I’ll open with a confession: the idea for this recipe evidently originates from Hannibal Lecter’s recipe collection! A chance video clip I happened across showed a recipe card, and I found the contents somewhat intriguing. In particular, it hadn’t occurred to me to use heavy cream in a braise. I ended up crafting this recipe as a result.
Its origins aside, I made this on Christmas day 2017, and it came out marvelously, aside from the usual errors I make for braising: too much liquid and typically about twice as much of the sauteed components as I need. The ingredient list here is normalized to 1 lb of meat and attempts to adjust for these errors
I use skirt-steak here, as its loose texture is ideal for soaking up the liquid in a braise. Substitute other cuts as desired, but skirt steak did quite well.
- 1 lb beef skirt steak
- 1/2 cup diced porcetta (or pork belly)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup full-bodied red wine (Cabernet, Burgundy, or Bordeaux)
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2-3 sprigs fresh leafy rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 shallot, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- mushrooms: chanterelle, porcini, portabella, chopped
- ground kosher salt and mixed peppercorns
Oven temperature: 275 F
I recommend some manner of fresh pasta and fresh-baked bread as a side.
The procedure has two components: preparation about 12-24 hours in advance, and actual cooking.
About a day in advance, prepare the meat and mushrooms to be marinated.
The ground salt and pepper aren’t shown. For this, I use my trusty mortar and pestle (one of the best kitchen tools I ever bought, really). First, cut the skirt steak up and rub it down with the salt and pepper mix.
Next, smash the garlic, chop the aromatic mushrooms (chanterelle and porcini, or any others you use), layer the meat, garlic and mushrooms in a container.
Next, pour in the wine. I usually include a little olive oil to dissolve the non-polar components (most notably garlic essence) and mix them in. You can add a bit of brandy as well. (One thing, though: never use acidic marinades, which I discovered by accident once)
Put this in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight. After a few hours, some amount of the wine will be absorbed into the skirt steak, and some of the meat juices will mix with the wine. I waited a few hours, then pressed the mixture down below the level of the liquid (not shown).
Sautee and Braising
The main cooking step is sauteeing and braising. Begin by removing the meat and allowing it to drain. Also, strain the mushrooms out of the marinating liquid, shop the onion, shallots, and the rest of the mushrooms and set them aside. Be sure to keep all of the marinating liquid and everything that drains from the meat.
Sear the meat with a bit of oil. Just give it a nice sear; don’t cook it all the way through.
Now add the diced porchetta and brown it (I forgot to do this, and added it later). Once this is done, remove most of the fat, then splash in the brandy and slosh it around to dissolve everything that’s stuck to the pan. (Skirt steak is very lean, so it may not be necessary to remove any fat.) Then, add in the onion, shallots, mushrooms, and garlic and sautee them until nice and brown.
After sauteeing, add in the marinating liquid, then squeeze in the lemon.
(Note that I added the diced porchetta here, instead of earlier)
Now add in the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary sprigs (I usually tear the leaves off the rosemary)
Simmer this until the liquid boils down to about 2/3-1/2 original volume (remember that I ended up with about twice as much sauteed mushrooms and onions as I wanted here). Once this is done, turn off the heat and add the heavy cream.
A word on heavy cream: it’s magic. It’s one of the very few things that can blend polar (water-soluble) and non-polar (oil-soluble) things together in happy harmony, and keep it that way. As far as braising goes, it’s a bit daunting to cook milk, but remember, heavy cream is basically another form of butter.
Place the meat in amongst the rest, spaced out evenly.
Cover the braising container and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove, turn the meat over, then put back in for about 10 minutes. In this case, I cut into the meat to determine if it was done.
At the end, there will be some separation of the oil from the rest. However, you can mix this back together and it will stay emulsified. After removing from the oven, place the cover on the braising container with a small gap to allow steam to escape, and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
This recipe refrigerate and reheats quite well, and will only slightly separate even when refrigerated. Reheating will re-cook the meat some, so I suggest pulling it apart with forks prior to cold storage.