Taking Beef From Tough to Tender | The Boquete Gourmet
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Taking Beef From Tough to Tender

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Start:
December 31, 1969 7:00 PM

Panamanian beef is tough, we all know that. I’m wondering if any other country has beef as tough as we have in Panama.

The chicken and pork available in Boquete is amazingly fresh and tender, but the beef cuts are truly challenging. The first problem is how the cuts are named. Most all meats are sold the old fashioned way, over the counter. Of course, if you don’t speak Spanish, the names in the meat cases are different and you can’t pronounce the cuts of beef, even if you knew what you wanted to buy. For instance, punta de palomilla is rump tip.

But, Chef Juan Linares changed all that for the students at his on-going class, by teaching them how to buy, age and prepare tough cuts of beef to make them tender. Doesn’t that sound really special?

First, two butchers from our local Romero’s Supermarket showed actual cuts of beef the way they look in the meat cases of the supermarket. One butcher watched as Chef Juan explained how to prepare lomo redondo, see photo above. Some of the cuts were huge, not at all like they look in markets in other countries.

Falda, punta de palomilla and lomo redondo became familiar cuts of beef to us. We learned how to order exactly the cuts we would like to prepare, whether it was prime rib roast or stew meat.

Then, Chef Juan shared his methods of aging, marinating, and preparing three economical, readily-available cuts of beef. To everyone’s delight, each dish, Shredded Beef with Black Bean Sauce, pressure-cooked Black Roast and Beef Roast in Herbs Crust, was made tender and delicious.

Side dishes included an unusual Causa of Yucca with Cilantro Sauce and Papaya Avocado Salad with Pink Pepper Dressing . Chef Juan did admit that using papaya in the appetizer or salad prepares your stomach for enjoying the taste and tenderness of Panamanian beef. Papaya can also be used as a tenderizer for beef.

The final course of the dinner was an easy-to-make Maracuya and Yogurt Tart using local Graham Crackers called Galletas Maria.

To make this dessert, simply empty a can of sweetened, condensed milk into a bowl. Fill the can with plain yogurt and empty it into the bowl. Then, fill the can again with your favorite fresh fruit pulp and whisk the three ingredients together. Layer graham crackers, then the fruit mixture in a rectangular pan until you have 3 or 4 layers. Chill for at least 3 hours, cut and serve cold.

The surprise at the end of the evening was when Rose shared with everyone her gorgeous painting, “Three Happy Chefs”. The three chefs reminded us all how much fun it is to get together and learn new techniques for preparing gourmet meals at home. If you’d be interested in seeing Rose’s artwork, please let me know and I’ll send you more information.

If you’d like to learn more about how to convert tough Panamanian beef into tender and tasty main course meals, Juan has just opened another class to be held on Thursday, June 9, beginning at 11AM. This early start allows for daylight hours. You may click on the green and orange calendar at the right and reserve your seat now.

Special thanks to Betty Dabney for her delightful photos, see more at http://infinityglimpsed.blogspot.com/2011/03/coras-garden.html, including some photos of my garden.

Hope to see you soon,
Cora

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