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Guest Spot, Phil Riris: Pulled Beef and Home-made Coleslaw

June 13, 2011

In the spirit of Norway’s recent victory at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, TN (1st place, People’s Choice) and because I enjoyed my last guest entry so much, I made a BBQ-style recipe adapted from one of my books. I say adapted, because it’s a Native American cookbook and buffalo is damn hard to come across in Norway (where I’m currently domiciled). So instead, I present with great joy and much satisfaction: Pulled Beef with Coleslaw!

As the name suggests, this dish isn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination. But it is delicious, and will fill your house with wonderful smells for the whole day as it cooks slowly in your oven. Originally, this entry was going to include my home made BBQ sauce, but in all honesty it was outshone by the sauce produced by the beef and seasonings on their own. To the ingredients!

–          Couple tablespoons of cooking oil

–          1 kilogram of beef with a lot of connective tissue. I used beef shoulder.

–          1.5 cups of white or apple cider vinegar

–          2 cups water

–          1 large onion, diced

–          .25 cup packed brown sugar

–          6 garlic cloves, crushed

–          1 tbsp red pepper flakes

–          1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

–          1 tbsp paprika

–          Salt & pepper

–          1 tsp mustard powder

–          Chipotle paste (a note on this below)

Preheat your oven to 175°C. Dice the beef into generous cubes, 5 centimetres on a side. Don’t be a wimp and get Sainsbury’s Pre-diced Lean Stewing Beef ™, because it won’t do. You want big chunks of cow with lots of fat and connective tissue to lend to the sauce.

Heat the Oil in an ovenproof casserole with a lid until very hot. Fry the Beef in batches until nicely browned on all sides. Don’t dump it all in at once, or it’ll just steam, due to the volume of meat reducing the temperature of the oil. Check the photos for reference to the kind of crusty browning I’m talking about. Ignore the flour in some pictures, that was just an experiment. Once all of it has been browned, set aside and fry the diced Onion and crushed Garlic gently in the remaining oil. Reduce the heat to avoid burning it, if necessary.

Return the beef to the pan and add all the other ingredients, stirring to combine completely. Cover the pot with a lid (I stress that it must be ovenproof!) and place it in the middle of the oven for 4-5 hours. The mixture in the pot will look disgusting, but will turn into something wonderful, tender and delicious during the cooking period. Add more hot water if the liquid is reducing too much or burning. Meanwhile, make your coleslaw! Ingredients:

–          Half a head of green cabbage, shredded

–          1 carrot, julienned (cut into matchsticks)

–          2 tbps mayonnaise

–          Salt & pepper

–          1 lime

Mix everything together in a bowl, adding lime juice to taste and refrigerate.

A note on seasonings for the Pulled Beef: they can of course be modified, omitted, increased or whatever you like; this is a very versatile dish. Chipotle paste is made from over-ripe smoked jalapeño chiles that have been ground together. Other forms of the chipotle come canned in a sauce, which are a perfect substitute. Unfortunately, I’ve had no luck locating these tasty, smoky heat-bombs in the UK. You could substitute chile powder and liquid smoke ™, or just leave it out altogether if necessary. However, in my opinion a little heat in this dish goes a long way and it definitely needs chile of some sort.

When the cooking time is up, and you feel as if you are starving from being subjected to mouth-watering smells all day, remove the pot from the oven. Transfer the chunks of Beef, which should be falling apart and beautifully tender by now, to a tray or big dish. Pull the Beef by shredding it with two forks, and mix in the sauce left in the pot. Bask in the glory of what you have just made, and take some really douchey close-ups with the macro function on your camera. Devour with your mighty jaws on buns and topped with the coleslaw.

Overall, my version of the seasonings produces a nice vinegary bite, with overtones of smoke from the chipotle and plenty of heat to back it up. None of the elements are overpowering, and it isn’t sweet like so many “BBQ” sauces you encounter in the shops. I like this recipe a lot, because it involves minimal preparation work but nevertheless comes with a massive payoff. It’s customizable to all tastes, and it is currently BBQ season to boot. So what the hell are you waiting for? Make some Pulled Beef!

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