Comfort food means braising, especially these days with the weather being so chilly, even in L.A!  Recently, I meandered into one of my favorite Mexican grocery stores on a rainy, Friday night, in search of some meat.  I picked up a two and half pound beef chuck clod roast.  This cut of beef is basically a beef shoulder roast, which,  because it’s full of tough but flavorful muscles, is wonderful for braising.  The recipe I used incorporates the lusciousness of coconut milk and the intense flavors of garlic, chili, and limes. It reminded me a lot of my mom’s beef rendang, an Indonesian dish that I ate growing up.  Didn’t I say it was comfort food?  By the way, as with most braised dishes, this tastes best made the day before, then reheating again the next day.  It’s been three days since I made it and the flavors keep getting better and better!

Beef Braised w/coconut milk (adapted from Mark Bitman)
ingredients:
4 hot dried red chillie
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoon chili powder (i left this out, didn’t have)
Juice and zest of 4 limes or 4 tablespoons rice vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
3 tablespoons canola oil (or corn oil okay, or olive)
2 and 1/2 to 3 pounds beef, cut into 1-inch cubes (or thereabouts)
4 cups coconut milk (or 2 cans plus 1 cup water)–i didn’t add the water, i forgot
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt to taste
 
directions:
1.  Put first 5 ingreds in a food processor, process until everything is minced, into a paste like consistency.
2.  Heat oil over med-high heat in a Dutch oven or large skillet that can be covered.  Add spice paste, cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant–about 2 min.  Add beef, and cook, occas. stirring, until browned and covered w/sauce.
3.  Pour in coconut milk, bring mixture to a boil, add the curry powder. Lower heat, cover, simmer, stirring only occasionally (but making sure mixture is simmering very slowly with just a few bubbles at  time breaking the surface), until meat is extremely tender–minimum of 1hour, up to 2 or 3 hours.
4.  Uncover, and cook until sauce is v.thick and carmel colored, stirring freq. so it does not brown. (i couldn’t get the sauce to thicken, so i just did this for about 15min, then turned off the stove; the next morning, the sauce had thickened)!
5.  Season to taste w/salt.  Eat over rice and enjoy!
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