Tag Archives: beef

London Broil

What comes to your mind when you read London Broil depends a great deal upon where you happen to live. If you are outside of English-speaking North America it probably means nothing. In Canada, it most likely conjures up an image of ground meat wrapped in a flank steak. In the U.S. the meaning has evolved over time and varies regionally. Some insist that London broil is a method of cooking flank steak. Others, especially in the Northeast, use the term to refer to a thick top round steak most often marinated and grilled. The origin of the name is unclear: Merriam Webster dates it to 1902; some say it was first used in the 1930s; others insist that it was not invented until the 1950s or 1960s. In any case, it is neither from London nor is it usually broiled. At our house, London broil is a thick (25 mm to 35 mm, 1” to 1½”) piece of top round marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette, grilled no more than to medium rare, and served thinly sliced diagonally.

I adapted this recipe from Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause, On Cooking: techniques from expert chefs (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1995), 298.

Ingredients

 

Olive oil

120 grams

4 ounces

Balsamic vinegar

120 grams

4 ounces

Fresh rosemary, chopped

30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Garlic, minced

50 grams

4 or 5 large cloves

Coarsely ground black pepper

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Beef top round

about 1½ kilograms

about 3 pounds

Method

Combine the marinade ingredients in a suitable, non-aluminum, pan that fits the meat fairly closely. Alternatively, use a large freezer bag. Add the meat and turn over to cover both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or, preferably, overnight. I sometimes let it marinate for a couple of days turning a couple times a day.

Heat a charcoal or gas grill until quite hot. Wipe the marinade from the meat. Place the meat diagonally on the grill. Cook for about four minutes then flip lengthwise.  After another four minutes, flip it again but at 90 degrees to create hash marks. Repeat for a total of another eight minutes. The meat should be medium rare, about 135°F (57°C).

Let the meat rest for at least ten minutes then cut diagonally across the grain into 6 mm (¼”) slices.

Ragoût de Boulette du Jour de l’An

My parents were part of the French-Canadian diaspora: the first generation to move from the mill towns of New England where French was heard more often than English and where school—Catholic school at least—was conducted in both languages. Growing up in Delaware I spoke French almost exclusively at home until I started school where there was no language but English. Gradually the language of the home became English—as sadly it has in those mill towns as well. Nevertheless, my mother did cook many traditional French-Canadian dishes although their context was sometimes lost. It was not until, as an adult, I started exploring my Canadian roots that I learned that the ragoût she made from time to time was associated with New Year’s Day, Le Jour de l’An.

As one might well expect of a recipe that has been handed down through a half-dozen or so generations, this one has nearly endless variations, each staking its claim to true authenticity. Still, there are a few invariables: balls of ground pork and beef cooked in stock thickened with a slurry of toasted flour. Most often the stock was purpose-made from pigs’ feet, the meat of which was shredded and added to the meatballs. Today it is not unusual to find recipes calling for chicken, rather than pork, stock. Mostly because pigs’ feet are rather difficult to find where I live, I use a stock made from a pork shoulder bone. The flavor is similar but it lacks the gelatin that the trotters impart. I have used chicken stock when nothing else was available, but the result is—to my taste—a bit flat. The spices always include cloves with some recipes calling for cinnamon and nutmeg while others specify allspice. I use all of them!

Finally, there is the matter of what to serve with the ragoût. Boiled potatoes and beets, boiled or pickled, are traditional. Louis-François Marcotte, chef and owner of Cabine M in Montréal, whose recipe I have translated and adapted here, suggests mashed potatoes. I agree with him—with beets.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

 

Bread, preferably stale, 2 slices

100 grams

3½ ounces

Milk

125 milliliters

4 ounces

Onion, minced, 1 small

100 grams

3½ ounces

Olive oil

30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Ground pork, lean

900 grams

2 pounds

Ground beef

450 grams

1 pound

Allspice, ground

3 milliliters

½ teaspoon

Nutmeg, ground

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Cinnamon, ground

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Cloves, ground, divided use

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Flour (optional)

60 grams

½ cup

Oil and butter, as needed

~60 grams

~¼ cup

Stock, preferably pork

1 liter

1 quart

Water, as needed, divided use

~500 milliliters

2 cups

Toasted flour (see note 1)

60 grams

½ cup

Corn starch (see note 2)

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Salt and pepper

To taste

To taste

Method

Cut the bread into small dice or chop in a food processor. Moisten with the milk and set aside.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, caramelize the onions in the olive oil.

Combine the onions, bread, ground meats, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and 1 milliliter (¼ teaspoon) of the cloves in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper then mix thoroughly with your hands. Rinse your hands, leaving them wet, and form the meat into balls about 25 millimeters (1 inch) in diameter. You should have about 40. If you wish, roll them in the optional flour to coat.

Heat enough of the oil and butter in a heavy skillet to coat the bottom by about 3 millimeters (⅛ inch). When it is nearly smoking, brown the meatballs, working in batches. As they are done, place them in a large Dutch oven or similar pot. Pour the stock over the meatballs and add just enough water to just cover them. Sprinkle on the remaining 4 milliliters (¾ teaspoon) of ground cloves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.

Put the toasted flour in a lidded jar along with about 125 milliliters (½ cup) of water. Shake vigorously to make a slurry. Add more water, a bit at a time, until it is about the texture of peanut butter. Stir into the stock. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, make a slurry with corn starch and water, stir in and bring to boil for a couple of minutes.

Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

NOTES

1: Toast flour in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat or in a 200°C (400°F) oven, stirring often with a fork to prevent burning. It should be about the color of bread crust.

2: Pigs’ feet add quite a bit of gelatin to stock. A slurry of corn starch and water added near the end of cooking approximates the texture of the original. It is, however, optional.

Brown Stock, Oven Edition

Rich brown stock made from roasted beef bones and caramelized vegetables is a kitchen essential. Besides brown gravy and demi-glace it is the base for many soups, notably French onion. Granted, one can buy rather good beef stock in the supermarket—salt-free versions are becoming more commonplace—but making your own is easy and the result is better than store-bought. This recipe where the stock cooks overnight in the oven even relieves of having to hover over a stock pot for hours. And because the stock steeps at just below the boiling point instead of simmering, it comes out clear and is easy to de-fat. I portion the finished product into one-quart screw-top plastic containers and freeze it for several months.

Note: have your butcher cut the beef bones into piece 5 cm (2”) to 10 cm (4”) long; shorter is better.

Yield: about four quarts

Ingredients

 

Beef marrow bones

1.5 kilogram

6 pounds

Mirepoix*

1 kilogram

2 pounds

Tomato, diced**

225 grams

8 ounces

Cold water

6 liters

6 quarts

Herb sachet

See method

See method

*mirepoix consists of diced onion, carrot, and celery in 2:1:1 proportions

**in place of tomatoes you can use 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tomato paste, adding it to the cold water

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).

Place the bones in a single layer in a roasting pan. Spread the mirepoix and tomatoes evenly in a second roasting pan. Place both into the hot oven turning the bones and stirring the vegetables from time to time.

After an hour remove the pans from oven. Transfer the bones to a large stock pot. Pour off all but a quarter cup of fat from the roasting pan that had the bones in it and move the vegetables into it. Place over two stovetop burners on medium-high heat. Stir until the vegetables are well caramelized but not burnt. Add the vegetables to the stockpot. Deglaze the pan(s) with part of the cold water and add to the pot along with the rest of the water.

Turn the oven down to 205°F (96°C).

Prepare a sachet by tying 2 bay leaves, 2 or 3 crushed garlic cloves, 2 sprigs fresh or ½ teaspoon (3 ml) dried thyme, 6 sprigs fresh or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried parsley, and 8 to 10 crushed black peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth (unless you have a giant tea ball, as I do) and add it to the stock. Bring the stock just to a boil and place the pot, uncovered, into the oven. Steep for eight to twelve hours but no more.

When the stock is done, strain it into a very large bowl. Clean out the stock pot then set bowl into your kitchen sink with the drain closed. Fill a small, deep saucepan with ice and water then place it into the stock. Run cold water into the sink to the depth of the stock in the bowl. Stir the water around to cool the stock as quickly as possible. The idea is to minimize the amount of time it spends in the danger zone between 140°F (60°C) and 40°F (5°C). Pour the cooled stock back into the stock pot and refrigerate. (Of course, in the winter you can just put the pot out into the snow!)

When well cooled, defat the stock and, if you like, strain it again, this time through cheese cloth. Dispense into suitable containers and freeze for up to several months.

Filet Mignon with Mushroom Gravy

This most tender cut of beef is a special treat for meat lovers. Since each steer yields only about twenty or so they are quite pricey. But there is a way to bring the cost down to a more reasonable level: buy big. While pre-cut filet mignon sells for $15 to $20 a pound you can usually buy an entire beef tenderloin for around $10 a pound. That piece will yield ten or so half-pound filets a couple of pounds of really good ground beef or beef cubes. Most supermarket butchers will remove the membrane (silver skin) and cut it for you.

We Americans when we think of steaks think of grilling. For filet mignon that is just plain wrong! The best approach for this cut is to sear it in a very hot skillet and finish it in a very hot oven. Not only does that yield a juicy product but a delicious pan sauce or gravy as well. There are many classic pan sauces that go very well with filet mignon. If you accompany the steak with mashed potatoes gravy like this one is especially nice.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

 

Filet Mignon, 25 mm (1 inch) thick

2, about 250 grams each

2, about 8 ounces each

Salt and pepper

To taste

To taste

Butter, unsalted

As needed

As needed

Shallots, minced

30 grams

1 ounce

Mushrooms, chopped

60 grams

2 ounces

Flour

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Brown stock

125 milliliters

1 cup

Method

Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C). Place a heavy, cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Salt and pepper the steaks generously on both sides. When the oven reaches temperature raise the heat under the skillet to high. When the pan begins to smoke add a good-sized pat of butter to it and, when it is melted, put in the steaks. Turn after two minutes and place the pan into the hot oven. After five minutes pull the skillet from the oven and remove the steaks to a warmed plate. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest while you make the gravy.

Put the skillet on the stove top over medium heat and sauté the shallots for a couple minutes then add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring or tossing often, until the mushrooms start to give up their liquid, adding a bit of butter if needed. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to make a roux. Slowly add the stock while whisking constantly. Allow the stock to begin to boil before adding more so that you can judge the thickness. When the gravy has come to the consistency you desire, turn off the heat and adjust the seasoning.

Serve the meat with mashed potatoes and the gravy.

Beef and Cabbage Stew

Beef and Cabbage StewThe head of cabbage that I bought at the Vestal farmers’ market a few days ago has been eyeing me reproachfully from the back of the kitchen counter threatening to go bad if I did not put it to good use soon. A quick Internet search led me to this interesting recipe that I have adapted to what I had on hand and to a quantity suitable for two. Feel free to use more or fewer vegetables or to substitute whatever you have. As long as you have a good stock as a base it is almost impossible to ruin beef stew. By the way, the tomatoes I used really were brownish red.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces stew beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 ounces tomatoes, diced (I used some cherry tomatoes that I simply halved)
  • ½ head cabbage cored and cut into 2-inch wedges
  • 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • ½ cup raisins
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat and brown the beef cubes well. Remove and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium, add a bit more oil if needed, and sauté the onion until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute or two. Pour in the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot.

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, raisins, and bay leaves to the pot. Pour on the beef stock and season with salt and pepper. (Go easy on the salt as you can adjust it later if need be.) The stock will not quite cover the other stew ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for an hour, stirring from time to time.

Scallion and Beef Risotto

scallion and beef risottoThe combination of scallions and beef is rather common in some South Asian cuisine but in the West scallions rarely have a starring role. Here I have sought to give these lovely little onions their chance to shine by using only a bit of beef as a flavoring. The rich homemade brown stock obviates the need for much further seasoning beyond salt and pepper. I finish the South Asian twist by serving the rice with Indian-inspired cucumbers in yoghurt.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces lean beef cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Thai seasoning sauce or soy sauce
  • ½ cup low-fat plain yoghurt
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 or 6 large scallions, white and green parts separated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2½ cups brown (beef) stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter, optional

Method

Put the beef into a small bowl and add the Thai seasoning sauce or soy sauce. Stir to combine and set aside.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth, set over a bowl, and add the yoghurt. Peel, seed, and shred the cucumber then place it in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. (Don’t worry; you will be rinsing it off later.) Let both sit for at least a half hour to give up their moisture. Rinse the cucumber well, squeeze out the extra water with your hands or a towel. Put the yoghurt into a bowl and add the cucumber, curry powder, garam masala, and cinnamon. Mix well to combine. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Finely chop the white parts of the scallions and separately cut the green parts crosswise into ½‑inch thick pieces. Bring the stock to a simmer. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat and brown the meat well. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Adjust the oil in the pan and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and fry, stirring constantly, until chalky, about 3 minutes. Stir 1 cup of the stock into the rice. Reduce the heat until the rice is simmering gently. Stir constantly until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue to add stock, 2 ounces at a time, stirring until nearly absorbed. After you have added 2 cups of stock taste the rice. It should offer just a bit of resistance to the tooth. If it is too hard continue to add stock until it is done. If it is ready fold in the beef and the scallion greens then another 2 ounces of stocks. Stir of a minute to warm the meat through and just wilt the scallions. Mix in the butter if using. Serve hot with a large dollop of the cucumber sauce.

Very Good Hamburgers

Franks® Red Hot sauce is perhaps best known as the basis for the original Buffalo wing sauce invented by the Anchor Bar in that city. And it is by far my favorite hot sauce, so much so that I buy it in a gallon jug to refill the smaller bottle I dispense it from. It is thicker with less vinegar and heat than Tabasco® making it, to my taste, a more balanced addition to ground beef for making a really good hamburger. Incidentally, the hamburger recipe on the Franks® label contains catsup which I think properly belongs on the bun, not in the burger. Try it and mine then decide for yourself which you prefer.

For about four hamburgers

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef, not too lean
  • ¼ cup Franks® Red Hot sauce, original flavor
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or dried minced onions
  • Salt and pepper
  • Thick buns, catsup, and mayonnaise to serve

Method

Mix the hot sauce and minced onions into the meat. Form into patties and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a hot cast iron skillet, on a griddle, or on a grill for about 4 or 5 minutes on a side. The meat should reach an internal temperature of 160°, but no more.

While the meat is cooking lightly toast the buns. Spread with catsup and mayo. Add the burger and serve proudly.

Scallion Pancakes with Meat Sauce

Scallion pancakes with meat sauceIn the US we tend to associate pancakes with breakfast but many cultures eat a variety of griddle cakes as a main meal. I came across the idea of scallion pancakes (for which I gladly credit Mark Bittman of the New York Times even though I completely changed his recipe) while looking for something to do with the abundance of these lovely onions from our garden. While Bittman used Chinese scallion cakes as a point of departure, I prepared a riff on Afghan scallion dumplings called aushak. These are easy to make and nicely filling. Do note, though, that they are decidedly and, perhaps shockingly to some, green.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 8 to 10 large scallions
  • ½ teaspoon each mustard seeds, cumin seeds, kalonji (black cumin seeds), and fenugreek seeds
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon each ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, and Indian chili powder or cayenne (optional)
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce, I use homemade marinara sauce
  • Cooking oil, divided use
  • Salt and pepper
  • Plain yoghurt, divided use
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup besan (chickpea) flour
  • ¼ cup white rice flour or all-purpose wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Method

Break up the ground meat into a non-stick skillet and brown over medium heat. Remove to a strainer to drain. Wipe out the skillet.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Wash and trim the scallions then separate the white parts from the green. Coarsely chop three quarters of the greens and finely chop the rest. Mince the white parts and set them aside.

Add the larger portion of scallion greens to the water and cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Puree the cooked scallions in food processor, adding just enough of the cooking liquid to allow the machine to do its work. Add the egg, 1 tablespoon of oil, and 1 tablespoon of yoghurt to the scallion puree and pulse to combine. Set aside.

Heat a bit of oil in the skillet and fry the seeds until fragrant. Add the minced white parts of the scallions, the garlic, and ginger. Sauté until softened. Sprinkle on the ground spices and cook for another minute or so. Return the meat to the pan and mix with the onion mixture. Stir in the tomato sauce and ½ cup of the scallion cooking liquid. Turn the heat down and simmer gently while you prepare the pancakes, adding a bit of the cooking liquid if the meat dries out.

Prepare a griddle or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Combine the flours and baking powder in a medium bowl along with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Mix in the scallion puree and, if needed, enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth batter. Lightly oil the hot griddle and make four medium-sized pancakes out of the batter. Turn when bubbles appear on the top. They should be nicely brown on both sides.

While the pancakes are cooking, stir ½ cup of yoghurt into the meat sauce and heat gently to warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve the pancakes hot with the meat sauce and perhaps a dollop of yoghurt.

Aushak

aushakYesterday I harvested a couple dozen scallions to make room in the garden for some late-season spinach. These Afghan scallion dumplings seemed like the perfect way to put them to good use. The only problem was that the gluten-free dumplings I made would not hold together. So, I just mixed the scallions into the dough, formed small balls, and boiled them. It worked surprisingly well but in this recipe I assume that you are using store-bought gyoza or wonton wrappers. (Sometimes it is possible to take homemade a bit too far!) Aushak are traditionally served with garlic yoghurt and a meat sauce so I have included those in the recipe. Make the yoghurt first so that it has time for the flavors to blend then prepare the meat sauce, keeping it warm until service. Boil the dumplings at the very end so that they are nice and warm when you serve them.

Serve 2

Yoghurt Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plain yoghurt, I use low-fat
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste

Method

Put the yoghurt into a cheesecloth-line strainer over a bowl for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the garlic. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Meat Sauce

Ingredients

  • Cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ pound ground beef (or lamb)
  • Cayenne to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt to taste

Method

Film a skillet with oil and cook the onion over medium heat until golden brown, about 5 or 6 minutes. Crumble in the ground meat and brown it, another 2 minutes or so. Sprinkle over the spices and add the water. Continue to cook until the water is nearly evaporated. Taste and season with salt. Set aside and keep warm.

Dumplings

Ingredients

  • About 2 dozen scallions, about ¼ pound
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 fresh mint leaves plus small sprigs for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 10 to 12 round gyoza skins or (square) wonton wrappers

Method

Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Cut off the white portion of the scallions and save them for another use. Chop the green tops coarsely and put into a food processor along with the peeled garlic and the mint leaves. Process until nicely chopped. Mix in the oil and season to taste with salt.

If using wonton wrappers, use a glass or round cooking cutter to cut them into circles. Put a portion of the scallion mixture on each dumpling wrapper, moisten the edge with your finger, fold over, and crimp to seal. (If you have any of the scallion mix left over just stir it into the meat sauce.)

Drop the dumplings one by one into the boiling water and cook until they float to the surface and are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon directly to serving plates.

Finishing the Dish

Divide one half of the yoghurt sauce among the plates and spread into a circle. Arrange the dumplings on that circle and top with the rest of the yoghurt sauce. Spoon on the meat sauce, garnish a sprig of mint, and serve immediately.

Very Good Texas Chili

The secret to really good chili is the chili powder. And the only way to get really good chili powder is to make it yourself. It is surprisingly easy to do and once you have tried it you will never again use that brown stuff from the supermarket. If you do chose to use ready-made chili powder, check the label. If it contains cumin, adjust the amount of cumin accordingly—which may take a bit of experimentation. If the chili powder contains salt, don’t buy it. Period!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • Oil
  • ½ pound onions, 1 large or 2 medium, coarsely chopped
  • 5 or 6 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1 14-ouce can diced tomatoes, preferably salt-free
  • 1 12-ounce bottle beer, I use Saranac Pale Ale, our house beer
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Water as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

Method

Film the bottom of a large Dutch oven with oil and brown the meat well, about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander set over a bowl, pouring off all the fat in the pot.

Add a tablespoon of oil to the Dutch oven and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, untilion golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, and the chili powder to the onions in the pot. Stir for about 1 minute then add the beef, beer, tomatoes, and stock. Add water as needed to just cover the meat. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper, at least 2 teaspoons. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour adding a bit of water if needed. When the chili is done, stir in the vinegar and serve piping hot with the usual chili condiments: chopped onion, shredded cheddar, chopped jalapeños, sour cream, etc. Offer beans on the side if you wish.