beef

Carne Asada

I found this awesome Mole Salt by Amola at where else, Salt and Sundry, and have used it to season avocado toast and punch up my hot coca.  I realized that since it already has some spices like coca and cinnamon in it that I could throw it into a spice blend and skip some steps.  This spice rub would be great on pork as well but my man was asking for steak so for Fiesta Friday we went with Carne Asada.

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For carne asada what you really want is a nice crust on the outside so I made sure to include some brown sugar in the spice rub to help caramelize the meat.  I used a flat iron steak which I like because it has a good amount of fat but isn’t too thick so it cooks quickly.  I also like skirt steak for this – flank, which is usually my go to steak is a little too lean for me but is certainly traditional for carne asada.  This would be great with my tex mex quinoa salad on the side or Mexican beans and greens.  Carne asada is also perfect for steak tacos – make sure to serve them up with my HOT habanero sauce and some sour cream.

Carne Asada (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Mole Salt
Special Equipment:  grill

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used pasilla chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mole salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch of coca powder and a pinch of cinnamon)
  • 1 pound flat iron or skirt steak

Mix the spices together in a small bowl.  Pat the meat dry and rub all over both sides with the spice mixture.

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Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.  Light your grill on high and grill 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your meat and how you like your steak done.

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Cover with tin foil and rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

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Carne Asada

  • Servings: 3-4
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Special Equipment:  grill

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mole salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch of coca powder and a pinch of cinnamon)
  • 1 pound flat iron or skirt steak

Mix the spices together in a small bowl.  Pat the meat dry and rub all over both sides with the spice mixture.  Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.  Light your grill on high and grill 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your meat and how you like your steak done.  Cover with tin foil and rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

 

 

Veal Saltimbocca

I often get in the trap of boneless chicken breasts, flank steak and pork tenderloin on repeat for weeknight dinners.  They are all quick, easy and pretty lean but when I saw veal cutlets or scallopini the other day I thought them perfect for a break in my routine.  These cook super fast so really the only hassle is “sewing” the prosciutto and sage to the cutlets.  Set up a little assembly line like below and  do it in the morning or the night before and then just dredge and cook, cutting the time to dinner even more.  This would be delicious all sitting over a bed of pasta or rice to sop up the sauce, or served with a green salad and some crusty bread (uh again to sop up that sauce).  I always order this when I see this on a menu but now I may just add it to my own weeknight repertoire!

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Veal Saltimbocca (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  mixing it up, veal style
Special Equipment:  toothpicks or short skewers

  • 1 pound veal scallopini
  • 5-6 ounces prosciutto
  • several sprigs of sage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of lemon
  • juice of lemon

First prepare the scallopini – salt and pepper the veal then top with a slice of prosciutto (you may have to cut the slices to fit.  Lay several sage leaves on top.  Using a toothpick or small skewer (a regular skewer cut in half works as well) thread in between the veal and the toppings to affix them to each other.

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Do this for each piece of veal – it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, just make sure the veal can lay pretty flat and that the prosciutto wont fall off the veal.  Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess.  In a large skillet heat over medium high 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add as many veal pieces that comfortably fit in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.

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Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the veal, adding more olive oil if needed.  Once all the veal is cooked reserve it on the plate covered with foil.  Add the white wine to the plan and deglaze any browned bits.  Swirl in the butter, lemon zest and juice and let cook together for about 3 minutes until it thickens a bit and comes together as a sauce. Carefully take out the skewers, pour the sauce over the veal and serve.

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Veal Saltimbocca

  • Servings: 4
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Special Equipment:  toothpicks or short skewers

  • 1 pound veal scallopini
  • 5-6 ounces prosciutto
  • several sprigs of sage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of lemon
  • juice of lemon

First prepare the scallopini – salt and pepper the veal then top with a slice of prosciutto (you may have to cut the slices to fit.  Lay several sage leaves on top.  Using a toothpick or small skewer (a regular skewer cut in half works as well) thread in between the veal and the toppings to affix them to each other.  Do this for each piece of veal – it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, just make sure the veal can lay pretty flat and that the prosciutto wont fall off the veal.  Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess.  In a large skillet heat over medium high 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.

Add as many veal pieces that comfortably fit in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.  Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the veal, adding more olive oil if needed.  Once all the veal is cooked reserve it on the plate covered with foil.  Add the white wine to the plan and deglaze any browned bits.  Swirl in the butter, lemon zest and juice and let cook together for about 3 minutes until it thickens a bit and comes together as a sauce.  Pour over the veal and serve.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

While it’s starting to feel a bit more like spring here in DC, it’s still pretty cool in the evenings, meaning warm comforting dishes are still in demand.  Nothing beats a classic spaghetti and meatball dinner, which can please just about anyone in your family.  My dad used to make this dish for me when I was little and it’s the first thing I remember cooking right alongside him.  I have flirted with a lot of other recipes, most of them much more complicated, but none were as good as my dad’s.  One big change from what he used to do is broiling the meatballs versus cooking them in a skillet.  It uses a lot less oil but also is a lot cleaner because you don’t have hot oil spitting at you.  I find that the meatballs stay together a lot better this way as well once added to the sauce.  I may have taken some liberties with the fennel seeds and parm rind but the student should always try to surpass the master right??  This dish really is best if you have the time to let the meatballs and sauce cook a while together, hours if you have them.  The good news is that it’s just as good if not better reheated so you can make them and then freeze and pull out whenever you want some comfort food.  Paired with a caesar salad (my dressing is awesome and so easy) and some garlic bread it’s a great end to the day.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  my dad’s cooking
Special Equipment:  none

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • more basil and mozzarella boccochini for serving (optional)
  • 1 pound spaghetti

In a large skillet or wide dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook for about 7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute or so then add the wine to deglaze and get any bits off of the bottom of the pan.  If you have a parmesan rind throw it in there along with the basil and sugar.

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Add in the cans of tomatoes, being careful not to splatter any on yourself.  Stir to combine and then increase the heat to medium high until bubbles form.  Turn the heat back down to low and let simmer while you make the meatballs.

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While the sauce simmers combine the beef with the rest of the meatball ingredients.    This is easiest to do with your hands but don’t over work the meat, combine just enough so all the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.  DSC02904Turn on your broiler.  Using your hands form meatballs around the size of golf balls and place them on a baking sheet (if you have cooking spray it never hurts to coat the pan so the meatballs easily come off).  DSC02906Place the baking sheet in the broiler and cook for about 15 minutes until the meatballs are nice and brown.  Add them to the sauce, I like to use tongs for this, being careful not to break the meatballs.  Nestle them in and use a spoon to make sure the meatballs are covered in the sauce.  At this point you could serve the whole thing but I like to let it all simmer together for at least another 30 minutes if not an hour.  The more time you give this the more the sauce will flavor the meatballs and vice versa.  When you are near ready to serve, boil the pasta, drain well and serve the meatballs and sauce on top along with the chopped basil and mozzarella if you have it (remember to fish out the parmesan rind if you used it).  The meatballs and sauce will last in the fridge several days or frozen for 6 months.

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Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Servings: 4
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Special Equipment:  none

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • more basil and mozzarella boccochini for serving (optional)
  • 1 pound spaghetti

In a large skillet or wide dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook for about 7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute or so then add the wine to deglaze and get any bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Add in the cans of tomatoes, being careful not to splatter any on yourself.  If you have a parmesan rind throw it in there along with the basil and sugar.  Stir to combine and then increase the heat to medium high until bubbles form.  Turn the heat back down to low and let simmer while you make the meatballs.

While the sauce simmers combine the beef with the rest of the meatball ingredients.    This is easiest to do with your hands but don’t over work the meat, combine just enough so all the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.  Turn on your broiler.  Using your hands form meatballs around the size of golf balls and place them on a baking sheet (if you have cooking spray it never hurts to coat the pan so the meatballs easily come off).  Place the baking sheet in the broiler and cook for about 15 minutes until the meatballs are nice and brown.

Add them to the sauce, I like to use tongs for this, being careful not to break the meatballs.  Nestle them in and use a spoon to make sure the meatballs are covered in the sauce.  At this point you could serve the whole thing but I like to let it all simmer together for at least another 30 minutes if not an hour.  The more time you give this the more the sauce will flavor the meatballs and vice versa.  When you are near ready to serve, boil the pasta, drain well and serve the meatballs and sauce on top along with the chopped basil and mozzarella if you have it (remember to fish out the parmesan rind if you used it).  The meatballs and sauce will last in the fridge several days or frozen for 6 months.

Osso Bucco

For the holidays I usually like to splurge a little and do a premium piece of meat for my loved ones.  However, I find crown roasts or cuts of that nature pretty intimidating because what if you have everyone over, hungry and ready to sit down but the middle is still totally raw?  Braised meats are totally in my comfort zone because they can be made ahead to avert a crisis and they are really satisfying.  For a special occasion, like say Easter, my answer is osso bucco.  This Italian braised veal shank dish is a classic for a reason – the meat is unbelievably tender and luscious and then you get the benefit of having the bone you can scoop the marrow out of.  Now I know veal is sort of controversial but you know what is more so?  Rabbit – my mother served it once on Easter and I locked myself in my room thinking she was serving the Easter bunny for dinner!  The quality of the meat here is key.  I got mine at Harvey’s in Union Market which is excellent but any good butcher should carry osso bucco shanks.  Make sure to specify osso bucco otherwise you could get a whole shank which is basically the leg (I would call ahead a day in advance and ask them to set them aside for you).  Osso bucco should be cut about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick and ideally the butcher will tie them for you, if not I suggest doing that when you get home.

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Having them be tied helps keep them together during the cooking process but you will see once they have braised for several hours they literally fall off the bone.  And that bone!  If there are any marrow fans in your family they will be so excited to see this – make sure to serve a nice crusty bread on the side so people can slater it with the marrow.  Since it’s a long braised dish but I want it to be sort of springy I suggest adding what the Italians call a gremolata to the top.

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It’s essentially an herb topping made with lemon zest, garlic and parsley that adds a bright punch to the meat.  If you are having lots of folks over make this several days in advance, let it cool and then pop the whole thing, pan and all in the fridge and then reheat over low heat.  I cannot think of a simpler way to impress the family for a special occasion.

Osso Bucco (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a speacial occasion meal
Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a lid, microplane or rasp (optional), fine mesh strainer (optional), butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 veal osso bucco shanks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick) tied with butchers twine if you have it
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest from 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped very finely (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Salt and pepper the veal then dredge in the flour (i.e. dunk it in, get it covered in flour then shake off the excess).

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Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  When hot add the veal and cook for 5 minutes.  Flip and cook for 5 minutes more and then remove the veal to a plate and set aside.

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Lower the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.  Once the butter is melted add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions start to soften.  Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.  Splash in some of the wine to deglaze the pan (i.e. get up the nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan) then add in all the rest of the wine, the beef stock and the can of tomatoes.

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Stir to combine.  Nestle the veal back into the pan – the liquid should come up about halfway up the shank, if not add more stock or wine.  Tie the herbs together with butchers twine and add to the pot or just toss them in separately.  Bring to a simmer then cover and place in the oven.

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Cook for 1 hour, then carefully, using tongs, flip the veal and cook for an additional hour.  After 2 hours the meat should be very tender and falling off of the bone.  Fish out the herbs and remove the veal to a plate.  If the shanks were tied, cut off the string.  If you are going rustic serve the shanks with the sauce as is, for a more elevated dish use a fine mesh strainer to remove the vegetables from the sauce (I served it on the side in a gravy boat with some poured over the top for presentation).

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The osso bucco can be served right away, stored in the fridge for several days and then reheated on the stove top or frozen for 3 months (make sure to freeze the shanks in the sauce).  If you would like to serve the osso bucco with gremolata on top, combine the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl then sprinkle on top.

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Osso Bucco

  • Servings: 4
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Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a lid, microplane or rasp (optional), fine mesh strainer (optional), butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 veal osso bucco shanks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick) tied with butchers twine if you have it
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest from 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped very finely (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Salt and pepper the veal then dredge in the flour (i.e. dunk it in, get it covered in flour then shake off the excess).  Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  When hot add the veal and cook for 5 minutes.  Flip and cook for 5 minutes more and then remove the veal to a plate and set aside.  Lower the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.  Once the butter is melted add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions start to soften.  Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.  Splash in some of the wine to deglaze the pan (i.e. get up the nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan) then add in all the rest of the wine, the beef stock and the can of tomatoes.  Stir to combine.  Nestle the veal back into the pan – the liquid should come up about halfway up the shank, if not add more stock or wine.  Tie the herbs together with butchers twine and add to the pot or just toss them in separately.  Bring to a simmer then cover and place in the oven.  Cook for 1 hour, then carefully, using tongs, flip the veal and cook for an additional hour.  After 2 hours the meat should be very tender and falling off of the bone.  Fish out the herbs and remove the veal to a plate.  If the shanks were tied, cut off the string.  If you are going rustic serve the shanks with the sauce as is, for a more elevated dish use a fine mesh strainer to remove the vegetables from the sauce.  The osso bucco can be served right away, stored in the fridge for several days and then reheated on the stove top or frozen for 3 months (make sure to freeze the shanks in the sauce).  If you would like to serve the osso bucco with gremolata on top, combine the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl then sprinkle on top.

Patrick’s Irish Stew

Growing up in an Irish family in Boston, you pretty much take it for granted that everyone celebrates St. Patrick’s day.  I didn’t realize until I left the nest that EVERYONE celebrates St. Patrick’s day.  And who could blame them?  The Irish are the friendliest people you will ever meet, love to drink, eat, dance and have a good time.  No wonder everyone wants to be Irish!  St. Patrick’s day is a terrific excuse to have a party or at the very least a nice tall Guinness.  However, I had to take my celebrations to a whole new level when I met my husband, Patrick.

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In Adare, Ireland

Every March 17th I make this incredible soda bread made with brown butter and rosemary and have plenty of Irish whiskey and beer on hand to share with our friends.  This year I thought my man should have his very own stew with all of his favorite things included.  Jameson, Guinness and coffee pretty much fuel Patrick so I added those to a hearty beef stew and came up with the perfect way to celebrate this year.  Sláinte!

Patrick’s Irish Stew (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  my hubby
Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a cover, butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds of beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of Guinness
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Make sure all of the pieces of beef are around the same size, if not cut them until they are.  Sometimes I am lazy and buy the precut stuff (or it is on sale) but often they are all weirdly shaped.  It’s worth taking the time to cut them all the same so they cook at the same time.  Salt and pepper the beef cubes.  In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat.  When hot add half of the beef cubes, making sure not to crowd them.  Let them cook about 5 minutes and don’t mess with them much or they won’t get brown.  Flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes and then remove them to a plate.  Add another tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and add the remaining beef cubes, repeating the 5 minutes then flip and 5 minutes more routine.  Add the second batch to the plate and toss in the bacon.  Let the bacon cook until starting to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes and then add in the chopped onion, leek, carrots, garlic and butter.

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Leeks, onions and carrots = the Irish flag!

Salt and pepper everything.  Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the onion and leek have softened.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute until all the flour is absorbed.  Add the Jameson and let cook for 1 minute.  If you have butchers twine tie the herbs together and add, otherwise just toss them in.  Add the beef broth, Guinness and coffee and stir to combine.

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Bring to a simmer then cover and put it in the oven.  Cook for an hour and a half, stirring once.  At the very end fish out the herbs then stir in the frozen pearl onions and frozen peas and cook for a minute or two more either in the oven or on the stovetop until they are heated through. The stew can be served right away, kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for several months.

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Patrick's Irish Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
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Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a cover, butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds of beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of Guinness
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Salt and pepper the beef cubes.  In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat.  When hot add half of the beef cubes, making sure not to crowd them.  Let them cook about 5 minutes and don’t mess with them much or they won’t get brown.  Flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes and then remove them to a plate.  Add another tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and add the remaining beef cubes, repeating the 5 minutes then flip and 5 minutes more routine.  Add the second batch to the plate and toss in the bacon.  Let the bacon cook until starting to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes and then add in the chopped onion, leek, carrots, garlic and butter.

Salt and pepper everything.  Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the onion and leek have softened.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute until all the flour is absorbed.  Add the Jameson and let cook for 1 minute.  If you have butchers twine tie the herbs together and add, otherwise just toss them in.  Add the beef broth, Guinness and coffee and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer then cover and put it in the oven.  Cook for an hour and a half, stirring once.  At the very end fish out the herbs then stir in the frozen pearl onions and frozen peas and cook for a minute or two more either in the oven or on the stovetop until they are heated through.  The stew can be served right away, kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for several months.

Short Rib Nachos

These are O.M.G good.  Life changing.  You can also make them in less than 10 minutes, give or take grating cheese time.  How is that possible you ask?  Your best friend the freezer.  Remember these amazing short rib tacos from a couple of months ago?  Well you made a big batch like instructed and froze a bunch for later.  Now is the time to dig them out of the freezer and spread them all over a huge mound of chips and cheese.  Seriously, if you are going to take the time to make a slow cooked item like short ribs, it takes the exact same time to cook enough for 4 as it does for 6 (or 10 for that matter) so go ahead and make way more than you need.  Then when Thursday night football rolls around and you realize you don’t have a fabulous football meal planned for mid-week you can absolutely kill it with these nachos.

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If you don’t have those short ribs tucked away in your freezer go ahead and throw some shredded chicken on here – really this is just a method.  Swap out cheddar for jack cheese or red salsa for green – it’s a great way to get rid of stuff hanging around in your fridge.  One pro tip courtesy of my husband – make sure to take the extra step of tossing half the chips and cheese together before topping with the rest.  That ensures you don’t just end up with one layer of cheese, neglecting lots of the chips.  This made the perfect football dinner (yep just for two people, no judging) but it would also make a great appetizer for Fiesta Friday.  I went ahead and just ate these babies straight off of the cookie sheet because I didn’t want to waste time transferring them to something nicer but for a dinner party just use two spatulas to transfer, should happen pretty easy with all that cheese acting as glue!

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Short Rib Tacos (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  freezer diving
Special Equipment:  none

  • 10 ounces of tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces of grated jack cheese
  • 1 to 3 fresno chilis (or jalapenos) thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover short ribs (or other shredded meat) – room temperature or rewarmed
  • 4 tablespoons salsa verde
  • 2 scallions, green and white part, chopped
  • sour cream to serve

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a cookie sheet spread half of the chips and half of the cheese and toss together.  Top with the rest of the chips, then evenly distribute over top the rest of the cheese, the chilis, the short ribs and the salsa.  Bake for 6 to 7 minutes until all the cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with the scallions and dollop on the sour cream or serve on the side.

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Short Rib Nachos

  • Servings: 4
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 10 ounces of tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces of grated jack cheese
  • 1 to 3 fresno chilis (or jalapenos) thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover short ribs (or other shredded meat) – room temperature or rewarmed
  • 4 tablespoons salsa verde
  • 2 scallions, green and white part, chopped
  • sour cream to serve

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a cookie sheet spread half of the chips and half of the cheese and toss together.  Top with the rest of the chips, then evenly distribute over top the rest of the cheese, the chilis, the short ribs and the salsa.  Bake for 6 to 7 minutes until all the cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with the scallions and dollop on the sour cream or serve on the side.

Asian Skirt Steak with Grilled Scallions

As the weather heats up I start looking to the grill more and more for quick and easy dinners.  The thought of turning on an oven just makes me sad and there is nothing better than grilling dinner on the deck, drinking a beer and watching the sun set.  This steak is so stupid simple and comes together really quickly.  Marinate it the night before and all you have to do it throw it on the grill with some scallions.  Pair with some rice (I like to make big batches and then freeze individual portions in plastic baggies to make my own instant rice).  If you want to amp up the veggies maybe throw some peppers on the grill as well or even green beans or snap peas (as long as you have a grill basket).  Leftovers are also delicious tossed on a salad or some cold udon noodles.  Fire up that grill!

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Asian Skirt Steak with Grilled Scallions (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  beef teriyaki
Special Equipment:  grill

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch of peeled ginger root, chopped
  • 1 to 2 skirt steaks depending on size
  • 6-8 scallions

In a large plastic baggie combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, chili paste, garlic and ginger.  Add the skirt steaks and let marinate for at least an hour or overnight.

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Heat your grill to high and grill the steaks for 4 minutes.  Flip the steak and add the scallions to the grill diagonally so they don’t fall through the grates.

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Let the steak cook for another 4 minutes or so, flipping the scallions once so they get grilled on both sides.  Let the steak rest under some tinfoil for 5 to 10 minutes then slice thinly across the grain and serve with the grilled scallions.

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Asian Skirt Steak

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  grill

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch of peeled ginger root, chopped
  • 1 to 2 skirt steaks depending on size
  • 6-8 scallions

In a large plastic baggie combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, chili paste, garlic and ginger.  Add the skirt steaks and let marinate for at least an hour or overnight.  Heat your grill to high and grill the steaks for 4 minutes.  Flip the steak and add the scallions to the grill diagonally so they don’t fall through the grates.  Let the steak cook for another 4 minutes or so, flipping the scallions once so they get grilled on both sides.  Let the steak rest under some tinfoil for 5 to 10 minutes then slice thinly across the grain and serve with the grilled scallions.

Short Rib Tacos and a Shopping List

Yea I know, what won’t this woman put in a taco??  Pretty much nothing but honestly these are incredible, not just because of the flavor but how easy they are.  Time consuming sure but the “hands on” time is almost zero.  I got the methodology from Cooks Illustrated – if you have never picked up their magazine it’s definitely worth a try.  They basically do all the work for you by testing and retesting different ingredients, proportions and cooking methods in a super methodical, almost scientific way.  I can find sometimes the flavors a bit lacking, but the techniques they share are always spot on and flavor is easy to enhance with some tweaks.  This method is just genius because it cuts out the two most annoying things about slow cooking – browning and chopping.  Browning meat is incredibly important to flavor, as the heat carmelizes the sugars in the meat and really develops them.  By lifting the short ribs out of the liquid it’s braising in on onion slices these folks have discovered a way to get the browned meat without having to spend the time cooking each side before adding it to the pot with the aromatics.  Also by pureeing the sauce you lose the need to chop any of the veggies, meaning all you have to do is slice an onion and then everything else is just tossed in the pot.  I did this in a dutch oven but you could easily convert this to a slow cooker (especially in the summer not to heat up the house).  I included both so you can do either.  This recipe makes a ton so perfect for your next taco party.  It can be frozen for up to 6 months so if you don’t eat it right away divide the rest into smaller portions and then you can have pulled short rib tacos on a week night and blow everyone away.

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Short Rib Tacos (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Cooks Illustrated
Special Equipment:  dutch oven or slow cooker

  • 1 ½ cups beer (I used Negro Modelo)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 6 ancho chiles, stemmed and torn into 1 inch pieces (I leave the seeds in but you can take them out for less heat)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano (dried)
  • ½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1-2 large onions, sliced ½ inch thick slices
  • 3 pounds boneless short ribs

Take the short ribs out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you are going to cook.  Pat them dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (if using the dutch oven).  Then dump in the beer, vinegar, anchos, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, clove and cinnamon in a large dutch oven (or slow cooker).  Season with salt and pepper again and then nestle in the onion rounds so they form a layer on the bottom of the pot (or slow cooker) that will keep the short ribs from touching the bottom.

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Depending on the size of your onion it will probably only take one but have a second on hand just in case.  Place the short ribs on top and cover.  Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours (if using a slow cooker cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours).  The meat, even without browning, should have a nice crust on it.

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Take out the meat and put it in a bowl.  Pull out the bay leaves and then blend the onions and the liquid in a blender or food processor.  The original said to trash the onions but why throw away flavor??  At this point you could probably just use the sauce but I like to get as much fat out of it as possible.  Easiest way to do this if you have time it to place it in the fridge or freezer until the fat creates a solid layer on top that you can scrape off (that will take a couple of hours).  If not just let sit until the fat rises to the top and skim it off.

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Shred the meat with 2 forks or your fingers and stir it into the sauce.  It can be served right away, or stored in the fridge for a couple of days and the freezer for a couple of months.

Short Rib Tacos

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 ½ cups beer (I used Negro Modelo)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 6 ancho chiles, stemmed and torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano (dried)
  • ½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1-2 large onions, sliced ½ inch thick slices
  • 3 pounds boneless short ribs

Take the short ribs out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you are going to cook.  Pat them dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (if using the dutch oven).  Then dump in the beer, vinegar, anchos, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, clove and cinnamon in a large dutch oven (or slow cooker).  Season with salt and pepper again and then nestle in the onion rounds so they form a layer on the bottom of the pot (or slow cooker).  Place the short ribs on top and cover. Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours (if using a slow cooker cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours).  Take out the meat and put it in a bowl.  Pull out the bay leaves and then blend the onions and the liquid in a blender or food processor.  At this point you could probably just use the sauce but I like to get as much fat out of it as possible.  Easiest way to do this if you have time it to place it in the fridge or freezer until the fat creates a solid layer on top that you can scrape off (that will take a couple of hours).  If not just let sit until the fat rises to the top and skim it off.  Shred the meat with 2 forks or your fingers and stir it into the sauce.  It can be served right away, or stored in the fridge for a couple of days and the freezer for a couple of months.

Here is the shopping list for this week’s menu calendar dishes which can be found here.

Shopping List for July 20-24

Items are tagged with the day of the week they are used so if you don’t want to cook that day just scratch it off

  • butter (Mon/Thurs)
  • ginger (Mon/Tues)
  • jasmine rice (Mon)
  • unsweetened coconut milk (Mon)
  • dark rum (Mon)
  • brown sugar (Mon)
  • 3 limes (Mon)
  • allspice (Mon)
  • cayenne (Mon)
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin (Mon)
  • 1 bell pepper (Mon)
  • 2 red onions (Mon/Thurs)
  • 2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (Tues)
  • soy sauce (Tues)
  • rice vinegar (Tues)
  • 2 lemons (Tues)
  • oyster sauce (Tues)
  • fish sauce (Tues)
  • sesame oil (Tues)
  • chili paste (Tues)
  • 2 scallions (Tues)
  • garlic (Tues)
  • panko (Tues)
  • snap peas (Tues)
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard (Thurs)
  •  white wine (Thurs)
  • 8 ounces penne or other short cut pasta (Thurs)
  • red pepper flakes (Thurs)
  • nutmeg (Thurs)
  • 1/2 cup cream (Thurs)
  • 1 to 2 rotisserie chicken breasts (Thurs)

Indian Steak Gyro

I know, I know – gyro’s are Greek but that is the best way I can explain this delicious vindaloo inspired steak sandwich.  I cook flank steak…a lot.  It’s a pretty lean and inexpensive cut of meat so I am always looking for different ways to cook it.  When Food and Wine magazine ran a vindaloo flank steak recipe I tried it that very week.  For those of you that don’t eat a lot of Indian food vindaloo is a spicy dish from Western India.  Chilis and vinegar make this a punchy sauce that is usually stewed with chunks of lamb or chicken.  Patrick and I like vindaloo sauce so much we order a side of to mix into our dishes at our neighborhood Indian spot Cusbah, where the waiter’s tee shirts read, “I survived the vindaloo.” wpid-20150519_135707.jpgThis marinade is really more of a paste and the recipe makes quite a bit.  I only used half on our steak and froze the rest to use later – the paste would also be fine in the fridge for several days.  I decided to serve it gyro style rolled up in store-bought naan (I have actually made homemade naan before which isn’t too difficult, just not really feasible for a weeknight meal) and served with a my own yogurt sauce.  This sauce is terrific on lots of things – lamb burgers, grilled chicken, even as a dip for crudite.  Also if you are intimidated by the heat factor of the vindaloo, the yogurt sauce will go a long way to offsetting it.  Alongside the gyro I made this awesome Food52 recipe for stir fried cabbage inspired by none other than  Madhur Jaffrey, the mother of Indian cooking in America.  A lot of her recipes can be pretty involved (but worth it) but this one is incredibly easy.  If you don’t want to go with the gyro then this steak would be just as good served on its own along basmati rice or lentils and some roasted cauliflower. wpid-20150601_185750.jpg Indian Steak Gyro (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   Vindaloo Flank Steak by Food and Wine Magazine

Special Equipment:  blender or food processor

Ingredients:

  • 8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (if you don’t have seeds use ground cumin but skip the toasting step and just add it to the blender)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger. peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 large flank steak, approximately 1 pound
  • 2 packages store-bought naan (4 pieces)
  • 5 to 6 ounce container nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint (or dill or 1 tablespoon each)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a small saucepan, heat the chiles, cumin seeds and peppercorns over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring the chilies occasionally.  They will get a little darker which is a good thing but be sure not to burn the chilis or the cumin seeds.  If you re using ground cumin just toast the chilis and peppercorns.  Add a 1/4 cup of water and the vinegar, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring just to a boil.  The vinegar is going to make quite a potent smell when heated so stand back so you don’t get a steaming face full of vinegar!  Once its boiling turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes until everything has softened.  You can toss the cinnamon stick at this point or leave it in, in a happy accident I left mine in and it pureed up no problem and the taste was great. wpid-20150519_141031.jpg wpid-20150519_151455.jpg Transfer everything to a blender or food processor and add the ground cumin if not using the seeds.  Puree into a paste.  At this point you can store the paste for several days in the fridge or six months in the freezer.  Spread the paste all over the steak on both sides and let marinate on a plate or baking dish for at least an hour and up to 6 hours.  If you only have an hour let it marinate at room temp so the steak isnt cold going into the grill. wpid-20150519_152414.jpgLight your grill and heat it to medium high.  Grill for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your steak and how you like your steak done.  Let rest for 5-8 minutes, then slice thinly.  While the steak rests, brush the naan with olive oil and grill for 1-2 minutes per side to get a little char and warm them through.  Also make the yogurt sauce by combining the yogurt, garlic, mint and parsley in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper.  To serve slather the naan with the yogurt sauce and pile in slices of steak.   Red onion and or arugula would also be nice in there.

Indian Steak Gyro

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  blender or food processor

Ingredients:

  • 8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (if you don’t have seeds use ground cumin but skip the toasting step and just add it to the blender)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger. peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 large flank steak, approximately 1 pound
  • 2 packages store-bought naan (4 pieces)
  • 5 to 6 ounce container nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint (or dill or 1 tablespoon each)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a small saucepan, heat the chiles, cumin seeds and peppercorns over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring the chilies occasionally.  They will get a little darker which is a good thing but be sure not to burn the chilis or the cumin seeds.  If you re using ground cumin just toast the chilis and peppercorns.  Add a 1/4 cup of water and the vinegar, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring just to a boil.  The vinegar is going to make quite a potent smell when heated so stand back so you don’t get a steaming face full of vinegar!  Once its boiling turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes until everything has softened.  You can toss the cinnamon stick at this point or leave it in, in a happy accident I left mine in and it pureed up no problem and the taste was great. Transfer everything to a blender or food processor and add the ground cumin if not using the seeds.  Puree into a paste.  At this point you can store the paste for several days in the fridge or six months in the freezer.  Spread the paste all over the steak on both sides and let marinate on a plate or baking dish for at least an hour and up to 6 hours.  If you only have an hour let it marinate at room temp so the steak isnt cold going into the grill. Light your grill and heat it to medium high.  Grill for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your steak and how you like your steak done.  Let rest for 5-8 minutes, then slice thinly.  While the steak rests, brush the naan with olive oil and grill for 1-2 minutes per side to get a little char and warm them through.  Also make the yogurt sauce by combining the yogurt, garlic, mint and parsley in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper.  To serve slather the naan with the yogurt sauce and pile in slices of steak.   Red onion and or arugula would also be nice in there.

Ginger Beef

The restaurant industry in DC has been absolutely transformed over the last decade.  Once known for stuffy steakhouses filled with lobbyists, Washington can now boast to have one of the hottest food scenes.  In fact in 2014 Bon Appetit named Capitol Hill’s own Rose’s Luxury the best restaurant in the country!  So why, oh why, is it so hard to get some decent chinese food???  Any of you who have been to DC’s Chinatown will know that its laughable to call it so, unless making Ann Taylor Loft and Starbucks have their signs in english and chinese somehow makes it authentic.  I was spoiled by years of great dim sum in Boston’s Chinatown and visits to San Francisco and New York.  There are amazing Vietnamese and Korean places but not so for chinese food.  So if you have a craving for some yummy chinese take out the best option is really to make it yourself.  Honestly even if you do live in a place blessed with decent chinese, cooking it yourself is often quicker than waiting for delivery and certainly a lot healthier.  One of my favorite make at home take out options is this ginger beef recipe.  The mix of pickled ginger (that funny pink stuff served with sushi) and fresh ginger is great.  Ginger root can be sort of intimidating at first but don’t be scared off by its gnarly exterior.  Cut off the peel with a small paring knife (though I see lots of people telling you to scrape it off with a spoon) and you expose the spicy, fragrant, edible part.  Ginger can start to get shriveled up after a while so if you aren’t using it frequently try freezing it.  Once you have peeled it throw it in a freezer bag for months – bonus that its much easier to grate and cut when frozen.

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This stir fry is great because you can add in any vegetables you like, I used snow peas but sugar snap peas, bell pepper, green beans, any would work.  You can increase or decrease the amount of ginger or chili sauce depending on how hot you want it or do what I do and make the full sauce recipe but only half the beef so there is lots of it to sop up with rice or noodles.  Either way its a fast, delicious meal that is great as leftovers – just like good chinese take out should be.

Ginger Beef (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Beef Stir Fry with Fresh and Pickled Ginger by Food and Wine magazine
Special Equipment:  none

  • 3 tablespoons sherry (any kind works – I use cream sherry)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese chile-garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh ginger
  • 1/2 red or white onion sliced
  • 8 ounces snow peas
  • 2 tablespoons pickled ginger, sliced into strips

In a bowl, whisk the sherry with the soy sauce and cornstarch (this is called a slurry – no idea why). Add the steak and turn to coat with the marinade.  Let it sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  In another bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the broth, sherry, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, chile-garlic sauce and cornstarch. wpid-20150527_181706.jpg Heat a skillet over high heat for a minute or two.  If you have a wok use it by all means but a skillet can do the job and won’t take up as much space.  I find nonstick is the best for stir fries as you can use less oil – the hands down best pan is Swiss Diamond.  Pricey but totally worth it and often hugely discounted at William Sonoma Outlets if you are near one.  Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and let it get hot.  Add the beef using a slotted spoon so you just get the beef and not the marinade it’s sitting in.  Be careful here – when the beef hits the hit pan it might spit and splatter a bit so make sure you are wearing an apron.  Let the steak sit for 1 minute so it can brown then move it around the pan till its cooked to your liking – only another minute should do if you have cut it thinly.

wpid-20150527_183156.jpgScoop the steak out of the pan and add a little more oil if you need.  Add the fresh ginger, onion, and snow peas and cook for about 2 minutes, just so the onion is no longer raw.  Toss the steak back in along with the pickled ginger and the sauce you made earlier.  Cook it down and stir it around until everything is combined and the sauce has thickened a bit, probably 1 minute more.

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Ginger Beef

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 3 tablespoons sherry (any kind works – I use cream sherry)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese chile-garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh ginger
  • 1/2 red or white onion sliced
  • 8 ounces snow peas
  • 2 tablespoons pickled ginger, sliced into strips

In a bowl, whisk the sherry with the soy sauce and cornstarch. Add the steak and turn to coat with the marinade.  Let it sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  In another bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the broth, sherry, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, chile-garlic sauce and cornstarch.  Heat a skillet over high heat for a minute or two.  Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and let it get hot.  Add the beef using a slotted spoon so you just get the beef and not the marinade it’s sitting in.  Be careful here – when the beef hits the hit pan it might spit and splatter a bit so make sure you are wearing an apron.  Let the steak sit for 1 minute so it can brown then move it around the pan till its cooked to your liking – only another minute should do if you have cut it thinly.  Scoop the steak out of the pan and add a little more oil if you need.  Add the fresh ginger, onion, and snow peas and cook for about 2 minutes, just so the onion is no longer raw.  Toss the steak back in along with the pickled ginger and the sauce you made earlier.  Cook it down and stir it around until everything is combined and the sauce has thickened a bit, probably 1 minute more.

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