Category: Beef

Mexican Alambre

The Mexican market by our house upped it’s game tenfold. The new management is transforming this small corner store into a legit market. The meat counter alone is enough reason to go. Cactus being the second. The only thing that would make this place even sweeter would be a bakery, but I really don’t need all of that. More marinated meats please. The price and quality meet at an intersection that makes your mind explode. Every time we get something from there, we’re doing a double-take at the price. It just doesn’t feel right, but I’m not going to complain.

Having access to Mexican chorizo is worth its weight in gold. There aren’t substitutes for it. When you remove it from the casing, the stuff at the corner market cooks down into an almost liquid form of spicy goodness. This dish was inspired by La Cocina. It’s like fajitas but made better. It takes everything I love about them [meat and veggies and adds even more meat, more veggies [cactus], and generous amounts of Oaxaca cheese. Be still my heart. You can make tacos out of them, obviously, but I’m much more into shoveling it in by the forkful. Tortillas just take up stomach space.

Mexican Alambre

Inspiration: Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1lb thinly sliced steak
  • 1lb chorizo, casing removed
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup strips of nopales [cactus], rinsed and drained if using the jarred variety
  • 1-2 jalapeños, sliced
  • 4oz+ Oaxaca cheese, shredded
  • tortillas for serving

Preparation

Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the steak and brown on all sides before removing from heat to a paper towel lined plate. Add the chorizo. Break it up. When it’s halfway cooked, add the vegetables. Cook until tender. Add the remaining steak. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Stir in or place under a broiler to melt. Serve with the tortillas. Or with a fork. Fingers work well too.

Blue Cheese Pasta with Spinach

We spent Valentine’s Day doing the things we normally do. Soccer game. Laundry. Eating. Food coma induced naps. This is the life.

We ate at Por Que No? Taqueria for tacos, red beers, chips and guac and followed it up with drinking chocolate and churros at 180. It sounds romantic, I know, but we do this kind of thing regularly. Why save it for one day? On a slightly unrelated note, this chocolate bar is the key to Andrew’s heart, in case you were wondering. And now I wish I hadn’t gone to their website. They had a small, perfectly good selection at WM Goods, but now I want ALL OF THEM. Sigh. Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. Trying a new-to-me pizza place tonight, Pizza Jerk, because pizza.

We made this pasta dish a few times now [and by we, I mean I made and we ate and he cleaned up], and it’s turning more and more into a vehicle for making steak this way. A little simple cast-iron action. It’s the only way to go when I’m too lazy to get outside on the grill, which has been a lot these days. This is a sneaky way to eat an entire 5oz container of spinach in one sitting and not realize it. It breaks down against heat of the pasta and you hardly taste it with the love-it-or-hate-it taste of blue cheese or gorgonzola. It’s so delightfully simple—cheese and pasta water. I’ve tried it with a few different pastas. It benefits from something with nooks and crannies. It captures that cheese sauce better. From there chopped nuts, fresh cracked pepper, or red chile flakes are yours to experiment. With the sliced steak, I found it didn’t need much else. The steak juices would get caught in those same pasta nooks. So good.

[sorry mom! blue cheese AND medium-heavy-on-the-rare steak]

Blue Cheese Pasta with Steak

Inspiration: The Splendid Table

Ingredients

  • 8oz pasta, trottole or other curly pasta
  • 4oz gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • 4-5oz container of baby spinach
  • grilled steak, chicken, or other protein for serving

Preparation

Bring your pot of salted pasta water to a boil. Make sure you use a pot that has a lid. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions minus 2-3 minutes. It should still be very dente so it can continue cooking with the sauce.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining the pot. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cheese, 1/4 of the pasta water, and the spinach. Stir to combine and cover. The heat will melt the cheese and wilt the spinach. Now is a good time to cook your protein.

After a few minutes stir the pasta and add more water as necessary. I end up using at least half, sometimes more. The spinach will stick together which is mildly irritating, but ultimately ok. Season with fresh cracked pepper before serving.

Chili with Braised Beef and Squash

I had such high hopes for this chili because all of components are awesome in some form or another. It’s a bean-less chili though, which is almost hard for me to call it a chili because I always always always have chili with beans in it. I have no idea what else to call it. It’s sort of like that whole sweetened vs. unsweetened cornbread debacle. Like my affinity for all things cornbread [I’ll eat both types], I’ll eat any type of chili. I have no shame.

I was especially excited at the prospect of using some dried whole chilies to spice this thing up. I usually equate these kinds of peppers in homemade enchilada or hot sauce, but it can absolutely hop into my bowl of chili. I’ll gladly accept. Of course they came in a huge bag, so the remaining ones just sit in the pantry waiting for another day. If someone will point me to a bulk dried chili bin, I would appreciate it. I never want more than a couple. The chili base calls for a blender, which was just another not-so-subtle reminder that I need to call Vitamix about maintenance. I imagine a food processor would work, too.

Squash was the wild card to the recipe. Honestly, the chili was probably just a vehicle for the squash. It drew me in with its siren call. I love squash. I roasted up a whole baking tray of the stuff tonight and it took all my willpower not to just eat it straight from the pan. I may not be huge on sweets most of the time, but the sweetness of squash gets me every.single.time. Unfortunately the sweetness of the squash overpowered the rest of the chili, and maybe that was the point, but it isn’t the flavor profile I usually expect from a chili. I was kind of hoping for a more subtle sweetness—hoping the chilies would dampen it. I still slurped up every drop the next day at work. Don’t worry.

It all came together rather quickly. It was a lazy Sunday project since it takes about an hour depending on how quickly you can cut and peel that dang squash. New Seasons has a bunch of precut stuff in the case right by the door. I’m pretty sure I look at it every time I walk in the store [that and the guacamole…creature of habit]. I embraced my inner over-achiever and toasted some pepitas [or pumpkin seeds]. I sacrificed my hard earned dollars on a mediocre avocado to garnish. I’m such a sucker. Look how pretty it is. It was mostly for looks because that avocado was the epitome of bland.

Beef and Beer Chili

Inspiration: Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 dried pasilla chile
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 12oz lager
  • 1 small acorn squash, peeled and cut small
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
  • salt and pepper
  • Avocado, sliced radishes, green onions, sour cream or cilantro for serving

Preparation

Toast the chilies in a skillet on medium high heat. Press them down to the pan so they get a lot of contact with the heat. They should start to darken after a few minutes. Toast both sides. Fill a bowl with boiling water and add the chilies to it to rehydrate. Soak for 3o minutes. They’ll be falling apart. Remove the stem and transfer the entire thing to a blender [or remove the seeds if that’s your thing]. Blend until smooth.

Put a large pot over high heat. Add one tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Pat the beef dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon of oil and chopped onion and garlic. Stir well break up the remnants of the beef juices that have accumulated. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the cumin and oregano. Stir well so it’s evenly distributed.

Add the beef back to the pot and pour in the beer. Bring to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer for about five minutes. The beer will cook down significantly. Add the chile puree and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the beef in the chile for 20-25 minutes before adding the squash. When the squash is soft, about 15 minutes, taste for additional salt and lime.

Serve in bowls topped with the toasted pepitas and your preferred accouterments.

Carrot Goat Cheese Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve made this shepherd’s pie before. For my friend Emma. We ate it. I forgot to take photos [so typical] and let’s be real — shepherd’s pie really isn’t the most photogenic thing in the world. Yet when I made it again, I wanted a photo so I could tell you about it. No one wants to hear me drone on and on about goat cheese without a photo.

It really is amazing what goat cheese can do to elevate some mashed potatoes. I’d take these over most mashed potatoes almost any day of the week. I’ve seen mashed potatoes with sour cream or creme fraiche for a tangy addition, but the goat cheese trumps it all. The carrots add a hint of sweet but it’s mostly muted but the goat cheese. The color though. That’s what the carrots do more than anything. Or I just have a tendency to have buy the boring bland carrots. Maybe both. Probably both. Making it with the mixture of pork and sirloin is worthwhile. Lamb would be lovely as well. This recipe is perfect for annoying the guys behind the meat counter by asking for small amounts of everything. It’s becoming a favorite pastime of mine. Usually I’m met with disappointment when I only pick up one thing, like a pound of pork, but I make their day for about three seconds when I ask for 1/4 pound of pork after getting the ground sirloin. It’s the little things.

Brussels sprouts are such a good addition to the pie. They’re made deliciously tender and pick up the flavors of the other ingredients. It reminds me of the bubble and squeak at Radar. I would have no shame smothering the pie with gravy. Why isn’t that a thing?

Carrot Goat Cheese Shephards Pie

Inspiration: A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1lb russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 8 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4lb ground pork
  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3oz goat cheese
  • 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Place the potatoes and half of the carrots in a pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until they are super soft. You should be able to crush them with a fork. It should take about 15-20 minutes. Drain the pot and add the vegetables back to the pot. Add the goat cheese, butter, and whole milk and mash everything together. Taste for salt and pepper and set aside.

While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 400°. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil to medium high heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add in the brussels sprouts, the remaining carrots, and onion. Saute. After about five minutes, add in the garlic. Stir often to keep it from burning. Add in the pork, beef, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Stir to break up the meat. Once it’s browned and cooked through, add the flour and stir to combine. Add in the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and rosemary. Bring the broth to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Simmer for 10-12 minutes so the sauce thickens.

Spread the meat mixture in a 8×8″ pan. Top with the goat cheese mash. Spread it as evenly as possible, covering the meat mixture entirely. Bake for 25 minutes. If the potatoes don’t start to brown, you can place it under a broiler to get some color. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool for 15 minutes before eating.

Greek Meatballs

Mediterranean Exploration Company — eat there. You must. It’s the latest restaurant checked off our ‘must try’ list. We’ve been slowly tackling the list once a month, and the list keeps growing faster than we can get to them. M.E.C. is another John Gorham creation. I love his other restaurants, gigantic waits be damned, Toro Brovo and Tasty n Alder (or Sons). You could say we went a little overboard with the number of plates ordered over the course of a few hours, but it seemed so necessary at the time. After all, I don’t know when we’ll be back. The highlights were the lamb and bulgar tartar [raw meat, always gets me], fresh made pita with the roasted eggplant dip, fried anchovies, grilled octopus [the most tender octopus of my life], and the Greek lamb chops. Mouth. Watering. Deliciousness. The desserts didn’t do a whole lot for me. I would have gladly eaten another pita instead. We sat at the bar top that surrounded the kitchen. So fun to watch and eat.

These Greek meatballs were supposed to be made with lamb per the original recipe. I try not to mess with Smitten Kitchen recipes. Deb is a master of her recipes. I had every intention to go grab lamb for them, I swear. The fridge [New Seasons] was completely out though. I instinctively went with ground beef instead, which turned out to be a solid substitute. I still think lamb would be infinitely better, but that’s because lamb > beef in my world. It just is [see Greek lamb chops above]. But in a pinch? When I want to save a few dollars? Beef all the way. The saltiness of the feta and the olives is the star of the show anyway. Putting them on a bed of buttery orzo was pretty much heavenly. I’m currently craving pasta as I type.

I’ve been keeping a bag of breadcrumbs in my freezer for a long time now. I used them. They worked great as a binder. I was actually a bit skeptical since I really don’t care for bread from the freezer. I thought perhaps they’d end up a bit soggy when cooked, but nope! Add that to the list of things I perpetually keep in the freezer [along with peeled garlic cloves and fresh ginger].

Beef Greek Meatballs

Inspiration: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tablespoons of water
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 of a whisked egg [the rest went to Roma]
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons crumbled feta
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1-2 tablespoons vermouth or red wine
  • 14-15oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves [don’t skip this!!]
  • juice of one lemon [or 2 tablespoons]
  • Orzo [or other fresh pasta] or fresh rolls to make sandos to serve

Preparation

In a large bowl, mix together the three tablespoons of water, ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of the crumbled feta, salt, 1/2 teaspoons red chile flakes, one minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and tomato paste. Roll them into small, uniform balls. I use a cookie scoop for ease.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Do this in batches if necessary. A crowded pan is a recipe for crumbled meatballs. Set them aside on a paper towel lined plate. In the same skillet, add the onion and remaining clove of garlic. Brown in the remaining grease. Scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. When the onion starts to soften, add the vermouth or wine. When the liquid is almost gone, add the tomatoes, oregano, olives, remaining chile flakes, and mint. When the mixture starts to simmer, add the meatballs to the pan. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Serve over pasta or in a sandwich. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top.