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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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Okra and Sausage StewDo you realize that fall is right around the corner? Like 7 days from now?  I didn’t know that either until I looked at my calendar.  Yep, September 22, 2009 at 5:18pm EDT, the Northern Hemisphere will welcome the beginning of the fall season.  What better way to ring in a chilly fall day than with this okra and sausage stew. 

This is a dish I made  when a batch of okra arrived in my produce basket one week.  I had no clue what to do with the okra since I’ve never cooked with it before.  I didn’t need to worry though because there  are plenty of recipes available to help you put your bounty of okra to good and tasty use.

I think this is truly a great recipe–delicious and hearty with tons of flavor, plus you’ve practically cooked for the entire week because this makes a huge pot.

Here’s the recipe:

Okra Stew with Turkey Sausage (recipe adapted from How To Cook Everything by M.Bittman)
Serves 4
TIME: About an hour, largely unattended

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound turkey kielbasa
1 large onion, halved and cut into thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound okra, trimmed

1 medium eggplant, chopped into chunks
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
4 cups chopped tomato (canned is fine; no need to drain)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Put 1 tablespoon of the oil in a deep skillet or large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sausage, prick it with a fork a couple times, and cook until it’s golden brown on all or most sides. Transfer the sausage to a cutting board.

Add the onion to the hot pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and turning golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the sausage crosswise into rounds. Remove the cooked onions with a slotted spoon.

Add the remaining oil to the pot and stir in the okra. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown a little, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, stirring once or twice. Return the sausage and onion to the skillet and add the tomato, eggplant and the cup of water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat so it bubbles gently. Cook, uncovered, stirring every once in a while, until the okra are very tender and the sauce has thickened, about 45 minutes. Stir in the oregano if you like, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve, garnished with parsley.