Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy

June 13, 2014

While I never consider meatloaf the height of culinary perfection, it is still an easy to make kid-friendly staple. In the past, I have only made glazed meatloaf (see here and here), but the mushroom gravy in this recipe is delicious. A nice alternative to a ketchup-based glaze. Thankfully, the recipe is very conscientious about the mess, reusing the same non-stick skillet a three times. No better nor worse than a standard, glazed meatloaf; but definitely different. 4-stars.

Gravy made for s fresh take on an old staple

Gravy made for s fresh take on an old staple

I brought the leftovers to work twice for lunch. It re-heated nicely and the sauce kept the re-heated meat from being too dry. It worked out better than I thought it would.

Comments:

  1. While Chris Kimball says that you can supplement your burger drippings with melted butter or vegetable oil, I ended up with way more than the 2 tablespoons called for in Step 9.
  2. I didn’t have a coffee-filter to line my mesh strainer, so just used a paper towel in Step 2.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $10
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time: 4:30. Dinner time: 6:30

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup water
16 saltines crackers (or 18 round saltines)
10 ounces white mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves
1-lb ground pork
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-lb 85% lean ground beef
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  1. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 375-degrees.
  2. Rinse the dried porcini mushrooms, and microwave for 1 minute in a small bowl with 1 cup of water and covered with plastic wrap, until water begins to steam. Allow to soften for 5 minutes. Remove porcini and mince, and strain the water through a coffee-filter-lined fine mesh strainer, reserving 3/4 of a cup.
  3. Process your crackers in a food processor for 30 seconds until they are finely ground, then empty into a large bowl.
  4. Add half your white mushrooms to food processor and pulse 8 to 10 times until finely ground.
  5. Mince your onions, and peel your 4 garlic cloves (mince them if you don’t have a garlic press).
  6. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a 12″ non-stick skillet, place over medium-high burner and pre-heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Saute the minced onions for 6 to 8 minutes until browned. Add the mushrooms from the food processor (reserving the remaining mushrooms for gravy in step 9) and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Press the garlic directly into the skillet and cook for just 30 seconds. Empty into bowl with the saltines and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  7. Add ground pork, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 cup of the reserved porcini liquid to the bowl with the cooled onions/saltines. Gently knead until mostly combined. Add beef and knead until thoroughly combined.
  8. Empty meat into the same skillet and form into a 10″x6″ loaf. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160-degrees. Use a spatula to move to a cutting board and loosely tent with aluminum foil while you make the gravy.
  9. While the loaf bakes, thinly slice the remaining white mushrooms. Remove any solids from the skillet, leaving only 2 tablespoons for fat in the skillet (you can supplement with melted butter or vegetable oil if you are short). Pre-heat over medium-high burner until the fat begins to shimmer.  Saute the white mushrooms and minced porcini mushrooms for 6 to 8 minutes, until they become deep golden brown. Meanwhile mince thyme.
  10. Add minced thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook for 2 minutes; stirring frequently.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and 1/2 cup reserved porcini liquid, and 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the skillet, bring up to a boil then reduce burner to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened; occasionally whisking. Taste gravy and adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste.
  11. Slice meatloaf and serve with gravy.

Chinese Braised Beef

May 4, 2014

I was really in the mood for some great Chinese food, and was excited to try cooking with a new cut of meat; beef shanks. The beef shanks take between 4 to 5 hours to become tender, but have great flavor and texture. If you’d rather use other cuts of beef, Chris Kimball describes how to preparing the recipe boneless ribs, and even a chuck roast (see comments below). One advantage of using the beef shanks is that you don’t need as much gelatin to obtain the correct consistency for the sauce. Overall, the beef tasted good, and the texture was amazingly tender. But the end results lacked a strong Chinese flavor; more hints of Chinese spices. 4-stars.

Tender meat, but lacks Chinese flavor

Tender meat, but lacks Chinese flavor

Because I ran out of heavy-duty aluminum foil in Step 3, I substituted regular aluminum foil. Unfortunately, the regular foil made a big difference in the evaporation (perhaps wouldn’t have been an issue with the 4 hours ribs/chuck). Because I was left with just about 1 cup of broth after defatting, I did not have to reduce for 20 minutes in Step 4. I did run a little low on sauce so leftovers were a little dry.

The recipe allows for variations using many types of beef, but require a few changes in the amount of gelatin used, and cooking time.

  1. I used cross-cut beef shanks, which have less connective tissue than long-cut beef shanks. Use 2-1/4 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin in Step 1. They cook in 4 hours.
  2. If you can find whole beef shanks, omit the gelatin altogether and allow them to cook for 5 hours.
  3. The base recipe calls for 3-lbs of boneless beef short ribs. Which you should trim and cut into 4″ lengths. Ribs require using 1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  4. You can also use a 4-lb chuck roast. Trim away any fat and sinew, then cut across the grain into 1″-thick slabs. Finally cut slabs into final 4″x2″ pieces.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $17.
How much work? Medium
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 1:00pm. Dinner time 6:00pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
3 scallions
2″ piece ginger
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 pounds beef short ribs
1 teaspoon cornstarch

  1. Add 2-1/2 cups water to Dutch oven. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow gelatin to soften for 5 minutes. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat oven to 300-degrees. Prepare the scallions by separating the white and green parts. Slice the green parts thinly on a bias, and smash the white part. Peeled the ginger, cut in half lengthwise, and crushed. Peel the garlic and smash.
  2. Set Dutch oven over medium-high burner and heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the gelatin has melted. Add sherry, soy sauce, hoisin, molasses, scallion whites, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, and pepper flakes. Then add beef, stir, and bring up to simmer.
  3. Remove Dutch oven from heat. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then top with the lid. Put in pre-heated oven and cook until beef becomes tender; between 2 and 5 hours (see note depending upon cut of beef). Stir halfway through cooking time.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove beef to a cutting board. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. Use paper towels to wipe out Dutch oven. Allow liquid to settle for 5 minutes, then return defatted juices to now-empty pot. Reduce liquid over medium-high burner, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup; 20 to 25 minutes; stirring constantly.
  5. Meanwhile while the sauce reduces, break beef into 1 1/2-inch pieces using two forks. In a small bowl, add cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water and whisk until combined.
  6. Turn down burner to medium-low, re-whisk cornstarch, add into pot and cook for 1 minutes. Add beef back to pot, stir to cover beef. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is hot. Serve sprinkled with scallion greens.

Shredded Beef Tacos (Carne Deshebrada)

February 7, 2014

For years I’ve been complaining about Chris Kimball’s lack of steak tacos. Instead, he mostly has recipes for chicken tacos (see here and here). So I was pleased to see that the new March/April includes Shredded Beef Tacos, as I have been making my own simple steak tacos. Overall, Chris Kimball’s tacos are delicious, and he uses a few great techniques. He uses a bottle of bear and cider vinegar as the braising liquid. He uses whole chilis instead of lackluster chili powder. Chris Kimball also skips the traditional browning of the beef on the stovetop in favor browning in the oven (at end of step 2). Unfortunately, the recipe costs and astonishing $34, and the cabbage/carrot slaw is a lot of extra complexity for just a little payoff. Most of the extra cost was from using $8/lb boneless ribs instead of $3-to$4/lb chuck. Also, I found the clove/cinnamon too strong, though not so much so that it ruined the dish. Overall, I doubt that I will make these tacos again exactly as given, but there are a lot of improvements here that I will adopt. 4-stars.

Final tacos are delicious

Final tacos are delicious

Comments / Issues:

  1. While I paid $24 for 3-lbs of boneless beef, I could have paid just $12 for chuck. And truthfully, looking at the beef I think that my butcher was using  meat from the first few ribs (i.e. the chuck section). Chris Kimball wants to use rib meat to boost the beefiness, but if $34 seems to much to spend, then you can easily substitute a nice chuck roast. Especially if you use the cloves/cinnamon then I doubt you will notice the difference.
  2. The recipe calls for queso fresco (fresh cheese), which is traditional for Mexican tacos. My supermarket doesn’t carry queso fresco, so I had to import my queso from the Bronx. Chris Kimball says to substitute feta, but I think I would prefer to substitute a non-traditional Monterrey Jack and/or sour cream.
  3. Chris Kimball says to use a fine mesh strainer and a 2-cup measuring cup in step 6. I used a fat separator, which was much more efficient than skimming the fat from the measuring cup using a spoon.
  4. Leftover beef can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and you should gently reheat before serving, being careful not to dry out the meat.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $34.
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Start time 4:30 PM. Game time 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Beef Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups beer
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 ounces (4 to 6) dried ancho chiles
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large onion
3-lbs boneless beef short ribs
18 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (1 cup)
Lime wedges

  1. Lightly crush your 6 garlic cloves and peel. Remove and discard the stem and seeds from your dried ancho chiles and tear into 1″ pieces. Slice your onion into 1/2″-thick rounds. Trim away any excess fat from your beef and cut into 2″ cubes.
  2. Set a rack to the lower-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 325-degrees. In a Dutch oven, add bottle of beer, 1/2-cup vinegar, ancho peppers, tomato paste, crushed garlic, 3 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. Set out onion rounds into a single layer on bottom of pot, which will keep the meat elevated. Arrange the beef on top of onion in single layer.
  3. Cover your Dutch Oven and bake at 325-degrees for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
  4. While the meat is cooking, prepare the cabbage-carrot slaw; see recipe below.
  5. When the meat is browned and tender, remove the beef using a slotted spoon and set in a large bowl. Loosely tend with aluminum foil.
  6. Empty pot through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. Do not wash pot. Fish out and discard the bay leaves and onions. Put the remaining solids into a blender. Allow liquid to settle for 5-minutes so that the far rises to the surface. Add de-fatted liquid to blender, supplementing with water so that you are adding a full 1 cup.  Blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Add sauce back to the empty pot.
  7. Use two forks to shred the beef into bite-sized pieces. Once the beef is cool enough to handle you can shred with your hands.
  8. Bring the sauce up to a simmer over a medium burner, add shredded beef and mix to ensure evenly coated. Adjust salt according to your taste.
  9. Finish making the cabbage/carrot cole slaw, see step 3 below. Warm your tortillas in the microwave. Crumble the queso fresco onto a serving small platter, and slice a lime into wedges.
  10. Spoon beef mixture onto tortillas, topping as desired with cabbage slaw, queso fresco and lime juice.

Cabbage/Carrot Slaw Ingredients:
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 head thinly slice green cabbage (6 cups)
1 onion
1 large carrot
1 jalapeño chile
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. While the beef cooks, prepare the cole slaw. In a large bowl, add 1 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Whisk until dissolved.
  2. Prepare your vegetables adding to the vinegar mixture as you go. Slice the cabbage in half, remove the core, and slice thinly. Peel the onion and slice thinly. Peel the carrot and shred. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeno, and mince. Toss to cover everything in vinegar, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour (but up to 24 hours).
  3. Drain cole slaw and mix in chopped cilantro just before serving.

Simple Steak Tacos

January 13, 2014

I have been making simple steak tacos for a few years, and wanted to update you with the progress I’ve made on my recipe over the past few months. Chris Kimball doesn’t have much in the way of similar recipes. While they only take about 20 minutes of effort, they do take just over 2 hours to make. So far, it’s 4-star, but this particular batch came out closer to 4-1/2 stars, because of the refried beans and extra-slow cooking of the steak (This batch took an extra 30 minutes for the chicken broth to evaporate).

Easy and delicious
Easy and delicious

Comments:

  1. I love shredded steak tacos, but they take longer and it’s impossible to make them on a weekday. This recipe will yield tender, but not necessarily shred-able.
  2. My kids love ground beef tacos, a la Taco bell, and I do make homemade ground beef tacos occasionally for a quick weekday meal. But on days that I also eat dinner (I usually don’t eat dinner during on weekday), these make a much better alternative but will take at least an hour longer to make.
  3. If you have a little refried beans then apply a thin layer to tortilla before assembling your tacos.
  4. Of course we all know Mexican food is not one of Chris Kimball’s strengths. His only recipe is for medium-rare flank steak instead of slow-cooked chuck.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $9
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium. (if you have a splatter screen for browning the beef)
Start time: 4:00. Dinner time: 6:15

Chris Kimball doesn’t have a steak taco recipe. The descriptions of how I prepared them today are given below:

1-1/2 to 2 pounds Chuck steak, about 3/4″ thick.
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
Total of 1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 cups chicken broth (22 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Corn or flour tortillas
Garnish with your choice of: chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated Monterrey jack cheese, salsa, sour cream, diced avocado (or guacamole) and lime wedge.

  1. Separate steak along its natural fat lines, then cut up into 3/4″ cubes. Pat the cubes dry and season with 1/2 teaspoon table salt.
  2. Pre-heat 2 teaspoon vegetable oil in a Dutch oven until just smoking, then brown beef on all sides in two batches; about 8 minutes per batch. Set cooked beef aside on a large plate. Repeat this step with the second batch of beef using 1 additional teaspoon of oil.
  3. Meanwhile dice onion and peel garlic cloves. Also begin to pre-heat the oven to 350-degree.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to the now empty Dutch Oven and saute diced onion together with 1/2 teaspoon salt for 5 minutes, using the moisture of the onion to scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan.
  5. After the onion has softened add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and chili powder and saute for 1 minutes.
  6. Press garlic directly into Dutch oven and saute for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the chicken broth and cider vinegar, and use the moisture to deglaze the pan. Add the meat back to Dutch oven, and bring up to a simmer. Transfer to your 350-degree oven for 1-1/2 hours. Cook, uncovered, until meat is very tender, stirring beef half way through.
  8. Mix in chopped cilantro after your beef is done cooking.
  9. Prepare your corn tortillas my placing directly over the flame of a medium burner (without any pan), until warmed and very slightly charred.
  10. Serving with your choice of toppings.

Guinness Beef Stew

November 9, 2013

Cook’s Country is currently airing an episode featuring Guinness Beef Stew. Unlike most stews, this recipe skips the searing of the meat on the stove-top, because it takes too long and causes a lot of splattered grease everywhere. Instead, this stew is cooked uncovered in the oven; the open pot allows the meat on top to brown, and the evaporating liquid helps concentrate the flavors. Chris Kimball says that the stew will be ready after just 2-1/2 hours in the oven. I at mine after 3 hours (due to scheduling conflict), but 3-1/2 hours would have been much better. As eaten, it was only 3-1/2 stars. The flavors were nicely balanced, but were a little too subdued. More browning in the oven would have added more flavor. If I had a little more time (or started a little earlier), I’m sure it would have been 4-to-4-1/2 stars.

French Stews still Reign Supreme

French Stews still Reign Supreme

Comments:

  1. The recipe calls for Guinness Draught, but I could only find the ubiquitous Guinness Extra Stout. While Chris Kimball says that Extra Stout is too bitter, he said it could be used in a pinch. So in lieu of “We prefer the flavor of Guinness Draught in this stew (with Guinness Extra Stout a close second), but you can substitute another brand of stout or a dark ale, such as Rogue Chocolate Stout or Newcastle Brown Ale.”
  2. Cooking times were understated. I adjusted the cooking times upward from 2-1/2 hours to 3 hours below, but consider cooking for 3-1/2 hours.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $15
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 2:00 PM. Finish time 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

4-lb boneless beef chuck roast
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1-1/4 cups Guinness Draught
1-1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 pound carrots
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

  1. Set a rack to lower-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 325-degrees. Pull roast apart at seams, trim away any excess or hard fat, and cut into 1-1/2″ pieces. Sprinkle beef cubes with salt and pepper.
  2. finely chop onions. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in Dutch oven placed over medium-high burner. Saute onions for 10 minutes until well-browned.
  3. Add tomato paste and use a garlic press to press the garlic directly into pan. Cook for 2 minutes until the mixture turns rust-colored. Add 1/4 cup flour and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  4. Use a whisk to incorporate chicken broth, 3/4-cup (1/2 bottle or 6 ounces) Guinness, brown sugar, and minced thyme, then use the liquid to de-glaze the fond. Bring the mixture up to a simmer, then simmer for 3 minutes. Add beef cubes and bring back up to a simmer.
  5. Leaving simmering Dutch oven uncovered, put into the pre-heated oven and cook for 2 hours at 325-degrees, stirring after 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile wash and peel carrots, and cut into 1″ segments. Wash the potatoes, but leave the potatoes unpeeled; cut them into 1″ pieces.
  7. After the 2 hours has elapsed, mix in potatoes and carrots. Continue to cook for 1 more hour, until the beef and vegetables become tender; stirring after 30 minutes.
  8. Add remaining 1/2-cup Guinness and minced parsley. Adjust salt and pepper according to your taste, and serve.
I was only able to find "extra stout"

I was only able to find “extra stout”


Cuban Shredded Beef (Vaca Frita)

September 21, 2013

Having just returned from Mexico my Latin taste buds are their peak, so I was excited to try this Cuban recipe. While I’ve never heard of Vaca Frita (Fried Cow) before, it seemed similar to cuban Ropa Vieja (which means “Old Clothes”).  However, after tasting I see that the recipes are very different, the Vaca Frita is browned, and is not shredded. Traditionally, this recipe is made with expensive Skirt Steak, but Chris Kimball substitutes inexpensive Chuck Roast.  I was very skeptical that $3/lb chuck could be even remotely compare to $10/lb skirt steak. But the smashing technique called for in step 8 of this recipe is brilliant, fooling my eyes into thinking I was really eating beef costing over three times the price.

Great technique made for an amazing dinner

Great technique made for an amazing dinner

Comments and Issues:

  1. I used the full onion called for in the recipe, but I think that 1 regular sized onion was too much. It may not have helped that I overcooked the onion a bit, turning it sweet.
  2. I didn’t have orange juice, so I squeezed squeezed half an orange.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $10.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 4:00 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

2 Lbs boneless beef chuck-eye roast
Kosher salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 limes: 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice, plus lime wedges for serving
1 onion
2 tablespoons dry sherry

  1. When selecting the beef, choose a well-marbled roast.
  2. Pull the roast apart at the fat seams. Trim away any large knobs of fat, but don’t remove all visible fat. You will use some of the rendered fat in stead of vegetable oil. Cut the beef into 1-1/2″ cubes.
  3. Place 12″ non-stick skillet over medium-high burner, add beef cubes, 2 cups of water and 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (or 5/8 teaspoons table salt).  Bring up to a boil.
  4. Reduce burner to low, cover the skillet, and allow beef to gently simmer for 1h45m, until the beef becomes very tender. Chris Kimball suggest that you check the beef every 30 minutes, adding water so that the lower 1/3 of beef remains submerged. However, I saw very little evaporation during the simmering, and did not have to add any water.
  5. Meanwhile, press 3 garlic cloves directly into a small bowl, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. In a second small bowl, add orange juice, lime zest and lime juice. Set aside both bowls until Step 12.  Cut onion in half and thinly slice.
  6. After 1h45m, increase burner to medium and remove the lid from skillet to allow the water to evaporate. Allow to simmer for 3 to 8 minutes, or until all water evaporates and the beef begins to sizzle.
  7. Using slotted spoon, move the cooked beef to a rimmed baking sheet, then pour fat from skillet into a small bowl.
  8. Place sheet of aluminum foil over beef and, flatten the beef with a meat pounder or a heavy sauté pan until it is 1/8″ pieces. Pick through to remove any large pieces of fat or connective tissue. Some of the beef will become shreds, but most will resemble skirt steak in texture. If some pieces are too large you can just tear them in half.
  9. Rinse out the skillet and dry it using paper towels to dry; put over high burner. Add back 1-1/2 teaspoons reserved fat to skillet (supplement with vegetable oil if you don’t have enough). Pre-heat until the fat begins to sizzle, then saute onion and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onions become golden brown and some spots become charred.
  10. Add sherry and another 1/4 cup water. Cook for 2 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Empty onion to bowl (you can use your serving bowl to minimize clean-up).
  11. Put now empty skillet back over high burner, adding 1-1/2 teaspoons reserved fat (supplement with vegetable oil if you don’t have enough). Again, pre-heat until the fat begins to sizzle. Add beef and cook for between 2 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef becomes crusty and dark golden brown.
  12. Decrease burner to low heat, and move beef to sides of skillet. Saute garlic mixture in the center of the skillet for 30 seconds, then remove skillet from burner. Add orange juice mixture and sauteed onion, and stir until combined.
  13. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately with wedges of lime.
A meat pounder made it look like skirt steak

A meat pounder made it look like skirt steak


Grilled Beef Kofte

July 7, 2013

I was speaking with a Turkish friend last week and they mention Kofte, which happened to be one of the main recipes from the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Chris Kimball promises that they are only a little more work than hamburgers, but offer much richer flavor and texture. While they are not a lot of actual work, they do require a couple of additional hours of planning, and make a noticeably bigger mess in the kitchen. However, don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you, most of the spices you will likely already have in your pantry. My shopping list consisted merely of 4 items: fresh mint, ground beef, pita bread, and sunflower seeds (to make homemade tahini). The bottom-line is that the kebobs are good, and an interesting alternative to grilled hamburgers. I liked the coolness of the yogurt sauce. But they are only 3-1/2 stars, and worthy only of making occasionally, not a complete abandonment of the time-tested hamburgers.

Served as sandwiches or on a skewer.

Served as sandwiches or on a skewer.

Comments:

  1. I did not want to spend $6 for tahini, because I only needed 2 tablespoons and have never used it before. As I was looking for substitutes (the best online suggestion seemed to be peanut butter), it became clear that tahini was just ground sesame seeds. So I just made it myself using 50-cents of raw sunflower seeds. I’ll post how I did it later in the week.
  2. I accidentally minced my onion rather than grating it. I’m not sure if it made a big difference.
  3. A lot of times when Chris Kimball uses a disposable aluminum roasting pan inside a charcoal grill it is to put the coals around the pan, leaving a cool zone directly above the pan. But for this recipe, he puts the coals directly into the disposable pan to concentrate the heat. The high heat offers a great opportunity to really do a good job cleaning (scraping and wiping with news paper) and seasoning the grill (rubbing paper towel dipped in vegetable oil).
  4. If you are using a gas grill, then you should turn all burners on high and preheat for 15 minutes. Plus cook covered instead of uncovered in step 6.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $15. Including pita, but substituting 50-cents in sunflower seeds for $6 of tahini.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Start time: 4:30. Dinner time: 6:30

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here and he has a lamb variation here. The descriptions of how I prepared everything today are given below:

Yogurt-Garlic Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt

Kofte Ingredients:
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts (2-1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 lbs 80% lean ground beef
1/2 cup grated onion
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/3 cup minced fresh mint
1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 large disposable aluminum roasting pan
8 metal or bamboo skewers
8 pieces of Pita bread (if making a sandwiches)

  1. To prepare the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl (I used a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup) using a garlic press on the garlic. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator.
  2. Peel the garlic clove and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add pine nuts, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the food processor. Puree for 35 to 35 seconds until it forms a course paste, then empty into a large bowl.
  3. Grate an onion on the large wholes of a box grater, draining away the juices, so that you have 1/2-cup of onion pulp. Mince parsley and mint leaves.
  4. Add ground beef, grated onion, minced parsley and mint, plus 2 teaspoons gelatin to the large bowl with the spice paste. Use your hands to combine thoroughly; kneading for about 2 minutes.  Divide into 8 equal balls, and then roll each ball into a sausage-shaped cylinder about 5″-long and 1″-thick. Insert a skewer down the center of each cylinder and place on a baking sheet that is lightly sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, but you can do this the night before (up to 24-hours).
  5. To prepare the charcoal grill, ignite a chimney starter 2/3-filled with charcoal (about 4 quarts), and allow about 15 minutes to fully ignite until partially covered with white ash. Open bottom and top vents completely. Use a skewer or paring knife to poke 12 holes in the bottom of your disposable, aluminum pan and set in the center of the grill. Once ignited, empty the lite coals INTO the aluminum pan. Cover with lid to preheat the grill for 5 minutes before cleaning (scraping and oiling the grill grate).
  6. Put skewers directly over the coals at a 45-degree angle to the grill grate. Cook uncovered without moving them for 6 minutes, until nicely browned. The meat should easily release from grill when ready. Flip over and cook for another 6 minutes. The meat will be done when the internal temperate reaches 160-degrees. Place on serving platter or wrap in yogurt-sauce covered pita.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 296 other followers

%d bloggers like this: