Beef · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Beef Chili

Yes, I know, I have already posted a chili recipe, but I like this version too.   The dried chilies in this recipe add a nice depth of flavour that will help chase away those winter blues.    They are easily found here in Mexico, but depending on where you live, you may have to do a bit of searching.  If your local grocery doesn’t carry them, look around for a Mexican or East Indian market.  They often carry spices that the big name stores do not.   I realize it could be a bit of a treasure hunt for some of you, but I’m pretty one bite will convince you that finding the chiles was worth the effort.

This serves 8.

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Beef Chili

4 large ancho chiles

2 dried guajillo chiles

2 dried pasilla chiles

3 cups boiling water

3 Tablespoons canola oil

2 kilos boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2″ slices

Salt & pepper

2 large onions

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 bottle Corona beer (or any other kind you like)

1    14 oz can diced tomatoes

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon molasses

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

sour cream and grated cheese for serving

Wipe chiles with a damp paper towel to remove any dust or sediment.  Remove stems and seeds from all of them.  Tear into large pieces and place in large heat-proof bowl.  Pour boiling water over, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to soften chiles.

Meanwhile, season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, brown beef on both sides – about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate.

Reduce heat to medium add onions and cook, stirring often until onions are translucent and very soft.  About 6 – 10 minutes.  Add garlic, cook one minute more.  Add cumin and oregano and cook, stirring one minute more.  Add tomatoes and brown sugar and scrape bottom of pot to loosen any spices stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Add the beer, increase heat to high and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the beer has evaporated.  10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put chiles and their soaking liquid into blender and blend on high until smooth.  About 1 minute.  Cut beef into 1/2 inch pieces.

Add beef, chile puree and 2 cups of water to pot.  Bring to boil, reduce and let simmer, uncovered, until meat is very tender and liquid has thickened slightly.  About 2 hours.

Stir in beans and cook just until they are heated thru, another 5 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Serve with sour cream, grated cheese and /or whatever else floats your boat on the table so guests can help themselves to toppings.  Round the meal out with a  salad, baked potatoes or rice and garlic bread.

 

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Soups and Stews

Onion Soup

Yeah, it was going to be French Onion Soup, but we ended up eating the cheese earlier this week in Quesadillas and sandwiches.

It turned out to be a happy accident,  because this is still very tasty, and much lower in calories than if I had remembered not to use all the cheese.   Of course, you can still top this with a handful of Gruyere or Swiss cheese to make it authentic,  if you wish.

Caramelizing the onions will take you 45 minutes to an hour.  You cannot rush this process so be patient.  The flavour you get by caramelizing the onions is the key to the success of this soup.

Of course, I did not take a photo, so had to borrow one from the internet, but this is a reasonable facsimile of how the soup turned out.

This will serve 2 for a light dinner or 6 as an appetizer.

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Onion Soup

2 Tablespoons butter

3 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 lbs)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine (basically, something you like the taste of, but not too sweet)

2 cups chicken stock (canned or homemade)

4 cups beef broth (canned or homemade)

1 cup leftover cooked beef, cut into small cubes (optional)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Toasted slices of French Bread for topping

Parmesan curls for garnish

salt

pepper

Over low heat in large saucepan, melt butter.  Add onions and garlic and a pinch of salt.  Cover & cook, checking & stirring occasionally, until onions are very tender and have a nice even brown colour. About 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Be patient.

Add wine to pan, increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring until wine is evaporated – about 3 minutes.

Stir in mustard and chicken and beef broth.  Add cooked beef, if using.  Stir well and let simmer 20 minutes.   Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper to taste if needed.  (This can be prepared 1 day ahead, just let soup cool to room temp before refrigerating overnight.  Reheat before continuing. )

Spoon hot soup into bowls and top each with a toast slice and some parmesan curls.

 

Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Coconut-Curry Turkey Soup

As always, once our Christmas Turkey was picked pretty much down to the bones for turkey sandwiches, after the Big Day, I bagged the carcass and tossed it along with any leftover meat into the freezer, already looking forward to the soup I would eventually make with it.

This soup was inspired by one I made several years back, but as luck would have it, while the memory of great flavours remains with me, the recipe seems to have gotten lost along the way.

Actually not a bad thing, because this version is very tasty.

As a main course it will serve 2 very hungry people or 4 for a light dinner or lunch.

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Coconut-Curry Turkey Soup

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot peeled and diced

1 small sweet potato or, peeled and diced

1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

1 large clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

1/ 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (preferably Madrass)

1 teaspoon Garam Masala

1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek (optional)

2 litres home made Turkey Stock

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey – pulled from carcass after making the stock

1 cup frozen peas

3/4 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)

freshly ground pepper

chopped green onion for garnish

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and sweet potato and cook, stirring until onion becomes translucent.  Do not brown.    Stir in ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add curry powder, garam masala and fenugreek (if using), and stir 1 minute, until spices become fragrant.

Add Turkey stock and bring mixture to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until carrot and potato are tender.  Stir in coconut milk, cooked turkey and frozen peas and simmer until heated through.   Add salt and pepper, taste for seasoning.  Sprinkle with chopped green onion for garnish.

Serve immediately with crusty rolls.

 

 

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.

 

 

Soups and Stews

Black Bean Soup

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Black Bean Soup with Brown Rice and Cotija Cheese

About 100 years ago (or so it seems), there was a fancy-dancy restaurant in Edmonton called The Carvery.  Basically, it was a steak house, but very upscale.   Anyone dining there could be assured of envious oooh and ahs from co-workers and friends.  Aside from the impeccable service, I will always remember certain dishes I was fortunate to taste there.

Escargots en Brioche, Peppercorn-encrusted Filet Mignon, but the real stand out item was their Black Bean Soup.   Honestly, it seemed the whole city was talking about it, and many, including myself were clamouring for the recipe!   I was fortunate to have a friend with sharp eyes who found it in one of the food columns of the Edmonton Journal.

That was over 20 years ago, and I am still making this soup!  (with a couple of tweaks, of course.)

 

The Carverys’ Black Bean Soup

 

2 cups dried black beans

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1  onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4″ slices

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground is best)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

1 cup Heinz Chile Sauce (sub ketchup if you cant find the chile sauce)

4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, or 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1  litre water (about)

1 litre chicken stock

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)

3/4 cup sherry

For serving:

2 cups cooked brown rice,

Cotija (or feta) cheese

 

Sort, rinse and soak beans in water over night.

In large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Do not let the onions brown.  Stir in tomato paste, garlic, cumin, black pepper and cayenne and cook another minute, until tomato paste darkens a bit and spices become fragrant.

Add beans and their soaking liquid to pot.  Add chicken stock and enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches.  Bring to boil over high heat for 15 – 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer 2 – 4 hours, until beans are soft and starting to split open.  Be sure to keep an eye on the water level, adding more water or stock as needed to keep the beans covered during cooking time.

Once beans are fully cooked, remove from heat and add salt and sherry, stirring well to combine.  Allow to cool slightly.

Working in batches, CAREFULLY, transfer to blender & puree  about 2/3 of the soup.  Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the whole beans.  Taste for seasoning, reheat and spoon into bowls.  Top with brown rice and cotija cheese and serve.

Additional topping ideas include, but certainly are NOT limited to:  sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced avocados and chile flakes.

 

 

 

 

 

How To... · Soups and Stews

Chicken Stock

Yup, it is exactly the same as Turkey Stock, but a whole lot more versatile.

In my family, there is a certain traditional flavour we expect Turkey Soup (and stock) to maintain, whereas chicken stock can go in so many different directions.

The beginning is simple.  Start with a pot full (about 2 kilos) of chicken bones, backs, thigh bones, breast bones.   (Honestly, if you are not already doing this, keep a zip lock bag in your freezer and any time you have to remove a breast bone, or de-bone a chicken thigh, toss it in the freezer bag.  You will be surprised at how little time it takes to fill it up.  Once full, it should weigh about 2 kilos, which is enough for  2 – 3 litres of stock. )

Toss the frozen contents of that bag into a stock pot, add water to just cover the chicken pieces.   Toss in 1 onion, quartered, 2 stalks of celery, cut into 2″ pieces, 2 carrots, peeled and cut into quarters, and a handful of parsley stems.

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This batch included chile d’arbole and dried chipotle, along with garlic and cilantro

Now for the fun part; any number of additions can be made in any combinations you like, depending on how you plan on using the stock once finished:  oregano, thyme, dill, ginger, cilantro, dried chilies, garlic, lemons, lime, use your imagination.

Once you have everything in the pot, bring to just below the boiling point over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours.  Keep an eye on the water level, it should just cover the bones to begin with, and as the stock simmers, the level of liquid will reduce by about 2″.    Avoid letting it boil and try not to stir too much as this will make your stock cloudy.   Remove from heat, cool slightly and strain the broth.  Discard solids  (you can pick the meat off the bones at this point to use in the soup if you like, but my personal opinion is that the meat has boiled so long, all the flavour has left it by now).    Let stock stand, uncovered until it cools to room temperature.  Then transfer smaller containers and refrigerate, uncovered until completely cool.  Do not cover until completely cool or the stock will turn sour and unusable.   Once cooled, any fat can be easily removed and discarded.

And that is it!  Simple.   Stock will keep in the fridge for 5 days.  You can freeze it for up to 3 months.

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How To... · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Turkey Stock

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Finally, a free day for me, which means I have time to move last weeks turkey carcass out of the freezer and into my stock pot!!

Not that making stock is difficult, or time consuming, when one really stops to think about it.  Just put the ingredients into a pot, cover with water and let it simmer away on the stovetop for a couple of hours while I putter away at something else.

My plan today was to take a short nap, then write this blog while the stock simmered.  The nap part came off without a hitch,  but my computer wanted no part of my plan, and the stock is finished and cooling and I am just starting this blog.   Hmm.

There are so many reasons for making your own stock, aside from making your house smell awesome with very little effort, but in this case,   if you want turkey soup, you will have to make your own stock.   I don’t think they sell it.

This is the basic recipe.  Use your imagination to expand its flavour profile.  My stock today included 1 jalepeno, a small piece of ginger, 8 chicken thigh bones (left over from last nights dinner) and some cilantro stems.  The add-ins are limited only by your imagination, really.

Oh and thanks to my genius friends suggestion, cooling stock in 80F weather just got a whole lot easier ( and faster):  run a sink full of cold water, plunk the pot with the strained broth in it and let the water work its magic.

 

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Turkey Stock

1 leftover turkey carcass, bones and any skin that family members did not peel off the bird   as you were trying to carve it on the big day

1 onion, quartered

2 carrots, peeled

4 stalks celery

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

water to cover

Bring to boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 2hours.  Remove lid and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes to reduce the stock just a little.

Let stand 30 minutes to cool a bit.   Strain thru colander into another pot large enough to hold all the stock.    (Be careful when working with hot liquids).  When bones are cool enough to handle, you can pick the meat off the bones to put back into the soup, or you can toss all the solids and just keep the stock.

Strain the soup again thru a fine mesh strainer.  Let cool completely before refrigerating or  packaging to freeze.

This will keep in your fridge for 3 days, or up to 3 months in your freezer.