Category Archives: Beef

Shepherds Pie, American Style

I call this recipe “Shepherds Pie, American Style” because I have read or heard much debate through the years about the authentic ingredients for shepherds, or cottage pie. While it is true that many might say “this is not Shepherds Pie if it contains no lamb!” I beg to differ. Oh yes, I am well aware that because it is made with beef as opposed to lamb that it should rightfully be called “Cottage Pie”. But that’s not what they called it when I learned to love it!

I apologize for bringing up my childhood twice in as many posts but is that not truly when many of our adult likes and dislikes are formed? When I was in elementary school one of my favorite, absolute favorite dishes on the cafeteria (or cafetorium) menu was named “Shepherd’s Pie” and this recipe is my rendition of that dish. This is how I remember it tasting and once again we’re talking comfort food, so this is how I prepare it.

Honestly, I won’t be insulted if you call it cottage pie; call it anything you like…what really matters to me is that it tastes good. After all if we were really going to get down to brass tacks then do you think that stuff they served at the “PTA Spaghetti Dinners” would pass as Spaghetti with a true Italian? Ha! I think not. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t gobble it up with enthusiasm each and every time I ate it. I hope you do the same with this recipe.

Notes: I use a fork to “rake” the top of the potatoes because I think it facilitates browning and creates a crispier crust. I do not use cheese because they didn’t use any when I was a kid. Please feel free to add anything you like to the recipe. (On that note, I think I will add a cup of chopped green onions to the potatoes the next time around.)

Shepherd’s Pie, American Style

1 Lb – Lean Ground Beef
1 Cup – Carrots, diced large
1 Cup – Celery, diced large
1 Cup – Onion, chopped
32 Oz – Lower Sodium Beef Broth
2-3 Tbsp – Red wine, chilled
2 Tbsp – HP (or A1) Steak sauce
2 Tbsp – Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp – Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp – Dried Tarragon
8 Oz – Frozen Sweet Peas
3 Lbs – Red Bliss Potatoes, cut in (roughly) 1 inch chunks
2 Cups – Low Fat Buttermilk, plus a little extra if needed
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Stir in carrots, celery, and onion along with ½ Tbsp each of thyme and tarragon. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a fork while stirring to mix. Add the remainder of the thyme and tarragon along with about ¼ tablespoon of pepper and the steak sauce. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the beef has browned. When the beef has browned and cooked through, add the broth and simmer while you prepare the potatoes.

Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them by ½ inch. Add about 1/8 cup of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the beef & broth mixture has simmered at least 20 minutes, strain about 1 cup of the hot stock into a bowl. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of cold red wine and set aside to cool while you mash the potatoes.

When the potatoes are very tender carefully drain them in a colander or strainer allowing them to sit a few minutes to steam off excess moisture. Place hot potatoes in a large bowl and using a potato masher, dough cutter, or a large fork mash in about 1 cup of the buttermilk. Continue mashing until the liquid has been absorbed, then drizzle in the second cup of buttermilk while still mashing the potatoes. If the potatoes are still too dry drizzle in a little extra buttermilk, while mashing, until the mashed potatoes reach your desired consistency.

Whisk 2 Tbsp of flour into the reserved stock and wine mixture then stir this into the simmering beef mixture along with the frozen peas. Stir gently until everything is incorporated, heated through, and slightly thickened then spoon or pour the mixture into a 9” X 13” casserole. Using a spoon and your fingers if necessary spread the potatoes over the top of the beef mixture.

Before baking, smooth the top of the potatoes, then use the back of a fork to create parallel 1/8 inch deep “grooves” along the length of the entire dish to give the topping some texture. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the oven and rest 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,

Randy

By request: Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

I was asked to settle a debate this week and while I’m uncertain whether it was my food knowledge, my part Irish heritage, or simply my well known penchant for eating food that led them to me, I was more than happy to throw in my two cents. The question was “Is corned beef really Irish?” In fact, I told them, it is Irish but the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage on St Patty’s day is uniquely American.

Historically corned beef (named so because the salt used in the process resembled corn kernels) or salt cured beef was an export of Ireland but rarely ever was it eaten by the locals. In those days Beef was generally too expensive for the common people and a dish of boiled “bacon” and cabbage was much more customary. What they called “bacon” was pretty much any part of the pig, other than the ham, that contained a joint…typically what we know as the shoulder or the loin.

Later, when Irish immigrants came to America, beef was actually far more available than pork so they “corned” the beef and cooked it with cabbage in an effort to replicate their comfort food from back home. Loosely, this is assumed to be the origin of the wholly American tradition of corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Interestingly, to this day, corned beef and cabbage in Ireland is generally reserved for the tourists!

For a great read on the subject check out Europeancuisines.com .

Through the years I tried every method known to man for preparing corned beef including boiling, stovetop braising, and baking. For depth of flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, this slow oven braise has become my go-to recipe for corned beef. Make enough for leftovers because the sandwiches are awesome and the chopped meat makes for an incredible corned beef hash!

Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

1 – 3 to 4 pound First cut corned beef (**See note)
1 or 2 cans – Guinness draft
10 to 12 – Mixed peppercorns (pink, green, black, etc…)
6 to 8 – Cloves of garlic, smashed
4 to 6 – Allspice berries
2 to 3 – Bay leaves
1 to 2 – Star anise pods

Note: Reserve vegetables for later. These can be added and cooked with the roast for the final hour of cooking or boiled in the pot juices while the roast  rests.

1 Head – Green or Napa cabbage, quartered
3 to 4 Large, or 4 to 6 Med – Red bliss potatoes
2 Med – White onions, halved

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the corned beef from its packaging and rinse in cold water while rubbing with your hands to remove any scum left over from the brine. Place the roast, fatty side up, in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (or a pot with a tight fitting lid) and pour in enough beer to come about 1/3 of the way up the sides, sliding the roast around a little to get some liquid underneath. Add the remaining ingredients, distributing them evenly around the beef (if your roast is larger add more / if it is smaller add less of the spice).

Note: If your Corned Beef comes with a spice packet add that too…flavor is flavor!

On your stovetop over medium heat, bring the beer to a gentle boil then cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil placing the Dutch oven lid on top of that for a nice firm seal. Place the whole thing in the oven and roast, without peeking for 3 – ½ to 4 hours again depending on the size. The beef should be very tender after 4 hours…if not put it back in the oven and check it every 30 minutes until it is very tender.

Remove the corned beef and wrap it in the foil to rest. Meanwhile, place quartered cabbage (cut side down), red bliss potatoes, and white onion halves in the cooking liquid, return to a boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes while the Corned Beef is resting. After 15 to 20 minutes of rest, slice the Corned Beef, across the grain and serve with vegetables and your favorite Dijon Mustard.

**Note: Corned beef is generally sold as Whole Brisket, Half Brisket – First Cut (or Flat), or Half Brisket – Point Cut. The first cut (or Flat) is my favorite. This cut comes from the wide flat half of the whole brisket with the Point Cut coming from the thicker, fattier end of the Brisket. The First Cut is generally leaner and more suitable for the dinner plate. The Point Cut is “generally” fattier and more suitable for sandwiches. Hence, most of the time when you see a sale on corned beef it will be the Point Cut. Do yourself a favor and stick with the First Cut.

Enjoy,

Randy

Weeknight Corned Beef Hash

http://www.flickr.com/photos/randy_lay/5513237025/

My mom used to make corned beef hash with poached eggs every now and then, always for supper. It was one of my favorite things in the world and to this day it is most definitely comfort food! I’m also fairly certain  that she is responsible for my current fondness for breakfast at dinnertime. This past weekend, not long after the corned beef brisket went into the oven and the house began to fill with that familiar aroma, my thoughts were again with her. I daydreamed of those evenings long past when I would rub my hands in anticipation of her wonderful meals.

As my sister and I were growing up mom cooked with love and she cooked with flavor and even though it was always with a nod to a tight budget, holy cow was it ever good! It is interesting to me how many of my current favorite dishes, and many that you’ll now see celebrity chefs cooking on TV, have their roots in such simple budget cooking.

Was the food of our youth so good because of the long cooking necessary to make the tougher cuts palatable?  Are the flavors that developed out of these techniques what makes meat loaves, chicken pot pies, stews and braises so popular even today? Or is it that these foods were prepared with so much love by so many of our moms that it touches our souls even today?

The brisket last Sunday was a small one and though I do love leftover corned beef on rye, I squirreled the leftovers away because there was just enough for a batch of my weeknight corned beef hash. This is a simple, peasant style recipe that I can make no claim to as it has been cooked for so long by so many. I only wish my mom lived a little closer so that I could have shared it with her.

Notes: It is not necessary to use leftover vegetables. If you do use fresh, pre-cook the potatoes by blanching the cubed potatoes until tender then drain and gently pat them dry. (Remember…the dryer you get them the better because moisture inhibits browning!) Optionally you may also use 1 cup of the leftover cabbage. Be sure to take a look at this Poached Egg video for a really simple way to poach an egg.

Weeknight Corned Beef Hash

2 Cups – Leftover Corned Beef Brisket, cubed, shredded, or chopped
2 Cups – Leftover cooked red bliss potatoes, cut in ¼” cubes
1-1/2 – Leftover cooked onions, cut in ¼ to ½ inch dice
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
¼ Tbsp. – Dried thyme
¼ Tbsp. – Fresh ground black pepper
1 Sprig – Fresh rosemary
1 Poached Egg per serving
Olive Oil

Warm 2 tablespoons of oil In a large pan over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering add the garlic, thyme, and black pepper and cook stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions have just begun to brown.

Stir in the potatoes and lower the heat to medium. When potatoes are hot; stir in the corned beef and the rosemary. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until potatoes and beef have browned and formed a desirable crust, about 10 minutes more. Remove the rosemary and discard before serving.

Serve topped with a freshly poached egg.

Enjoy,

Randy

Fusion Recipe: Orange Beef with Rosemary Soy Sauce

Photo by Kathy

Much like our crock pot, the pressure cooker spends most of the time collecting dust on the bottom shelf of the bakers rack. And, also like the crock pot, every time I use our pressure cooker I end up saying “Man, I love this thing!” Invariably, I make a mental note vowing to use the pressure cooker more often. Considering how this dinner turned out…perhaps it’s time I kept one of those little promises to myself.

Some of my favorite and most beloved comfort foods are stews and braised dishes which are for the most part cooked long and slow. Not exactly weeknight fare if you will. But the pressure cooker brings it all within reach. This dish, prepared traditionally, could take as long as 4 hours to cook; on this night, thanks to the pressure cooker, dinner was on the table in just over an hour. Yep, that’s right; I made this on a Tuesday evening after work in a little more than an hour!

If you are unfamiliar with pressure cooking, there are some great articles on the web with two of my favorite sites being Miss Vickie’s and Fabulous Foods . As a bonus (much like braising) it is claimed that pressure cooking destroys far fewer nutrients than other cooking methods making it a healthy addition to your kitchen arsenal. If you do not own a pressure cooker, by all means start reading up on them…they are safe, convenient and I simply cannot recommend this cooking method enough!

Because pressure cooking happens so fast there is not always time for flavor to develop. To counter this trend I started this recipe cooking hot, almost like a stir fry, because I wanted to build up as much flavor as possible before putting on the lid. I call this recipe a fusion because I used red wine and rosemary which are not typical in an Asian style stew. As an afterthought, a few orange peels would also bump up the “citrusy” flavor and speaking of flavor, feel free to add a little more sriracha if you like things spicy.

I still had a bunch of fresh kale around so I served this stew simply spooned over quick braised kale with a little ginger, garlic, lower sodium soy sauce and a splash of water. Also I will include notes below for a traditional braise for those of you who will not be using a pressure cooker. P.S. If you go out and get one I promise to use my pressure cooker again before it has the time to gather that coat of dust!

Orange Beef with Rosemary Soy Sauce

1-1/2 Pounds – Beef chuck, trimmed and cut into roughly 1” cubes
1 – Medium Onion, halved lengthwise then sliced lengthwise
1 – Medium Daikon radish, peeled and cut into large cubes (the Daikon was about the size of a large cucumber)
½ Cup plus 1/8 Cup reserved – Fresh orange juice
½ Cup – Lower sodium soy sauce
¼ Cup – Dry red wine
3 Cloves – Garlic, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp – Fresh ginger, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp – Agave nectar
2 Sprigs – Fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp – Fish sauce
1 Tbsp – Corn Starch
½ Tbsp – Sriracha (Chinese red pepper sauce)
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Sesame oil
Olive oil
Sesame seeds and sliced green onions for garnish

In an uncovered pressure cooker over medium high heat, warm 1-1/2 Tbsp each of Sesame and Olive oil until shimmering. When the oil is quite hot, add the beef cubes and cook, stirring often, until any exuded liquid has evaporated and some browning has occurred. Add the onions and agave nectar to the beef and continue cooking and stirring about 1 minute before adding the garlic and ginger. Allow this to cook, while still stirring often, until the onions are transparent.

When the onions have become transparent stir in the red wine and as this comes to a boil, scrape up any browned bits that may have stuck to the cooking surface. Add all remaining liquid ingredients, the daikon radish cubes and the rosemary (leaving the reserved orange juice aside). Stir gently to mix the ingredients, and then lock on the lid to the pressure cooker.

Leave the heat on medium high until the pressure has reached optimal cooking pressure, then lower the heat to medium low. Cook 30 minutes while monitoring pressure, lowering or raising heat marginally as needed to maintain optimal pressure. After 30 minutes remove the pressure cooker from heat and allow it to cool naturally until the pressure falls to zero.

When the cooker is safe to open, carefully remove most of the stewed solids to a large serving bowl using a spider skimmer or a slotted spoon, leaving the sauce in the cooker. Return the cooker to heat and bring to a boil over medium high heat once more. In a small bowl, whisk the reserved orange juice and the corn starch together to form a slurry before stirring it immediately into the sauce. Continue stirring until the sauce returns to a boil and thickens slightly.

When the sauce has thickened, very gently fold the sauce back into the stew. Serve over brown rice, braised greens, or quinoa and garnish, if desired, with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.

Note: For a traditional braise follow the recipe to the point where the pressure cooker is closed (using a heavy bottomed Dutch oven rather than a pressure cooker). Cover the Dutch oven with a layer of aluminum foil, then a heavy lid and bake in a 325 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours. Check for doneness, re-cover and bake 30 minutes more if necessary. Then follow the recipe from the point at which the pressure cooker is opened.

Enjoy,

Randy

Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

Dear friends of ours stayed at our house for a few days this past week and as dear friends will do, they left a few beers behind. As I surveyed the fridge situation on Sunday morning I was already thinking of beef, maybe a pot roast or a stew, and when I spotted the bottles of Shiner Bock my mind was made up…Carbonnade a La Flamande! At the market I found a sale on beef chuck mock tenderloins and decided this would be a fun challenge.

Carbonnade a La Flamande is a rich Belgian stew of beef, caramelized onions, and beer usually with a sweet and sour flavor not unlike a good sauerbraten. The irony was that I was using Shiner Bock instead of a deeply flavored Belgian ale as the base in a stew of “mock” tenderloin steaks. So while this is NOT a true Carbonnade a La Flamande, it does borrow some of the great character from one of my favorite Belgian dishes.

If you are not familiar with beef chuck mock tenderloins they are simply steaks cut from the chuck eye roast. They produce a mostly round steak that looks something like a tenderloin steak. Chuck is still chuck though and tender they are not, hence the “Mock” part of the name. This cut is flavorful but best suited to slow braising or long tenderizing marinades.

Other notes: Brown the steaks in a pan if you prefer, I kind of like the broiler for larger pieces of meat. A mostly whole star anise should do the trick but be sure to remove any pieces that break off during the cooking. I served these with whole wheat wide egg noodles and blanched then sautéed snap beans with garlic. Oh, and if you want to use a real Belgian ale I recommend Chimay Blue …just be sure to have another one on hand to enjoy with your steak!

Mock Carbonnade a La Flamande

5 to 7 – Beef Mock Tenderloin Steaks (About 2 Lbs)
3 – Medium Onions, Sliced
1 Tbsp – Tomato Paste
12 Oz – Medium Bodied Beer
1 Cup – Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp – Beef Soup Base (I used Demi-Glace Gold )
1 Star – Star Anise
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Thyme
1 Large Sprig – Fresh Rosemary
1 Tbsp – Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy stew pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste, star anise, onions, and a ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. As the onions begin to sizzle lower the temperature to medium low and continue cooking stirring often. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a thin film of oil (I used a spritz of Olive Oil Cooking Spray). Use a paper towel to pat the steaks dry and arrange them evenly on the cookie sheet. Brush or drizzle each steak with olive oil and season well on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring the onions 15 minutes or so until they begin to turn a deep golden color then stir in the thyme and rosemary…keep cooking and stirring the onions while you brown the steaks.

Set the oven (broiler) rack 3” below the element or flame. Place the steaks on the rack and turn the broiler on high. (Note: If your broiler is electric leave the door slightly ajar; if your broiler is gas fueled close the door.) Broil the steaks 4-6 minutes watching them closely until a nice brown crust has formed, carefully turn and broil 4 minutes more or until nicely browned.  Remove the steaks and set aside to rest while prepping your braise.

Reduce the oven heat to 300. Remove the star anise from the onions and discard. Stir beer, soup base, and chicken stock into the onions and raise the heat to medium high. Stir occasionally until the liquid just begins to boil, place the steaks into the pot, cover firmly and bake for 2 hours. After two hours remove from heat, leave covered, and set aside to rest.

Wait at least 20 minutes to remove the steaks to a serving platter; place the pot back on the burner over medium high heat. As the liquid comes to a boil reduce the heat to medium, stir in the vinegar and allow the gravy to cook until your desired thickness is reached.

Spoon the gravy over your steaks, serve and enjoy!