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Posts Tagged ‘beef’

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If I left our menu choices up to Griffin, we’d eat meat all the time. All. The. Time. To him and his near 15-year old stomach, meat is the be-all to end-all. Especially beef.

We’re not huge beef consumers, not even ground beef. Mike isn’t particularly fond of red meat and as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that I’m not so much either. I’ve realized that it can be a bit stressful on the digestion, and then, of course there’s the cost. Beef has the heftiest price tag of any meat found in the market. And good beef with a healthy marbling and high quality flavor is pretty much out of our budget range, especially these days and likely for good. To me, spending that much money on a hunk of meat is insane even if it is amazingly delicious. Once a season when the weather is very nice, I will grill steak for Griffin and I because really, a steak on the grill is a thing of beauty, and for an occasional treat that makes my son’s eyes shine, I can shell out a tad more cash at the checkout.

Griffin was nearly beside himself with joy on Easter morning when he discovered this chuck roast thawing in the kitchen. I had purchased this meat with the intention of creating a new recipe from it and then, in fairly typical fashion, forgot or misplaced whatever it was I was prepared to do with it. Bonus for the boy. I agreed to turn it into Pot Roast, just for him. With a quiet, restful Sunday on our hands, a meal that required little work was just the ticket.

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I’m going to break all convention here, because although there is a very vocal reverence to cooking only with a wine that you yourself would drink, I don’t necessarily agree that a poor wine is a poor choice to add to your recipe. Something quite lovely can happen to a rather crummy bottle of wine when it’s mixed in with caramelized onions and garlic cloves alongside a nice chunk of beef. The long slow heat can soften it’s harsh edges and mellow the flavor. A spoonful or two drizzled over the top of the finished meat adds a juicy compliment in your mouth. And what you don’t use simply gets tossed after serving it’s purpose. Once in a while, if a selection from the wine shop ends up a bad one for you, it can be a bonus for your meal. Everybody wins.

The method I use for Pot Roast is to cook about three sliced onions until they are nicely caramelized, stirring almost constantly over high heat to deposit a nice fond on the pan bottom. I add in about six whole garlic cloves too. Once the onions were deeply burnished, I place the seasoned meat in the super-hot pan and allowed it to sear to a deep crusty brown. About a cup of the wine is poured in to release all the good stuff on the bottom, then simmered until it’s absorbed. Dump in the remains of the entire bottle, cover the pan tight and either allow to cook slowly at the lowest flame on the stovetop, or place it in a moderate oven- 300 to 325- until the meat is tender and easily pulls apart. The timing will depend on the size of your roast. If you’re cooking on the stovetop, keep the flame very low; the liquid should bubble only slightly, not be in a rolling boil. This might make your meat a bit tough. With this method, my 2-1/2 pound roast needed barely three hours to become perfection.

Of course, the best accompaniments to a delicious, wine-soaked plate of beef are potatoes and carrots. I made smashed potatoes- not mashed, these are a bit lumpier and rustic- and the carrots were roasted to tender and sweet perfection. The best part though, of the entire meal, was watching Griffin’s face. The boy was in bovine heaven, and in the morning before school, he ate some of the leftovers for breakfast.

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Beef, Barley and Leek Soup
Kate’s Version

Split three large leeks down the center and wash well. Slice thinly. It’s a massive amount but will cook down significantly. If you wish for a more onion-y flavored broth, slice a yellow onion also.

Get one pound of good quality sirloin with a little marbling; trim the fat on the edges and cut into 1/2″ chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown meat in batches over medium-high heat, removing to a bowl as they darken. If you happen to have a good beef bone on hand, adding it to the pot for the cooking process will greatly enhance the beef flavor.

When all the meat is browned, add the onion and leek to the pan, along with 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are slightly soft and browned in some spots. Return the beef to the pan, add in about 1/2-3/4 c. of pearled barley (depending on your love of the grain- I used 3/4 c.), 1 1/2 quarts of beef broth and 1/2 c. red wine. This liquid-to-solid ratio results in a pretty thick soup- add more liquid if you want a thinner option.  If you’re like me and you keep various cheese rinds on hand in the freezer to flavor soups, toss a few in at this time. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender and barley is cooked through. This will depend on the type of barley used- mine took about an hour but I kept the heat pretty low.

Additions can be added as well; sliced carrots, cubed potatoes, mushrooms…..the list is infinite. Continue cooking the soup until added ingredient is tender. Just before serving, pour in about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, or more red wine. Season with salt and pepper.

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Hoisin Beef Noodles

8-oz whole wheat or soba noodles (sub any other variety you wish- I used Ronzoni multi-grain spaghetti, my favorite); 8-oz flank steak, cut into thin strips; 1 medium red pepper, cored and sliced thin; 1/2 bag frozen sweet baby peas (or equivalent of edamame); 1 T. fresh ginger, minced; 3 T. fresh squeezed lime juice; 3 T. hoisin sauce; 1-2 t. chili garlic sauce; 1 t. cornstarch. Oil for stir-frying, cilantro for garnish if desired.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, hoisin, chili garlic sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil and add steak, cook over medium-high heat stirring often until just barely cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to bowl with tongs. Put pepper slices in pan with juices and cook, stirring continually, for about 2-3 minutes. Add peas (or what you are using) and cook about 2 minutes. Add ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add meat back with any accumulated juices to skillet, along with sauce mix. Stir to combine and cook until thick, about a minute or two. Pour over cooked noodles and stir to combine. Top with cilantro if desired.

This was a yummy and quick meal, the tang of the lime juice and the bite of the chili garlic sauce complemented each other well. I think I would add a little more hoisin next time I make it, and probably some other vegetables. It was very good but I thought it needed something more, and lord knows there is hardly a recipe that crosses my countertops that I am not looking at immediately and wondering how I can make it better, tastier, more flavorful or prettier. The meat was very tender and delicious, and would have been better with some seasoning or a quick marinade to bump up the flavor a tad.  But we enjoyed it, even Griffin who has a bad cold and can’t taste anything too well. A thumbs up for us, likely a repeat in our menu repertoire.

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Thai Cashew Chicken

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into thin strips
1 cup dry jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 small onion, quartered then sliced
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 cup unsalted cashew nuts

In a resealable plastic bag, mix the soy sauce, fish sauce, hot pepper sauce, garlic, and ginger. Place the chicken in the bag, seal, and marinate at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. In a medium saucepan, bring the jasmine rice and 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Stir in the onion, and cook about 5 minutes, until tender. Reserving the marinade mixture, place the chicken into the skillet, and cook about 10 minutes, until browned. Stir the reserved marinade and 3/4 cup water into the skillet, and bring to a boil. Continue to cook and stir 10 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Thoroughly blend in the peanut butter. Serve over the jasmine rice with a sprinkling of cashews.

Beef Curry with Peanuts and Fresh Basil

3 T. vegetable oil
2 T. red curry paste
1 lb. thinly sliced beef (flank or sirloin works well)
1 14-oz can light coconut milk
2 T. fish sauce
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
14 c. dry roasted peanuts, chopped fine
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
Fresh Basil Sprigs

In a large saute pan over medium heat, combine oil and curry paste, stirring to mix. Cook 3-4 minutes, adjusting heat to keep it sizzling gently without spattering, while mashing and scraping pan to soften and warm. Add beef and cook 2-3 minutes, separating pieces to coat with paste and brown evenly. Stir coconut milk well to mix, and add 1 c. to pan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, adjusting heat to keep it simmering. Add remaining coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, salt and peanuts. Cook gently about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper strips and stir into curry. Taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to small bowl and garnish with basil. Serve over rice if desired

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