Cooking with Wine - Part II (Marinades)

Using wine to marinate foods has long been a tradition in cooking. When we think of a marinade, we think of meat. And wine is perfect for it. It tenderizes the meat, gives body and strength to its texture and, at the same time, enhances the flavor. This works well with the less tender cuts of meat (i.e. cheaper cuts) and even game meats such as venison.

It is considered that the use of marinades began in the old sailing days. Sailors would use wines and spirits as marinades to preserve their meats. Otherwise a mariner would be eating rotten meat for the extended voyage. In time this process was taken up by landlubbers. Marinating is a simple enough procedure. The meat is placed in an enamel or glass container, then you add the wine and spices. The meat is turned every few hours until the marinade does its work. These days the meat is kept in the refrigerator.

Try the marinated beef recipe given below. You'd be surprised how an inexpensive cut of meat can reach such glorious heights.


Marinade ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck steak
2 cups dry red wine
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, sliced
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
4 sprigs parsley
10 whole black peppercorns

Cooking ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoons ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a deep glass or enamel bowl combine the marinade ingredients. Place the meat in the bowl and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Allow the beef to marinate for approximately 12 hours, turning two or three times.
2. Remove beef from marinade and dry on paper towels.
3. Heat three tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a casserole or Dutch oven pot, and brown the meat on both sides over medium heat.
4. Strain the marinade and add to the beef. Place in oven and bake for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
5. Remove meat from casserole and boil marinade over high heat until the liquid is reduced to one cup. Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water and add to the marinade. Stir until thicken. Add ginger, salt, pepper, and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter.
6. Slice meat at an angle and serve with the sauce. This dish is good with dumplings or boiled potatoes.
Yield: 6-8 servings.

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