Beef

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Beef Stew (and Brews)

When the temperature dips below 60 degrees and you are a Texan, you are apt to declare it the first day of winter, dig out your favorite sweater, and make some beef stew. Or at least you might if you are me. I have maligned my poor mother’s cooking repeatedly on this blog so let me offer some counter-balance: my mom makes a mean beef stew. It is one of those dishes that has a lot of memories attached to it for me, like when I was a kid waiting impatiently for it to be done or the first time I made it in my own in my apartment (1,500 miles from home and lonely.) Some were more memorable than others but they all ended with a happy, full belly and a sense that all was right in the world. For many years, I made do with cooking my beloved stew in various dutch ovens but then sometime back I came into possession of this beauty:

Beef Stew

Yep, that’s a Le Crueset . It is one fine piece of French manufacturing. I lucked into this 7.25-quart stunner for free and it has certainly made me want to save my pennies for another pot or two. Okay, enough drooling over the implements — let’s talk about what you will need to make your stew. You can scale down the recipe below but I encourage you not to underestimate how great it is as a leftover treat for the week.

Beef Stew (serves 8-10 as a main dish)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 — 2 lbs stew meat (I favor more veggies in my stew but, if you are a carnivore, go for 2 lbs)
  • 4 good size russet potatoes
  • 1 lb carrots (I used baby carrots because peeling is not my favorite activity)
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 32 oz beef broth (I like reduced sodium because you can always put more salt in if you need to later)
  • 1-2 cups water (more on this in a bit)
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cups salsa (medium spicy)
  • salt & pepper

Directions

Start by peeling your potatoes. Then dice potatoes, onions, and carrots to roughly the same size. I prefer them to be on the smaller side so you have a better chance of getting a little bit of everything in one bite. Throw them all in a bowl like so:

Beef Stew

Next, cut your stew meat into similar bite-size pieces. I know, I know — why do more work when stew meat comes already cut up? Well, those pieces vary quite a bit in size and some of them are rather large. I don’t like to feel like I am fishing giant hunks of beef out of my stew and I’m wagering neither will you. When you’re done, it will all look like this:

Beef Stew

Now you just heat up your large (7 qt or so) pot over medium heat and add a bit of oil. (I used some garlic olive oil I got at my favorite specialty food store but you could go with straight olive or canola oil.) Once it is hot, add your meat and let it cook just a bit.

Beef Stew

Some people like to sear the meat before you add everything else. If you are one of those people, then add the meat in small batches at higher heat. This goes against my philosophy that beef stew should be as easy as possible so I just get mine browned up a little before I add in all of the veggies.

Beef Stew

You can see that pot is pretty full. Luckily, all we need is to add enough liquid to cover everything. Start by emptying your beef broth in the pot.

Beef Stew

Then add enough filtered water to cover everything. When you are done, it should look like this:

Beef Stew

Bring it up to a good simmer and then lower the heat a bit and cover. Leave it be for about 45 minutes to an hour over low heat. Then add your tomato sauce.

Beef Stew

Stir it up and leave it for another 30-45 minutes on low heat. Then add your salsa.

Beef Stew

Don’t skip the salsa — it is the shortcut that gives you nice flavor and spice. My dad and I used so much salsa back in the day that my mom would buy the giant bottle of Pace Picante Medium. Today my favorite go-to bottled salsa is Mateo’s Medium. (Costco size — somethings do not change.) Stir that up and let the flavors meld for another 20 minutes. While that is happening you can whip up some cornbread.

Now cornbread is kind of like relish or pickles — some like it sweet and some do not. Some people feel very strongly on this issue. I do, too — in that I believe classic Jiffy cornbread to be the best on the planet. Can you really go wrong with America’s Favorite?

Cornbread

Whatever you are using, follow the directions on the box. I like to use buttermilk instead of milk in my cornbread — you might give it a try and see if you like it. Once the cornbread is done, serve up some stew in a big bowl and put a slice on the side like so…

Beef Stew

Now the only thing left to decide is what beverage to serve with your lovely stew. I’m partial to a good beer. Since we were having a cozy Saturday night at home, I picked up a mixed six-pack of beer so the hubby and I could do a little tasting.

Beer

We sipped and slurped while we enjoyed the warm fire in our fireplace and watched The Avengers on DVD. Does life really get any better? I think not.

Categories: Beef, Recipes, Soup | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Teriyaki Dogs with Grilled Pineapple

Some of my earliest memories are cookouts at my granddad and grandma’s house. These were my dad’s folks and they lived in a small Texas town of about 350 people. Back in those days, they still burned their trash in a barrel out back and planted a full garden every year. They had four children and eleven grandchildren and there were always a lot of people packed in their tiny house. If it was decent weather, the women would be inside talking and preparing side dishes and the men would be out gathered around the grill giving each other a hard time. All of my cousins were older so, as the littlest of the little ones, my sister and I would run in between the house and the grill trying to get someone to pay attention to us.

My grandfather, who never talked much but was beloved by us for many reasons (the giant tin of hard candy he kept behind his recliner was one), would preside over a grill full of hot dogs and hamburgers and sometimes steaks. I was a bit older before I realized that all hot dogs did not come with a crispy, black crust. (He was overly fond of the char, Grandpa.) The only condiments that I remember were yellow mustard, ketchup and maybe some relish. Simple. Straight-forward. American.

Grandpa would probably not know what to think of teriyaki dogs wrapped in bacon and topped with pineapple and jalepenos. But he sure would have appreciated the nice flames I had going when the bacon fat hit the charcoal. While it took some quick tong-work to avoid full-on char, I was reminded that a little burnt can be mighty tasty.

Teriyaki Dogs

from Grill This, Not That!

Ingredients

  • 4 all-beef hot dogs
  • 4 slices bacon (I only needed two)
  • 2 slices thick pineapple (I sliced and grilled up a whole pineapple — leftovers are yum on some salad)
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 4 hot dog buns, slightly toasted
  • pickled jalepenos

Teriyaki Hot Dogs

Directions

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. (I started with my Egg set up for indirect heat and later switched to direct.) Tightly wrap each hot dog with bacon. (I stuck half a toothpick in each end to keep my bacon in place.) They should look something like this:

Teriyaki Hot Dogs

Place the hot dogs and sliced pineapple on the grill and cook, turning and basting both with teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Hot Dogs

Keep lid open to minimize flare ups if using direct heat. After about 10 minutes, your dogs should have some crispy bacon and your pineapple should look like so:

Teriyaki Hot Dogs

Chop the pineapple into bite-size pieces and discard the tough core. Place the dogs in the toasted buns and top with pineapple, jalepenos, and another swipe of teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Hot Dogs

You won’t feel guilty serving these oh-so-sophisticated dogs for dinner. They look like a lot more trouble than they are. Just watch out for those flames.

Categories: Beef, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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