Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cooking with Tea -- Beef Short Ribs in Smoky Tea Sauce and Frozen Sweet Tea Recipes

I have an affinity for tea. Since I was young, it's been an important part of my life.

In my earliest memories it was Lipton tea in a bag.  Then an English cousin introduced us to Red Rose. Then, with the aid of a trusty immersion coil (to boil water in my dorm room in those years before the residential microwave), I discovered the world of loose, herbal and flavored teas at McNulty's Teas in New York City.

I continue to drink tea of all sorts from complex chai to floral jasmine to delicate linden and more.  I have also used tea in cooking.

For several years I have wanted to develop more recipes with tea.  Recently, I took some time and did just that.  The recipes below were developed for a column in the j. weekly I did about a Bay area-based national tea firm, Republic of Tea.  The company started in 1992 and is located in Novato, CA. It distributes more than 200 products nationally. To see the version in the j., please click here.

Two of the company’s teas inspired me to create these recipes. I used its lapsang souchong tea (for more on lapsang souchong tea in general click here) combined with fragrant spices to give the beef short ribs a slightly smoky, wonderfully complex flavor. I used British Breakfast tea (a variant of English Breakfast tea) for the Frozen Sweet Tea, but any unflavored black tea (or decaffeinated black tea) will work. The third recipe, for an ice tea using Republic of Tea's Jasmine Jazz green tea, is adapted from the Republic of Tea website. (For some background on  jasmine teas in general, click here.)

Similar teas from other sources can be substituted. 

I have plans for more recipes using tea.  If you have some you'd like to share, please leave a link in the comments section below.

Boneless Beef Short Ribs in Smoky Tea Sauce
Serves 4

This blog would need smell-o-vision to help you really appreciate the deep, wonderful, exotic scent that wafts through the house as these short ribs braise.  And, once they are done, fork tender, moist and meaty, the taste does not disappoint.  A fine company dish, especially when made in advance and gently reheated.

Note: A coffee grinder does a great job of processing the tea and spices. Grind bread into crumbs and discard to clean before and after.

2 Tbs. plus 1 Tbs. lapsang souchong tea
1/2 tsp. Sichuan OR black peppercorns
4 whole OR 2 tsp. ground star anise
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
2 lbs. boneless beef short ribs
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 Tbs. oil plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped celery
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro OR parsley

Grind 2 Tbs. of tea, peppercorns, anise, ginger and salt until very fine using a spice mill, cleaned coffee grinder, blender or mortar and pestle. Rub spice mix all over short ribs. Let coated meat sit for 30 minutes.

Heat the stock to boiling. Take off heat. Steep remaining tea in hot liquid for 5 minutes using a tea ball or strainer. Remove tea leaves, reserve liquid.

Heat oil on high heat in a large, deep pan and brown short ribs on all sides. Set aside. Add more oil to pan if needed, reduce heat to medium high, sauté onion until lightly browned, add garlic, sauté until golden. Add carrot, bell pepper and celery, sauté for a minute and put meat back in pan, adding 1 cup of the reserved tea liquid. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to keep at simmer, turning meat and stirring occasionally and adding additional tea liquid if needed. Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until very tender. Remove meat and keep warm. Cook sauce uncovered on high until reduced about in half. Pour sauce over short ribs. Sprinkle with chopped herbs.

Frozen Sweet Tea
Makes 6-8 Servings

This is a sorbet version of the popular Southern drink. The tea is brewed double strength as if for ice tea. Stop the freezing when the tea is slushy and still a bit liquidy and serve it in a glass with a straw for a "Slurpee" or "Icee" version.  If you are serving it as a sorbet, I think a little chopped mint on top is an appropriate garnish.

2 cups boiling water
8 bags or 8 tsp. loose unflavored black or decaffeinated black tea
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Pour boiling water over tea bags or loose tea (in tea ball or strainer). Let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags or leaves. Combine the other 2 cups of water with sugar in a small pot. Heat until sugar has dissolved and water is simmering, stirring occasionally. Mix tea and sugar water together. Stir. Refrigerate until cold. Add lemon juice. Stir. Pour into ice cream machine and process according to directions. It will be soft and slushy. Serve immediately or store in freezer. If frozen, let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Adaption for Making without an Ice Cream Maker

This version makes a grainer, more granita-like frozen treat.

Once the tea and sugar mixture is cold, pour it into a metal pan or other freezer safe container that is wide and flat. Place in the freezer and stir and scrape the mixture every half hour with a sturdy fork until frozen. Remove from the freezer about 20 minutes before serving and scrape to break up and serve.
Republic of Tea sent me a link to some of their recipes.  Being a big fan of jasmine tea, I tried this one and thought it very tasty.

Jasmine Lime Squeeze
Serves 4

The original recipe is on the Republic of Tea recipe website.

2 1/2 cups water
5 tsp. loose leaf jasmine tea
2 Tbs. agave nectar
1 Tbs. lime juice
Lime slices for garnish

Bring water to just short of boiling and pour over tea into a tea ball or other infuser in a heat-resistant pitcher. Allow tea to brew for 3 minutes.  Remove tea leaves, stir in agave. Let tea cool to room temperature. Combine with lime juice. Pour over or blend with ice to serve. Garnish with lime slices.
To see other recipes using tea, what else I've written about tea and more, please check out the Java and Chai Jive label.  (Note: the category includes recipes and posts for other beverages as well.)

1 comment:

cribs said...

I like the dish. It looks delicious and I hope I can make something like this, too!