Category Archives: Beef

Zinfandel Pot Roast w/Glazed Carrots & Fresh Sage

For the holidays and our first anniversary present my dad gave us a Staub cocotte. My dad is an avid at home chef as well and he did the research for himself and went with a Staub over Le Creuset and thus gifted us with one as well.

It’s a nice big one too!

He also gave us two cookbooks: All About Braising by Molly Stevens and Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.  So, needless to say this pot has become quite the superstar in our house lately!

The first recipe I made was courtesy of the Molly Steven’s book: Zinfandel Pot Roast with Glazed Carrots & Fresh Sage. Not only was the recipe easy to follow but she also gives good advice on selecting the right cuts of meat, step by step instructions on how to tie it correctly, and even how to select good parsnips. I found the tips on meat selection to be especially helpful as I was sifting through the meat choices at the supermarket. She suggested some cuts and stressed the importance of not selecting others. It gets really confusing to me so that was really nice.

As she suggested, I went with boneless beef chuck. The cuts at the store were on the smaller side so I bought two of them.

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Braised Bourbon Chuck Roast

I braised a chuck roast with some veggies.  The pot was deglazed with bourbon which added to the sauce.  It was tender and flavorful on a fall day!

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Filet Mignon Party!

 

Filet and some good friends

 

We had an absolute feast with some friends featuring grilled filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms and onions, spicy red pepper mac n cheese, rosemary and garlic mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach.  The Strip District struck again!  I had wanted to get a log of filet for quite some time because the price goes down as you buy a bigger cut, so we called on some friends to help us out.

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Spicy Thai Basil Beef

Spicy Thai basil beef is always one of our favorite dishes to get when we go out for Thai food and this was the first time that I have tried to make it.  It turned out to be pretty easy and was really good, and since it was made at home, the portion was much bigger and cheaper than you would ever get out at a restaurant.

These are the veggies that were used and that is Thai basil.  I sauteed them in their own pan to begin with in sesame oil.  I started these up, minus the basil and had them going while I got started on the beef.

For the beef, I used flank steak which is not the usual type of cut that you would use for a dish like this.  Usually, a cheaper cut like top round would be used, but the flank was amazing!  We were so glad that I used flank because it was so much more flavorful and more importantly, it was so much more tender.  Sometimes the beef can be the weak spot in this dish, but with the flank it was the highlight.

Cut into thin bite sized strips

I got another pan with sesame oil heated up and lightly coated the beef in cornstarch and pan fried it for a few minutes.  This was the first time that I had ever used cornstarch and the consistency of the cornstarch itself freaked me out a little bit!  It was like finely powdered styrofoam the way it would grind against whatever it touched.

Once the beef was just about fully cooked, I added it to the vegetables and added the Thai basil also.

It was close to done at this point.  Fish sauce and beef broth were added and allowed to simmer and thicken for a few minutes.  It was served over brown rice that was cooked in a half and half mixture of water and beef broth.

It was excellent and I even got a “one of the best things you have made in a while” quote!  I can’t emphasize how easy it was to make what would seem like a more complex dish.

Recipe for Spicy Thai Basil Beef

Greg


Slow Smoked Brisket with Horseradish Sauce and Broccoli Slaw

This is our first Kittened dish in Pittsburgh and we have been discovering that food is very cheap.  This was a 9lb cut of brisket for $30, and that was not a sale.  Plenty more to come on the great deals found.  I smoked this similarly to the pork shoulder a bit back.  Slow cooked over indirect heat, but this time it was cooked as the debut dish on our new charcoal grill that we got for our wedding (thanks Mo and Stosh).

First to prep the rub

Started with a quick made rub.

Yeah, $30!

As similar to the pork, I started the grill with a large pile of charcoal and once it was ashed and ready, it was moved and kept to one side.  I also used a store bought foil baking dish as a drip tray below the meat to limit the mess and possible flare up.

The grill will never look like this again.

Opposite the coals

Now a lot of waiting.  The grill was covered with the below air intake about halfway open and the lid air intake also about halfway open.  The lid intake was placed over the meat, opposite the coals so that the heat and smoke are forced to go around the meat in order to escape.  The brisket cooked for about 5 hours total.  Here is is about halfway through.  I turned it about every hour to alternate the side facing the heat.

About 3 hours in.

And after all five hours.

Allow the meat to sit for 15 minutes or so before slicing and always slice against the grain.  It would be great to have a deli slicer here, but that is a bit excessive!

Patient, patient

Hey guys, Eileen here. I am going to fill you in on the sides, which I was responsible for making.

In addition to the brisket, we served a simple horseradish sauce from all recipes (sorry, no pictures of it) and a broccoli slaw from Smitten Kitchen. I have made this broccoli slaw once before for a cook out and people seemed to like it. I decided to make it again, figuring it would be a nice complement to the meat and tangy horseradish sauce.

First, I made the dressing for the slaw, which is composed of buttermilk, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar and shallots.

Give it a good whisk and set aside.

Next, it is time for the broccoli. I used the slicing blade on my food processor to cut the broccoli for me. This method is a major time saver and produces pretty uniform slices of broccoli. Here it is pictured with chopped red onion as well.

To this, I added dried cranberries and sliced almonds and eventually the dressing.

Give it all a good stir and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so before serving.

It’s a great slaw and a bit different than your typical cabbage slaw. If you are looking for something new to have or bring to an event this could be it! The crunch of the broccoli with the tartness of the cranberries and the sharpness of the red onion are all tamed by the buttermilk sauce. It was a great compliment to the brisket too!

All in all, this meal was delicious! We were very happy with the final product and our guests seemed to be too.

Brisket Dry Rub Recipe

Thai Peanut Stir Fry with Skirt Steak

When we made the pork and peach spring rolls we also made a delicious peanut sauce to dip the spring rolls in. I intentionally made a lot of the sauce because it is that good and I knew I would want to use it in another dish. Alas, here is what I came up with!  The peanut sauce was made in advance and stored for about 2-3 days before I made this.

I started off with some onion, which I sauteed in some toasted sesame oil. I kept the onion pieces pretty big as you can see- I guess they were technically quarters. Typically I add my aromatics (garlic, ginger, etc) once the onions cook for a few minutes, however, this step was not needed here because the peanut sauce already includes these ingredients.

Next, I added some carrots.

And then some spinach.

Time for the peanut sauce! I thinned it out using some chicken broth.

I blanched some broccoli and then added it to the mix.

For my protein I used skirt steak. I went to Whole Foods for lunch and they were giving out samples of their skirt steaks, which were also on sale. One bite and I was sold. It worked really well in this dish too!

I seasoned it with a little salt and pepper and grilled it. When it was ready I sliced it up and threw it in with the veggies and sauce. This dish really came together nicely- I give a lot of credit to the peanut sauce. As I mentioned it packed a ton of flavor, so for this dish it was really just a matter of putting it all together.

I wanted a more broth like sauce, so I thinned it out to my liking, but you can easily adjust this depending on your taste.  I ate it as is, but I am sure it would be great over rice or some thin rice noodles. It was also great leftover.

And this was going on while I was cooking! So starving!

All in all, I thought this came out great. See our post about the spring rolls for the link to the peanut sauce recipe!

– Eileen

Roasted Corn Salsa Dressing on Peppercorn Steak Salad

This is Greg and this is my first Kitten post!  A teacher has some summer time so you should be seeing me around here more often.  The original idea for this was black and blue steak salad and I decided to really focus on the black part and made a peppercorn rub for the steak.  I used a porterhouse cut of about 1.5 pounds which is not the typical or easiest cut for a steak salad, but they are always on sale at Giant in the summers and was a great deal for some quality meat.  With the trimming off the bone, there were some convenient scraps that had to be tested too.  When grabbing the blue cheese, Gorgonzola was right next to it and I decided to switch up the black and blue philosophy though it is not a major change as they are pretty similar.

Filet on the right!

The rub was just a combination of some dried spices and whole peppercorns that I ground in our spice grinder.  It was very loud at first and I ran it until itwas quieter but not fully ground.  I wanted to keep the peppercorns a bit coarse.

Preground peppercorns and spices
Don’t be afraid to use your hands and get it well covered

It is called a rub because you are supposed to rub it into the meat, so pour half of it on and get to work!  Flip it over and make sure that the whole piece is thoroughly covered. Grill it as you normally would a steak.  If possible, it is best to plan some rest time once the steak is done to allow the juices to set and to allow it a bit of time to cool to cut it and serve on a cold salad.

Where the term blackened comes from

Despite how it looks, the meat was cooked medium rare.  The rub just really blackened it that much.  It did not taste over spiced, again despite it’s appearance.  I let it sit for about a half an hour and sliced it up.  I kept the filet separate to make sure we got fair shares and as mentioned, many samples had to be had while carving it along with cleaning the bone.

Once the steak was sliced, I placed it on a bed or romaine lettuce and applied the salsa/dressing that I was simultaneously making.

Could always stop here and add a premade dressing

I had a hard time naming the dressing because it is sort of a salsa mixture that we used as a dressing.  There were so many important ingredients also that it was hard to focus on a few to give it an identity.  No other dressing was added once we topped the salad with this.  I first wrapped the peeled corn in foil with some butter and salt and pepper and roasted it on the grill for about 45 minutes or so turning once in a while.

Good ol sweet summer white corn
Double wrapped and ready for the grill

While the corn was roasting, I combined the remainder of the ingredients.  The lemon juice, oil, and vinegar tied it together as a dressing consistency which spread well on the salad and held the whole thing together too.

All of the ingredients for the dressing except for the corn

Once the corn was roasted, I let it cool until it could be handled and removed the kernels and mixed it in with the rest.

Apparently the center was on the most intense heat

Once all of the dressing ingredients were combined and well mixed, we used it as you would a normal dressing on the steak salad and sprinkled a little bit of extra Gorgonzola on top and enjoyed.

The final product!

It was sort of a lot of work but was well worth it and we really enjoyed it.  The dressing was so good itself that salad bites without steak were still really fulfilling.  An added bonus was that about half of the steak bites were filet mignon which most would consider a sin to be placed on a salad but the price was so great that it was just fine.  Give some or all of it a try!

Recipe for Roasted Corn Salsa Salad Dressing

Recipe for Peppercorn Rub

Greek Feast!

If you are a fan of Greek food I am pretty sure you will really like this meal. It is relatively easy to prepare and the flavors are intense and extremely satisfying. We made gyro burgers, which were composed of ground beef and lamb as well as some traditional Greek spices. We also prepared homemade tzatziki sauce and  a Greek salad of tomato, cucumber, red onion and fete cheese. It all went well together and you could also serve the burgers in a pita or flatbread if you so desired.

I will begin with the tzatziki sauce, which is a traditional sauce served with gyros that is made with yogurt and cucumber and is awesome.

The key ingredient here is mint. Luckily mint grows like weeds and we have plenty growing outside!

I just combined all the ingredients and let it chill in the refrigerator while we prepared the rest of the meal. Below is a pic of the final product. Not only is this a great sauce to put on whatever you please, really, but can also be served as a dip with pita or veggies. It is so good.

Along with the burgers we also prepared a Greek salad. I love this salad, especially in the summer when the vegetables are nice and fresh. It is a great accompaniment to any meat, really, and goes particularly well with the strongly flavored lamb.

Now, on to the burgers! I’ll let the pictures do the talking here….

The meat had a gyro like consistency as you can see below (sorry, it’s a bit blurry) and of course the flavor was right on.

Give this one a try!

Recipe for Gyro Burgers

Tzatziki

Greek Salad

Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak

As I flipped through the May issue of Cooking Light I came across recipes for grilled balsamic skirt steak with accompanying sides of tomato, onion and blue cheese salad and garlic sauteed spinach. In! Love at first sight. I felt pretty confident this meal would be a winner and it really was! It’s a great summer time meal and has that complexity and flavor to it that would make any guest think you spent hours in the kitchen, though you secretly know just how easy it was.

For our version of this recipe, we used flank steak instead of skirt steak, since that was what we had in the freezer. For those keeping tabs, it was a beautiful grass-fed flank steak from Trader Joes, Yum.

The marinade for the steak was a little on the sweet side. The ingredients include balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar and garlic. The flavors of the marinade were probably my least favorite part of this meal, ironically though it was what drew me to the recipe in the first place. Next time I think I will go with a standard teriyaki or soy marinade. I like the salt, what can I say. Still though, steak is steak, and so it was still awesomely delicious. The great flavor was intensified by Greg’s masterful slicing- diagonal, across the grain, and very thin- which created extremely tender, melt in your mouth bites of steak. (A true testament to this was that the steak was even good and tender the next day, cold, on a salad!)

In addition to the mouth watering steak, were the fabulous sides that accompanied it. Simple, yet delicious.

The spinach, which I dubbed ‘garlicky spinach’ (so creative, I know), could not be easier to make but tasted so good. We have spinach pretty frequently and often saute it. But for some reason, this spinach was above and beyond what we typically have. It included thinly sliced garlic that first cooked in butter. mmm.

The other side was incredible and so easy to make! Some halved grape tomatoes….

…some minced vidalia onion…

…some vinaigrette…

…blue cheese…

…all stirred together. I make similar side with feta but the blue cheese was an ingenious addition. I really loved this! Next time I make it, I may add some lemon juice for a little more acidity. I used red wine vinegar, though the recipe called for white wine vinegar, which may be why it was quite as acidic as it should be. The vidalia onion was also a pleasant surprise, as I typically would use red onion in this type of side. It’s a much more mellow onion than the onions I typically use and worked nicely not to overpower the tomato and blue cheese.

Here are some more glamor shots of the meal 🙂

Needless to say I really liked this dinner. All the flavors, textures and temperatures of everything worked so well together. The sweetness of the steak was countered nicely by the sharpness of the blue cheese, the flavorful onions, and garlicky spinach. The soft texture of the steak balanced by the crunch of the salad and warmth of the spinach. I could really go on and on… try it and you’ll see!

Recipe for Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak

Recipe for Garlicky Spinach

Recipe for Tomato, Onion, and Blue Cheese Salad

Homemade Marinara w/Meatballs and Alfredo sauce

For two people who really enjoy eating tomato sauce, I knew it was only a matter of time before we began to make our own. Coupled with a new-found desire to eat natural foods and stay away from unknown ingredients/chemicals and the fact that homemade things just tastes better than store bought, we ventured down the path of creating our own marinara. We created a very basic marinara, which leaves a lot of room for creativity going forward. For now though, it was a few simple ingredients simmering in low heat for all of a Sunday afternoon that stole the show.

I started the sauce off with some chopped onions and carrots (which, in retrospect I probably should have grated the carrots) and of course, a good amount of garlic. I sauteed all of these ingredients (carrots and onions first, then garlic) in extra virgin olive oil in the dutch oven.

While the onion/carrot/garlic mixture sauteed I also added some spices: salt, pepper, Italian seasoning blend, and red pepper flakes.

I then added some canned tomatoes.  3 big cans (32-oz.) to be exact, 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and 1 can of chopped to be even more exact 🙂

I put the lid on and put the pot into a 300 degree oven for about two hours.

During that time, I also made my spaghetti squash and the meatballs.  Two things I love very dearly at this point!

After the two hours had passed (stirring about every 1/2 hour or so) I turned the heat down to 200 degrees and let the sauce continue to simmer.

When it was nearly done and I was ready to add my mostly cooked meatballs, I added some freshly torn basil.

In went the meatballs and the sauce returned to the oven for another 1/2 hour.

You can see how the addition of the meatballs dilutes the sauce a bit, but in a good way!

Greg also wanted to make an alfredo sauce for this meal. He used our previous recipe for this sauce, but added some fresh parsley and used only one type of cheese, parmesan, I believe.

This sauce is so amazing, but can be very heavy. I opted out of having the alfredo this time around (after several spoonfuls to make sure it was ok during the cooking process though 😉 )

With or without the alfredo this meal was awesome and it was nice to make my own Sunday gravy.

It’s nice to have options too and a little of the alfredo sauce can go a long way. Greg likened the combo to a rose sauce.

The cool thing about making our own sauce was that there was a good amount leftover. I threw it in a tupperware and into the freezer for another meal at a later time. If you have the time, this is the way to go!

Recipe for Basic Marinara Sauce

Recipe for Alfredo Sauce

Recipe for Meatballs