow gives you superb flavor and gelatin thickens up the sauce. When making a good ragu you should never allow the liquid to boil rapidly, hence the long cooking time. This small step helps the cook using short ribs extract as much gelatin from the bones as possible to enrich the sauce. Moreover, not allowing the sauce to boil minimizes the release of impurities the bones.
Cooks Tip: Make this ragu 24 hours before serving. This does two things, first as the ragu sits in the fridge; the fat solidifies at the top, making it very easy to skim off. Thus a leaner finished product. Second, braises get better with age, as the flavors amalgamate even more.
My Argentine friend brought me two magnificent wines from a recent trip to her homeland. Malbec, a full bodied red wine, I used in the braising liquid. The second wine was a Torrontes white. This wine I used in the making of the linguini.
Tomato and basil is a natural match. To compliment the ragu I made a basil puree. Fresh basil from my brother’s garden blended with olive oil, champagne vinegar, fleur de sel, and a touch of white pepper.
The final component on the dish is a tasty Brie Frito. Brie cheese breaded in day old Italian breadcrumbs, fried in peanut oil, and seasoned with fresh marjoram. If you have yet to try fried Brie, it is amazing.
Linguini with Short Rib Ragu
For the Short Rib Ragu:
5 oz Bacon
1 large onion – diced
1 fennel bulb – diced
2 shallots – minced
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 bay leafs
2 beef stock cubes
750 ml Malbec Wine - Argentina
Half & half
2 lbs Hereford Beef Short Ribs
Season the short ribs with flour, sea salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Heat the safflower oil in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Brown the short ribs on all sides. Remove to a rack to rest.
In a sauce pot, sauté 5 oz of bacon. Add the onion and fennel bulb. Cook for 7 minutes to soften. Add the shallots and garlic. Make a well in the center and place the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste to reduce some of the raw acidity. Deglaze with the Malbec wine. Drop in the bay leafs and beef stock cubes. Add the short ribs to the pot. Add enough water to completely cover the beef. Lightly tent with aluminum foil.
DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL. Barely simmer for 8 hours. Stirring every 30 minutes to avoid anything from sticking to the bottom and burning. As the liquid reduces, replace with water. Skim frequently to remove all impurities that rise to the top. The finished product is a concentrated beef flavor; you can cut it with some half & half.
For the Basil Puree:
3 packed cups fresh basil
¾ cup Canola oil
Fleur de sel
In a blender, combine basil, oil, a dash of champagne vinegar, pinch of salt and white pepper. Blend till smooth.
For the Brie Frito:
Italian bread – (crust removed)
Freshly chopped marjoram
Pulse Italian bread in food processor to make fine crumbs. Set up your breading station, in separate bowls, flour, eggs, bread crumbs. Heat the peanut oil to 325 F.
1. Using a carving fork, twirl some Torrontes linguini into a loose ball. Center on the plate
2. Spoon some of the basil puree on the plate
3. Generously spoon the short rib ragu over the pasta.
4. Plate the Brie frito.
When we conceptualized the Quickies Cooking Challenge and the ingredients of Avocado & Feta Cheese were chosen, I immediately thought, Dessert. The dish is composed of pound cake, avocado sauce, feta cream, orange agave syrup and a Pirouline wafer.
Avocado & Feta Shortcake
For the Pound Cake:
1 Stick unsalted butter
½ cup Granulated sugar
3 Organic eggs
2 Organic egg yolks
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tbs Baking powder
4 Drops Rose Water – (Using a dropper)
1 tbs Havana Club Anejo Reserva rum
Leave butter 30 minutes at room temperature to soften. Preheat the oven to 370 F. Line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with parchment paper. In a glass bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar. Add the eggs, yolks, rose water, and rum. Beat to mix. Add the flour and baking powder. Stir carefully to incorporate entirely. Bake for 40 minutes.
Note: Slip a knife into the center of the cake. If it emerges clean and dry…It’s cooked!
For the Avocado Sauce:
1 Avocado – (chopped)
1 tsp Water
Note: The base of the sauce is one avocado. From there the quantities of the rest of the ingredients are up to the palate of the cook. More sour, more sweet, etc.
Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add more water if needed to adjust consistency.
For the Feta Cheese Cream:
4 oz Feta Cheese
4 oz Crème Fraiche
4 tbs unsalted butter
Note: The quantity of superfine sugar is at the discretion of the cook’s palate depending on how sweet you want it.
Leave the feta, crème fraiche and butter 30 minutes at room temperature to soften. In a glass bowl, using a hand mixer, mix together the feta cheese, crème fraiche and butter. Add some superfine sugar, mix to incorporate. Continue to add sugar till desired sweetness is achieved
For the Orange Agave Syrup:
4 tbs Organic agave syrup
2 tbs Orange Juice
Pinch of Sea salt
In a glass bowl, whish the ingredients together. Add more OJ to adjust consistency as needed. The final product should not be too loose
1. Cut rounds of pound cake using a biscuit cutter
2. Spread layers of feta cream
3. Pipe some avocado sauce on top
4. Swirl some orange agave syrup on the plate
5. Top with the Pirouline wafer
Note: The Pirouline is the only part of this dish I did not make.
That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!