beef

Phew! My summer book release tour is almost over, just one last signing in Destin FL on Thursday with Jennifer Robins, author of Down South Paleo. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been traveling every weekend since June, only to return to work each week. It was a lot of fun to go out and meet so many nice folks, but I’m really looking forward to having a weekend off; I already have a hefty list of new recipes I’d like to tackle!

Since I still have cookbooks on the brain, I wanted to share my take on Chicken Fried Steak; folks who already own my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table, should recognize this recipe.

Also known as Country Fried Steak (or CFS), Chicken Fried Steak is a staple of Southern cuisine in the United States. Since its name stems from the fact that it is prepared like Fried Chicken, this dish is usually associated with Southern cuisine. But it wasn’t born exclusively in the South. German and Austrian immigrants arrived in Texas during the 1800s, and wanted to create one of their favorite foods, Schnitzel, but had a hard time finding pork. Instead, they used beef, since it was in abundance, and CFS as we know it today was born. I love the fact that it’s a mixture of Old World and New World cuisines.

Chicken Fried Steak is a great meal for those on a budget, as cube steak (sometimes called minute steak) is generally easy to find and very cheap. If cube steak is unavailable in your area, you can make your own using thin round steaks and a blade meat tenderizer (also, your local butcher can usually prepare cube steak if you ask nicely).

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Chile Colorado (sometimes spelled Chili Colorado) is a Mexican dish featuring a red sauce and tender pieces of beef.

There is a lot of excessive naming in the world of chile peppers. For example, the primary chile used in this dish, the New Mexico chile, is often called a Chile Colorado in Mexico; it’s not due to a poor grasp of American geography, but because the names once denoted their place of origin. Similarly, the Anaheim chile, which is a milder version of the New Mexico chile, is so named. The Spanish word Colorado also can mean “red”, so who knows. Granted, each of these peppers have subtle differences in flavor, but it all makes for a confusing shopping experience.

To give the sauce its best flavor, I found that blending a fresh jalapeño into the sauce adds a tangy dynamic. If possible, use a ripe red jalapeño, also known as a Fresno chile (see! confusion!) instead of a green one, as the former will have an earthier taste; but it’s not a deal breaker.

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The NY strip loin, sometimes called loin roast or top loin, is a cut taken from the top of the cow’s short loin. The short loin is located near the spine, past the ribs but before the tenderloin and round. This is a crowded area of the cow in terms of butchery, as the porterhouse and tenderloin also come from this section. In fact, this strip loin is basically an uncut series of NY strip steaks. Confused yet? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to break down a cow in order to cook up this delicious specimen.

We’re going to roast this loin in a method similar to my most popular post, this Perfect Eye of Round. We’ll blast the roast at 500F to create a nice crust, then reduce heat to 250F until it’s medium-rare.

Not one to leave a job half done, I also roasted some veggies with the strip loin. In duck fat. Naturally. To quote one of my favorite Navy war-era posters, “We Can Do No Otherwise.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

So, I’m apparently way behind on my blog posts, since I’m sharing a corned beef recipe a month after St. Patrick’s Day! Truth be told, I’ve been so busy traveling and working on Paleo Takeout that I didn’t have a chance to make this holiday meal until recently, but it turned out so well that I wanted to share it with you folks immediately. Part of why it worked like a charm is because of my handy Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker, which cut the cooking time of this dish down to just over 90 minutes.

The corned beef I used for this dish was this uncured corned beef brisket from US Wellness Meats. Because it is traditionally preserved (without the use of sodium nitrite), it doesn’t have the pink color that we’re accustomed to when we think of modern corned beef. But fear not – it tastes just as good as what you’d expect.

The term “corned beef”, as you have probably guessed, has nothing to do with corn. A logical conclusion would be that it is seasoned with peppercorns, but that’s not the case, either. The secret is that in medieval times, “corn” was a description of salt when in a large-grain form. So really, it just meant salted beef, which is a process that has been around for thousands of years. The specific term “corned beef” is traced as far back as the 11th century in Ireland (600 years after St. Patrick was around, by the way). The concept of eating corned beef and cabbage (sometimes referred to as New England Boiled Dinner) on St. Patrick’s Day is a mostly American concept; a more appropriate Irish dish to enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day would be Colcannon.

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We’re currently vacationing in Orlando this week (and consulting my Disney guide from time to time). The weather is perfect, the crowds are terrible (as expected), and our son Oliver is having a great time relaxing and getting away from the stresses of kindergarten. In preparation for our trip, I decided to revisit one of the first recipes I posted on this blog, beef jerky.

It’s amazing how jerky has endured as one of my all-time favorite foods since childhood. The word “jerky” itself is borrow from the word ch’arki, which translates to “dried, salted meat” in the Quechua language (spoken in the Andes region of South America).

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First of all, great news: Paleo Takeout is now available for pre-order! Alright, back to the food.

Puchero is a popular stew in many Spanish-speaking countries (the word puchero means “stewpot” in Spanish). There are many variations to this dish, but I was especially drawn to the version that comes from the Río de la Plata region, where Argentina and Uruguay share a border. One dish from this area in particular is called Puchero Criollo, indicating it is of Creole origin. That led me to read up a bit on Creole history, and that settled it – this was the dish I wanted to share with you folks.

The term “Creole” generally refers to cultures of mixed European and native heritage. The most popular use of the term in the US is Louisiana Creole, indicating those descended from French or Spanish colonists prior to the Louisiana purchase. In terms of this stew, Puchero Criollo refers to a dish that is inspired by its Spanish heritage but uses items native to the Río de la Plata region; in this case, beef (primarily osso buco) is the common protein used in this dish since cattle are plentiful in the region. To have a little fun with the dish, I added a few staples of Louisiana Creole cuisine to the stew, like Creole seasoning and some andouille sausage.

In keeping with the tradition I started a while back, I’ve included Instant Pot electric pressure cooker instructions for this dish, to cut down on the cooking time. stovetop instructions are also included.

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I know what you’re thinking. It’s something like this – “Seriously, Russ? You already have an awesome Swedish Meatball recipe in your cookbook. Way to put a new coat of paint on your old favorites.”

First of all, thanks for the compliment. Second, these meatballs are a little different. For example, Danish Frikadeller are often smashed and look more like little patties than those little round balls you might be expecting. Think of them as Denmark’s LEGOs (probably their coolest invention) vs. Sweden’s crescent wrench (also a cool invention); both are useful, but serve slightly different purposes.

The recipe itself differs from Swedish meatballs in that I found that adding a bit of tapioca starch makes the balls stick together really well, and they’re pretty delightfully spongy, too. I also played around with the spices until I found something that delivered a distinctive Old-World taste while using common pantry items.

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First of all, sorry about that title. Just like the elusive free lunch, there is no such thing as an “Instant Stew”. You see, I recently asked my Facebook followers what dish they’d like to see me develop, and I received several requests for pressure cooker and stew recipes. We use (and love) an electric pressure cooker called an Instant Pot, so that’s what I used for this recipe (and hence the name).

At its heart, this dish is similar to many of my other stew recipes, but with a new approach. When it comes to simple weeknight recipes, many folks like the idea of crockpot stews (wherein you leave the ingredients to slow-cook while away at work). But I’ve found that more often than not, the vegetables become too mushy and tired after a long simmer. This is where a pressure cooker really shines, as it shaves a multi-hour recipe into just over an hour, making it a potential weeknight option with superior texture.

If you want to make this dish without any fancy (awesome) gadgetry, I’ve also included stovetop instructions below.

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Local friends: I’ll be cooking a four-course dinner as a guest chef at So Gourmet Pensacola on Saturday, January 17th from 6-8pm. There are still seats available, RSVP for the event here. See you then!

Hanger steak is a v-shaped cut taken from the diaphragm of the cow. It was a relatively rare cut until recently, because butchers commonly kept it for themselves; in fact, another name for this cut is “butcher’s cut”. It weighs less than two pounds, which is a perfect size for whipping up a date-night dish. Gents, take note: we’re only a little over a month out from Valentine’s Day – plenty of time to practice this recipe beforehand!

Hanger steak works best when cooked quickly over a high heat, and served medium rare. Marinating the cut will infuse it with a punch of flavor, but it takes a little away from the spontaneity of this dish. Instead, I like to complement the simple, tender steak with a rich sauce, like the Bordelaise in today’s recipe.

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Note: after talking to the farmer that provided the meat for this recipe, I realized that this cut was actually top round and not flank. I apologize for the mix up, and I’ve updated the post accordingly.

Let’s talk about the cut referred to as “London Broil” for a little bit. Back in the day, flank steaks (taken from the abdomen of the cow) were prepared using a method called “London Broil” (marinated and broiled). Over time, stores started referring to the cut itself as “London Broil”, and then started to use that label for top sirloin (from the cow’s rear end) and top round (from the cow’s hind legs) cuts as well. Today, you’ll find all of these cuts labeled as “London Broil”, but rest assured that this recipe will work well for any of those three cuts.

We usually use these cuts to make beef jerky, because it is consistently lean and easy to slice. But the other day I decided to prepare it traditionally by marinating it overnight and throwing it on a hot grill. I was surprised by how flavorful the steak turned out, and in the end it was a lot of delicious meat with little hands-on work.

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