Tag Archives: beef

Say “Opa!” to these Greek lamb sliders in pita pockets

Say “Opa!” to these Greek lamb sliders in pita pockets
Besides being utterly delectable, these Greek lamb sliders are healthy as well.

Besides being utterly delectable, these Greek lamb sliders are healthy as well.

When it comes to burgers, quality meat can make a simple burger great, but flavorful additions can really put it over the top. Herbs and spices mixed into the meat, tasty toppings, quality cheeses and fancy buns can all contribute to make one stellar gourmet burger.

Take, for example, my Greek-inspired sliders. Feta cheese and warming spices add a flavorful kick to the ground lamb, and instead of lettuce and tomato, the red wine vinegar-tossed spinach and onion serve as the topping. And forget the boring standard bun, these Greco masterpieces are sandwiched between fluffy pita bread.

Besides being utterly delectable, they’re actually pretty healthful as well. Lamb meat contains omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids (a.k.a.: the good fats). When grocery shopping, go for pasture-raised New Zealand lamb (or grass-fed beef) as it contains higher levels of these essential fatty acids. For a lightened version of the sliders without sacrificing any of the flavor, simply nix the Feta and the pitas, and either bake or grill them instead of pan frying.

These Greek sliders are perfect for a summer cookout party, a game night in with friends, or even a simple weeknight meal. Not into mini food? The recipe can easily make four full-sized burgers as well. Serve them alongside a Greek salad, some grilled or broiled eggplant, and pair them with a crisp, light Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa or New Zealand. Read the rest of this entry

Love at First Bite: Pan seared New York strip with red wine jus

Love at First Bite: Pan seared New York strip with red wine jus
VDay steak sm logo

Simple, sexy and divinely delicious!

To many folks, the thought of a Valentine’s Day meal conjures up images of a sumptuous steak dinner. Believe it or not, achieving a perfectly cooked steak with complementary pan sauce in the comfort of your own home is easier than you might think.

To jazz up the typical steak and sauce duo you’d find at a steakhouse, I used a few secret ingredients (which aren’t so secret anymore): steak rub and marinade by Stubb’s Bar-B-Q. Giving the steak a rub down with the Stubb’s Beef Spice Rub (pun intended) gives it a great crust when it’s seared and the spices add a nice pop of flavor. For the red wine jus, whip up a simple pan sauce in the same pan that the steak was seared in. Cook the leftover drippings from the seared with a bold red wine. Enhance the sauce further by adding Stubb’s Beef Marinade. You can certainly play with different steak rub and marinade pairings for this recipe (or with other proteins), just make sure the flavors pair well together. My advice? Taste the products by themselves and then together. Also look for similar ingredients in your rub and marinade.

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Everyday exotic: Korean Barbecue Beef and Rice Bowl with Bok Choy

Everyday exotic: Korean Barbecue Beef and Rice Bowl with Bok Choy

Being that I’m always experimenting with food, I’ve been on a Korean kick lately. Korea’s food obviously has some similar elements to Chinese and Japanese dishes, but as a whole it’s nowhere near the same. Japanese food seems to be more on the minimalist side of things — with simple, clean flavors — while Chinese cooking (in most regions) uses many ingredients and flavors. Korean cooking lies somewhere in the middle.

Korean cuisine is based on vegetables, meat and rice, and often includes garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, sesame oil, black pepper, vinegars, doenjang (fermented bean paste) and gochujang (fermented red chili paste) — yielding an array of tangy, savory and sometimes spicy dishes.

For my experiment, I took inspiration from two popular Korean dishes: bulgogi and bibimbap. Bulgogi is traditionally thinly sliced beef sirloin that has been marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and other ingredients. It is then quickly grilled or stir-fried and served with lettuce (to wrap the meat in) and a dipping sauce.

Bibimbap is a staple of Korean cooking comprised of a bowl filled with rice and topped with meat, usually beef, gochujang, varying combinations of vegetables and a fried egg. The contents in the bowl are typically mixed together while being eaten, which is very fitting as the word bibimbap in Korean literally translates to “mixed meal.”

Put the two dishes together and you get this Korean barbecue beef and rice bowl with bok choy. (See recipe below.) I didn’t have any gochujang on hand, so I substituted red pepper flakes in the marinade. As for the beef, I used the flat iron cut, which is a thinner piece of meat cut from the shoulder section, similar to skirt or flank steak. Flat iron, or “top blade,” steak is a tender, flavorful and inexpensive cut that takes well to marinating and should be cooked quickly over fairly high heat. Don’t go much past medium or it will become tough.


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No beans about it: Deep in the heart of Texas, the chili is all beef

No beans about it: Deep in the heart of Texas, the chili is all beef

Now that winter is officially here, there’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of stew to warm the body and the soul. My go-to is chili. It’s hearty, comforting and just about foolproof to make.

I had always been a fan of chili with beans, as those little legumes add nice texture and have a fair amount of fiber in them (yes, I care about these things). But since moving to Texas, I’d been meaning to give the state’s signature bean-less style of chili (aka “chili con carne”) a try in the kitchen.

Texans take much pride in their “bowl o’ red,” hence rules number one and two for Texas chili: absolutely no beans included, and it must have a tomato base, be it from the addition of tomato paste and/or canned tomatoes. No white, green or bean-laden types can be called true Tex chili here. Typically you’ll see Texas chili made with beef chuck or brisket, but if you don’t have all day to wait for it to cook, use ground beef (and don’t even think about using that lean stuff).

As for the cooking vessel, cast iron is the way to go. Its even heat distribution means everything inside gets cooked evenly — no scorched bottom and lukewarm surface. If you don’t have a cast iron, don’t fret; just make sure you stir your chili occasionally so that the bottom of the batch doesn’t burn. To finish off the dish, fresh cilantro, shredded cheese and onions are great options. I used a smoked cheddar to top mine and it added a smoky kick that nicely complemented the toasted chiles and spices in the dish. A side of cornbread or warm, soft tortillas to dip in the chili also make tasty accompaniments.
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Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Not to be confused with carna asada (which is marinated flank or skirt steak) carne guisada (CAR-nay gee-SA-da) is a Mexican-style beef stew that’s braised low and slow with chilies, onions, tomatoes, spices and, in this case, beer for hours until it creates its own “gravy” sauce. While fantastic on its own, carne guisada makes an amazing filling for tacos and one great cure-all for anything that ails you — from a cold to a hangover to a bad mood.

It’s often found in Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries in the Southwestern states, and is also offered as a filling at roadside taco stands and food trucks. Besides making a perfect comfort food (and even better leftovers), carne guisada is inexpensive — cheap stew meat is the most expensive component — and easy to prepare. It’s one of those unfussy, “set it and forget it” type dishes.

The ingredients and methods of preparation vary from cook to cook — some use only dried chili powders, while others swear by fresh green chilies; some add an array of veggies, and others simply simmer the beef in chilies and water. It’s all a matter of personal taste, but no matter the differences in ingredients, I bet you’ll never come across a bad version. (Unless, of course, it’s a burnt batch.)

To pay homage to this Tex-Mex staple, I opted for a true Texas beer, Shiner Bock, as braising liquid in place of water or broth. For preparing it in taco form, as I’ve done below, it’s best to keep the toppings simple as to not lose the flavors of the stew: cilantro, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salty cotija cheese.

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Nothing short of delicious: Feast on these Southwestern braised beef short ribs

Nothing short of delicious: Feast on these Southwestern braised beef short ribs

Shortribs 5

Braised beef short ribs are the epitome of “high end” comfort food. They can often be found on restaurant menus, cooked with classical French or Asian flavors and bearing a somewhat hefty price tag. I think many people have the misconception that they’re pricey because they’re technically difficult or labor-intensive to prepare, but those preconceived notions couldn’t be father from the truth.

Yes, at the grocery store beef short ribs aren’t as inexpensive as stew or braising meat, but getting the result of tender, succulent, fall-off-the bone meat is so worth extra cost. And this “fancy” restaurant dish can be prepared right in your own kitchen (culinary degree not required). Making braised short ribs at home is definitely worth the effort, and they are, in fact, pretty effortless to prepare. They even create their own sauce while they cook.

For a twist on this classic dish, I’ve put a Southwestern spin on it, using spices and flavors commonly found in Southwestern cuisine and — my favorite bit — tequila. Serve them on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes or sweet corn polenta (as I’ve done) to soak up the flavorful, gravy-like sauce.
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Grilled New York strip steak with Argentinian chimichurri recipe

Grilled New York strip steak with Argentinian chimichurri recipe

I was in another Latin mood last week when I decided to make this recipe. I had a taste in my mouth for that combination of vinegar, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs that chimichurri possesses and was simply looking for an excuse to make it, and a vehicle on which to consume it. Chimichurri is a traditional, uncooked condiment from Argentina that is used on grilled meats and fish. I could eat it on almost anything.

My inspiration for this came from a dish I’d eaten recently, grilled flank steak with chimichurri, at Cafe Dufrain in Harbour Island. Flank steak can be tough and needs to be marinated for a long time and I wanted a tender, thick and juicy hunk of meat, so I opted for a New York strip instead (my cut of choice). This cut of meat really doesn’t need to be marinated because it’s tender enough already, but I wanted to infuse a bit more flavor before throwing it on the grill. You can use any beer you’d like for the marinade (I used Dos Equis Amber) but I’d suggest a somewhat dark beer, like a Mexican amber beer or a medium ale, nothing too light or fruity. Read the rest of this entry

The Bistro Burger: a gourmet take on an American classic

The Bistro Burger: a gourmet take on an American classic

bistro_burger

The weather here in the Tampa Bay area has been absolutely gorgeous lately, an has put me in the mood for some grilling action. I’ve had a hankering for a big juicy burger for ages, but I wanted to try something different than a plain old patty with American cheese on a boring bun.

I was at the book store and noticed the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger cook-off cookbook in the bargain section. It inspired me to create a gourmet burger of my own (and also reminded me that I had forgotten to enter last year, again). I didn’t find any one particular recipe that I wanted to use, but it got my creative juices flowing. Fortunately, being a foodie, I usually have all sorts of fancy cheeses, condiments, etc. in my fridge and pantry, so I decided to throw together a “bistro burger” (I thought that name sounded better than: “fancy-schmancy burger”).

Recipe after the break: Read the rest of this entry