Monday, 30 July 2012

Flanks and Braise!

Straccetti di Manzo e Bulgur con le Erbe e Ajvar
Braised Beef Strips and Bulgur with Herbs and Ajvar

Flank steak- cheap, tasty, but not such an easy cut to cook with I know. But I remember this from when I was growing up and still love the rich flavor. Back then my mother used to make a great pasta soup with a rich and delicious broth and we would have the steak, steaming hot, with potatoes that hat boiled in it for our "secondo". Sigh! Nothing beats a mother's cooking! But that doesn't stop me doing the best I can!

This is going to be a very different dish of course- and one that I prepared using my trusty rice-cooker- hurray! I actually love using it as a kind-of slow cooker, it is small and handy and perfect for a single person or couple. Stephen- this is "one of those dishes" in case you are reading this- the ones that I claim are easy to make- lol!

I started off by marinating the beef for a whole day (or night). I cut it into 1" strips and popped it into a ziploc bag this morning with some crushed garlic, sesame oil, lime juice and a bay leaf. So when I opened the bag this evening, it was wonderfully infused with these flavors, aromatic and tasty already- and ready to go!

I turned the rice cooker on and as soon as the plate was hot, added the meat, stirred it once and let it sizzle away without the lid on for 2-3 minutes until it began to brown. I then deglazed it with a splash of white wine, covered it in boiling water, put on the lid and let it simmer away. When I set my cooker to "warm", it maintains the temperature but does not quite let the content boil which is great! Obviously, I can't possibly know if your rice cookers will do the same- but I wish you luck!

Whilst it was cooking, I chopped a nice handful of parsley finely, grated a little carrot- just a couple of inches will do and a little celery and added these to the broth. I let it simmer for around an hour and then tried a piece to see how it was doing. It was fine, but still a little tough, so I left it for another 15-20 minutes before adding the bulgur.

The bulgur takes around 15 minutes to cook and at the end of that time I added a heaped tablespoon of Ajvar and a good shot of Tabasco. A small squeeze of orange juice and a last sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley and supper was served!

So this wasn't exactly one of those quick meals- but it was very cheap and very tasty! 2 good reasons to give it a go! I know I am glad that I did!

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