Roast Tenderloin with Syrah and Shallots

1 beef tenderloin, 2 1/2 to 3 lb.
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. minced shallots
1 cup Syrah
2 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Rub the beef all over with the olive oil, then rub on the thyme, salt and pepper.

Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to accommodate it. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 115° to 120°F for rare, about 20 minutes; 125° to 130°F for medium-rare, about 25 minutes; or 130° to 140°F for medium, about 30 minutes. Transfer the roast to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the rack from the roasting pan and place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring them into the pan juices, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine a little at a time, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Continue to cook until the wine is reduced by nearly half, then stir in the butter. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.

To serve, cut the beef into slices 1/2 inch thick. Arrange the slices on a warmed platter and drizzle with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Basic Bolognese

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
Salt
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta, preferably tagliattele
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.

Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. (this will take awhile) Add a tiny grating — about 1/8 teaspoon — of nutmeg, and stir.

Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

Tips:
-The meat should not be from too lean a cut; the more marbled it is, the sweeter the ragu will be. The most desirable cut of beef is the neck portion of the chuck.

-Add salt immediately when sauteeing the meat to extract its juices for the subsequent benefit of the sauce.

-Cook the meat in milk before adding wine and tomatoes to protect from the acidic bite of the latter.

-Do not use demiglace or other concentrates that tip the balance of flavors toward harshness

-Use a pot that retains heat. Earthenware is preferred in Bologna and by most cooks in Emilia Romagna, but enameled cast-iron pans or a pot whose heavy bottom is composed of layers of steel alloys are fine.

-Cook, uncovered, at the merest simmer for a long, long time; no less than three hours is necessary, more is better

Basic Marinara

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic peeled
1 box Pomi Crushed tomatoes(or one 35 oz San Marzano tomatoes seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
Salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
Crushed hot red pepper (go easy!unless you like it hot)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Black Olives for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a 2 to 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Carefully slide the tomatoes and their liquid into the oil. Bring to a boil and season lightly with the salt, sugar and red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer and cook, breaking the tomatoes with a whisk or a spoon (if you got the can of whole tomatoes) until the sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil* about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper, if necessary. Set aside.

Guinness Stew

2 Tbsp butter
2 pounds well marbled chuck beef roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
Salt
2 cups chopped onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 pint (16 ounces) Guinness stout
3 cups beef broth
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown the beef in the butter, starting with the fattiest pieces of meat, fat side down in the pan. This will allow some beef fat to render out. Work in batches as to not crowd the pan. Sprinkle salt over the beef as it browns. Once browned on all sides, transfer the beef pieces into the slow cooker.

Add the onions and celery to the pan in which you just browned the beef. Sauté the onions and celery until they begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for a minute or two, then add a little of the Guinness, enough to make it easier for you to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Transfer the celery and onions into the slow cooker.

Add the rest of the Guinness, the beef broth, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and thyme to the slow cooker. Add two teaspoons of salt. Cover and cook on “high” for 4 hours, or “low” for 8 hours. When done, add more salt to taste. If you want, sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve.
Yield: Serves 6-8.

Basic Puttanesca

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 canned anchovies, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 Tbsp small (non-pariel) capers
3/4 cup pitted olives (black or green), roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound spaghetti
Salt
Olive oil for drizzling

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep saute pan. When the oil is hot, sauté the onions until they’re soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, stir in the chopped anchovies along with some of the oil from the can. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Mix in the tomato paste and cook it for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, chili pepper flakes, and olives. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When you add the spaghetti to the boiling water to cook, add the capers to the sauce and continue to simmer it gently. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, to al dente, cooked but still slightly firm.

Drain the pasta and put in a large bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil over the pasta and mix to combine. Stir the parsley into the pasta sauce. Add a ladle’s worth of sauce to the pasta and mix to combine. Serve in shallow bowls with more sauce on top.
Yield: Serves 4-6.

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Meatloaf with Sweet and Sour Glaze

3 thick slices white bread, torn into large pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped (I used 1 tsp celery salt)
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
12 ounces ground beef chuck (90 percent lean)
12 ounces ground pork
12 ounces ground veal
1 large egg
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse bread in a food processor until finely ground. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs.) Transfer to a medium bowl.

Pulse garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and parsley in food processor until finely chopped. Add to breadcrumbs. Add meats, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix together using your hands. Transfer mixture to a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan.

Stir together remaining 1/2 cup ketchup and the brown sugar until smooth; brush onto meat. Set pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reaches 160 degrees, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Espresso Chocolate Pots de Creme

6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons instant-espresso powder*
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300°F.

Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream, milk, espresso powder (to taste), and a pinch of salt just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until espresso powder is dissolved, then pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in another bowl, then add warm chocolate mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-quart glass measure and cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Line bottom of a baking pan (large enough to hold ramekins) with a folded kitchen towel and arrange ramekins on towel. Poke several holes in a large sheet of foil with a skewer. Divide custard among ramekins, then bake custards in a hot water bath , pan covered tightly with foil, until custards are set around edges but still slightly wobbly in centers, 30 to 35 minutes

Transfer ramekins to a rack to cool completely, uncovered, about 1 hour. (Custards will set as they cool.) Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours.

Pots de crème can chill up to 2 days.