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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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Ever have one of those evenings when you just can’t decide on what to make for dinner? Oh,  you say that every night is like that at your house?  Sounds like me!  Just the other day I was contemplating between a pizza or sloppy Joe’s.  When I asked my boyfriend which one he preferred, he smiled and said, “I like ‘em both!”  A lot of help that was!  But actually, it did give me an idea.  How about a sloppy Joe pizza?   This recipe takes no more than 30 minutes tops to make, including preparation and cooking time, so whipping up the pizza during your busy work week ought to be a breeze.  One tip is to use a ready made puffed pastry for the pizza crust, which you can find in the frozen food section of your grocery store.  Bon appetit!

Pizza Joe’s (by Augustina)

Start by preheating oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

For the Sloppy Joe meat:

Brown 1lb of ground beef in a large skillet, adding sea salt and fresh pepper.

After meat has browned, drain the extra fat from the pan, put the flame on a low setting, and put the pan back on the stove.  Add about 1  cup of marinara sauce, depending on how saucy you like your pizza (just eyeball this and add less if you want a less-saucy consistency); add a dash of dried oregano, a tablespoon of Worceshtire sauce and 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. Put pan with meat aside.

Pizza Assembly:

Take one sheet of puffed pastry from the freezer and  pour 1 cup of marinara sauce on top, spreading evenly.  Next, sprinkle about 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese over the sauce, and continue adding on whatever toppings you’d like (I tossed in some thinly sliced organic for a little bit of crunch).

Put the pastry into the oven for 15 minutes or until a light golden brown, take out of the oven and spread the sloppy Joe meat on top, distributing evenly.  Place the pastry back into the oven for another 5-7 minutes.

Allow to set for a couple minutes, then dig in!