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In the mood for meat? Try these lamb, beef and pork recipes

Pictured: Pan Broiled Lamb Chops. For Food Section

Pictured: Pan Broiled Lamb Chops. For Food Section /Marjorie Robins -- TWOS Jim Frost, Jim Frost Foodstyles Posted 12/14/2009 at 6:00 pm EST For Release 12/27/2009 ltc Photo Credit: Jim Frost /Jim Frost

When it comes to meat, versatility may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But these three recipes demonstrate the wide range of flavor in lamb, beef and pork and the various ways they can be prepared.

PORK LOIN

This recipe is courtesy of Food Network's Claire Robinson, host of "Five Ingredient Fix."

PORK ROAST WITH HARD CIDER GRAVY

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon21/2 pounds pork loin roast, trimmed and tied

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced

1 (12-ounce) bottle hard cider, plus more if needed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons butter. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, to taste, and sear on all sides in the hot pan until golden brown; set aside.

3. Add the onion and apples, and season again with salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to caramelize, then pour in the hard cider and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and nestle the browned pork roast back into the pan. Cover with a lid and put in the oven to braise until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Remove pork roast from the pot and transfer to a carving board; tent with foil to keep warm.

5. Transfer contents of the pot to a food processor or blender, and puree; then return the puree to the pan. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, then reduce the heat to low and add more cider if gravy is too thick. Add the remaining tablespoon of cold butter, whisking constantly as it melts. Remove from heat when the gravy is smooth.

6. Slice pork loin roast and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with sauce. Makes 4 servings.

BEEF SHORT RIBS

Beef short ribs are one of the most flavorful cuts of beef. Long, slow cooking produces meltingly tender meat that almost falls off the bone.

Prepare these ribs on a lazy weekend day and put them in the refrigerator. Then you can enjoy them later without fuss, when all that is required is a quick reheat.

ISLAND-STYLE BRAISED SHORT RIBS

5 pounds extra-lean short ribs of beef, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 large leeks, light green and white part, chopped

1 1/2 cups mango nectar, plus 3 tablespoons

1/2 cup tequila

1/2 cup beef stock

1 tablespoon chipotle puree or

chipotle Tabasco sauce, or to taste

2 tablespoons chopped scallions, for garnish

1. Season the ribs with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large, nonstick skillet to medium high. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides, using kitchen tongs to turn and brown them evenly, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the ribs with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels. Then place the ribs in a large Dutch oven or heavy, flameproof casserole.

3. In the same frying pan, add the oil, and saute the leeks for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently and watching carefully so they brown but do not burn. Add the 1 1/2 cups mango nectar, tequila, beef stock and chipotle puree or sauce, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and simmer for 1 minute to mix flavors. Pour the sauce mixture over the short ribs and mix to combine.

4. Bake the ribs, covered, for about 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender, turning the ribs every 45 minutes during cooking time. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

5. When ready to serve: Remove ribs from the refrigerator; carefully discard the thick layer of fat with a spoon. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of nectar and place the casserole on the stove. Carefully reheat the ribs on medium for about 20 minutes, or until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with the scallions and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings. - Tribune Media Services

LAMB LOIN CHOPS

Some foods are more than sustenance; they signal a special occasion.

Rib lamb chops are such a dish. The sweet-tasting, tender cut of meat turns dinner into a romantic repast.

If you've never purchased rib lamb chops, look for the rib bone along one side and a core of meat about the size of a golf ball surrounded by enough fat for flavorful eating. When making your selection, choose chops with light, red-colored meat. The bone should be moist, not dried out, and the fat should be white, not yellow. Avoid lamb with a strong aroma.

Although you don't see much edible lamb on a chop, the meat is rich and satisfying. Opt for one to two chops per person; increase your order to three chops per serving if you're not serving several side dishes.

PAN-GRILLED LAMB CHOPS

6 rib lamb chops (1 inch thick)

1 large clove garlic, smashed

1/4 teaspoon dried and crushed

herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Canola oil for pan

Salt to taste

1. Rub both sides of each lamb chop with garlic clove; discard garlic.

2. Combine herbes de Provence, pepper and oil on a plate. Brush both sides of lamb chops with oil mixture. Cover lamb with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 3 hours

3. Bring chops to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking. Lightly oil and preheat a heavy-bottomed stovetop grill pan. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the grill pan. When it sizzles, arrange lamb on the pan (discard any leftover oil and seasonings on the plate). Grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or to preferred doneness. Season with salt to taste. - Tribune Media Services

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