This past Sunday we had the honour and pleasure to be part of an event that showcases the very best of what our area has to offer. Taste Local! Taste Fresh! is an annual event that pairs up farmers with chef’s in an effort to showcase how amazing the food is that surrounds us.
Jody, I, and the team at Entertaining Elements had the privilege to be paired up with Charles Quality Meats, the best butchers in town who specialize in lamb and beef. Tony, one of Charles’ sons, was with us all day and I learned quite a few things as we served our beef dish to more than 500 people.
Charles Quality Meats is in St. Agatha, and they are one of the few remaining butchers who literally do everything on the farm. They grow their own special feed for the animals (which makes their lamb taste incredible), they have their own abattoir, and then they bring their meat to market, both the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and the Kitchener Market. They have a special breed of cattle: they are a cross between a Limousine cow and Black Angus, which produces really meaty, yet well marbled cuts. Upon seeing them, we remarked how long they were, with a flat back and chocolate brown coat. The beef is remarkably juicy and rich tasting.
We were given blade roasts, and that meant one thing: braising. Braising is a combination cooking method where you brown the meat really well at the start, and then simmer it slowly in just enough liquid to cover. At the end all we had to do was pull it apart with a fork. We served the braised beef on sourdough bread from Golden Hearth Bakery and topped it with some lightly pickled vegetables.
“You Raise it, I Braise it” Blade Roast
- 1 3-lb blade roast, cut into three thick steaks
- Kosher salt and fresh pepper
- Canola oil, as needed
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, in matchsticks
- 1/2 bottle of red wine
- Beef stock, to cover (about 6-8 cups) (homemade or low sodium)
- 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes
In a large, heavy pot (we used a fantastic Le Creuset from Entertaining Elements – the Julia Child kind), heat oil over medium high heat;
Generously salt and pepper the meat on both sides, and then add to the hot oil; let brown until the surface is really crusty and dark; turn over and brown other side. Depending on the size of your pot, you will do this in batches, because the meat should not be touching;
Once beef is all brown, remove and add onions to pot; cover and cook over low heat until golden;
Add carrots and cook for a few minutes before adding wine; scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot;
Return beef to pot, add stock just to cover and then add tomatoes;
Bring to a simmer, cover, and then cook in a 325°F oven for 3 hours;
Remove and then ‘pull’ meat apart using two forks. Enjoy this beef on its own, in a bun, with mashed potatoes etc., but be sure to serve with some pickles!
Chefs Kirstie Herbstreit and Jody O’Malley are both Red Seal certified chefs. Together they run the company YouCanCook2, specializing in interactive dinner parties. You can also find them cooking at Entertaining Elements in St. Jacobs,where they hold private dinners for eight people. To contact the chefs, visit their website www.youcancook2.com.