Beef Stew (with or without Guinness)

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By Alaina Sullivan

This week I made Mark’s Beef Stew from How to Cook Everything, with a modest addition in honor of St. Patrick’s day: Guinness. Ireland’s famous black stout – “thinned” slightly with beef stock – makes the broth robust and dark, its mysteriously roasted flavor rippling throughout. All of the ingredients take to the Guinness in their own way – the meat gets deeply flavorful and tender, the carrots become malty and sweet, and the potatoes soak it up like sponges. You’ll be pouring your perfect pints right into the pot.

Beef Stew

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: 1 ½ to 2 hours, largely unattended

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, or extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, lightly crushed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 to 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck or round, trimmed of surface fat and cut into 1- to 1 ½-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large or 3 medium onions, cut into eighths

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, water, wine, or a combination, or more as needed*

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

4 medium to large waxy or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Heat a large pot with a lid or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes; add the oil and the crushed garlic clove; cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then remove and discard the garlic. Add the meat to the skillet a few minutes at a time, turning to brown well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Do not crowd or the cubes will not brown properly; cook in batches if necessary. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper as it cooks.

2. When the meat is brown, remove it with a slotted spoon. Pour or spoon off most of the fat and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onions. Cook, stirring until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, and meat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook, undisturbed, for 30 minutes.

3. Uncover the pot; the mixture should be wet (if not, add a little more liquid). Add the potatoes and carrots, turn the heat up for a minute or so to bring the liquid back to a boil, then lower the heat and cover again. Cook for 30 to 60 minutes, until the meat and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (At this point, you may remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and refrigerate them and the stock separately. Skim the fat from the stock before combining it with the meat and vegetables, reheating, and proceeding with the recipe from this point.)

4. Add the minced garlic and the peas; if you’re pleased with the stew’s consistency, continue to cook, covered, over low heat. If it’s too soupy, remve the cover and raise the heat to high. In either case, cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until the peas have heated through and the garlic has flavored the stew. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Beef and Guinness Stew. In Step 2, omit the flour. Use 2 cups Guinness and 1- to 1 ½-cups beef broth for the liquid (add more beer, broth or water as needed during the cooking process).

Posted in Recipes

Vietnamese Stir-Fried Sweet Potatoes and Beef

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By Freya Bellin

When it comes to potatoes, squash, and root veggies, grating is a wonderful technique: you get all the starchy sweetness of the vegetable, but in a fraction of the time it would take to roast or bake!  In this recipe, the sweet potatoes become tender very quickly in the pan, and make a lovely salad-like bed for the protein of your choice. The little bits that get caramelized and stuck to the bottom of the pan are delicious, like hash browns, so don’t worry if the potatoes are sticking. The lime juice and fish sauce will also help to break that up, plus they add a zingy acidity. Fish sauce is a tricky ingredient if you’re not familiar with it. It’s a bit pungent and often takes center stage among other flavors in a dish. If you’re not sure if you like it, add only a tablespoon or so at a time and see what you think. Or, instead of fish sauce you can use soy sauce, or go even farther afield and use some other seasonings that typically complement sweet potatoes, like paprika or cumin. It will be less Vietnamese, but equally tasty. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Recipes, Vietnamese

Not Your Usual Steak Fajitas

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By Freya Bellin

These fajitas are like the sweet, spicy, crunchy distant cousin of the fajita you know now. The recipe breathes some fresh air into the standard fajita by adding crunchy jicama and carrots, plus the sweetness of pineapple. The flavors are unexpected, but they work together beautifully. Make sure to do your chopping ahead of time as things move pretty fast once you start cooking. I like putting each ingredient in its own separate bowl, ready to be dropped into the pan. You’ll only need one large skillet for cooking everything, which means easy cleanup too. Serve with plenty of cilantro and guacamole or salsa. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Mexican, Recipes

Pasta with Seared Radicchio, Steak, Balsamic

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By Freya Bellin

This dish is full of striking flavor combinations. The red onions really absorb the balsamic vinegar and become ultra sweet, which works nicely to offset the bitter radicchio. Plus, the shades of dark purple are really beautiful. The fresh basil comes through surprisingly strongly here too, both in flavor and color. A half cup may seem like a lot, but it’s a great addition.

Notably, this dish is truly a pasta dish and not a steak dish. There’s only a half pound of meat for four servings, but it’s just enough to make it a filling entree. If you like your steak very rare, 2 minutes on each side should be plenty of cooking time. My steak looked quite rare when sliced, but once it was added back to the pot with the other hot ingredients, it seemed to continue cooking a bit too. When the weather gets warm again (or for those of you who are happy to grab a coat and grill outside in the winter), I bet that the vegetables and meat could be grilled rather than seared for an extra smoky element. As mentioned below, it tastes great at room temperature, and while it works for winter, I’ll be happy to make this again come summer picnic season.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Italian, Recipes

Why It’s Better if We Can’t Afford Meat

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Beef ranchers are complaining that the domestic market is “withering,” and therefore the quality of meat will decline.

This, of course, assumes that we’re not smart enough to buy better beef. From many perspectives – that of the person who wants only organic beef; that of one who wants only local beef; that of one who wants grass-fed beef, or “natural” beef, or humanely raised beef, or all of the above – the price of “normal” (that is, industrially-raised) beef is already too low. Suppose one wanted higher quality beef, and were willing to pay for it? Suppose one were willing to eat less beef in order to keep one’s food budget more-or-less stable? Wouldn’t a decline in industrially raised beef be OK? And who cares if it becomes even “worse?” It’s already produced with almost no concern for quality.

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Posted in Farming, Food Politics

Dinner with Bittman: Real Beef Stroganoff

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Real Beef Stroganoff

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes or less

Don’t scoff; this is good stuff, despite the bad versions of it you’ve undoubtedly tried. Use pieces of tenderloin if you can, because the cooking is quick and the meat should be tender. Both the mushrooms and the tomatoes are optional; the dish is perfectly fine without either or with both. Serve this over buttered egg noodles or plain rice or with bread.

Other cuts and meats you can use: boneless veal or pork shoulder or veal round.

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Posted in American, Recipes

Sunday Supper: Grilled Beef Salad with Mint

Starting this month I have a new column in Parents magazine – called Simple Suppers. The idea is to give really fast recipes to help busy families (or anyone really) get good, healthy meals on the table quickly; check it out here. Or you can start with this old favorite of mine–Grilled Beef Salad with Mint–from How to Cook Everything.

Grilled Beef Salad with Mint

Makes 3 to 4 servings

Time: 25 minutes

A simple, bright, and light salad with tons of flavor. One of the best possible lunch dishes. Other protein you can use: chicken, pork, shrimp.

12 ounces beef tenderloin or sirloin

4 cups torn Boston or romaine lettuce leaves, mesclun, or any salad greens mixture

1 cup torn fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary (see page XXX) and diced

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce) or soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

1/2  teaspoon sugar

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or a broiler to medium-high; the rack should be about 4 inches from the heat source. Grill or broil the beef until medium-rare, about 5 to 10 minutes; set it aside to cool.

2. Toss the lettuce with the mint, onion, and cucumber. Combine all remaining ingredients with 1 tablespoon of water—the mixture will be thin—and toss the greens with this dressing. Transfer the greens to a platter, reserving the dressing.

3. Thinly slice the beef, reserving its juice; combine the juice with the remaining dressing. Lay the slices of beef over the salad, drizzle the dressing over all, and serve.

Posted in American, Recipes

Do It in the Oven

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By Pam Anderson

[A post that rings especially true to me – I gave my slow-cooker to my father-in-law, and while I do have a pressure cooker, it gets pulled out about once a year. – mb]

I like pressure cookers and slow cookers just fine, but I’ve never developed a cooking style that included them. Unlike my coffee maker, they weren’t beloved enough to warrant precious counter space. And since they’re bulky, I couldn’t justify the coveted kitchen cabinet space, home to my much more frequently used pots and pans, food processor, blender, toaster and mixers.

And although I’d occasionally go through a phase and drag one or the other of them out for a brief time, my slow and pressure cookers usually end up on a garage shelf with the waffle iron, ice cream freezer, fondue pot, and espresso machine. Continue reading

Posted in American, Recipes

Leftover Boiled Beef Day Two: Miroton

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By Edward Schneider

OK, it’s two days later. Time for more leftover boiled brisket, this time in the form of miroton. Like ropa vieja, miroton contains onions and takes advantage of both the meat and the broth it generated when it was simmered. Other than that, they could hardly be less alike.

Ropa vieja uses shredded meat, one of whose virtues is that it’s slightly chewy. For miroton (etymology unclear, by the way), you slice the meat thin across the grain, as though you were going to make a sandwich; one of its virtues is that it is very tender. In ropa vieja there are several vegetables; none predominate. Onions are (almost) the main ingredient in miroton; one could probably make a plausible version without the meat, not that I’d want to try. While ropa vieja doesn’t need an acidic element (a dash of something sour doesn’t hurt, though), miroton requires vinegar, enough to make you cough as you add it to the onions.

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Posted in Recipes