Porter-Pomegranate Braised Kalakel

In my current condition I’m really not supposed to be drinking any alcohol. And I miss it. A glass of wine with Shabbat dinner, a cup of winter lager with a hearty dinner mid-week … sigh. I’ve also been avoiding cooking with alcohol, but after reading up on the large percentage of alcohol that actually evaporates when you cook alcohol with meat for several hours, I decided to give it a go.

We got one of our first snows since October this week in Boston so my initial thought was to cook the beautiful Kalakel defrosting in my fridge with winter vegetables, herbs and a coffeehouse porter (a dark beer brewed with coffee beans). Kalakel is a great shoulder cut available from Grow and Behold and is similar to a chuck roast – the taste is best after a long cook in a low-temperature oven. Adding flavorful liquid like a full bodied porter allows the meat to simmer in good company: the alcohol both enhances the smell of the dish (a huge part of what we taste!) and acts as a delivery device for the other seasoning in the dish (alcohol’s fat soluble properties really gets those flavors into the meat while also tenderizing the fibers in the meat). You won’t taste alcohol, after cooking the meat for 2-3 hours only 5% of the alcohol will remain so you’ll mostly pick up on deep, intense flavors. .
I was sold on using the coffeehouse porter but then had a change of heart about the carrots, onions and aromatics. Since it is the beginning of March and spring is (hopefully) just another month away, I wanted brighter flavors that would gear my palate up for culinary things to come. I decided to keep the onion, add in pomegranate juice (from concentrate – the pom wonderful stuff is too bitter for me) and some zesty spices like allspice. The bold and slightly tart flavors in both liquids worked well together and the meat got very tender after a night in the crock pot. To further usher along spring I chose to serve the dish with a tangy rhubarb chutney made from fresh rhubarb and red onion.

Porter-Pomegranate Braised Kalakel with Tangy Chutney
The accompanying chutney is based on a recipe I read in Real Simple magazine

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup of tomato paste
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Grow and Behold Kalakel roast
2 cups of coffee porter beer
2 cups of pomegranate juice

Chutney
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into ½ inch slices
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

In a large non-stick frying pan heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the tomato paste, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add this cooked mixture to a crock pot set on low. Set the Kalakel on top of the cooked onions and pour in the porter and the pomegranate juice. Cook on low for 5-8 hours.

To make the chutney heat 1 tbsp of oil in small pot over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rhubarb, sugar, and ¼ cup water to the pot. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until the rhubarb is tender and broken down. Stir in vinegar and remove from heat. Serve warm over the cooked Kalakel.

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