Show Me The Beef!

Sorry mom , but I love a good steak sandwich! And this one was made by my husband so I love it even more!

He started by marinating a London Broil cut overnight in one of those “flavor injector” packaged marinades. It must  a “guy thing” to use those, it just sounds masculine and impressive!

To prepare the sandwiches, he fired up the grill, cooked it perfectly, sliced it thin and added some grilled mushrooms as well before piling it all onto some toasted, cheesy-topped “scali” bread!

open face steak sandwich

The only way this sandwich could be better is with some juicy sliced garden tomatoes

Grilling Versus Braising

I have to admit that although I have enjoyed a classic Texas-style BBQ beef short rib many times, I never really made the connection that this was the same/similar beef “short rib” (sometimes just shorter I think and possibly called “English cut” sometimes) that we all like to cook during the New England wintertime in a slow braise of flavorful, red wine liquid served over something creamy like Polenta or garlic mashed. You can see my version of this here.

I still didn’t make the connection when I was at the store shopping for meat and thought to myself  “boneless short ribs on the grill, why not – it could work!” I thought I was breaking new grilling territory here.

So I brought them home and considered myself all clever by whipping up a little dry rub concoction of ground black pepper, kosher salt, ground cumin and ground ancho chili powder. After a suitable time I grilled them over high heat on my backyard grill till a perfect medium. (medium rare for the next time might be better as these were pretty lean cuts)

Served with grilled mushrooms, zucchini and onions, they made for a perfect “new” adventure on the grill!

(until I googled it and realized this was not “breaking new ground” stuff!)

grilled beef short ribs

These happen to be boneless and fairly lean, but on the bone would be delicious too and could benefit, I would imagine, from a wet marinade.

 

 

Dinner For Dinner

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may already know that my husband and I share a common love of “dinner for breakfast.”

But lots of times we just have “dinner for dinner” and this basic pot roast is one of his favorites. (mine too!) Simple and tasty – this can be made in one pot and put into a slow oven until you are ready to eat and if you are using one of those heavy cast iron dutch ovens like I do, it will stay hot for a long time in case you have family or friends wandering thru at different times to be fed.

Over the years I have picked up a few tips to really help make the dish shine.

1. Add lots of seasoning to the meat and make sure to brown it. I really think being generous with your spices and seasoning sets up the meat for not only a flavorful crust but tasty “au jus.”

2.Sauté those carrots. Take the time to really cook those carrots a bit along with the onions – it makes a difference!

carrots and onions

For the record… this picture was taken as soon as I threw in the carrots, so they were still raw, but they did get a nice saute in the pan!

3. Potatoes on the side please!

I used to put the potatoes right in with the roast but they were never as good as I wanted them to be, so when a TV cook from Oklahoma once suggested serving the pot roast on a mound of yummy, rich mashed potatoes, I have been doing it that way ever since! (plus this gives opportunity for extra flavor – like “garlic mashed potatoes!”)

dinner plate
My husband made these delicious mashed potatoes!

Production Notes

My basic spice blend for the meat contains sea salt, course ground black pepper, garlic powder and celery seed. In addition to this I can change the flavor profile depending on what else I add. For example…ground cumin, paprika and a tiny bit of cinnamon for an “exotic” pot roast. Or  crushed red pepper flakes for a “spicy” version.  Let your imagination run wild.

My basic “go to” for liquid is water mixed with a generous amount of Worcestershire sauce to de-glaze the pan and become the cooking liquid for the pot roast meat and veggies. But you can use stock, cider, beer or wine too. Each of this will add/change the flavor profile.

I usually add a small can of tomato paste (or a couple squirts from the tube) to the pan after I have browned the meat and veggies but before I de-glaze to add a real depth of flavor to the pot roast liquid and because I love tomatoes!

If you want a thicker consistency for the “Au Jus” than add a tiny bit of cornstarch or an arrowroot slurry about an hour before serving.

Jumping On The Bandwagon!

or maybe I should say…Jumping on the “meatwagon!”

FAIR WARNING: Vegetarians you may want to avert your eyes now!

I finally decided to tackle beef short ribs. The universe seemed to be calling to me to cook them, as I kept seeing them being prepared on TV and on blogs lately.

They always seemed so fancy and maybe just a tad bit hard to cook but I am here to announce – they are delicious and easy, I don’t know why I waited so long!

Behold the lovely subject….(cue “angel music”)

meat

I broke out the “special occasion” bacon fat and got these beauties browning in a hot pan.

browning the meat

Next up was the “mire poix” of veggies. (celery, onion, carrots) Don’t judge me -I used shredded carrots!

the mirepoix

Now it was time to put the meat back in for its long slow braise!

adding the meatback in

Two and half hours later, I took an immersion blender to the pot of yummy goodness and behold…

A life changing meal…

Braised beef short ribs with roasted cauliflower and carrots

Braised beef short ribs with roasted cauliflower and carrots

The Recipe

I was cooking for two but still ended up with more than enough sauce, you could double the meat and not anything else and still have enough sauce for 4.

2lbs +/- (4 ribs) Beef short ribs, bone in

Plenty of salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp bacon fat or fat of choice that can withstand high heat.

1 cup each, finely diced onion, carrot, celery

2-3 cloves garlic finely minced

1 dried bay leaf

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cumin

3-4 springs of fresh thyme

1 can ( 6oz) tomato paste

1 cup unsweetened apple juice

1-2 cups of water

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Coat the ribs in salt/pepper and brown patiently on each side in the hot fat. Remove meat, set aside and turn heat down. Add onions, celery and carrots to pan and cook down for a few mins. Add the garlic and cook a few mins more. Be careful not to burn garlic. Add the dried spices and the fresh thyme. Add the tomato paste. Stir and kinda “toast” everything for a few minutes. De-glaze pan with the apple juice and Worcestershire sauce. Add the meat back in – nestle it among the liquid and veggies. Add enough water until liquid and veggies are about a 1/4″ under the top level of meat. Cover and bake in 350 degree oven ( preheated) for 2 and 1/2 hours.

Remove the meat carefully and set aside for a few minutes, while you discard the thyme springs. Use an immersion blender to blend the remaining liquid and veggies into a thick sauce. Add a little hot water if it needs to be thinned. If you don’t have an immersion blender (why not?!) transfer the pan contents to a blender and carefully blend. Meat can be added back into the pan/sauce and kept warm or reheated after coo0ling and storing.

Slow-Cooker Chinese Food

Yup. Chinese food in the slow-cooker!

I was inspired by Lydia over at The Perfect Pantry to try my hand at this crazy mix of flavor and easy cooking method.

And it was easy. She was doing chicken – but I had stew beef in the freezer so that is what I went with. I added some water chestnuts and fresh broccoli florets in the last 30 mins and cooked some rice on the side in my trusty rice cooker and voila! Beef and Broccoli. A fine staple of any Chinese-American restaurant around.

It was "sauc-ier" than it looks the rice absorbed all of it! yum!

It was “sauc-ier” than it looks, the rice absorbed all of it! yum!

Production Notes

1.5 +/-  stew beef

2 Tb finely minced garlic

1 Tb rice vinegar

2 Tsp brown sugar

2 Tsp ginger (fresh, minced is nice; I used dried, powdered)

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 Tsp +/- grated orange zest + the juice of the orange

1/2 Tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)

1 Tsp Chinese 5-spice

2/3 cup chicken or beef stock

1 small onion sliced

1 Tbsp Cornstarch or Arrowroot dissolved into 2 Tbsp water

Several “crowns” of fresh broccoli chopped into bite size or 1 small bag of frozen (defrost but don’t cook first)

Combine garlic, vinegar, sugar, ginger, soy sauce, orange zest/juice, black pepper and Chinese 5-spice with a whisk. Pour over meat and onions which you have already placed in the slow cooker. Cook on high 4 hours or so OR low for 6-8 hours. Whisk in the cornstarch or arrowroot slurry about an hour before serving and add the broccoli about 30 mins before serving.

If you wanted a thicker sauce and was feeling like the extra work – you could remove the beef from the slow cooker (without adding the slurry and broccoli yet) strain the sauce and heat it to a boil in a sauce pan. Than you could add the slurry to the sauce, cook for a bit  and make it thick and rich. Add everything back in (beef, sauce and now add the broccoli) and serve once the broccoli is cooked to your liking – just keep any eye on the heat so you don’t burn. ( i.e. turn slow-cooker down) This would be great to bring to the office potluck!

Holy Mole!

Corny title but I couldn’t resist!

The title really should have been something like “holy mole that is spicy chili!”

As usual I misjudged the spice-level of those nifty little Chipotle Peppers packed in Adobo Sauce. Such a powerful thing in such a small can. And yet I didn’t even use the whole can – just 1/2. Conveniently frozen from the last time I used half a can. (note to self: freeze in 1/4 can increments next time!)

I also utilized another pantry helper – Mole sauce from a jar. This is the complex, dark, nutty, vaguely chocolate sauce that is usually served over enchiladas. But really you can use it for lots of things. Like giving lots of flavor and complex depth to your chili.

At my husband’s request I made a “beefy” chili. I choose to use some inexpensive stew beef, cutting it into even smaller pieces and doing the “sear and braise” method that is always so successful with beef stew.  I figured I would take the stew approach with different key ingredients. The small bite-size pieces would ensure no one would have to use anything but a spoon to eat it.

Unless you are a spice-loving household, definitely serve the “1/2 can version” with sour cream.

Lots of it.

The recipe:

Canola oil to brown the beef. 2-3 tablespoons

1.75 lbs stew beef. I trimmed and cut it much smaller than the picture shows.

2 medium onions diced. 1 large would work too.

1 each of sweet red bell pepper and sweet bell green pepper. Seeded and diced.

1/4 or 1/2 can (7oz) Goya Chipotle Peppers in Adobo. Freeze what you don’t use.

1 jar (9oz) Goya Mole sauce. Use more or less as desired.

1 can (28oz) of tomato puree. I like my chili on the tomato-y side.

1 tomato can of water.

4 cups of cooked red kidney beans. Use 3 (15.5oz) cans or soak/boil if you have the time.

In a large, heavy-bottom pot (cast iron is always nice) brown the beef in batches in the oil. Once done, return all to the pot. Turn the heat down. Add the onions and salt/pepper to taste. Get the onions soft and golden. Add the mole sauce and kinda “toast” it for a few minutes. Break up and add the Chipotle peppers and also “toast” for a minute. De-glaze the pan with the tomato puree and water. Stir thoroughly and add the diced red/green peppers. Lower the heat and simmer partially covered for 2 hours or so. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add the beans and simmer for another hour. If using the soak/boil beans add them in earlier with the peppers.

Serve with lots of sour cream and some shredded cheese. Maybe with some corn chips or sweet cornbread on the side.

Grind Your Own!

Yep- I grind my own burger.

For a wedding gift, my husband’s family was kind enough to give us a KitchenAid stand mixer. I can’t recall ever using it for dough, frosting or batter. But I promptly purchased the meat grinder attachment and started grinding my own meat.

I buy larger cuts of meat and grind them up into hamburgers, meatloaf etc.Shown below is 2 1/2 lbs of chuck roast and 3/4 lb of boneless short rib.

This time around I put the meat through the bigger grind attachment first. (This size is often referred to as the “chili grind”)

Than I put it through a second time on the finer grind.

Than it’s time to break out the trusty “patty maker.”

I have no idea where it came from or how it got into my kitchen.

Probably bought it at a yard sale or maybe a hand me down from some roommate’s mother.

All I know is the patties cook perfectly. No dimple needed.

After this, package them up for the freezer and you have patties ready to go anytime you want one!

Season opener below:

Burgers with avocado, Asiago cheese and a dash of horseradish cream – all served up on an onion-poppy bun.

(Full disclosure: Burgers a tiny bit overdone due to forgotten grilling skills over the long winter.)