Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs

It’s definitely the time of year for comfort food – stews, soups and anything else that’s warm and hearty. Slow cookers and big soup pots are in full rotation around my house right now, but I thought I’d try something new (for me) and cook up some beef short ribs.

blog ingredientsThese ribs were a showstopper right out of the gate, and I couldn’t wait to cook them up! Silver Sage Beef provided some beautiful short ribs for this recipe. When slow cooked, this particular cut of beef becomes a tender, falling-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth delight!

Market Sourced Ingredients

Other Ingredients

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Red wine (1 – 2 cups)

Alright, the first thing to do is preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

This dish starts on the stovetop and ends in the oven, so choose a pan or Dutch oven that can get the job done. Heat the pan on the stove top on medium-high, and add the olive oil. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and fry for about 10 – 15 minutes. You’ll want them to get nice and brown on all sides.

Set the halved garlic head; cut side down, in the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and let it heat up for a minute or two before deglazing the pan with the red wine (use as much as you need, about 1 – 2 cups). Bring this concoction to a boil and let cook for 10 – 15 minutes until it is reduced by half. At this point, add the beef stock until it’s almost covering the ribs (the actual amount will depend on the dimensions of your pan). Bring to a boil again.

ribs

Put the lid on your pan, or cover with foil and move it into the preheated oven. Cook for 3 – 4 hours, basting the ribs as you go. You’ll know they’re done when the meat is super tender and starting to fall off the bone.

When the ribs look about ready to come out, fry the pancetta in a pan on the stove top until nice and crisp. Add in the mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat.

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Remove the done short ribs from the oven and set aside (in a serving dish if you’re getting fancy). Scoop out the garlic and squeeze the cloves out of their skins and pass through a sieve, or mash with a fork. Strain the rest of the liquid from the pan as well and mix it with the roasted garlic. Reduce to your desired consistency by cooking it a little longer on the stove top.

Now it’s just a matter of assembly! Serve the ribs with the pancetta and mushroom mixture on top. Spoon some of that sauce over the whole thing, and voila!

Any seasonal veggies (which are still plentiful at the market right now) would make a great accompaniment for this dish. I ended up roasting whatever vegetables I had in the fridge to go along with this meal (carrots, squash, parsnips, broccoli). You could also serve them with a side salad or anything your heart desires.

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Pick up the ingredients for this recipe and others at the Market this weekend! We’ve got what you need!

Grey Cup Grub

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, even though our local Stampeders weren’t able to pull out a win last weekend, that we’re all pretty excited for the Grey Cup around here.  Call us football fans or food fans or… both!

Whether you’re hosting your friends or heading to a party, you wouldn’t want to fumble on the opening kickoff and show up without food, right?  And with everyone else rushing to the frozen snack aisle like a possessed linebacker… *ahem* we mean flocking to the grocery stores last minute to stand in long lines, we’d like to share some of the incredible (and tasty) things you can find right here in one stop.  Ready?  Huddle up, we’ll be your Grey Cup party quarterback.

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Whether your guests have the appetite of an offensive lineman or punter, who doesn’t like a meatball sub?  With Spragg’s Meat Shop carrying some of the best ready-to-go meatballs around, this is an easy throw-’em-in-the-crockpot and slap-’em-in-a-bun (from Yum Bakery of course) meal for the game.

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Looking for something a little on the lighter side for a delicate wide receiver?  Prawns with cocktail sauce is a huge crowd pleaser and Blu Seafood has some incredible treats from the sea.  In addition to the best tasting prawns we’ve had (in our land-locked region), they also have some excellent crab cakes, salmon burgers, and seafood brochettes that are party-ready with very little prep.

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More of a meat-lover, kill-the-running-back, kind of defensive lineman?  Silver Sage Beef prepares a killer burger (slider and full-sized), they do up a damn good chili, and if you prefer beef in your subs, they also have prepped meatballs.  Not a bad selection.

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And what’s a Canadian party without a Caeser? Edgar Farms (part of Innisfail Growers Co-operative) is famous for their asparagus; we wait, not-so-patiently, for it to arrive on the shelves every June and Elna Edgar makes some mean pickles.  What’s better than a spear of pickled asparagus poking out of the signature drink Canadians love so much?  Nothin’.

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We know not everyone who has ever dawned shoulder pads and a helmet is a big ol’ meat lover, so why not offer them a lighter, equally delicious option?  Kin Sushi has a great selection of ready-made combos and they take larger orders for platter.  They also make a killer miso soup to warm everyone up.

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While we’re talking about healthy alternatives to your Grey Cup party, Cherry Pit has an impressive, and tasty, selection of ready-made salads, roasting vegetables, and made-to-order platters that will suit just about anyone’s dietary preferences or restrictions.

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You may be hosting friends and family in your home for the big game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some great bar-style snacks at their fingertips.  Going Nuts has a massive selection of nuts of all kinds and flavors that will keep them coming back for more.

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We’re not sure we’ve ever been to a party of any kind that doesn’t have at least one dip as part of the snack/appetizer buffet.  The Stock & Sauce Co. has a vast and varied selection of dips from pâté  to pesto, tapenade to tasty dips, even a chocolate mousse that’s incredible on strawberries, these certainly won’t disappoint your guests.

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If you want a more traditional party spread, nachos or as mainstay as you can get when it comes to sporting events.  Los Chilitos Taqueria makes salsa and chips fresh daily and are quite addictive if we do say so ourselves.

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We’re on a dip roll, we’re not stopping now!  2 Greek Gals has you covered for bruschetta, antipasto, traditional Greek fare like melitzanosalata and tzatziki and some pretty martini-perfect olives for the women that are watching the game with the men.

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Martinis for the women, wings for the men?  Not a bad trade.  Wild Fire Wings has an extensive menu of hot-to-take-home or take-and-bake wings from the common buffalo to the not-so-common dill pickle or garlic & parm.  They use organic Sunworks Farms chicken and they have a buy 3lbs, get 1lb free deal.  Say wha?!  Touchdown!

Meat & Cheese Collage

If you’re hosting a slightly more sophisticated crowd that prefers wine and cheese with their long bombs and 50 yards running plays, Fresh DELIcious offers a selection of import and local cheese and meat that could give any large deli a run for its money.  And they often have Thursday deals, so don’t count them out of your Grey Cup shopping.

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And while we’re challenging you not to leave any market stone unturned… we think you should try to slip in these vegan spare ribs from Hearts Choices.  Lighter than a full meat platter, and just as tasty, we think most people would be hard pressed to point out the vegan option in your party spread.

So there you have it!  A dozen quick and easy, one-stop shopping pick ups right here at the market and a drink garnish too!  So whaddya say?  Skip the long grocery lines and visit our vendors for a Grey Cup party that’s unlike all the rest.

Not-So-Sloppy Joes

Kids Cooking

Last week, as we were restocking our Take-One-Leave-One  Cookbook Library (located at the North East entrance), we stumbled on a book that was a mainstay in many households.  From the mid-80’s, it was the go-to book for many a mom looking for quick and nutritious meals that their kids would not only eat, but could also help cook.  We’re big fans of getting kids in the kitchen around here; teach them how to love food when they’re young and they’ll have a lifetime of rich memories and full tummies.  And maybe we were just being nostalgic, but we thought we’d rock a family-friendly, get-’em-in-the-kitchen (read: SUPER easy) meal this week.

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Market Sourced Ingredients

1lb of extra lean ground beef from Silver Sage Beef

1 shallot from Cherry Pit

4-6 hamburger buns from Yum Bakery

2 Beck Farms carrots from Innisfail Growers

1 stalk of celery from Cherry Pit

ketchup and mustard (what family doesn’t have these in the fridge?!)

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As our “Very Slightly Messy Manual” instructs our little chef, have your assistant (read: mom, dad, aunt… any responsible adult that can wield a sharp knife safely) finely chop the carrots, celery, and shallots.  Add to a hot pan with a little olive oil and saute for a few minutes.

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Add ground beef to the pan with the vegetables and break apart, cooking until brown.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add a good squirt of ketchup (or 1/4 cup if you’re teaching measuring skills) and one tablespoon of hot mustard.

At this point, if you’re hoping to extend the recipe to feed a larger family (or just want some leftovers for an easy lunch the day after), you can add a can of brown beans to this recipe.  Is it vital to making these Sloppy Joes yummy?  Nope.  But it is an easy and affordable way to stretch this dinner if we’re trying to tighten our purse strings.

Spoon beef onto your hamburger buns and “serve with milk”.  Another good recommendation from the manual.  It isn’t every day that you find a solid (and highly entertaining) cookbook for kids; let your tots have a shot at this simple, yummy, and budget-friendly recipe.

2013-11-14 08.18.23And if you want to serve these Not-So-Sloppy Joes with the Oven French Fries from the Kids Cooking book (as pictured), all you need is a couple of potatoes and a little olive oil.  Start by asking your assistant to help with cutting the potatoes.  We used a mandolin (which is WAY to sharp for little fingers) to cut these shoestring thin, but cutting them into wedges is awfully yummy too.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees while mom is slicing the potatoes.  Toss the potato wedges in a bowl with a little olive oil and a dash of salt.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes if thin-cut, or about 45 for thick wedges.  Move them around halfway through to prevent them from burning on one side.  And voila!  French Fries with your Joes.

Silver Sage: Behind the Beef

Why should I pay more? We’re asked that question. A lot. Especially when you can save some of your hard-earned income by shopping at a big box store.

When you’re paying more, you should know more about the products you are buying, whether it’s halibut or ham, broccoli or beef. To do just that, we recently spoke with Lorne and Sandi Zentner to better understand why their beef costs you more. There are obviously a lot of costs that go into raising cattle, more so if you aren’t a big producer and strive to provide top-quality humanely-raised, grass-fed cows.  And there are a great many factors to be considered, like weather fluctuations, an aging population of farmers, competition with alternative protein sources, even global demand, but what it really comes down to is simple supply and demand.  The input costs are up and the demand remains steady.  The price of purchasing bulls and heifers has increased, as well as the price of feed, and the demand for beef has not waned.

To make a plain analogy, it’s like fine wine.  A bottle of wine that costs $8 is likely to taste a lot like grape juice, yet a bottle of finely aged wine made from carefully selected grapes of expertly-crafted vines grown in unique soil will go for substantially more.  It’s simply better.  Silver Sage Beef is like a finely aged wine; an older cow = better beef.

So, what sets them apart from the rest?  Keep reading…. or stop by the shop here at the market and ask, they’ll be happy to share more information with you!

If you’ve been into the Silver Sage Full Service Beef Shop at the market, you’ve probably met Kent, the Zentner son who runs the city operations, or even Lorne and Sandi themselves when they’re able to get away from the ranch. Friendly and knowledgable, they guide you through the process of choosing just the right cut of beef for your tastes and occasion. But there’s a whole lot more behind Silver Sage Beef and we wanted to find out just how much.

No Gas

The Zentner family’s ranch, located just south of the Cypress Hills, is now 14,000 acres of sun-washed, gently rolling prairie land that has been in the family for more than a hundred years. The journey, while long at approximately five hours from Calgary to the intersection of the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana borders, is beautiful. A sea of green as far as the eye can see; hills swaying with vibrant grass like rolling waves, flecked with dark dots: happy cows lazing about and grazing on sweet grass. It is picturesque.

Cow Driving

I arrived at the ranch with my guide, Kent Zentner, with a warm welcome from his parents, Lorne and Sandi, his sister Kristine, and brother-in-law, Monty. I could tell right away that I was in for a treat as Piper (the indispensable and beloved farm dog) bounded over to me while Sandi tilled the to-be planted vegetable garden, and Lorne strolled over from the charming red barn.

Zentner Family

They invited me in for a homemade lunch of hamburger soup; I grew up eating this prairie essential, but my mom’s never tasted this good. Sitting with the Zentner family over a warm bowl of soup was as familiar as sitting with my own family; they have a beautiful way of making you feel at home. They shared with me their family history as far back as they could remember as we finished the last drop of lemonade.

Zentner Collage

And then we were off. To the old barn that was moved in the icy winter across the farm to where it stands now, still in use to milk the cows, as a manger for horse and cattle, and assist in calving season.

Zentner Barn 2

And to meet the bulls. Lorne and Kristine explained to me how they choose the perfect bull; selecting ‘quiet’ animals and conducting an ultrasound of the rib eye to ensure adequate size and pristine marbling. And that’s even before they bring the beast home. They’re beautiful creatures, calm yet mighty. I could see the pride on all of their faces, and knew they saw the awe on mine. Bulls Collage Lorne wanted to show me his favourite spot on the ranch, how could I resist? As we drove across the hills, following what I was told were the wagon-made trails made by his family long ago, we reached a ridge overlooking acres upon acres of green; bison far off in the distance (of Olson’s High Country Bison to be precise).

Lorne's Favorite Ridge

The five of us stood up there, a blanket of blue and soft, pillowy clouds above us, the breeze caressing our cheeks; I felt like I’d been invited into a secret club. I was in. I never wanted to leave. But we had more to see. So much more.

Cow Group

Lorne and Sandi have been refining and improving their herd for 35 years, carefully buying new stock to bring in desired genetics, continually selecting the best quality replacement heifers. The herd is predominantly purebred Angus and Gelbvieh cattle, the result: a very consistent, hardy cattle well-suited to Canadian prairie conditions, yielding beef with the excellent flavour and marbling characteristics preferred by knowledgeable beef lovers.

The cattle are humanely raised in a natural environment, roaming and grazing freely on the Zentner’s open pastures of nutritious prairie short grass for most of their lives. Just before winter sets in, the calves are weaned and put on a high roughage diet – primarily hay and green feed – for about five months. This is, I learned from Kristine, called “backgrounding” and is necessary to keep the calves well fed and healthy during the very cold, snowy winters. In the spring, yearlings are returned to graze on open pasture, allowing them to grow naturally on a grass diet in a healthy stress-free environment with clean air and water, and lots of sunshine and space to roam.

Remember Lorne’s favourite spot? Now imagine you’re a cow, it’s like heifer heaven out there.

Mama Cow

At maturity (which is 2-2.5 years), Silver Sage cattle are finished for about 100 days at the Scheibner family farm near Gem, Alberta on a diet of hay and silage, supplemented with barley and other grains. Grain finishing strongly enhances both the marbling and flavour of the beef. All Silver Sage cattle are free from hormones and therapeutic antibiotics. And there are no animal by-products in the feed. Ever. Silver Sage Beef is dry aged for superb flavour and tenderness. And all animals in the Silver Sage program are age-verified and fully traceable. So that means when you return to Kent at the market to give him your feedback, the family knows exactly what cow that delicious, succulent ribeye came from. Pretty neat eh?

It’s pretty amazing to think that a centurion ranch spread across 14,000 acres with 1,500 cattle is maintained and nourished by 3 people: Lorne, Sandi, and now Monty. Let’s just say, they’re hard workers. Their ‘small’ family beef shop managed by Zentner brother, Clark, launched just two years ago in April 2011 when the market opened in our new location.  Offering a complete range of cuts and a full-time butcher for custom orders, they’re a busy place. It hasn’t taken them long to gain a following of loyal customers, demanding more than 500 cattle from the ranch every year. AND, they serve up a range of delicious beef at Silver Sage Burgers in the market food court.

But my field trip wasn’t destined to end in the numbers of their business, no, there was more to see of course! Walking through cool streams, skipping rocks (well, attempting to at least), and even seeing Kent and Kristine’s old high school in Consul, I got the full tour.

Creek

The sun: a farmer’s timepiece, still high in the sky enticed us to stay out just a little longer. I had a long journey home upon uninhabited gravel roads and cattle crossing when they fancied, but my head was still with Lorne as he showed me where the Zentner Family School once stood. I could hardly decline Sandi’s invitation to stay for what I can only describe as Flintstone-sized ribeye and homemade peanut butter cookies.

Flintstone Ribeye

No, there is more behind Silver Sage Beef than just a butcher at the market and a burger in the food court. There is family. There is history. There is heart.

So the next time you’re visiting us at the market, look for Lorne and Sandi’s son: Silver Sage Beef’s Marketing Manager, Kent Zentner (that handsome guy above). Shake his hand, you’re connecting with generations of the people who made this country one we are proud to call home. He’ll fix you up right as rain with a steak that will convert you, if not just for the outstanding difference in taste, but the story behind the beef.

Leilani Signature

*Leilani Olynik is the Marketing and Events Coordinator at the Calgary Farmers’ Market