We began the first of our two part series, Beef PhD, last night and spent the class learning about the various kosher cuts of beef and the different cooking methods used to show each of these cuts in their best light. (Not everything is coming up prime rib and roses.)
We discussed cuts from the shoulder and chuck and how to braise them to obtain maximum flavour and tenderness. Next week we will tackle brisket, which cuts to use for successful grilling, and the king of roasts, the prime rib.
One of the topics that came up was ‘marinade’. What makes a good one and how do we use it in the dish itself? (Rather than dumping it down the drain after we take out the meat.) A marinade’s purpose is twofold. It is meant to infuse flavour and also to tenderize tough cuts. It does this by softening the connective tissue in the meat with some kind of acidic activity, such as with dry red wine, which also serves to complement the flavour of the beef. Even though lemon juice or vinegar is acidic, you wouldn’t use as a marinade because it would overpower the meat’s delicious flavours. (It wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate to marinate tender cuts of meat such as steaks from the rib, or even a rib roast, because the meat is already so very tender.)
Speaking about flavour infusion, the other ingredients should also serve to enhance, rather than mask. It is sensible to include the aromatic vegetables; onion, garlic, carrots and celery in your marinade, as well as any fresh herbs that go with beef, such as parsley, bay and thyme.
There should always be a little oil in the marinade because fat carries flavour and how else can we get the flavours talking to each other?
If you are thinking ahead, plan on marinating your beef anywhere from four to six hours, on the counter, turning the meat every so often. Or, you can refrigerate overnight, making sure you lift the meat out of the liquid and dry it very well with paper towelling before cooking. Remember, damp meat doesn’t brown. It’s the initial browning, whether in your heavy skillet, or on the grill, that sears in the flavour and tenderness.
Reduce the marinade by straining it and simmering in a saucepan to make a lovely sauce to serve with your beef and you’ll be well on your way to obtaining your Doctor of Delicious, a Beef PhD.
Try the Beef Braisd in Red Wine we made at our class!
Let’s change the world one recipe at a time,
Director of Culinary Education, Kashruth Council of Canada
Nancy blogs at www.mykosherkitchen.wordpress.com