Archive for the 'beef' Category

Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

Steak with gremolata 3 585x814 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

If you live somewhere where there are actually things growing out of the ground already, lucky you. Here in Calgary, there are still small glaciers on most streets and in yards, but this weekend the temperature finally crept up past zero. Way up past ten, even! Hello, barbecue. It’s been awhile.

Steak with gremolata 4 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

Last week I had lunch with a local rancher (one who supplies our Calgary Co-op stores with beef that’s born and bred in Alberta), and was given a gorgeous T-bone steak to take home, which we used as an excuse to fire up the grill (which since October has been subbing as an outdoor freezer). When you get a taste of spring, even when there’s still snow on the ground, you gotta jump on it.

Gremolata steak Collage 1 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

Christoph the rancher says that when you have a steak like this, it doesn’t need anything but salt. I tend to agree. But I had a jar of gremolata in the fridge – a gift from Earl’s Tin Palace to celebrate their post-flood re-opening just last week – which being a mixture of garlic, lemon, parsley and olive oil, is the perfect accessory for a simply grilled steak. (I may not know how to dress myself, but I have an idea of how to accessorize food.) In fact, you can make a pretty fab potato salad by dousing warm potatoes with gremolata, then a big glob of mayo; the gremolata brightens it, adds that hit of acidity that’s usually obtained with pickle brine, and decorates it with bits of green. Springy!

Steak with gremolata 1 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

As for the steak, you don’t need a recipe so much as basic instructions on how to cook one. Once you’ve selected your steak and have decided it’s destined for dinner, pull it out of the fridge so that it can start cooking from room temperature. If it appears wet, pat it dry with a paper towel, and shower it generously with salt – I add freshly ground pepper, too. I like to cook ours in a cast iron skillet or on the barbecue – either way, get it smoking hot before you put the steak on, then leave it for 3-4 minutes – don’t fiddle with it or move it or (gasp!) squish it – until it develops a nice bottom crust. Flip it over and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side, then set it on a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes. This will make an inch-thick steak medium-rare; you can adjust your cooking time accordingly.

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For the potato salad, I cut russets – only because russets were what I had, but I don’t mind them in a potato salad – into big chunks, covered them with water and brought them to a simmer. (This was faster than baking them, which would have been pretty divine too.) Once they were tender I drained them and tossed them, still steaming, with a generous pour of gremolata and a fairly enormous spoonful of mayo. Salt and pepper, if it needs it, and bingo – potato salad that I like even better served warm, especially alongside a steak.

To make your own gremolata, all you need is lemon, garlic, parsley and olive oil, and a means to mash it all together. The stuff is brilliant to have a jar of in the fridge, and once you get hooked on it, you’ll find plenty of uses for it – anything from steak to fish, drizzled on fresh bread, you get the idea.

Gremolata

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, roughly or finely chopped
a glug or two of good olive oil

Stir, whiz (in the bowl of a food processor) or mash everything together with a mortar and pestle, adding enough olive oil to create a loose sauce; store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. (The gremolata will improve in flavour after a day or two.)

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March 10 2014 | beef and preserves and veg | 10 Comments »

The Best Beef Stew

Beef Stew 1 The Best Beef Stew

When we were kids, my dad fancied himself a pretty good beef stew maker. I did not agree – he used big chunks of flank steak, which I suspect weren’t cooked quite long enough to break down in its tomato-ey sauce, because while it was certainly lean and healthy, it had the texture of chewy meat rope. (Sorry Dad – it’s not you, it’s me. And the meat rope.)

Fortunately, he’s so fantastic that it’s easy to overlook his stew.

Beef stew Collage The Best Beef Stew

But it’s funny how childhood food preferences stick with you – I keep thinking I don’t like beef stew, but really I do. (So long as the meat is cooked long enough.) Any tough cut of beef (or bison) makes a good stew – even those chunks of “stewing beef”; the trick is to simmer it first, giving the connective tissues time to melt and the gravy a chance to develop, before adding the potatoes and carrots, which you don’t want to break down to the point where chewing is unnecessary. These days, I make beef stew in the big red Le Creuset braiser I bought for myself, browning the meat first on the stovetop to create all those deep browned crusty bits that add so much flavour. (One day I made boeuf bourguignon for fifty, and browned so much beef that our kitchen was like a steamy meat sauna.)

Beef Stew 6 The Best Beef Stew

Once I have that foundation of browned bits, I add the onion and celery to the pan to loosen them (and create even more), then some beef stock, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar (because: yum) and red wine and let the whole thing simmer for a good couple hours, until it looks something like this:

Beef Stew 4 The Best Beef Stew

Then the potatoes (small, with their skins) and carrots (ditto), and even parsnips, if you’re into alternative root vegetables, get into the pool. Toss a handful of frozen peas in too, if you like.

Beef Stew 3 The Best Beef Stew

They get the chance to cook in the dark, sticky gravy, leaving everything awesome and not at all watery; enough to stand up to these neverending cold-snowy-icy days.

Beef Stew 2 The Best Beef Stew

Or for nights when you want to invite your dad over for dinner.

The Best Beef Stew

3-4 lb beef chuck or stewing beef, cut into 2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
canola oil, for cooking
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups (1 L) beef stock
1/2 bottle red wine (about 2 cups)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 lb. small, thin-skinned potatoes, halved
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
1/2 cup peas, thawed (optional)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place a heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat, add a generous drizzle of oil and cook the meat in batches, without crowding the pan, browning it well on all sides. Remove from the pot and add the onion and celery, if using. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft and starting to loosen the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the vinegar and cook for another minute.

Add the stock and red wine, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Add the potatoes, carrots and parsnips, stir to coat everything well and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. (If you’re adding peas, stir them in for the last 5 minutes.) Serve hot.

Serves 6-8.

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February 06 2014 | beef and one dish | 14 Comments »

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