Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs

You don’t see country-style ribs often on restaurant menus. Well, at least I don’t. I’m not sure why, since they are a lot meatier than your traditional beef or pork ribs. Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin. Since they’re perfect for those of us who want to use a knife and fork, I often use this cut for braising or cooking with Spanish-style rice. Today, I’ve decided to braise them with some onion, celery, and carrots. Deglazing the pot with apple cider vinegar results in a tangy sauce that’s great to sop up with some crusty bread.

Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

What You’ll Need:

3 pounds bone-in country-style pork ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pat the ribs dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the ribs on all sides. Remove the ribs and set aside. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook an additional 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar, then add the red pepper flakes and bay leaves.

Add the ribs back to the pan and add enough stock to reach halfway up the sides of the ribs. Bring the pan to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Braise until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. During the last half hour, uncover to allow the liquid to reduce. Remove the bay leaves. Plate the ribs and spoon the sauce and vegetables over them. Enjoy!

Chicken Fried Steak with White Gravy

Most people assume that since I grew up with a butcher, I frequently eat fancy cuts of meat or turn my nose up at the “plain” stuff. Not true. In fact, I prefer the less expensive cuts, the kind of stuff used to create good, old-fashioned comfort food. Take chicken fried steak, for example. It’s made with cube steak, also known as minute steak, which is a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, that has been tenderized. I’ve made cube steak plenty of times, usually pan-fried and smothered in sauteed onions. Today, I decided to have a go at chicken fried steak.

First off, my husband loved this recipe. It’s not hard to believe, since chicken fried steak is just steak that’s been coated with seasoned flour and fried. John loves anything fried. Seriously. But, moving on… While experimenting with this recipe, I kept noticing my husband making excuses to appear in my kitchen. I would turn and see him peering over my shoulder, eyes squinted, trying to get a glimpse of the fried deliciousness. When my test batch was finally done, John quickly appeared by my side, offering to snap a few photos for my blog. Of course, after those pictures were taken, he quickly ate the photo subject. With a smudge of gravy near his mouth, and a full stomach, my husband promptly proclaimed that my chicken fried steak was a hit.


Chicken Fried Steak with White Gravy

What You’ll Need:

2 pounds cube steak
2 cups all purpose flour, plus 2 heaping tablespoons
1 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
3 slices of bacon
canola oil

Place 2 cups of the flour into a baking dish. Combine the flour with the garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Place the eggs into a separate baking dish and combine with 1/2 cup of the milk. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour, then the egg, then the again in the flour. Make sure to shake off the excess flour. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before cooking.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed (I prefer cast iron) skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, cook the steak in batches. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Doing so will cause the temperature of your oil to drop, creating a soggy steak. That’s not what you want! Cook each steak until golden brown, about four to five minutes on each side. Repeat this process until all your steaks are cooked.

In a separate skillet, cook the slices of bacon. Snack on the bacon while making the white gravy. With the skillet still on medium heat, add the two tablespoons of butter to the bacon fat. Once the butter is melted, add the two heaping tablespoons of flour and whisk for one or two minutes. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of milk. Whisk until the milk comes to a boil and the gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until the gravy is nice and thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the gravy over the steaks. Tastes delicious with a side of mashed potatoes.

Finally, a name!

For months, I’ve been wanting to get my blog up and running again. Fueled by excitement and lots of ideas for new dishes, I told my husband over and over how much I wanted to do this. The conversation went a little like this.

“What’s your focus? What’s going to be your hook?”

“My focus is cooking and baking. Duh.”

“That’s too broad. You need to pick something more specific. Remember that Korean woman from “The Next Food Network Star“? She was all over the place. Even Bobby Flay told her to pick something.”

I knew exactly who he was referring to — Debbie Lee from Season Five. She was a bubbly Korean who wanted to do it all, but failed miserably. I said nothing. I knew he was right. Kind of. But what would my “hook” be?? That dilemma became resolved just a few days later. After mentioning my blog (again), I tossed out a few names that had come to mind.  “How about Epicurious Eliza? Or Eliza’s Eats?” John grimaced and continued to walk past me and into the next room. Just before he exited, he called out, “How ’bout you just call yourself “The Butcher’s Daughter” and blog about meat? I mean, you do work in a meat market.” Seconds later, he came back into the living room, a broad smile on his face. “That’s it! It’s perfect! Your dad is a butcher, you work in a butcher shop, and you LOVE meat! That’s it!” I stared at him for a moment, scowling. He was being way too cocky about this. I tried to maintain the scowl, but a smile started to tug at the corners of my mouth. I didn’t want to admit it, but it did sound appealing. I couldn’t maintain the face for long. John has known me too long. “You know I’ve got it,” he said with a grin, then left the room. Sigh. Yep, he’s got it.

Stracoto with Porcini Mushrooms

Stracoto, Italian-Style Pot Roast

To me, nothing says “yum” better than a good ol’ hunk of meat. It fills your belly and leaves you satisfied. After watching “Giada’s Family Christmas” on Food Network, I made a mental note to make stracoto, which is an Italian-style pot roast, as soon as possible. Once I did, I was NOT disappointed! Even my husband, who tends to be wary of new recipes, absolutely loved this one. The meat was fall apart tender, the flavors were bold, and the sauce was thick and rich. Stracoto will be my “go to” pot roast recipe from now on.

This recipe calls for beef chuck roast, so please make sure to use just that. Don’t substitute, I beg of you. Don’t use bottom round roast or anything else just because it was sitting in your local supermarket. Chuck is a fairly inexpensive cut of meat. If your local butcher or supermarket doesn’t have it at the time, then go elsewhere or hold off on this recipe all together! A nice piece of chuck is what makes the difference between a delicious pot roast and a dry hunk of beef. Trust me, I’ve been there. You can ask my husband! ::rolls eyes::

Check out that marbling! Isn't it beautiful? ::swoon::

Once you’ve browned your roast and have gotten through the first few steps of this easy recipe, you can pop this baby in the oven and forget about it till later. After a few hours, you’ll have a tender pot roast ready to “wow” your dinner guests. Serve it with simple mashed potatoes or creamy polenta, a side salad, and dinner is done!

Stracoto (Italian-style Pot Roast) with Porcini Mushrooms

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
yields about 6 to eight servings

What you’ll need:

1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth, plus extra, as needed
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining oil and the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth and mushrooms. Return the beef to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 3 hours, turning the beef over halfway through and adding more beef broth, as needed.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender), blend the pan juices and vegetables until smooth. Add the rosemary and thyme. Bring to sauce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve the remaining sauce on the side. Enjoy!