Beef · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Pho at Home

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I love this soup and it is on my ‘Must Eat’ list whenever I am back in Canada.  Where we live, Pho can difficult to find.  There are 2 restaurants we know of that serve it, and strangely both only offer it on Thursday nights.  The one closest to us closes for the summer.   So we make our own.

This recipe includes instructions for making your own beef broth, from scratch, but no one will judge you if you skip that part and open a couple of boxes of store-bought low sodium beef broth (See cooks notes below).  Toss in some of last nights roast beef or leftover steak, or pork or shredded deli chicken for that matter, and your hungry family will still be awestruck by your amazing cooking abilities.

This recipe serves 4 comfortably.

Pho at Home

2  kilos beef soup bones

1/2 kilo stewing beef or beef shank (leg)

1 – 3  Tbs canola oil

1 large onion, quartered

2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

5 scallions, white and green parts separated; white parts smashed, green part sliced and set aside

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1 jalepeno, stem removed, halved lengthwise

5 whole star anise

1   5″ stick cinnamon, whole

2 1/2  litres water

1/4 cup soya sauce

200 gms dried rice noodles

Basil leaves, bean sprouts or shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, chopped peanuts, hoisin and Sambal Olek or Sriracha sauce and those green onion tops you sliced earlier as accompaniments.

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium high heat, then, working in batches, brown the bones and beef shanks, about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer browned meat to platter, adding additional oil if needed, as you go.

Once all the beef and bones are browned, cook onion, ginger, white parts of scallions, garlic and jalepeno in same pot over medium heat stirring once in awhile, until onions are soft and beginning to brown.  Add cinnamon, star anise and cook, stirring 1 minute longer.

Add browned beef, bones and any accumulated juices back into the pot, along with the water and soya sauce.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender but not  quite falling off the bone.

Using tongs, remove meat and bones from broth.  Set aside to cool a bit.  Line a fine mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and strain the broth into another pot.  Discard solids, skim off fat.   (do ahead:  cool broth to room temperature, then refrigerate up to 3 days.  Fat will be easier to skim off of the chilled broth, too)

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cut meat off of bones and  into half inch slices and return to broth.  Reheat broth and taste for seasoning.  You will probably want to add a bit of salt here.   Discard bones.

Divide noodles between bowls, ladle broth and meat over top.

Serve hot, with any combination of accompaniments listed above.

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COOKS NOTES:  If you are not into making your own stock, simmer 2 litres of low sodium beef stock or broth with white parts of the scallions, ginger, garlic jalepeno, cinnamon stick, star anise and soy sauce for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain the scallions and spices out.  Add some leftover cooked meat, and voila!  Cook the noodles and add your accompaniments.  Dinner on the table in less than 40 minutes!!

Click here for the original version.

 

 

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Beef · Main Courses

!Chimichangas!

You may have noticed that I haven’t published many Mexican recipes.  The simple truth is why cook it when I can get authentic Mexican any night of the week within a 10 minute drive from my doorstep?

One thing I have not seen here though, is a Chimichanga.  Maybe it isn’t really Mexican?    I don’t really care.   It is fun to make and even more fun to eat.   The photo shows  just one chimichanga on our plates, along with a lot of shredded lettuce and tomatoes.  The truth is, we both went back for seconds so this recipe will serve 2.  You will have ground beef and beans left over, so you could have a couple of friends over or you can make a extra to re-heat later or use the leftovers in tacos or quesadillas the next day.

Don’t be discouraged by the amount of instruction.   Basically, you are putting cooked meat on a tortilla rolling it up and frying it.    Just be careful with the frying part, that oil is HOT.  And of course, never leave heating oil unattended on your stove.

Special Equipment required:  A deep fryer or large deep sided frying pan and a deep fry thermometer

 

CHIMICHANGAS with AVOCADO SAUCE

Avocado Sauce

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 bunch cilantro, leaves & tender stems, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup sour cream, well stirred

1/4 cup milk  (maybe more depending on thickness of sauce)

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in  blender and blend until smooth.  You may need to add more milk, depending on the size of your avocado and how thick your sour cream is.  Just keep blending until you have a spoonable, but not runny, sauce.   Set aside.  (you can make this several hours ahead, just be sure to cover and refrigerate).

The Filling

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)

1 lb ground beef

pinch of  ground thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in frying pan,  over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until onion is translucent and beginning to soften.  Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute.  Add ground beef, thyme, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until meat is cooked through.  Stir often to breaking up those bits of beef as it browns.   This should take about 7 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.  Let cool a few minutes.

Chimichangas 

4   8″ flour tortillas

1   15 oz can refried beans

diced tomatoes

2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (or any mild flavoured cheese will work just fine)

2 – 3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Heat refried beans gently in saucepan.  This makes it easier to spread them on the tortillas.  Warm the tortillas on low heat in the microwave a few seconds to soften.  This will avoid tearing during assembly.  Wrap in a clean towel to keep warm.

Putting it All Together

The general idea here is to use the middle portion of the tortilla for the fillings.   You want a rough rectangle more or less in the centre of the tortilla, with at least a 1″ border on both sides.

Lay 1 warmed tortilla on the counter in front of you.  With the back of a spoon, spread 1/8 of the beans across the centre, leaving a 1″ border on both sides.   Place 1/8 of the beef on top of the beans, staying, more or less,  within the rectangle you created with the beans.  Top ground beef with a small amount of grated cheese and a sprinkle of diced tomatoes.

Fold sides towards the centre, and over the mound you have created.  Hold sides gently in place with your fingers, then using your thumbs, flip the bottom up and over the filling.  Gently press everything into place so that it is all firmly packed, and roll the burrito away from you, stopping with the seam side down!  Set aside, seam side down and proceed with the next one until all burritos are filled.   If you find you are having difficulty rolling the burritos, use less filling.   Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Once all your burritos are stuffed,  Preheat oven to 150F and place a cookie sheet with a rack inside of it in the oven.  Heat 1″ of oil in a large deep sided (at least 4″) frying pan to 350F.  Using a spatula, carefully lower burrito, SEAM SIDE DOWN into the hot oil.  You can fry 2 at a time.

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Cook until bottoms are golden (2 – 3 minutes) then use tongs or spatula to gently roll them to cook the other side -about 1 minute longer.    Carefully remove from oil and place on prepared cookie sheet to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining burritos.

Serve with Avocado Salsa, shredded lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, more diced tomatoes, rice or even more refried beans.

Accompaniments

shredded iceberg lettuce

sliced radishes

sliced cucumbers

pickled hot peppers

 

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Beef · Main Courses

Chili with Baked Potatoes

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When my sister and I shared an apartment all those years ago, we always had a pot of chili in our fridge.  For us, it was the ultimate single girls go-to meal.    We would make a big batch which would feed us for most of the week.   Not having to worry about what to make for dinner left our minds free to think about more important things… like what to do on the weekends.   All good things must come to an end, and eventually, our apartment sharing days were over and our weekly chili routine was abandoned.

I honestly have not made chili in so long that I had forgotten how good it was.  This version uses dried chilies because they are easily found where I live.  If you cant find dried chilies,  sub regular chili powder.   The taste will be a little different, which will make this recipe your own.

All you need to round this meal out is a big green salad.

Serves 4, but you can easily double it and it freezes very well.

 

Chili with Baked Potatoes

1 Tablespoon oil

1 lb lean ground beef

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 dried ancho chilies, seeds & stems removed

14 oz can tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons ketchup

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1  Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

1  whole dried chipotle chile  or 1 Tablespoon canned chipotles in adobo, minced

1 – 16oz can black beans (do not drain) or 2 cups prepared pinto beans, with some broth

1 1/2 cups water

4 medium potatoes, “baked” in microwave

Sliced scallions, grated cheese, sour cream for topping

 

Remove stems and seeds from the ancho chiles and tear into large pieces.  Place in heatproof bowl and add 1 cup boiling water.  Set aside.

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook until meat is no longer pink, stirring often to break up any lumps – about 5 minutes.   Add onion, garlic, paprika, cumin and ground pepper.   Cook, stirring until onion is soft and spices are fragrant – about 4 minutes.

Put the ancho chilies and their soaking liquid into blender.  Add tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar,  and Worchestershire sauce.  Blend on high until smooth.  About 45 seconds.

Add chili mixture to ground beef.  Stir in beans, the whole chipotle chili  (yes, just leave it whole)  and 1 1/2 cups of water.   Bring to boil, reduce heat, stir occasionally and let simmer, uncovered for 1 hour, until liquid is reduced and chili has thickened.   Remove the whole chipotle before serving.

To serve, place potato on plate, open it up and spoon chili over it.  Top as you like with grated cheese, sour cream and scallions.  Or any other topping you can dream up.

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Beef · Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bolognese Sauce

BologneseA family favourite in our house, and so easy to put together.  It does take time, so its a good ‘Sunday afternoon when there is nothing much to do’ project.  The good news is that the flavours are even better the next day, so make on Sunday to enjoy later in the week.  After a long day at the office, dinner will be a snap!  Just boil your favourite pasta and you have a quick and easy mid-week dinner.  This serves 8 generously, and freezes very well.

 

Bolognese Sauce

 

3 Tablespoons oil

2 yellow onions, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

3 medium carrots, shredded

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 lb bacon finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

14 oz can tomato puree

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but skim will work too, if that’s what you have)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Get your big pot out… not that one, the bigger one – 6 – 8 quarts.   There is lots of stirring and simmering involved here and you will want the extra room a larger pot gives you.

Heat oil in pot over medium heat.   Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly soft.  Do not let them brown.  About 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium- high, add bacon, beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up  any chunks until meat is no longer pink.  About 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomato paste  until well combined with meat and vegetables.  About 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato puree, wine, water, milk, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered until liquids reduce and sauce is thickened.  About 2 hours.  Remember to stir occasionally while sauce simmers.

Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately or cool sauce uncovered, at room temperature.  Once sauce has cooled, cover and refrigerate.  Will keep  3 days in the fridge or frozen up to 3 months.

 

 

Beef · Uncategorized

Tex-Mex Shepherds Pie

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Tex-Mex Shepherds Pie

Serves 6.

Yup, this is a comfort food.  You’re welcome.

1 kilo (2 1/2 pound) potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, diced

1 poblano chile, diced

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ slices

2 chorizo sausages, cut into quarters then diced

350 grams lean ground beef (a little more than 1/2 lb)

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground if available)

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken (or turkey) stock

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach

1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

3 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons butter

1/1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400F.   Cook potatoes in salted water until tender.

While potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large pot.

Add onion,  poblano and celery and cook 5 minutes over medium high heat, until vegetables are softened.

Add chorizo and ground beef.  Cook, stirring often until meat is no longer pink.  3 – 5 minutes.

Stir in  garlic, cumin and pepper and cook 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes and chicken stock, increase heat to high, and bring to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by about half and slightly thickened.  5 – 10 minutes.  Stir in frozen peas and spinach.

Transfer to 9″ x 13″ oven-proof casserole & set aside.

Drain potatoes and let cool slightly.  Add sour cream, milk and butter.  Mash well.  Taste for seasoning, add salt to taste.   Stir in cheese and red pepper flakes and mix well.

Gently dollop potatoes over meat mixture in casserole, smoothing a bit with a spoon so there are no gaps between the dollops.

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Thanks to FoodTV.com for the inspiration for this dish.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes until edges are bubbling and potatoes have started to brown in spots.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a fresh green salad to ease any guilt you might feel from adding all that cheese to the potatoes.

 

 

 

 

Beef · How To... · Main Courses

Our Favourite Way to Grill a Steak

Its Friday, and time to unwind.  For us, that means  grilled meat, usually beef!!

Being Alberta born and bred, we had a tough time adjusting to Mexican beef.  We discovered there is a reason that beef here is normally marinated, stewed or sliced and diced and stuffed into a tortilla.   Pretty much, we stopped buying beef altogether, with the exception of a pre-marinated steak called Aracherra.

Several years ago, however all that changed,  when a Sonora’s Meats store  opened at the Las Juntas crossing.    Presumably,  they serve beef from the state of Sonora, but wherever it came from, it was good meat!!  Much better than anything we had previously found, and the big draw for us was that they would custom cut a steak that finally justified the time a charcoal BBQ takes to be ready.

Our first time ordering  a 2″ cut of sirloin caused enough commotion to attract the manager/owners attention.   He wandered over, thinking we needed a translator to help with our order.   He looked even more surprised than the butcher when we confirmed that yes, we did in fact want a 2″ cut of beef.   It wasn’t until we told him that we are from Alberta that a look of understanding came over his face.  He said something in Spanish to the butcher and we got our 5cm cut of sirlon.  He then asked us “How to you cook this anyway?”    (what he never did learn was that we did not eat this at one sitting.   This was our Friday dinner, our Sunday steak and eggs and lunch for several days the following week.)

Unfortunately, all good things must end.  The meat store eventually closed, and the butcher who would actually cut a 2″ steak for dropped out of sight.  Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Sonora Beef began to become mainstream, and can now be found at our local Mega and Wal-Mart stores.  While it is nearly impossible  to convince any of the employees to give us a 2″ cut,  we are nearly always assured of  finding a  decent 1″ steak, which, in reality works just fine for us.

So, we are happily grilling every Friday again, and always, there is room for anything our guests want to grill as well.    Friday Grill has become a tradition here;  a time for  us to connect with our guests as we gather to share a glass, a good meal and some laughs while the sun sets on another beautiful day here in Nuevo.

Regardless of which type of grill you use;  charcoal, gas or hot coals of a camp fire, one trick we have learned is to season our meat EARLY!!   Like ‘in the morning before we start work’ early!    The flavour early seasoning brings to the steak is incredible!   It also helps to keep the meat moist, and tenderizes it a bit, so if the tenderness of that strip loin you bought is suspect, early seasoning will help it.

Here is our method to a perfectly cooked steak.  If you are not already doing this, give it a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Step 1  – Season your steak in the morning. You can use simple salt and pepper, or your favourite steak seasoning. We often make our own, but Grill Mates Montreal Steak Spice is our go to .

 

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Step 2 – Set seasoned steak on a couple of bamboo skewers so air can circulate around it, then pop it in the fridge and forget about it for the next 6 – 10 hours.

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Step 3 – Rub about 2 teaspoons of oil on your steak before you put it on the grill. This helps keep the juices in.

 

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Step 4 – Grill over direct heat till its done how you like it. About 4 minutes per side for Medium Rare
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Step 5 – LET IT REST!! Tent with foil and let it rest 10 minutes before you cut into it. This gives the grill master time to re-fill his glass while all those juices are absorbed back into the steak instead of running all over your plate.
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STEP 6 – Enjoy!!