Chinese Red Cooked Beef

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Home-cooked Chinese food is typically not ‘my thing’.  I’ve just never really taken the time to learn the techniques or accumulate the tools. It might also have to do with a few of my Mom’s failed attempts at Chinese cooking back in the 70’s (Public Service announcement: By no means should Betty Crocker or Redbook recipes be your guide to Chinese cooking!). And then I read a recipe for Chinese Red-cooked Beef. Truth be told, I practically slobbered all over the cookbook. For those that don’t know (I didn’t), Chinese Red Cooking is a soy sauce-based braising method, more properly called hongshao and popular in Shaghai, which imparts a dark red-brown color to beef and the sauce.  Soy sauce, bean paste, rice wine or sherry, and/or caramelized sugar work to impart the red coloring and provide a deep savory flavor. Warm spices like star anise, cinnamon, and ginger give incredible flavor. Think of it as another version of your favorite slow-cooked stew sans veggies. Jack. Pot.

Due to the ‘low and slow’ cooking method, fatty cuts with a lot of connective tissue work best. Your mind should skip to rib meat (commonly called ‘beef fingers’) or short ribs. Don’t forget about your friend pork belly either. All you need is a bit of patience and some time and you’re good to go. There are no crazy techniques or super specialized equipment. Simple gets the job done here.

Instead of blanching the beef in boiling water like most recipes, I opted to sear the beef to add more meaty goodness and depth of flavor.  Call me crazy, but the browned beef bits make a difference in the end result. Also, don’t skip the caramelized sugar part–it adds depth too!

Chinese Red Cooked Beef

  • 2 pounds of beef fingers
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried orange peel (you can substitute fresh zest if necessary)
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 red chiles, diced (or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1.5 cups water or beef broth (low or no sodium); as much as needed for appropriate liquid level

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve. Continue to cook on medium heat, watching carefully, until golden brown. If the sugar crystallizes at the edge, push it back into the liquid with a wet pastry brush. Once sugar is caramelized, remove the pan from the heat, wait about 1 minute, and add the Sherry. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Shanghai Beef

Just starting in the carmelized sugar process. Don’t skip this step! It adds depth of flavor.

Chinese Red Beef

The water has been added and the sugar is a handful of minutes into cooking. Notice the faint golden color. Watch very closely as the sugar can go from caramelized to burned in seconds.

Red braised beef

The color is a bit darker, but we’re not done just yet!

Shanghai beef

There we go! Nice dark color but not burnt. Burning the sugar will give you bitterness instead of deep flavor.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Completely dry beef with paper towels or bar towel.

braised red beef

Just like any other time you sear meat, dry thoroughly. Too much juice on the surface leads to the meat steaming at the surface instead of undergoing the Maillard reaction which gives the nicely browned surface. You want that browned crust to build layers of flavor.

Heat high-heat oil (beef tallow works best) in a pan until almost smoking. Place beef with a bit of room between each piece (crowding the pan begets steaming the beef, not searing), and sear the beef until well browned on all sides.  Remove the beef from the pan to a plate.

braised beef

Sear your beef. Be patient. When the beef forms a good crust, you’ll be able to turn it without it sticking to the pan. The key is to dry the meat and have a well-heated oil. Don’t crowd the pan and allow the pan to return to temp between batches.

Drain fat from pan.  I know I usually hold high disdain for those ‘fat-drainers’ out there, but trust me on this one, you’ll make more fat during cooking. Reduce heat to medium low. Add dry spices to the pan and heat for about 1 minute. Add your red pepper flakes here if you’re not using fresh chilies. Add the soy sauce or liquid aminos. Add the ginger, garlic, and peppers. Deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom with the edge of a wooden spoon. Once all the good bits are worked free from the bottom of the pan add the sugar-Sherry mixture. Return the beef to the pan, placing it evenly in one layer.

Chinese beef

Add the beef to the super flavorful sauce. Practice patience. Or maybe tie yourself up Houdini-style. It’s going to be hard to resist the aromas emanating from the kitchen!

The liquid level should come up to about 1/2 the level of the top of the meat. Add water or low sodium beef broth if needed to achieve the appropriate liquid level.  Bring the beef and liquid mixture to a simmer, place the lid, and tuck it away in your preheated oven. Cook until the meat is fork tender and the fat and connective tissue is dissolved, about 3 hours.

Chinese Red Briased Beef

If I didn’t learn from past mistakes (i.e. blistered and/or skinless mouth), I’d dig right in straight from the pan. This stuff smells righteous!

Remove the meat from the pan to a plate.Remove star anise from the pan liquid. Boil the sauce until it is glossy and reduced to about a cup. Chop or break meat into chunks.

Chinese Beef

You. Have. No. Idea.

Serve meat, drizzled with sauce, over rice or with your favorite steamed or sauteed vegetable. We love to pair it with Bao Buns picked up from a local Asian market, Kimchi, and wilted bok choy. Other veggies such as broccoli, broccoli rabe, bok choy, kale, or spinach pair well too. I’m not ashamed to admit this deliciousness never makes it to the table..strictly a stand around the kitchen table, getting jiggy with the beef-bao bun combo, and rolling eyes in delight. Enjoy!

Chinese red-cooked beef

Dig in! Kimchi, bokchoy, and bao buns make delightful additions!

Who Needs Easter Ham Anyway!

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Who says you have to have ham for Easter???

Easter brings back memories of a big ol’ Easter Ham. You know the one. All glazed and dotted with whole cloves. Maybe you threw some pineapple slices and maraschino cherries on for old times sake. Yeah, that ham.

Ribeye Roast recipe

Oooohhhh…decorative and painful. So painful.

Traditionally hogs were slaughtered in the Fall and without refrigeration pork was cured for Spring. Voila, Easter Ham. Don’t ask me what 1950’s foodie added pineapple, Maraschino cherries, and cloves (did I mention Maraschino cherries smell like that starfish I dissected in 7th grade??).  The process of turning fresh pork into ham is indeed magical, but I’m challenging you to give up the ghost and go for a standing rib-eye roast instead. Take it up a notch, enjoy the budding warmth, and bust out your grill. That’s right, pull out your outdoor speakers, blare some Winger (yes, Winger), pour yourself some wine, and drag the dog beds grill side. I’m a pork lover and I promise you I’m not looking back. That ham is gladly reserved for those cute little ham sandwiches your Grandma made on dinner rolls.  This Easter I’m all about the beef!

Cooking a standing rib-eye roast might seem daunting, but trust me, with a few basic skills you’ll have this thing mastered. Better yet, you’ll impress the h-e-double-hockey sticks out of your friends and family!

Grilled Standing Rib-eye Roast

  • 5 pound (usually 3 ribs) rib-eye roast, bones included.
  • 2 TBSP cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper corns
  • 1/8 tsp dried sage
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 dried bay leaf
  • 1 TBSP oil
  • kitchen twine
  • 30 charcoal briquettes & your charcoal grill
  • Lotsa time to kill, Girl’s Best Friends, Winger’s Greatest hits, bevvy of choice

Prepare your roast by rinsing and patting it dry with paper towels. Cut the bones away from the roast (save them!).  Some say to trim the fat to 1/8th of an inch.  Go ahead if you’d like, but if you trim fat in my house you will surely end up with broken fingers, a bloody nub, and a black eye. Seriously. Don’t. Do. It. You can cut fat off later if you want (I might very well look at you in disgust if you do), but cutting it off beforehand sacrifices flavor and juices in my opinion.

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Why would you cut OFF the fat????

Coat roast in a thin layer of oil. Place all spices in a spice grinder.  Or try your trusty, dusty $10 Mr. Coffee grinder saved just for spices and grind spices until powdery. Mix with your salt and spread on a rimmed cookie sheet.

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Put all of your spices into your grinder of choice and grind until powdery.

Grilled Standing Ribeye Roast

Mix well with your salt and spread evenly on a rimmed cookie or baking sheet.

Press the roast and bones into the salt until evenly coated.

Grilled Prime Rib

Salty goodness = crusty grilled goodness. Don’t be afraid of the salt!

Truss the roast and bones together. Hit up this video at 15:01 or so to see the best and quickest method for trussing your roast. It’s a bit ‘slight of hand’ but a good skill to learn for any large roast. Set your roast aside and cover with a clean tea or kitchen towel. Let rest 2-3 hours (don’t skimp on time people! This desiccates the outer layer to make a righteous crust).  You want the roast to be room temp when you put it on the grill.  And no, you won’t die from the roast sitting for 2-3 hours in a 68 degree house. Remember you’re going to cook it and you have stomach acid at about a pH of 0.8.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to throw your Easter Hunk O’ Beef on the grill, light about 30 briquettes and let burn until they’ve formed a thin coating of white ash. Once covered in ash, make a dual layer pile of charcoal on one side of your grill. Let the grill heat 5 minutes and scrape clean. Place your roast fat side down and sear until all fat covered sides are brown, about 10-12 minutes (depending on your fire heat).

Grilled Ribeye roast

Sear that thing!

Once browned, insert a constant read thermometer (not touching the bones) and place the roast with the tips of the bones away from the fire.  This puts the thickest part of the roast towards the heat so it cooks more evenly.

Cooking Rib Eye Roast

Place the roast with the thickest portion towards your coals. This will help the roast cook more evenly.

Be careful of flare ups in the beginning when the fat is rendering.  Do you see that little spot o’ burn in the picture above…that’s a result of flare ups.  Don’t cry for me Argentina, it’s a small spot and will work itself out in the end. Much more burn though and you’ve spent a lot of time and moo-la making a charcoal lump. Place your grill lid on, grab your bevvy and settle in. You’re going to cook your roast until about 125 degrees for medium rare. We went up to 135 for a medium-medium rare.  This can take 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the size of your roast and the heat of your fire.  The roast will ‘rest’ on the counter for about 15 minutes and the temp will raise 10-15 degrees so don’t fret about under cooking it a bit. No matter what temp you like, cook the roast 10-15 degrees cooler and let it rest.

Grilled prime rib

That twine has seen better days….but dang! That meat looks good. If the crusties I picked off are any indication, it tastes just as good as it looks!

Ribeye roast

Come to mama!

Slice that awesome thang to desired thickness and serve with horseradish sauce, taters, and your choice of veggies (we had balsamic grilled asparagus and it was delightful!). I promise you won’t miss that pineapple-cherry-clove Easter Hamnanigans.

Grilled prime rib

Fixin’ to get real in tha house!

Lazy Braisin’ Beef

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Super easy braised beef is perfect for rainy days…or hey, any day will do!

So, it’s a rainy day.  And a bit chilly.  And The Hubs is working on something in the office. I won’t say I’m bored, but I’m in need of something to hold my attention for a little while.  In addition, I guess the Holidays had me thinking about my Grandma (Memaw). I can remember her and my Aunt Liney flying out to Oregon as a surprise after Ken and I moved there and fixing a seriously beefy casserole one night. It was super simple:  A mixture of ground beef, Lipton’s onion soup mix, tomatoes, and pasta. I’m pretty sure it was a food-child of the 50’s when dinners where often a conglomeration of various quick, fairly processed foods. I don’t care. It was seriously addictive.  There’s no way it should have been, but it was. Something about the super beefiness, the tang of tomato, and the caramelized flavor from dehydrated onions in the soup mix. That casserole was the inspiration for this super easy, ‘Lazy Man’s’ braised beef. It takes about 2 seconds to throw together and then a few hours of no-touch time in the oven. You do need a little patience, but not a whole lot more.

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All you need is a little patience!

When it’s done, throw it in a bowl or pair it with creamy corn grits for a super treat.  It’s seriously beefy, hits the spot, and sticks with you.

 

Lazy Man’s Braised Beef

  • 3-4 pound,well-marbled chuck
  • One 32 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Gel Beef bouillon (Organic Beef Better-Than-Bouillon)
  • 2 TBSP dehydrated onions (in spice section)

Place your chuck in a pan large enough to hold it with a tad of extra room. Add 1/2 of can of tomatoes. Add enough water proportionately mixed with beef bouillon (read container) to come half way up beef sides. Sprinkle dehydrated onions on top.

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It’s as easy as throwing everything in a pot and waiting!

Place lid and place in 275 degree preheated oven until tender but not stringy. I find this takes somewhere around three hours. If it’s not like butter with fat and connective tissue dissolved, return to oven and check every thirty minutes or so.

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Look at that good business….like budda!

Once super soft, pull out the meat and reserve on the side. Place the pan with juices and tomatoes over medium high heat. Add remainder of tomatoes. Bring to gentle boil and reduce by half until flavors are intensified. Adjust seasoning if necessary (salt, pepper, bouillon addition).  Reduce heat to low. Once the beef cools to the touch, pull apart into chunks and submerge in the au jus.

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Pull that beef into chunks and get ready to feast!

Feel free to add sautéed mushrooms and/or serve over creamy corn grits (don’t knock it ’till you try it!).  I’m pretty certain Memaw would’ve been proud!

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Get it!

 

 

 

Practicin’ for St. Patty’s (or better Corned Beef)!

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Practicin’ for St. Patty’s!

 

St. Patty’s is a big deal in our house. It’s the beginning of Spring, a good excuse to come out from under the winter weather (yes, the whole two months of it!), and to celebrate with good friends.  And then there’s Corned Beef. I’ve always loved Corned Beef.  That being said, Good Lord bless me, I’ve usually had the type you’re familiar with:  Boiled to bejesus and somewhere close to rubbery. In fact, I’ll never forget my friend  Jennifer looking at me a bit exasperatedly and saying, “um, but it’s pickled meat!”.  Indeed, it is. It’s actually pickled beef brisket.  Although I’m in no way close to starting the project from scratch and pickling my own fresh brisket, I’m down with creating a much better Corned Beef than I’ve had in the past.  After all, it’s well past ‘Half Way to St. Patty’s Day’ and I’m just gettin’ on it!

Note:  This Corned Beef isn’t watery, or blubbery, or chewy.  It has tons of flavor and is soft like butter. However, it can’t be done in a hurry. It’s like any other tough meat…low and slow is the way to go. I actually used a ‘Texas Crutch” about half way through cooking when it seemed the meat chunk was just stalling at the tough stage. Think about how long it takes to cook a brisket…it’s pickled cousin isn’t much better. Good news…do a big enough batch at a time and you can have corned beef and cabbage, Reuben sandwiches, and homemade corned beef hash.

 

Better Corned Beef:

  • Corned Beef Brisket (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 head of cabbage
  •  A Handful of carrots
  • 2 large onions
  • Seasoning packet that comes with; Or
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 TBSP mustard seeds
    • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
    • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced
  • 1 Sierra Nevada Porter
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Get yourself a big ol’ pot. Coarsely chop your cabbage and cut up your carrots and onions (not too small since they’ll be in the pot a while).

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Chop your cabbage coarsely…it’ll stand up better to longer braising times.

Place 1/2 of your coarsely chopped cabbage in the bottom of the pot. pour your spices (packet or otherwise) over the top.  Add 1/2 of your carrots and onions.  Place the Corned Beef brisket on top.

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Add 1/2 of your cabbage, onion, and carrots to the pot. Place your Corned Beef on top.

Add the rest of the cabbage, onions, and carrots.

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Your sweet little 4 pound baby Corned Beef brisket is nestled in a bed of cabbage, onion, and carrots.

Pour in your beer and stock. Place a tight-fitting lid and set pot over a medium-low heat. Start up The Big Lebowski (well, you have to have something to do while you wait!). Braise for around three hours. At this point it should accept a fork easily but not be near falling apart and still give a fair resistance.

Take the brisket, place on a double layer of foil, add about 1/2 cup of the braising liquid, and wrap tightly.  Place in a 275 degree oven until a fork slides in like butter (about 1.5 hours). I have no other way to describe this other than the fork truly slides in like a a hot knife through butter. In the smoking arena, I’ve found this usually equates to between 195 and 205 degrees. Pull your little package out of the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes on the counter. Then unwrap and slice across the grain.

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Mmmmmm…pickled brisket never tasted so good! God bless the Irish!

 

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Serve it up with some of your cabbage and carrots and a little bit of broth. Get crazy and add some masked potatoes or for a Southern flair, some creamy stone ground corn grits.

For a super, duper treat…fry up an egg over easy and eat your leftovers in the morning!

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Corned Beef is a great friend for eggs over easy. Better yet? Add some tasty potatoes for a homemade Corned Beef hash (no one should EVER eat that weird stuff out of a can). Breakfast never looked so good!

 

 

 

 

Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese and Mushroom-Sherry Cream Sauce

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Grilled ribeye with mushroom-sherry cream sauce. Seriously. Good. Eats.

It was a long work week and I was in the mood to don some flip flops, enjoy the good weather, sip a little vino, and chat with The Hubbs. Not to mention I had an itchin’ to bust out the charcoal Weber my brother and his family gave me for my birthday.  I mean, who doesn’t like to play with their new toys??  As the proverbial “They” say, it really is all about the simple things. So The Hubbs stopped to pick up some ribeyes and we were on our way to Good Times.

Although I love a good ol’, simple charred ribeye (seriously, that charred fat!), I was looking  for a little something more. Luckily The Hubbs picked up some mushrooms and blue cheese I keep a stock of cream and sherry on hand. Although this recipe might seem like work, don’t let it fool you. It’s perfect for sippin’ and is worth every minute!

 

Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese and Mushroom-Sherry Cream Sauce

  • 2 Ribeyes, well marbled, 2 inches thick
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Blue Cheese
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 2 TBSP oil (we used beef tallow)
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed, diced finely
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onions
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
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Season your steaks. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Salt and pepper the steaks. Let sit 1 hour at room temperature. Prepare your grill.

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Soak your dried porcini mushrooms in just enough hot water to cover.

Soak your dried mushrooms in just enough hot water to cover.

Cook your mushrooms. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1 TBSP fat to pan over medium heat. Sweat the onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute. Remove dried mushrooms from liquid and squeeze over pan. Dice and add to pan. Add sherry and deglaze pan. Add cream slowly while stirring. Add the reserved cooked mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until reduced by half and sauce coats the back of a spoon.

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Get your charcoal ready!

Light 6 quarts of charcoal in a charcoal chimney.  When the top briquettes are half covered with ash, spread 2/3 of charcoal over grate with bottom vents completely open. Spread remaining charcoal over 1/2 of grate. Heat grill about 5 minutes with lid on. Remove lid, pat ribeyes dry with paper towels (they won’t char up otherwise), and place ribeyes over the hot side of the grill (the side with more charcoal).  Cook uncovered until well browned on each side, 2-3 minutes per side.  Move steaks to cooler side of grill and cook until meat registers 115 degrees for rare or 120 degrees for medium-rare (I think ribeyes are better at medium-rare). Remove steaks, loosely tent with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.

Heat your oven’s broiler to high. Sprinkle steaks with desired amount of blue cheese and place under the broiler for a minute or two to melt (to avoid cooking your steak at this point, make sure the rack is as close to the element as possible).  Watch closely so you don’t burn them–it can happen quickly!

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Mmmmmm. Melty blue cheese.

Plate your steaks and serve with your awesome mushroom-sherry cream sauce. Serve with your favorite veggie. Since the grill was fired up, we paired the steaks with grilled zucchini and yellow squash drizzled with chive oil. Seriously delightful. The wine, conversation, and R & R wasn’t half bad either!

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Serve with mushroom-sherry cream sauce. Prepare for utter silence at the table!

Superb (and Easy!) Boneless Short Ribs

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The elusive moist, tender, I-can’t-stop-eating-it, get-back-or-I’ll-stab-your-hand short ribs.

I think I’ve tried short ribs every single time they’re on the menu. Even the ‘bad’ ones were great. Each time I’d come home excitedly to try making them myself. I wouldn’t say they were an epic failure…but they just weren’t as good as I’d had in restaurants (seriously, every time it’s like a war-of-forks when the Hubbs and I try to share!).  Then I met the boneless chuck short rib. These are not just short ribs with the bone removed–they’re a whole different cut entirely. More like a chuck roast cut into fat strips.  Accordingly, they turn out fork tender with the same treatment–low and slow.  There’s not much prep involved–just a bit of a wait time while they cook. And it’s so worth the wait—give ’em a try!

  • Boneless chuck short ribs (I always cook a load–they go fast!)
  • Beef broth to cover about 1/2 way up the ribs
  • a few carrots, onions, and celery; roughly chopped
  • Tomato paste (I used a tablespoon)
  • Bay leaves, rosemary, pepper to taste (salt the juices while reducing)
  • Large saucepan or dutch oven with tight-fitting lid

Sear the bejesus out of your short ribs.  I used beef tallow for it’s high smoke point and got a nice crust going.

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Searing all sides for a good crust adds flavor and seals in juices.

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Man, that’s gonna be good!

Remove ribs to a side plate. Saute the carrots, onion, and celery until just tender—or if you have a bit more time, caramelize them a little for extra flavor. Add the tomato paste a cook for a minute or two. Add the ribs in and cover with broth about 1/2 way up.

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Wilt or caramelize your veggies.

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Cover with broth 1/2 way up the sides of the meat.

Add your lid and pop in the oven at 300 degrees with a well-fitting lid (put foil on the edges to help seal up if yours doesn’t seal well). Alternatively you can barely simmer on the stovetop. Cook the ribs until they’re fork tender. You’ll know you’ve got it right when they give with the slightest pressure—the Hubbs says ‘like butter’.  Any fat or connective tissue will have melted. Reduce your juices until they coat the back of a spoon slightly.  No need to strain, just let ’em rip.

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Let ’em go low and slow! Try not to peek too much.

You can eat your ribs at this point–with a bit of your reduced juices–or for super awesome ribs, place them in a single, flat layer in a pan, cover with foil, and refrigerate overnight.

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For the best ribs, place in a single layer and refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Heat the next day by placing under a broiler until just warm. Pour on the reduced juices and go to town. I promise next time you’ll do double or triple batches!

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Go to town! They-re great on their own, with their cooked veggies, with roasted veggies, over risotto, or over creamy grits with their juices.

Enjoy!!

Caveman Meat

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My reaction after my first attempt at cooking a whole beef tenderloin…not the worst meat I’ve ever tasted, but I was disappointed. Lessons learned.

So I pretty much looked like the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame Lon Chaney after my first attempt at cooking a beef tenderloin (If you must ask how I know about Lon Chaney–>night shift…insomnia…silent movies to avoid waking Grumpy Kevin. There.).  Now, I may not have had that snaggle tooth or that 1/2-of-a-ping-pong-ball eye, but it was pretty damn close.  After spending that much money on a hunk o’ meat, if it doesn’t turn out how ya were dreaming’, you pretty much freak the h-e-double-hockeysticks out!

So, what happened you innocently ask?  Well, I followed the advice of the interwebs instead of my gut.  I mean, tenderloin is a b-e-a-u-tiful piece of meat. Seriously, it smelled better than most steaks while it was completely raw!  It smelled so good the dogs were doing the “dancing circus bear’ next to the counter. You know, where they stand up on their back legs, front arms just a danglin’, dancing around on their back feet to avoid falling over, head turned up, nose in the air. Yeah that. Anyway, I digress.  A good tenderloin is beautiful.  I knew in my heart-of-hearts that I should’ve have honored that beauty and let it shine by treating it simply. But oooohhhhh nooooo–I had to get all cray cray.  Good  God, it was like dressing up a sweet, little, innocent bride in a 1980’s hairmetal Kiss costume. I mean, brides are beautiful, Kiss is awesome….so, ipso facto…brides in Kiss costumes should be magnificent. Not so, people. You might stare in wonder, but not the good kind. I made the same mistake by marrying beef tenderloin and an herbal brine. The horror. The travesty. Mea culpa.  Thank goodness there was plenty o’ wine before we ate.

I was so peeved, I tried again the next weekend. We went to Dad’s, invited Tom and Cindy over again, and got to it.  This time we went to the opposite end of the spectrum…almost nothing.  A little salt, a little pepper, a bit o’ spice, some oil, and fire.  What a difference! It was meat like caveman must’ve eaten…a bit of a crust on the outside, medium rare on the interior, perfect.  There was almost absolute silence at the table as we ate. Enough silence for me to say a short prayer of thanks to my Caveman Homies for their genius in discovering and propagating fire and deciding to hang meat over it (my schooling as an anthropologist kicks in at the weirdest times).

Let’s get to it people. You’ll want to try this pronto.

  • 1/2 beef tenderloin (about 3-4 lbs), whole, trimmed (I left on the ‘wing’ meat)
  • 1 TBSP Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Fennel Seed (or use  a sprinkling of the elusive Fennel Pollen on the finished product)
  • cheap azz coffee grinder ($10 Mr. Coffee will do fine)
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Pre-trimming.

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Post-trimming, pre-trussing. I was so preoccupied with the grill that I didn’t get any trussing pics. The link to the video will help with that!

Now, process your spices in your coffee grinder (dedicate this for spices–it’s a WHOLE lot better than a mortar and pestle) until they’re dust. Put a light coating of oil on your tenderloin so your herbs stick.  Evenly coat your trimmed tenderloin in your spice dust, salt, and pepper. Truss your tenderloin.

Now, go get that grill as hot as you can get it, on one side ONLY (I used a gas grill). If you walk away after heating the grill continuing to be the proud owner of eyebrows, I will be disappointed.  Throw your tenderloin on and sear it on all sides. This doesn’t take long.  A minute or so per side. Then move the loin off heat–or onto indirect heat.  Let it rest there until the internal temp reaches about 90 degrees (about 15-20 minutes for mine).  Then pop it back over to the direct heat to finish until the internal temp reaches 110.  This doesn’t take long and really made a good crust on the outside.  Now, don’t freak out about the 110 degrees.  I can only say that when I cooked the first one to the recommended 135 to achieve medium rare after standing, that thing was much too done.  I went by the ‘squish factor’ on this one which happened to be about 110 degrees.

Remove the roast and loosely cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes (don’t cut it to soon!).

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Post-resting. Look at that crust! My caveman forefathers would be proud!

Slice and enjoy.

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Just what I was looking for! Man was it good!

I think it’s particularly good with a little horseradish sauce.  We make our sauce with sour cream, mayo, horseradish, cream, salt, pepper, garlic, and green onions.  I’ll be sure to add that recipe when we grill up another one.  Now go get down with your caveman roots and enjoy!

 

Flank Steak with Chimichurri

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A simple summer meal…little mess and less work leaves plenty of time for socializing!

Oh, the humble flank steak. I first fell in love with the flank (or similar skirt steak) with my friends Matt and Jen out west.  We’d belly up to marinated and slightly charred steak with grilled green onions and loads of guacamole, imbibe in a few margaritas, and commence with great conversation and loads of laughter. It was tender, flavorful, and simple.  Yet totally delicious. If I wasn’t at an establishment, I wouldn’t think twice about licking my plate! Every single time I have it I think of them and dearly wish The Hubbs would sincerely work on that Transporter we’ve been dreaming about for years. That was Mojo, or Asada, style.  Since then I had the pleasure of dining on flank steak with chimichurri at Trattori Lucca with my friend Mike, his wife Karen, and a handful of new friends. Wine, outrageous conversation, and loads of laughter ensued. Frankly, the servers, bartender, and owners started crowding near the table waiting on us to leave. So, I like to blame the steak for all of the fun. The Hubbs and I ventured to make our own and yep, madness ensued then too. I’m pretty sure it’s the simplicity of the dish that lets both cook and cohorts get down to the real business of chillaxin’. So, gather a few ingredients, a few friends, and be prepared for some great memories!

Chimichurri is a simple concoction of fresh parsley, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, crushed red pepper, and cumin. Sometimes fresh basil or oregano may be added.

 

  • Flank steak, number of pounds to fit your party (we used two pounds)
  • Chimichurri sauce (used this same recipe with added onion, doubled, with some reserved as dressing for two pounds of steak)
  • Salad or grilled zucchini to serve with

 

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Preparing the chimichurri.

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Chimichurri…looks unimpressive, but it’s sooooo good!

Prepare chimichurri via linked recipe directions.

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Coat the steak, or place in ziploc with 2/3 of the chimichurri.

Place steak in ziploc and cover with about 2/3 of chimichurri.  Pour yourself some wine, get comfortable, and begin shenanigans while steak marinates for about an hour.

Fire up the grill to super-molten-hot. Remove steak from chimichurri, scrape off excess, and place on lava grill. Sear about 7 minutes on one side, flip and sear again for 5 minutes or so. Optimally you want the steak to end up medium-rare. Remove from the grill, tent in foil, and let rest about 10 minutes.

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Seriously make every effort to not dig in right away! Let it rest and reabsorb the juices.

Slice thinly across the grain.

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Slice thinly across the grain. This helps the steak to not become a chewy mess.

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Almost ready!

Serve with your choice of sides–we prefer a simple salad, fresh guacamole, and the reserved chimichurri. Micgrogreens work well with this dish too. Grilled zucchini works well too.

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A simple salad (and maybe fresh guacamole and a margarita!) is all you need.

This is a great dish that will impress, but has little effort. It’s perfect for gatherings or nights where you’d rather focus on your company than stirring and sweating over a stovetop.  Now go grab your wine and get some great friends…and dig in!

Carne Asada

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Carne Asada

Delicious carne asada

Carne asada is not only a delightful, grilled beef but also describes a social barbecue. So, the next time you’re wanting to get friends together, grab yourself some Negro Modelo beer and try out this type of flank or skirt steak and you’ll be surprised how people rave about it.  I like the simplicity of the flavors, the ease of preparation, and the big results you get.  You can grill it over flame (or with a smoke box for extra flavor) but a high-heat gas grill works well too.  With a small bit of planning this can make for an easy weeknight meal too.

Carne Asada:

  • About 2 pound flank or skirt steak
  • 4 bunches green onions (or cambray if you can find them)
  • 3 bell peppers, any color, cored and sliced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

For the Marinade:

  • Juice of two limes
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup extra light tasting olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Negro Modelo (you get to drink the remaining bottles at dinner!)

Place all marinade ingredients in a dish large enough to accommodate the marinade and your steak.  Marinate the steak in the refrigerator for as little as 2 hours or as long as 24 hours, turning as often as you remember (I won’t lie, I’ve marinated it for as long as 4 days and it turned out fine).  Remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before grilling.

When the meat has reached room temperature, blot dry with paper towels and lightly coat with oil.  I’ve noticed this prevents the surface of the meat from steaming and promotes more surface char, especially when using a gas grill.

Place on a HOT grill.  My husband, we’ll call him Grumpy Kevin (kudos to my friend’s daughter for nicknaming him that!), fires up the infrared gas grill to 650 degrees since we like a charred outside and a medium to medium rare interior.  To get that medium to medium rare interior, cook the steak on one side for 4 minutes, flip and cook for 4 more on the other side.  Some say carne asada should be cooked though, but I think it’s tougher that way (then again, I don’t really eat any beef cooked through).

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My, my…look at that purdy steak!

While beef is resting, toss sliced peppers and green onions in just enough oil to gently coat (should be no more than 2 TBSP). Grill, until just softening, a couple of minutes each side. The onion is particularly good with a bit of char around the edges.

Grilled Green Onions

Grill the onions and peppers while the meat rests.

When at desired doneness, remove from grill and tent and rest in foil on a cutting board for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, slice across the grain and at 45 degrees.

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Grumpy Kevin thinly slicing the carne asada across the grain and at a 45 or so degree angle.

Serve with grilled green onions, fresh guacamole, and grilled peppers for a gluten-free, paleo friendly meal.  Or team up with homemade corn tortillas for carne asada tacos. Very, very addictive!

Carne Asada

Serve with grilled onions, fresh guacamole, and grilled peppers for a gluten-free/paleo meal or team up with homemade corn tortillas for carne asada tacos.