Monday, August 12, 2013

Pressure Braised Beef Necks with Mushroom Gravy

While at the grocery store, I saw some meaty beef neck bones and I could not leave them at the store. Beef necks?  Yes.  Don't be afraid.  The beef neck, is a cut that is very similar to beef shanks and oxtail. It has a high cartilage content and typically needs to be cooked for a long period of time for it to be tender.  After my success with the Tangy Country Style Ribs in the pressure cooker, I wanted to use these beefy bones in my pressure cooker.  I came across this recipe for Braised Oxtails with Mushrooms and decided to modify it for my pressure cooker. Evidently, the recipe is from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly.  I don't have this book but it sure looks like a good one.  I might add it to my cookbook wish list. Yes, I have a cookbook wish list.

Before gathering my ingredients, I divided all of the recipe ingredients so that I'd only be making a 1/3 of the recipe as written because I was going to be using my pressure cooker and the full recipe would overfill the cooker.  I'll provide the measurements I used if anyone is interested and doesn't want to do the math for themselves.

I started by chopping all of the vegetables needed for the recipe starting with leeks and celery.  I had some left over chopped onion from another recipe, so I didn't need to chop that.  I chopped some carrots as well.

While at the store shopping for this recipe, they were out of dried porcinis.  I decided to use fresh shiitakes.  I quickly searched the internet for a conversion and found this that suggested 1 ounce of dried mushrooms was equivalent to 8 ounces fresh.  The recipe calls for 1/2 ounce dried.  Even though I was dividing the recipe in a third, I decided to just used the full container.  I chopped the mushrooms up stems and all.  

I mixed the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl before coating the neck bones with it in a medium sized bowl.  It will provide a thin coat of spice on the ribs.  

Because my pressure cooker is taller than wide, I decided to brown the neck bones in my 12" saute pan.  As much as I hate dirtying another pot, this made things go quicker.  

While the meat browned, I started sautéing the vegetables in my pressure cooker with a teaspoon of coconut oil.  

Imagine mushrooms in this pot.

Once the vegetables were softened, I added the remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker with the exception of the mustard and put the lid on the pressure cooker.  Once it was at high pressure, I turned down the heat on the burner and set a timer for 15 minutes.  

I hope this works!

At the end of the 15 minutes, I took the lid off and removed the meat so that I could separate it from the bones.   I turned the heat back up on the burner and added the mustard to the pan.  I let the veggies and sauce boil a bit.  

I plated some of the veggies sauce and meat.   

I then decided it would be interesting to use my immersion blender to make the veggies into a gravy.  

A plate with the gravy version.  

I stored the gravy separately from the meat as it can be used for other dishes.  

Accessibility & Cost of Ingredients: I actually found the beef necks at my big box grocery store.  I've not noticed them before.  They were pretty inexpensive, like in the $2-3/pound range. Depending on what mushroom you use, this recipe could get expensive.  Next time, I'll get my shittakes from the Asian grocery where they are cheaper.  I was just too lazy to make multiple grocery store stops this time.

Preparation & Cooking Time:  It took me about 30 minutes before I put the pressure cooker lid on this recipe.  It took about 13 minutes for my pressure cooker to get to high pressure.  Once it was, I set a timer for 15 minutes.   It took about 10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally.  It took me about 10 minutes to debone meat and blend the gravy.  Next time, I will cook it under pressure for 20-25 minutes.  Grand total time:  1 hour 18 minutes.  

This is still a time commitment, but as written, the recipe would have taken 3 hours and 25 minutes. Time is my present to you.  There's 2 hours of your life back.  You're welcome.  

Clean Up:  Despite having dirtied a second pan, the clean up wasn't bad for this recipe and neither pot required heavy scrubbing.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  Wow. Wow. Wow.  This recipe creates an awesome full flavored dish.  The texture of the meat reminds me of these beef shanks.  The gravy is almost better than the meat.  It truly reminded me of a traditional gravy.  

Next time, I will cook the meat under pressure for 20-25 minutes.  When I removed the meat from the bones, while done and tender, it didn't just fall off.  I think will a little more time, it will just fall off and the high cartilage content will break down a bit more.  

I had Martha try this out and she was skeptical when I told her it was beef neck.  Her exact words were, "You're going to make me eat what?"  She ate those words.  She said that this was simply delicious.  Amazing.  She agreed the gravy was just as good if not better than the meat.  

If you don't have a pressure cooker, I bet it would be just as tasty made as written.  I will certainly be making this again in the pressure cooker.  Oh, and bonus for all of you following an Autoimmune protocol. Assuming you use a clean mustard, this recipe is AIP compliant.