05 December 2013

Braised Sirloin Tips and Mushrooms ... A Pub Food Rant!

I recently found a heavy cast iron Dutch oven on Ebay that called my name ... it was well-used and came to me for a song ... what care do I have that it has dings and a bottom that is stained and a bit pitted ... I plan to add to the 'patina'! The key for me was having a heavy pot that would take the shift from stove top to oven and go right to the table. The key was also having a pot much like a La Creuset, but without the sticker shock. Digging around on the Ebay auctions brought me to this Danish Copco cast iron beauty. I can put a whole chicken or big pot roast and all the fixings in this baby and let things simmer away to a soft 'fall off the bone' finish or make a huge soup or stew. Once this pan gets hot, it radiates warmth for a good long time!

Today, the house is chilly and I have decided to bake and use this Dutch oven to make some classic pub food ...

Now, about pub food ... SB and I debate this a lot lately. The reason, you ask? Our little village has just seen the re-opening of the local inn with its little pub. The inn has gone through a series of owners over the years who had grand plans to make it a 'real Yankee inn and tavern'. Well, that's a grand idea, but the tourists will not be supporting the inn so the pub better be damn good at what it does! That being said, let's think about the pub menu ...

IMHO, a pub menu has to have a series of items on it that are made up during the day and allowed to simmer and bubble away - blue plates, so to speak. They better be good and they better be easy and fast to slap down in front of the guys who come in for a fast lunch and a brew, or the business guy who happens in on his way to an appointment in the area. I also feel that other small batches of chowders, stews, easy salads, and quick sautees should be rotated on and off the chalkboard menu throughout the day. The idea here is to warm the cockles of the most cantankerous Yankee native! It's all well and good to have an item or two to 'wow' the tourist daytrippers or satisfy the snooty Bostonian foodie, but keep to the tried and true pub food. Have a good line-up of beers on tap, some local meads, ciders and a few good wines for the folks that can't drink beer, and develop a few signature seasonal cocktails that can become closely identified with the pub.

We really want the new owners to succeed at this latest inn renaissance, but I think they better get some good pub food recipes mastered and some wait staff that is quick and efficient and can chat up the customers without being intrusive or awkward. I can't do anything about the wait staff, but the menu could take a few hints.

Guys! Start with sirloin tips! Easy to set on the stove in the early morning and they only improve as they cook over the course of the day ... Easy to prep and can be presented with egg noodles or over toasted rustic bread slices. The energy can be put into prepping stellar vegetables as a side. In this case, browned butter and toasted almonds over steamed green beans.

Fast and easy ... a stick to your ribs lunch and perfect with a draft beer ... just sayin'.

Braised Sirloin Tips and Mushrooms for Two

Serves 2 with some leftovers for next day lunch or 3 for dinner


1 ½ lb. sirloin tips, frozen for an hour and then sliced into ¾ x4 inch morsels
10-oz. package Crimini mushrooms, rubbed clean and stemmed
1 large yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 – 3 tbsp. light olive oil
Flour for dredging (about 1 cup)
Generous sprinkles of garlic powder, black pepper, and Kosher salt and two pinches cinnamon
3 c. strong beef broth
2 tbsp. Marsala wine
Water for making a slurry with the leftover flour and spices
Handful chopped parsley

Egg noodles or toasted slices of rustic bread, for serving

Making the Dish:

  1. Prep the meat and have it ready on a plate near the stove.
  2. Mix the flour and spices in a cake pan.
  3. Prepare the beef broth and set aside.
  4. Place the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and heat the pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Dredge the beef slices in the spiced flour and add them to the hot oil in batches. Leave them to brown and crust up and turn to brown each side. Remove to a platter and continue cooking up the rest of the beef.
  6. While the beef cooks, slice the mushrooms (not too thin) and prep the onion.
  7. When the last batch of beef is cooking, add just a bit more olive oil and add the onions, cooking to brown them up.
  8. Toss the rest of the beef back into the pan, and add the beef broth (careful, it will steam up at you!) and the mushrooms.
  9. Lower the heat, scrape the crumbles off the bottom of the pan. Cover and let the pan simmer for at least one and a half hours. This must be a very low simmer, so if your stove needs help, place a simmering ring beneath the pot.
  10. About a half hour before you would like to eat, add the Marsala wine and parsley to the simmering tips. Add water to the remaining flour and spices and whisk to make a gravy slurry.
  11. Pour the slurry into the simmering pan and stir to thicken the gravy. Return the cover to the pan and let the tips continue to bubble while you boil water for noodles or toast bread and prep your vegetables.
  12. Serve piping hot with a cold beer or a glass of rich red wine.


  1. Oh, that recipe sounds nice! I've always had a problem with my beef tips being too watery, so I will try this!

    And yes. A good dutch oven is worth a whole lot.

  2. You should go cook for them !!!!! Love this post. Stew looks delicious and warming and the pot is lovely. I bought one very similar yesterday and can't wait to use it!!

  3. That looks like the perfect supper to me!

  4. Sounds delicious. So glad to see Marsala in the ingredients - it's such an underused addition to casseroles. I certainly don't disagree about pub food. Most of the traditional pubs around here are now pretty much full-on restaurants with a few beers thrown into the mix now and then. That seems a real shame but, I have to confess, that I go to them more often than I did when they were old-fashioned pubs, so I can't really complain.


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