March 21, 2007

Beer Braised Beef with Leeks and Kohlrabi


Ingredients:
4-5 lb beef roast
1 bunch kohlrabi, peeled and sliced
3 large leeks, whites only chopped
1 cup broth
1 cup beer
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon paprika
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. In large saucepan, heat the oil. Meanwhile, rub the roast with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. Brown the roast in the hot oil on all sides. Remove from the pan and place into a dutch oven or oven safe pot with a firm fitting cover. In the same pan you browned the roast, saute the leeks and kohlrabi until both are softened and starting caramelize. Pour the broth and beer over the roast. Bring to a boil. Pour in the kohlrabi/leek mixture. Remove the pot from heat, cover the top in foil, place the lid over the pot and then cover the lid with foil to ensure that no liquid will escape. Roast for 2 hours or until the roast is tender. Slice and serve.


My thoughts:
I think braising sort of has the reputation of being a time consuming, weekend only activity, but is actually is surprisingly well suited to a weeknight. Think of it as a condensed slow cooker recipe: you can come home, do about 15 minutes of prep, pop it in the pot and 1-2 hours later you have dinner. Braising can be done in the oven or on the stove top, all you need a tight fitting lid (or a tight fitting lid/foil combo I outlined above), a slab of meat and some sort of liquid. You can also braise vegetables on their own following the same basic technique but reducing the cooking time. Braising is easy and economical; you can use less expensive cuts of meat because the cooking process breaks down the connective tissues of the meat which results in both a flavorful broth and a tender finished product. Inexpensive root vegetables also respond well to braising. Virtually any combination of meat and vegetables would work, but this is one of my favorites. Any bitterness from the beer is offset by the slightly sweet kohlrabi and leek and the beef juices mix with the beer to form a delicious sauce. Another personal favorite is pork loin with fennel and potatoes, but that is a meal for another day.