Cook This: Beef and Tendon Ragu with Polenta

January 23, 2017

Unconventional cuts of meat and offal find its way to the grill or left behind in the market. Sometimes out of choice, but most of the time because of a lack of knowledge. While in the restaurant scene, coming across exotica in a menu can cause some to turn up their noses and look elsewhere, but stick around—our ancestors were on to something when they started munching on innards.

Tendon is the connective tissue that attaches muscles to bone. When prepared incorrectly, tendon can be tough and unforgiving. But when simmered gently for hours, its structure yields to a bite and gives off collagen for an unctuous, rib-sticking dish. The flavor of the tendon is mild, but its most recognizable feature is its unique texture.

This recipe requires for the ragu to be cooked for hours. It’s tempting to opt for a quick dish instead, but this tendon ragu is rewarding in the long run. Surprisingly, the tendon doesn’t require special care and attention: just a quick rinse after boiling for five minutes and re-boiling until tender. Using tendon in the sauce contributes to the richness which we can attribute to its collagen. Starting today, don’t count tendon as unfamiliar territory or snub it at the market.

Beef and Tendon Ragu with Polenta

Yield: 2 portions
Time: 6 hours

Ingredients: Ragu

  • 150g tendon
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 150g beef, kenchi and diced into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 pc onion, minced
  • ½ pc carrot, peeled and diced into 1 mm cubes
  • 1 stalk celery, leaves removed and stalk diced into 1 mm cubes
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seed
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ bunch parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 pc bay leaf
  • salt, to taste

Ingredients: Polenta

  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup polenta
  • 2 tbsp parmesan, grated
  • 2 tbsp butter

Ingredients: Mushrooms

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 5 pcs button mushrooms, sliced 3 mm thick
  • ¼ pack shimeji mushrooms, pulled apart
  • 30g oyster mushrooms, sliced 2 cm thick
  • salt, to taste

Ingredients: To Garnish

  • grated parmesan, to taste
  • parsley, chopped

Procedure: Tendon

  1. Rinse tendon under cold water and place in a pot.
  2. Cover tendon with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Boil for five minutes and drain. Rinse tendon in cold water. Rinsing in cold water removes the impurities from the tendon.
  4. Cover tendon in water again and bring to a boil and simmer until tender, around two hours. Or if you have a pressure cooker, pressure cook until tender, around 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Once tendon is tender, drain and cool down.
  6. Dice into two centimeter sized pieces, around the same size as the beef.

Procedure: Beef and tendon ragu

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot and add canola oil.
  2. When oil starts to smoke add beef and toss until brown.
  3. Bring down heat and add prepared onions, carrots, and celery.
  4. Continue to cook until vegetables have started to soften and add the fennel and bay leaf.
  5. Add the tomato paste and cook until it has thickened and the color has darkened.
  6. Add the wine and reduce by half. Once the wine is reduced, add water. Bring to a boil and down to a simmer.
  7. Add diced tendon to the pot.
  8. Simmer stew until meat is tender, around two hours.
  9. When meat is tender, add the chopped parsley.

Procedure: Polenta

  1. Bring milk to a boil in a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Add polenta to milk and keep stirring until polenta is cooked. You will know when polenta is ready because there will be no hard gritty pieces in the porridge.
  3. When Polenta is cooked, add cheese and butter.
  4. If you prefer a richer polenta, feel free to add more butter. Around double the amount is fine.

Procedure: Mushrooms

  1. Heat a sauté pan and add oil.
  2. When oil starts to smoke add the mushrooms, making sure not to overcrowd pan.
  3. Don’t move the mushrooms around in the pan so that the mushrooms caramelize.
  4. When mushrooms are golden brown, toss and set aside.

Procedure: Plating

  1. Place a generous cup of polenta on a plate and top with beef.
  2. Garnish with mushrooms and sprinkle more chopped parsley and grated parmesan on top.
Bernice Escobar SEE AUTHOR Bernice Escobar

Bernice loves to get nerdy about food and making people hungry. In her free time, she attempts to play with her anti-social cat and fantasizes about all things sweet.

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