Some Like It Tangy

I am more of a “vinegar girl” then a “sweet girl” so I like things a little on the “tangy” side whenever possible. I think even traditional dishes like beef stew can use a little “tangy” to them. And of course tomatoes…because I can not resist the combination of beef and tomatoes!

On a rare day of cooking together, my husband expressed his doubts when I pulled out a half-full bottle of Pepperoncini’s from the fridge. But I assured him that the beef stew I had in mind, while not traditional, would be delicious and remind him of a yummy roast beef sandwich with sliced tomatoes and mild “hots.”  (Oops, that is how I like my roast beef sandwiches, not him, but no matter I was sure I would convert him!)

We kept it simple by browning about 2lbs of stew meat in hot fat first with a dusting of flour*, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then after carefully removing the meat – added in a large sliced onion for its turn to get browned a bit. Next in was the cherry tomatoes – whole. When they just burst a bit, everything was added back to the pot. We added only enough low-sodium beef stock to get the liquid level up the “shoulders” of the meat. A healthy couple of dashes of my secret ingredient (A1 Sauce!! ) to step up that beefy flavor.  And then the scary part…. about 8 ounces of sliced Golden Greek Pepperoncini’s. WITH some of the juice too. Let the beef cook till the meat is tender, season liberally to taste, and serve it up – all tangy, beefy and delicious! We just ate it in bowls but it would be delicious on big crusty rolls or over some rice! Guess what? He liked it!

spicy beef stew

tangy beef stew with burst cherry tomatoes!

*leave off the flour coating for Gluten-free!

 

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Spicy Beef Chile REMIX

So you may have noticed I have been cleaning out the freezer lately and finding new ways to slip the leftovers past my husband!

This dish was inspired by the bag of sweet red bell peppers I picked up on sale and some leftover frozen spicy beef and green chile stew.

 

The original chile I made was QUITE SPICY -but we are kinda “spice amateurs” in my house. You may find that 1 1/2 chopped “Chipotle Chili in Adobo” is not even nearly spicy enough for you! You can see the original recipe for the stew here.

Re-Imagining the stew into stuffed peppers was easy – just add rice! Brown rice to be exact. Since it was being mixed with something I knew I could sneak in a little “shot of healthy!” (shhh don’t tell hubby.)

I just scooped out the peppers, mix the defrosted stew with some cooked and cooled brown rice. Stuff the peppers, pour a little hot water around them- about an half-inch and into the hot oven (covered) to steam them. After about 35-40 mins I took the cover off, add some shredded cheese on top of the peppers and baked further until the cheese was melty.

Serve with some sort of yogurt/sour cream/crema mixed with lime juice and ground cumin!

El Día de la Batalla de Puebla

… “The Day of the Battle of Puebla” … Also Known As …. “Cinco De Mayo”

Not unlike our Evacuation Day here in Boston, Cinco De Mayo celebrates the defeat of a well-equipped, large French army by a small, tired Mexican army. They effectively kicked the French out – just as we kicked the British out!

And how fitting that yesterday a Mexican jockey road to victory on “I’ll Have another!” at The Kentucky Derby.

There was some heavy decision-making in terms of food choice in our house yesterday… go Mexican or go Kentucky Derb-ian? Go all chilli pepper or go all bourbon-pecans?

In the end it was Lydia’s recipe that made the decision easy. Her recipe for slow-cooked beef and green chili stew just immediately spoke to me!

So with a few adaptations, because I have trouble following directions, we were off and running to a day of Mexican victories!

My adapted recipe

– I omitted some things from the original. I substituted and I increased amounts on others.

3 lbs +/- stew beef – I used a pot roast & cut it up and trimmed it myself
3 Tbsp margarine
1 medium onion, diced
2 4-oz cans green chiles, mild “diced”
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 chipotle chili in adobo, chopped. WOO HOO it was still too hot for us – use your own judgement here!
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, homemade or store-bought – Emeril’s original rocks!
2 cups homemade or canned low-sodium beef broth
2 tsp cumin
1 14 oz can of black beans drained (low sodium) optional
1/4 cup Masa dissolved into 1/2 cup of warm water – a “slurry”

Brown the beef in batches in the melted margarine. Set beef aside, turn heat down and add onions, brown for a few mins. Add cumin and chipotle chili to kinda “toast” for a minute. Add both cans of diced green chili – pan will start to de-glaze. Add the diced tomatoes and finish de-glazing the pan. Add back in the beef and any juices. Add the BBQ sauce and broth – liquid shouldn’t quite cover meat. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for two hours. I cooked mine in a heavy enameled cast iron pot – you know the one with the fancy French name – you could use any heavy bottom pot with a lid or your slow-cooker but double the time if you use a slow-cooker. Check the meat – if it is falling apart tender, then add the Masa slurry, stir and cook another hour on a slightly lower setting. If after two hours the meat is not meltingly tender cook another hour before adding the Masa slurry.  Check for seasoning level, add salt and pepper to taste.  Hot sauce too if you don’t have “baby mouths” like us! Add the drained can of black beans about a 1/2 hour before serving.

Makes a ridiculously large amount. Serve over rice with warm corn tortillas and cold sour cream – or better yet Mexican Crema!

Happy Evacuation Day (again)

(original post March 17, 2011 – have never recycled a posting before but very busy this year and upon re-reading this one I thought it deserved another year – enjoy!)

Today is a big day in Boston. (And many other cities and countries.) Not just because of  St. Patrick’s Day. It is also “Evacuation Day.” What? You have never heard of that one?! Well you are not alone. Until I started working and living in Boston I had no idea either.

Evacuation Day is holiday that commemorates the evacuation of British forces from the city of Boston following the Siege of Boston, early in the American Revolutionary War. Big stuff around here. Most importantly it falls on the same day as St. Patrick’s Day. Very convenient. So Suffolk County schools and government offices are closed. Also if March 17 falls on a weekend, like this year, than those schools and government offices are closed on the following Monday in observance. Also very convenient.

But I don’t mind. I think having the day off to attend the parade and hit the local pubs is as important as celebrating the kicking out of the British. Who knows, maybe that is what everybody is actually celebrating this morning at 8am. Yes – we get started early around here!

However my Irish husband would be very disappointed if I didn’t post an Irish recipe today.  So here goes….

Irish Stout Beef Stew

1-2 lbs of lean stew beef or lamb cubed into 1″ or 2″ chunks

1 lb +/- of turnips peeled and cut into large chunks (2″ and up)

1 lb bag of carrots peeled and each long one cut in half to fit into pot. If really thick, cut the width once or twice.

2 large onions, peeled and sliced into thick slices.

1 can Guinness© Stout Beer (14.9 oz)

All purpose flour to coat meat

several tablespoons of vegetable oil for browning meat

plenty of salt and pepper

To make:

Coat the meat with a light dusting of flour, salt and pepper. Add the oil to the bottom of a LARGE  heavy-bottom pot and heat till almost smoking. (Best to use a large cast iron enameled pot or dutch oven for this dish.) Add the coated beef and sear each side. Adjust heat as needed. Make sure you get a good sear and meat un-sticks itself before you turn pieces, but don’t let them burn either. Add onions just after final turn of meat pieces and turn heat down. The onions should get a little “quick fry” on them from the high heat of the meat searing. That is good. After the heat is lowered add all the other veggies to the meat and onions. Add the can of Guinness© to de-glaze the bottom and toss everything gently. Fill the can with water and add to the pot. Repeat until water level is just at the top of the veggies and meat. Adjust heat to keep contents at a simmer, cover. Check in 1 hour: taste, add salt and pepper as needed. Add more water if too dry. Cook 1 hour more and enjoy anytime after that as long as turnips are soft enough.

Serve with buttered mashed potatoes and a little boiled cabbage if you like.

production notes:

My husband is typical Irish guy who likes plain food. But if you wanted to boost the flavor of this dish, a bay leaf would do wonders and some garlic would be delicious too. A dash of malt vinegar might just brighten the pot.

Also: amounts don’t have to be exact – it is stew after all, so a little less or little more of anything won’t be a big deal.

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

My husband was craving beef stew. The weather was still a little unseasonably cool and we hadn’t had it in a while so he decided to dust off his cooking skills and make some.  It was a Tuesday and he was at home for the day. I was at work and excited at the thought of dinner waiting for me at the end of it. He even shopped for the ingredients.

When I met my husband, one of the things I liked about him was that he could cook pretty good. But as we married and settled into a domestic routine I started cooking more and more – plus I liked it. I was honing my skills. Practicing new ideas and techniques on him. He is always a very willing food tester. And he tells the truth. No sugar-coating.

After a few years in, I had completely spoiled him and he never cooked anymore. I even took over the grilling duties after watching him squash the hamburger patties once too many on the grill. So when he said I am going to cook my father’s beef stew today. (His dad was a really good cook.) I said “Terrific! and I think we have potatoes already.”

When he called me at work the first time to ask if we had carrots and onions, I thought no problem – he was out at the store already and had forgotten to check before he left – happens to all of  us.

When he called the second time to confirm the method of browning the meat with a dusting of flour I had to wonder if he remembered how to cook?

On the third phone call to ask where the Allspice was I expressed genuine concern. “What recipe are you following?” Unfortunately we did not get his father’s recipes written down before he passed away so I was really wondering what “dad’s beef stew” recipe he was following. He admitted he couldn’t remember his dad’s recipe so he had consulted an expert among the many on my bookshelf. Fanny Farmer. A local legend here in Boston and a source of inspiration to all cooks past, present and future.

Unlike me he followed the recipe directions exactly. Even boiling the water in the kettle first to de-glaze the pan. He even added the lemon juice the recipe called for. I was extremely impressed at both the stew – delicious – and the fact he followed all the directions exactly. That is something I have a hard time doing.

He never did find the Allspice.

Full Disclosure:

The recipe can be found on page 166 of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: The All-American Cookbook Classic 100th Anniversary by Marion Cunningham

Happy Evacuation Day

Today is a big day in Boston. (And many other cities and countries.) Not just because of  St. Patrick’s Day. It is also “Evacuation Day.” What? You have never heard of that one?! Well you are not alone. Until I started working and living in Boston I had no idea either.

Evacuation Day is holiday that commemorates the evacuation of British forces from the city of Boston following the Siege of Boston, early in the American Revolutionary War. Big stuff around here. Most importantly it falls on the same day as St. Patrick’s Day. Very convenient. So schools and government offices are closed. Also if March 17 falls on a weekend, than schools and government offices are closed on the following Monday or preceding Friday in observance. Also very convenient.

But I don’t mind. I think letting state workers have the day off to celebrate the kicking out of the British is as important as St. Patrick’s Day. Who knows, maybe that is what everybody is actually celebrating this morning in the streets of Boston at 8am. (Yes – they get started early around here!)

However my Irish husband would be very disappointed if I didn’t post an Irish recipe today.  So here goes….

Irish Stout Beef Stew

1-2 lbs of lean stew beef or lamb cubed into 1″ or 2″ chunks

1 lb +/- of turnips peeled and cut into large chunks (2″ and up)

1 lb bag of carrots peeled and each long one cut in half to fit into pot. If really thick, cut the width once or twice.

2 large onions, peeled and sliced into thick slices.

1 can Guinness© Stout Beer (14.9 oz)

All purpose flour to coat meat

several tablespoons of vegetable oil for browning meat

plenty of salt and pepper

To make:

Coat the meat with a light dusting of flour, salt and pepper. Add the oil to the bottom of a LARGE  heavy-bottom pot and heat till almost smoking. (Best to use a large cast iron enameled pot or dutch oven for this dish.) Add the coated beef and sear each side. Adjust heat as needed. Make sure you get a good sear and meat un-sticks itself before you turn pieces, but don’t let them burn either. Add onions just after final turn of meat pieces and turn heat down. The onions should get a little “quick fry” on them from the high heat of the meat searing. That is good. After the heat is lowered add all the other veggies to the meat and onions. Add the can of Guinness© to de-glaze the bottom and toss everything gently. Fill the can with water and add to the pot. Repeat until water level is just at the top of the meat and veggies. Adjust heat to keep contents at a simmer, cover. Check in 1 hour: taste, add salt and pepper as needed. Add more water if too dry. Cook 1 hour more and enjoy anytime after that as long as the turnips are soft enough.

Serve with buttered mashed potatoes and a little boiled cabbage if you like.

production notes:

My husband is typical Irish guy who likes plain food. But if you wanted to boost the flavor of this dish, a bay leaf would do wonders and some garlic would be delicious too. A dash of malt vinegar might just brighten the pot.

Also: amounts don’t have to be exact – it is stew after all, so a little less or little more of anything won’t be a big deal.

Leftover Dress Rehearsal

A 4lb roast for 2 people is going to create a leftover situation.

Here is what I made last night in 30 mins or less with stuff I had on hand.

I cubed up the leftover beef and threw it into a casserole dish.

I dumped the leftover peas from the dinner in.

I quickly cut up one of those pre-washed, pre-peeled half butternut squashes that I had bought and stuck in my fridge a couple of days ago.

I put a couple pats of butter on top. (think pie.)

I poured in the leftover mushroom gravy/pan sauce from the dinner that I had saved.

I opened one of those rolled pie crusts that come in a box and lay it on top of all this.

I wrapped it, made a note with cooking instructions for my husband. Since he is home first tonight, he will be starting dinner. I like to make it as easy as possible to be successful.

Dinner. Done.

Tonight after dinner I will try to post a “beauty shot” as we say in the business ;-

Here it is…….