Beef

Black Bean Pot Roast Chili in Molé Sauce

I’ve been looking for a different chili recipe for quite a while now. While I do have my go-to, which is a ground-meat version, although very good, I wanted something with a little more soul. I came across this recipe from The Washington Post. I loved the way it looked and all of the ingredients made it sound wonderful. Well, the anchovies did not but I do know they impart a nice undertone to food and add saltiness so I put aside my fright and bought a little can. By the way, my dog LOVES anchovies. Needless to say, this is not my recipe in any way, shape or form but it is delicious as well as beautiful and would like to share it with you.

I call this a molé sauce because it has the dry chile and cocoa which are two ingredients in molé. One thing I changed up is, I used dry savory instead of oregano. One, because I don’t like oregano and, two, I didn’t have any oregano. I do, however, have a huge bag of savory that my husband got for our Christmas filet roast and I try to find any reason to use it. But, use whatever you like, I don’t think it makes a difference in the end. I also wasn’t sure what espresso powder was and since I had a bag, or brick, of ground espresso from our trip to Italy, I used that. I assume it’s the same thing. Again, it made no difference that I could tell.

I was able to purchase most of the ingredients in the supermarket but I had to go on  a little search for the dry ancho chile but, luckily, we have a wonderful Mexican grocery in town and they had bins and bins of dried chile in many varieties. Next time I think I will buy all of my Mexican products there.

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After happily leaving the grocery and hitting the liquor store for a lovely bottle of Sangiovese, which has nothing to do with this post, I headed home to get started. I wanted to make it a day ahead so the flavors had a good 24 hours to meld. This recipe does take time but is totally worth it.

SERVINGS: 8

Yield: Makes about 13 cups

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE SPICE MIX

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika

  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano or savory

  • 2 teaspoons salt

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FOR THE CHILI PUREE

  • 6 dried ancho peppers (4 ounces total)

  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, such as La Morena brand

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets

  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth, heated, plus 5 cups broth at room temperature

FOR THE CHILI

  • 3-pound chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and patted dry with paper towels

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped (4 cups)

  • 6 ounces canned tomato paste

  • 4 ounces canned green chili pepper, such as Hatch brand

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 1 small bunch thyme, tied together with kitchen twine

  • Two 15-ounce cans no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 8 tablespoons Salvadoran crema or sour cream, for garnish

  • 1/2 cup grated pepper jack or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish

  • 4 whole scallions, trimmed and chopped, for garnish

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish


DIRECTIONS

For the spice mix: Combine the chili powder, cocoa powder, smoked paprika, espresso powder, garlic powder, minced onion, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano and salt in a medium bowl.

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For the chili puree: Heat the ancho peppers in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium high-heat, turning them often, until they soften, puff up and char and blister slightly, about 2 minutes. Note: This part worried me a bit because they were immediately hardening  upon transferring them to the plate, but the hot broth in  a next steps took care of that.

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Transfer the peppers to a plate to cool.

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When they are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the stems and seeds and transfer the peppers to a blender along with the chipotle peppers, garlic, anchovies and 3 cups of hot beef broth. Remove the center knob from the blender lid and hold a clean kitchen towel over the opening to contain any splash-ups. Puree for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth.

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For the chili: Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Season the roast generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

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Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the roast to the Dutch oven and let it cook undisturbed for 5 to 7 minutes, until it is well browned. Turn the roast over and brown for 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the roast to a plate or a slow cooker.

Add the onion, spice mix and tomato paste to the Dutch oven. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the spices to bloom.

Stir in the chili puree, the remaining 5 cups of beef broth and the green chilies.

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Submerge the roast in the liquid and add any juices from the plate. Add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 4 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender, occasionally skimming off any fat that floats to the top.

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Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Use two forks to shred the meat into bite-size chunks. Return the meat to the Dutch oven with the cooking liquid, add the beans and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

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To serve, discard the bay leaf and thyme bundle. Garnish each portion of chili with crema, grated cheese, scallions and cilantro.

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NOTE: To make this in a slow-cooker, place the roast in the slow-cooker after browning it. After cooking the onion, spices and tomato paste and adding the chili puree, broth and green chilies, stir to combine and pour over the meat in the slow-cooker. Add the bay leaf and thyme, cover the slow-cooker and cook on HIGH for 4 1/2 hours. Shred the meat as directed, return it to the slow-cooker with the beans and cook for 20 minutes.

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Beef Brisket Tacos

I love tacos. I really do. But I get tired of the ground-meat variety and wanted something a little more authentic.

I chose brisket because it has a deep, robust flavor and cooks beautifully when braised for a few hours on low heat.  You can use another tough cut as well, such as chuck, if you don’t care for the taste of brisket.

The coffee gives it a nice background flavor that you really can’t put your finger on, but you know something is there. The brown sugar gives a touch of sweetness to the spiciness of the rub, but it’s not overly sweet.

I prefer to serve these with corn tortillas heated in pan with a bit of oil. It crisps them up just a little bit and makes the texture really nice, as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3lb) beef brisket
  • 3 cups beef broth
  •  1 3/4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
  • 3/4 tablespoon cumin
  • 3/4 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Juice of 2 limes

Preheat oven to 325° F

Measure out all of your dry ingredients for the dry-rub. You don’t have to arrange them prettily on a plate, but it sure is fun.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.

Liberally sprinkle your brisket with spice mixture and give it a nice rub down. Everyone likes a massage, even beef.

If there is some spice mixture left over, you can add this to the beef broth in a later step.

Heat a large pan, such as Ducth Oven, over medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Get it nice and hot.

Carefully lower the brisket into the pan and brown nicely on both sides. Remove from heat.

Squeeze the juice of one of the limes over the meat.

Add all of the beef broth and any leftover spice mixture to the liquid. Cover pan with a heavy lid and place in the upper part of the oven.

Cook for about 1.5 hours and turn meat over. At this point, you may want to lower the heat to 300°, if it is boiling too much. Cook an additional 1.5 hours, or until fork-tender. Let cool until you are able to handle it.

Place on a board and shred meat using two forks.

Return to pan with its liquid. Squeeze an additional lime into it and cook for another 20 minutes or so. You may need to add a bit of water if it looks too dry before heating.

Remove from pan, place into a serving dish and serve with your choice of toppings, such as guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded cheese and sour cream. Basically, whatever you like. Even as is.

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Fajitas

Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines. I’ve been making fajitas for years and through trial and error, I’ve finally came up with something we really love, and this is it.

  • 2 lb sirloin steak, boneless or boneless chicken breasts (you can either keep them in one piece or slice them and do a stir-fry type of cooking)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 half packet of Sazon Goya Picante seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced in thin strips
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced into thin strips
  • canola oil
  • lime juice
  • 12 fajita-size flour tortillas

Place steak or chicken in a glass baking dish.

Combine oil, lime juice, Sazon, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper  in a bowl, stir well, and pour over steak or chicken.

Cover and marinate for about two hours, flipping meat once.

Meanwhile, slice the peppers and onions and place in a bowl with a little oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

A great way to slice peppers nicely is to cut off segments, leaving the ribs and seeds behind. Then, all you have to do is cut each segment into lovely julienned pieces.

As I mentioned earlier, you can either prepare your meat one of two ways. Today, I am going to leave it whole and grill it. Sometimes, especially in winter, I prefer to pre-slice the meat and cook it like I’d do a stir-fry. This is the easier way because it is already sliced when it’s done cooking and you don’t have to worry about slicing up hot meat.

When you are ready to get cooking, prepare your grill or whatever cooking vessel you prefer. Remove meat from marinade and cook until desired doneness. I like my steak for this medium rare and of course I like my chicken cooked well done, as I’m sure everyone does.

Whilst that is cooking, heat a pan to cook the veggies. You can use a skillet, grill pan, whatever you have. Just pour the veggies into the hot pan and cook until tender-crisp. I usually squirt a little lime juice on at the end for a little sizzle and extra burst of flavor. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

When the meat is done, let it sit for about five minutes and then slice it into thin strips. If using steak, slice it across the grain.

Transfer your veggies to a serving dish, and place the sliced meat on top.

Heat the tortillas in the mircowave in either a tortilla server or on a plate covered with a damp paper towel, about one minute for ten tortillas. Or, you can do it the old-fashioned way and heat them in a pan or on the grill. It’s entirely up to you. I’m using the microwave because it’s just easier and they come out nice and soft and pliable. And also because I have this nifty, little, tortilla-warmer-upper-thingy.

Assemble your fajitas and top off with guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream, if desired.


Gravy (Tomato and Meat Sauce for Pasta)

I know there are a lot of different terms for this. I call it gravy. Always have. Always will. It’s from growing up in an Italian household from the Northeastern part of the United States. So, call it what you will; tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, meat sauce or gravy. But, whatever you call it, it’s a good foodgasm.

So…..where to start? First you need to figure out what meat you are making the gravy with. No meat = no gravy, pretty much.

Normally, I use 3 lbs of ground meat mix (beef, pork and veal) and make meatballs with that. They need to be pre-cooked FIRST. Do not attempt to put them in raw, they will not cook and it’s just gross.

I also put in 1 lb of hot sausage, cooked and cut into links and usually some type of pork. Ribs normally, but I have also used a boneless hunk of pork. Today, I am actually using a piece of beef for a change. Either way, cook it first. I bake the pork in the oven with the sausage at 350° for a good hour, turning it once.  You want a nice, crisp crust on the pork.  Please season it first.

Like I said, it’s up to you. Just meatballs are fine. You need some meat to call it gravy. If not, it’s just tomato sauce.

Once all of that is prepared, you can start the gravy.  For it you will need:

  • 3 cans of crushed tomatoes (I use Tuttorosso in the green can)
  • olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • red wine
  • salt
  • pepper, ground fresh
  • pinch of sugar
  • freshly chopped basil
  • freshly chopped parsley

In a large stock pot, saute garlic, onion and red pepper flakes for about three minutes, stirring so garlic does not burn.

Add tomato paste and stir well.  Add about a 1/4 cup red wine to it and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the three cans of crushed tomatoes, stir well to incorporate with paste mixture.  Fill one of the cans with water and add it to the sauce.  Season with about a teaspoon of salt, a few grindings of pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Stir again.  Bring to a slow boil.  Add another 1/4 cup of wine or more to the sauce. 

Add all of the meat now and lower heat to a simmer.  Cover the pot, leaving the lid askew, so the sauce thickens.

Check and stir every 30 minutes and cook for at least five hours.  Taste every now and then, as well, for seasoning and to see if it’s getting “done.”  You’ll need a loaf of Italian bread to do this.  It’s a must.

Just kidding. But it is a good way to taste it.

When it’s almost done, add some freshly chopped basil and parsley.

When it’s done, turn off heat.  Spoon over a steaming dish of pasta of your choice or just dive in with some bread and go at it.


Medallions of Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Butter

My dear father-in-law sent home with my husband, a whole beef tenderloin.  It was unbutchered. (is that even a word?) So, I had to butcher it myself. With the help of a Good Eats episode and a really great video I found, I did a pretty damn good job of cutting this thing into beautiful medallions.

What you will need:

  • Six filet mignon steaks or any steak that you like
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • Blue.Cheese.Butter.

About 30 minutes before cooking time, remove steaks from refrigerator and season plentifully with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and bring to room temperature.

Heat grill, if grilling, or your cooking vessel of choice.  Very good pan-fried in, what else, butter.

Once cooked to your liking, put on a serving plate and top with a pat of the Blue Cheese Butter.  Let it melt in.  Eat.

Serve with a side of sautéed mushrooms and potatoes.  Rozzi’s Greek Lemon Potatoes would make a lovely choice.


Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

Ah.  Where to start?

This is one of those dishes, where the flavor remains forever etched in your memory and your taste buds.

The beef is fork-tender and the gravy is savory with the flavors of red wine, mushrooms and onions. The whole thing just melts in your mouth.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 1/2 lbs. stew beef, cut in 1/4″ cubes
  • 3 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. flour (1/4 cup)
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups beef stock, heated first
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 24 pearl onions, peeled (I use frozen. Just easier to use and find)
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
  • salt and pepper

Pour wine into a saucepan with the bay leaf.  Boil, for about 20 minutes or

until it’s reduced by 2/3.  When cooled, remove bay leaf.  Set aside.

How do I know when it’s reduced by 2/3, you ask? Simple. Take the stick end of a wooden spoon and dip it into the wine before boiling.  Take a rubber band and wrap it just at the point where the wine made its mark.  This way you can judge when it’s reduced by looking at the stick end of the spoon.


Preheat oven to 305°. Not a typo. Three-O-Five.  You don’t want it to burn!

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, ovenproof saute pan over medium heat.  Add about half of the meat and sear. Season well with salt and pepper. Remove to a dish and set aside.

Heat the other tablespoon of oil and add the rest of the meat, shallots and garlic. Sear. Return the first batch of meat to the pan, season again.

Sprinkle the flour of the meat and mix well. Cook 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat.

Take the reduced wine (bay leaf removed) and pour over the meat. Add the herbs and beef stock, stir.  Cook, covered, in the oven for 2 hours.

Thirty minutes before end of cooking, or after 1 1/2 hours, heat butter in another pan and add pearl onions. Season and cook 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, season again and cook about 4 minutes.

Add vegetables to meat right after and finish cooking in oven until done.

Very nice served with a crusty loaf of bread for sopping up the gravy.  It’s a must.