Braised Beef Ribs with Vegetables

BY BILL ST. JOHN

Of the two types of beef ribs - back ribs and short ribs - we’re generally more familiar with the latter. Beef short ribs sport straight bones, are 3-4 inches long, and have a good chunk of meat laying on top of the bone. By and large, we braise them, so you’ll find them on many a cold-weather menu. 

Beef back ribs are 6-8 inches long, slightly curved, and have very little meat on top of them, but a nice finger-thick piece of meat in between them. They’re bare of top meat because that meat was taken for the great ribeye, butchered as steaks (the best of the seared steer?) or roasts, without which the English could not get through Sunday. 

Like their siblings, the short ribs, beef back ribs are made for autumn and winter dining, although, unlike them, they also are very popular at warm-weather barbecues. Beef back ribs are finger-lickin' meat all year 'round.

About the only profitable way to cook beef back ribs is “slow and low,” so that means using the indirect method on a charcoal grill to smoke ‘em and melt them, or to braise the ribs either in or out of the oven (or in a slow cooker) for a couple-plus hours. The braise may be as ornate as French-style wine, aromatics and herbs, or as simple as capturing the meat’s own steam in a closed container.

This recipe comes from The New York Times. You’ll note that it also allows for beef short ribs, should you chose to cook those. 

Braised Beef Ribs with Vegetables
from The New York Times — serves 4

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds beef rib bones or short ribs, washed
2 medium onions, peeled, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sweet butter
3 medium Yukon potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
6 brown mushrooms, washed, sliced
3 large carrots, peeled, cut into thick rounds
2 celery stalks, cut into 1-­inch lengths
3 broccoli crowns, washed, the florets cut apart
10 Brussels sprouts, trimmed, quartered
1 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
4 cups water 

Directions
In a Dutch oven or high-sided frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brown the ribs on all sides, then remove, and discard the fat. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and brown 1 onion and 2 garlic cloves. Deglaze the pan with the water, add back the ribs, cover, and put into a 400-degree oven for 1 hour. Remove the pan, turn over the ribs, and put back in the oven for another hour.

Check the ribs. The meat should be tender and almost falling off the bone. If you're using short ribs, you may need to increase the cooking time another hour and you may have to add another cup of liquid. Put the ribs into one container. Strain out the onions and garlic and discard. Put the braising liquid into a second container and refrigerate.

The next day, peel the thick layer of fat off the braising liquid and discard. In the same pan you used the day before, heat the olive oil and butter. Brown the potatoes, mushrooms, and the rest of the onions, add the ribs and the braising liquid. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, broccoli, parsley, the rest of the garlic, and Brussels sprouts. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve the ribs in bowls with plenty of vegetables, the braising liquid, and a fresh baguette. 

Pork Skewers Five Ways

Pork Skewers Five Ways

BY BILL ST. JOHN
Butchers or home cooks typically compose pork skewers (or “kebabs” or “kebobs” as they also may be called [although I always have shunned the latter because it’s too much voodoo on my brother, Robert]) from the loin cuts of pork. You might use tenderloin, although as is the case with tenderloin, any pork proposition with it is a gamble: with virtually no fat to guard against overcooking and drying out, “regular” loin cuts such as sirloin call merit to themselves. 

Here are five ways to prepare pork kebabs. Grill any of these on very hot coals for 10-15 minutes, turning once or twice, or until the pork pieces are well browned all over but also being careful to not overcook the meat.

Trout Doobies

Trout Doobies

BY BILL ST. JOHN
When Marczyk Fine Foods customer John Roberts was growing up as a Boy Scout in California, he quickly grew “sick and tired of freeze-dried food.” But on his many camping trips in the Sierra Nevada as a Scout, “we could catch trout” and he quickly developed a recipe for cooking them that he calls “trout doobies.” In an earlier age, these would be called “trout nickel cigars” but this is not that age.

Basic Sear-Roasted Salmon

Basic Sear-Roasted Salmon

My friends, Marv and Renée Rockford, prepare salmon this way nearly every Friday night. Needless to say, they get their filets from Marczyk’s; “always,” says Marv. “[Their] salmon is so good and adapts to this recipe so well.”

You’ll need a spatula to slide each filet onto a plate, but from then on, no need for utensils (well, unless you want to carry the morsels to your mouth with something other than your fingers …). I like to squish each bite against the roof of my mouth - they’re that pillowy - and look forward to the (inevitable) day when my yapper is free of teeth and all that I have to chew with is my tongue.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

BY BILL ST. JOHN

A reason underlies why Marczyk’s offers both an unmarinated and a marinated pork tenderloin this week. All by its lonesome, pork tenderloin is notoriously [euphemism alert:] mild in flavor. That’s why most everyone heavily seasons it before grilling, roasting or pan-searing it. Marczyk’s Marinated Pork Tenderloin merely does all that work for you; the Unmarinated Sibling is all yours, ready for your flavorings.

One suggestion is to ur-pork the tender by wrapping it in more pork, in this instance with one of the higher forms of pork itself, bacon (or prosciutto). The addition of sage leaves is a great touch, veddy Mediterranean you know.

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin

Ingredients
1 pork tenderloin, 1 pound or more, at room temperature
8-10 strips bacon or prosciutto, each a foot or so in length
Several small fresh sage leaves
Salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay the strips of bacon or prosciutto, one next to the other. Lay the sage leaves on the strips. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and sear on all sides in a film of olive oil until browned. Lay the loin over the bacon strips and roll and wrap up, covering the loin completely. (Tie the roast every inch with butcher’s twine if desired.) Lay the pork seam side down and cook for 25-30 minutes, basting with the pan juices twice, until internal temperature reads 130 degrees. Rest roast for 5 minutes before slicing thin.

Halibut with fennel, asparagus, olives and thyme

Halibut with fennel, asparagus, olives and thyme
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 filets halibut
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 cup pitted black or purple olives
3/4 pound asparagus, stems trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
Lemon

Directions:
Sprinkle halibut filets with thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in large heavy skillet and add fennel. Soften fennel 5–6 minutes, stirring. Stir in olives, mixing well. Push fennel and olives to the side and to the skillet add the halibut filets, using a bit more oil if necessary. Cook for 3 minutes. 

Turn the filets over and add the asparagus along the sides with the fennel and olives. Cover and cook until the fish and asparagus are just cooked through, another 5–6 minutes. (If the asparagus needs more time to cook to your taste, remove the fish to warmed serving plates.) Serve evenly distributed with squeezes of lemon juice.

Pan-Grilled Lamb Chops 3 Ways

These three recipes each cook six lamb chops in a searingly hot pan atop the stove. Simple enough, but they do it in three different ways for three terrific turns on lamb. When the recipe says “Cook the chops through,” it means grill the chops, which should be at room temperature, in a very hot cast iron skillet for three minutes on the first side, then two on the flip side. Film the skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil if it’s otherwise dry. (Internal temperature on the chops should be 140 degrees for medium-rare.)

Liar’s lamb chops: “Oh no, there’s no anchovy here.” No fishy flavor remains; just buckets of umami. They’ll be wowed and won’t know why. Sauté 3 teaspoons salt-cured capers, well rinsed, and 3 oil-preserved anchovy filets in 3 tablespoons olive oil until the filets break down, 2-3 minutes. Cook the chops through. Remove them to a board to rest and sauté 2 finely minced garlic cloves in the skillet. Top the chops with the sauce from the skillet.

Emerald Isles: Make a paste, in a mortar or food processor, of 2 peeled garlic cloves, the leaves from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Rub the paste over the chops and let them rest to marinate, at room temperature, for 1 hour. Cook the chops through.

Greek to you: Marinate the chops overnight in a dressing of 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons oregano (Mediterranean preferred; Mexican OK), 1/4 cup lemon juice, the zest of 1/2 lemon, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt. (Make sure the marinade gets in and around all the chops.) Cook the chops through. Remove to a board to rest 5 minutes. You may make a sauce of any leftover marinade, a knob of butter and a few tablespoons of broth, red wine, juice or water. Scrape up any brown bits in the pan, reduce the liquid a bit and serve with the chops.

Two-heat Top Sirloin Steaks

If the meat's coming from the refrigerator, unwrap it and allow it to get up to room temperature, anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Salt it liberally (which means just to the point where you're beginning to feel uncomfortable about the amount); use a super salt such as Maldon or another salt where the crystals are both large and flat. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a cast iron (preferred) or heavy-bottomed oven-safe skillet with a cooking fat that can tolerate torrid heat (avocado, safflower, soybean or ghee all do nicely). Put the skillet atop the burner and get it very hot.

Plop the steaks into the pan so that they don't touch each other and sear them for 2 minutes on each side (or 1 and 1/2 minutes a side if the steaks are less than 1 and 1/2 inch thick). Use tongs, not a fork. Then straight away, place the skillet into the oven.

Test the steaks with an instant-read thermometer after 3 minutes. The final cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steaks, their starting temperature, and the sturdiness of the skillet. It may take 5 minutes rather than merely three. You want to pull the steaks from the oven when the internal temperature registers 5 degrees below the following desired temperatures for doneness: rare, 120; medium-rare, 130; medium, 140; and - although you really oughtn't go here - 150 for medium well; and 160 for well done. (For example, if you desire a medium-rare steak on your plate, take it from the oven when the thermometer reads "125.") Immediately on removing the steaks from the oven, tong them from the skillet and place them on a cutting board to rest.

At this point, one listens to Anthony Bourdain: "It should rest on the board, meaning sit there at room temperature for 5 to 7 minutes, at which point, stay away from it. The steak continues to cook in these crucial moments and it must be left alone to ensure perfect distribution of the juices inside. All the difference in the world between a good steak and a totally messed up steak is going on in that period of time that you're just doing nothing. Don't wrap it in foil, don't cover it, don't poke it, don't prod it, don't even look at it. Just let it sit there. Leave it alone, and you will be rewarded."

~ Bill St John

Some cooking tips on perfecting that humble corned beef

- Mulling or pickling spices that you might want to add will stay in one place (rather than float around like so much confetti) if you wrap them in a square of cheesecloth tied into a "tea bag" with kitchen twine.

- Thousands of Jewish bubbas can't be wrong: the best way to cook a brisket (which is what corned beef is at base) is to "steam" it in the oven rather than boil away the flavor in a bath of water or broth. Flat baking pan, an inch of cover with the wet, 2-3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Den you vill know from corned beef.

- And for the water or broth, up its ante by adding a cup or two of beer, or some terrific apple juice or dry white wine.

- But do use plain water to rinse the corned beef before cooking it. Gets excess salt out of the picture.

~ Bill St John

Walleye Poached in White Wine

Makes 6 servings

This is a novel way to poach filets of fish. The recipe’s keys are two: a super-low simmer and an unholy amount of dry white wine. Unlike other poaching methods that use slightly more boisterous heat, the result is an excruciatingly tender filet. It’s like pudding with gills.

Because most white wine is high in acidity, it’s wise to avoid using cast iron for this preparation. Also, many other types of fish lend themselves to this poach: salmon especially; halibut, snapper, mahi-mahi; and coho.

Bring a bottle (or more, depending on how much fish you will cook) of dry white wine to a soft boil in a large flat pan or skillet; lower heat to a bare simmer and add a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Add 6 walleye filets, about 1/2 pound apiece, at room temperature; cook through, until the fish is opaque, never allowing the liquid to boil above a very low, bare simmer, about 15-20 minutes. Gently lift the filets with a slotted spatula and serve.

An exotic take: Before adding the wine, in the dry pan, toast until fragrant 2 teaspoons coriander seeds and a short length of cinnamon stick; remove and set aside. Sauté a tablespoon of garlic-ginger paste (available at Indian markets) in a tablespoon of oil or ghee, add back the toasted spices and proceed as above.

Put to bed: Place the finished filets on a bed of mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower or sautéed green leafy vegetables. Reduce 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid to 1/4 cup and spoon a bit of the sauce on each filet and its bed.

Note: If you’d rather not use up your white wine stores - or if you shun alcohol for personal or religious reasons - the walleye also may be poached in exactly the same manner in a medium of slowly simmering olive oil. No need to use flavorful extra virgin olive oil here; any good quality “pure” olive oil will do nicely.

~ Bill St. John

Brown Sugar-Glazed Pork Loin Chops

INGREDIENTS
3 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons McCormick's Montreal Brand steak seasoning
3 pork loin chops
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1⁄4 cup pompeian burgundy cooking wine or 1⁄4 cup red wine or 1⁄4 cup chianti wine

DIRECTIONS

  • Combine brown sugar, garlic, and Montreal steak seasoning. Divide mixture amongst the pork loin chops and press on both sides of each chop to season.
  • Place 1 tbsp of the butter in a sauté pan and melt on medium heat. After butter is melted, put chops in pan and brown slowly on both sides. Remove meat from heat.
  • Add remaining 1 tbsp of butter to pan and let melt. Mix with remaining garlic and brown sugar bits left from browning meat.
  • Add wine. Bring to a boil and let simmer down to make a nice glaze. You can add meat back and keep spooning liquid mixture over meat or leave meat out of the pan and pour finished glaze over to serve.

Flank Steak Sandwiches with Spicy Horseradish Mayonnaise

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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 medium red onion (halved lengthwise, with root end intact)
1 tsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1-1/4 lb. flank steak
1 large Marczyk Made Ciabatta quartered and halved.
1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs. prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp. cayenne
2 cups loosely packed mixed spring greens

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat until hot, or heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high.
2. Cut the onion half through the root end into 6 wedges, keeping the root end intact.
3. In a medium bowl, toss the onion wedges with the olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
4. Grill the onion for 5 minutes, then flip over and continue to grill until softened and lightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Season the steak with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and grill, flipping once, until cooked to your liking, about 10 minutes for medium-rare (130°F) or 12 minutes for medium (140°F). Transfer the steak and onion wedges to a cutting board, tent the steak loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
6. Toast the bread cut-side down on the hot grill pan until lightly browned.
7. Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, horseradish, and cayenne in a small bowl and spread it on the bottom halves of the bread.
8. Trim the root ends from the onion wedges. Thinly slice the steak across the grain. Divide the onion, steak, and greens among the bread and serve.

Broccoli Rabe & Sausage Pizza

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Balls Marczyk-Made Pizza Doughs
1 Ball of Marczyk Mozzarella
1 Bunch of Fresh Broccoli Rabe
2 Hot or Sweet Italian Sausages
8 oz of Marczyk Marinara

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREPARE THE RABE: Wash the stalks and cut the leafy parts into 1 to 2 inch lengths. Peel the stems and cut into 2 inch pieces. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook for about 3 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook two cloves of garlic peeled and minced until sizzling. Add salt, pepper, and a dash of red pepper flakes.
  3. Return the broccoli rabe to the pot and cook a minute or two more in the seasoned oil, and cool.
  4. In a skillet, heat the oil, then remove the sausage meat from the casings and cook until lightly browned, breaking the meat up with a fork as it cooks, and set aside. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 C) (533.15 K) (really hot).
  5. Roll out one ball of dough into a 12 to 14 inch circle and place on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel.
  6. Spoon some of the tomato sauce onto the pizza, spreading it to within 1 inch of the edge. Place cheese slices over the sauce, then top with some of the broccoli rabe and sausages.
  7. Cook for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately.

Marczyk Chili Con Carne

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Our own recipe from us to you.
SERVES 6-8

2 Lb Butcher’s Choice ground beef
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
1 tsp minced garlic
2-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbl ground cumin
1 Tbl dried oregano
1/2 - 7oz can chipotles in adobo, chopped or pureed
1 – 6oz can tomato paste
3 Tbl Apple cider vinegar
4 - 15 oz cans kidney beans
4 – 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1-3/4 Qts water

Over medium-high heat, brown beef in large stockpot, breaking into small pieces as it cooks. When browned, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and reserve. Drain off all but a few tablespoons of fat from the stockpot. Return pot to stovetop, and add onions, peppers, garlic, and salt. Saute vegetables until translucent, about five minutes. Add pureed chipotles, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste. Stir well to combine, and cook for about ten minutes. Deglaze the pot with vinegar.

Drain and rinse beans and add to stockpot with reserved beef, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for one hour. Re-season with salt and pepper.

Opah Fish Tacos

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3/4 lb to 1 lb Opah
juice of 1-1/2 limes, and 1 lime wedge (the rest of that second lime can be served with the beer
2-3 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
4 chipotle peppers in adobo
6 oz plain yogurt
1 1/2 c. shredded red cabbage
1/4 c. diced red onion
1/3 c. whole kernel corn
1/2 c. cilantro, roughly chopped
pinch of salt
6 slices of avocado
crumbled cotija cheese
6 corn tortillas

1. Marinate the fish in the lime juice and cayenne for 20 mins.
2. Puree the chipotles with the yogurt for the sauce.
3. Toss the shredded cabbage, diced onion, corn, and cilantro with the juice of one lime wedge and a pinch of salt
4. Cook the fish over medium heat in a skillet with a little oil, then toast the tortillas.
5. Spread a little chipotle sauce on each tortilla, then add the fish, slaw, a slice of avocado and a sprinkle of cotija...and there you have it, six tacos for two good eaters.

Throw on some fresh pico de gallo, and cotija cheese and you've got yourself some tacos!

P.S. There'll be some extra chipotle sauce...it's great on a bacon cheeseburger with some red onions.

Blue Cheese Steak Salad

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Serves 4 to 6

1-1/2 lb Top Sirloin steak
2 - 5oz packages Spring Mix
1 cup of watercress leaves, a healthy bundle from the market
1/4 Lb Point Reyes Original Blue cheese, crumbled
1 bottle Spinelli’s Gorgonzola dressing, to taste
1 pint Cherry tomatoes
1 English cucumber
2 green bell peppers, cored and sliced thin

Season steak with salt and pepper, and grill or pan-sear to your liking, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest while assembling the salad.

In a large bowl, combine spring mix, bell pepper, bleu cheese crumbles, and as many tomatoes and cucumber slices as you like. Season salad lightly with salt. Divide onto plates.

Slice steak thinly across the grain, and arrange on top of individual salads. Dress as desired with Spinelli’s Gorgonzola.

Choucroute Garnie

Choucroute Garni is French for "sauerkraut garnished." It is particularly popular in the Alsace region of France, which has often come under German rule. That would explain all the tubular meat in this particular favorite recipe of Marczyk Fine Foods. The sauerkraut is the focus of this dish with a 'garnish' of veggies and meats. No other dish shows off the love put into Marczyk Fine Foods's meats, sausages, and grocery items like this two-pot adaptation of this definitive Alsatian classic.

The best part? There are no rules to this recipe, only guidelines. As long as you use a lot of pork products and make the dish with "plenty of love," the rest is entirely up to you. "The great thing about choucroute, is that you can make it your own without worrying about it," says our chef David Bumgardner. "Don't like kielbasa? Prefer Strasbourg sausages to brats? Have red potatoes in your pantry? Only need half the recipe? No problem! Be creative." You can't mess this one up. Do what you want and what tastes good to you! Let your creativity run free!

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

THE BASICS:
3 pounds sauerkraut, such as MM Local or Boar’s Head Sauerkraut
6-8 Niman Ranch pork rib chops, Frenched by your friendly Marczyk butchers
6-8 Market made French sausages
½ pound Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon
12 small potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle Riesling
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

*OPTIONS! There is no set recipe for choucroute. Add to or replace the basic sausages with any or all of these, as you like:

2 ham steaks, sliced into chunks
1 pound Market made Toulouse sausage
1 pound Market made bratwurst
1 pound Continental veal bratwurst
1 pound Continental kielbasa, sliced
1 pound Continental frankfurters
1 pound  Fabrique Delices Boudin Noir
4-6 carrots diced
4-6 apples, such as Braeburns, cored and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
Bouquet Garni of 1 smashed head of garlic, 3 whole cloves, 6 juniper berries , 6 coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, and 6 bay leaves wrapped in a cheesecloth.

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop bacon. *Clean and chop fruit and vegetables, if using.
3. Over medium heat, render bacon in a Dutch oven, or in a large roaster with a lid. Just before it gets crisp, pull the bacon and reserve on paper towels.
4. Sear pork chops and fresh sausages in bacon fat until they're lightly browned. Remove chops and sausages and reserve with bacon.
5. *Optional: Add carrots, onions and apples to pan, and cook until soft, 10-15 minutes, adding a bit more bacon fat if needed.
6. Add pork chops, sauerkraut, bacon, sausages, *bouquet garni, ham, and half the bottle of wine to the Dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until meats are tender, about one hour.
7. While you're waiting, drink what's left of the Riesling.
8. About 35 minutes before serving, place potatoes in a pot of salted water over medium-high heat and cook until tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
9. To serve, spoon sauerkraut onto a large platter, *discarding bouquet garni. Slice sausages, if desired, and arrange on platter with pork chops, and potatoes.
10. Garnish with fresh parsley.