After successfully using hard apple cider in a few dishes recently, I’ve found myself looking at a sparkling hard pear cider at the store, wondering if it will give a dish similar tasty results.
A cut of meat called “chuck tender” also caught my attention. The cut is named this way because of its’ vague resemblance to tenderloin, not because it’s actually so tender. In fact, it is quite the opposite: this lean cut requires long cooking in order to get tender. So, braising it with the pear cider seemed the obvious choice.
The pear cider I bought was semi-dry, with lovely fruity aroma, which made it perfect for using as a base for a marinade for the meat. For more complex flavors and aroma, I added some mustard seeds, bay leaves, dried shallots, tarragon and sage, to it. The meat was then let to marinate overnight, to tenderize and absorb the flavors.
After browning the meat, I used the marinade as the braising liquid, to which I also added a nice amount of leeks, carrots and cubed pear. Braising the meat with the aromatic and tasty liquid and vegetables, gave it wonderful flavor and aroma.
Once cooked, I blended the braising liquids with the smothered leeks and pear, and thickened it with a very small amount of butter and flour, creating a light gravy.
To add some fresh flavor, crispiness and color to the dish, I pan-roasted pear segments just before serving, and served them on the side.
This humble piece of meat turned into a tasty and aromatic dish, perfect for serving as a main course for the holidays, or any other time of the year. Try it and enjoy.
* I’ve used THIS brand of sparkling pear cider. In case you can’t find it, make sure the one you use is not too sweet.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Marinating time: overnight
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Braising time: 3 hours
Chilling time: overnight
2.2 lbs (1 Kg) beef chuck tender, in one piece
For the marinade:
1 bottle (12.7 fl oz/375 ml) sparkling hard pear cider (see notes)
2 Tbs dried shallots
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
3-4 dried bay leaves
1 tsp dried tarragon leaves
1 tsp dried sage leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
For the stew:
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground four peppers mix
3 carrots, peeled and roughly cut
2 cups leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
1 medium ripe red pear, peeled, cored, roughly cut
For the gravy:
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
For the pan-roasted pears:
2 Tbs butter, soft
½ tsp sugar
1 red pear, ripe but firm, cored, cut into 8 segments
1. Remove the silver skin from the meat and place it in a large Ziploc bag. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl, and pour over the meat in the bag. Seal the bag and place in the fridge overnight, turning the bag once or twice.
2. When ready to cook, set the marinade aside in a medium bowl. Pat-dry the meat with paper towels.
3. Heat the olive oil in a wide pot, over medium-high heat. Add the meat and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.
4. Arrange the leeks, carrots and pear around the meat. Add the marinade, salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes, basting with the liquids occasionally.
5. Preheat the oven to 195F (90C). Place the covered pot in the oven and let braise for 3 hours, turning the meat twice, until the meat is tender. Bring to room temperature, then keep in the fridge overnight, covered.
6. The next day, discard the fat layer, carrots and bay leaves. Place the meat on a cutting board, and bring to room temperature.
7. Transfer the leek-pear mixture into a medium bowl, and puree with a hand blander. Pass through a fine strainer, and discard the pulp.
8. Melt the butter in a wide pot over medium-low heat. Add the flour and mix well, until it is absorbed in the butter. Gradually, and while stirring, add the leek-pear sauce and the mustard. Mix and bring to the boil, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
9. Slice the meat into thick slices, and place in the pot. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until heated through.
10. Meanwhile, melt the butter for the roasted pears in a medium pan. Add the cut pear, sprinkle with sugar and salt, and fry until slightly golden at the edges.
11. Arrange the sliced meat in a pre-warmed serving plate. Add the roasted pears and sauce on the side, and serve immediately.