Posts Tagged beef

Steak Frites Sandwich

I made these back in Texas. These are not po-boys (though I am discovering that the roast beef po-boy is a thing of beauty, truly). There is nothing N’awlins about these sandwiches.

Which is a shame, because they are so very good.

Also, I put french fries directly into my sandwiches. ‘Cause folks, I am classy. You know how I know it’s classy? When I was fourteen, I went to France. There was a lovely little sandwich shop in Nice where the incredibly snooty gentleman running this hole-in-the-wall made just such a sandwich, with roast beef and mustard and greens and fries all wrapped up in the bun. And clearly if it is done in France, even in a little backstreet dive, it is classy.

It is possible that I need to get out more.

This is one of my favorite sandwiches. It is in all ways superior to the hamburger, containing chopped beef instead of a ground beef patty, a good (though in this instance store-bought) roll instead of a too-soft hamburger bun, an abundance of spinach, and of course, the fries are inside the sandwich.

A fact which gives me no end of glee. Just go with it, okay?

Ingredients (makes 2 big sandwiches)

For the steak:

1/2 to 3/4 lb inexpensive steak

3-4 T red wine vinegar

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T mustard

salt, paprika, and white pepper to taste

For the sandwiches:

1/2 to 3/4 lb cooked and chopped steak

2 crusty sandwich rolls (or one baguette)

a big handful of spinach

1 large potato and cooking oil for french fries

mustard, to taste (my preference is for about 2 T/sandwich

hot sauce to taste

Directions

Make the steak. For me, the only way to do this is with my delightful mini-smoker. Seriously, that thing was hands down the best $30 I ever spent for the kitchen, and now it’s only $22. Combine all the marinade items in a zip-top bag and add the steak. Marinate at least an hour.

Smoke for 25 minutes or cook it another way if you aren’t into perfect smoked meat straight off the stove. While it’s smoking (or pan-searing or braising or however you cook your steak), heat a few inches of vegetable oil, slice a potato into 1/2 inch sticks, and fry.

Set the fries aside. When the steak is done, give it a couple of minutes to rest away from heat.

Now is a good time to grill up your bread. Not a required step, but oh so good. Just heat a bit of olive oil or margarine and maybe a smashed clove of garlic in a small skillet and grill.

 

Now chop your beef.

 

Spread mustard on the top half of your roll, and dot some hot sauce on the bottom. If that doesn’t look like much hot sauce, please bear in mind that it is Blair’s After Death sauce, which is pretty darn hot, and also I am a complete wimp when it comes to Scovilles.

Add spinach, meat, and some fries.

Devour. Crunch spinach, gnaw meat, make sad little whimpering noises because Blair’s hot sauce is really quite hot and there are about ten whole drops of it on this one little sandwich.

You can stop laughing anytime. I already admitted that I’m a capsaicin wuss.

I won’t call this my favorite sandwich. There’s a grilled cheese with that honor which I think will never be unseated. But it definitely makes the top three. It is delightful, contains only a smidgen of guilt, and is simple enough to make on a weeknight when you’d rather eat with your hands in front of the television than at the table like people.

 

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Smoked Brisket

I’ve probably gushed about my amazingly useful stove-top smoker before, possibly to the point that I should just break down and go work for Camerons in advertising. They can pay me in smoked meat and exciting flavors of wood chips. I worried for a long time about smoking a brisket, though. I love brisket, but it can need a lot of TLC and added liquid to keep it from turning into a brisket brick. Smoking, or any other dry cooking, just seemed like a dangerous idea.

I did it anyway. And it was awesome.

The trick seems to be, as always, the marinade. I didn’t use anything particularly acidic, just made sure to marinate the meat in the refrigerator for about twenty hours.  Since we plan a whole week of meals ahead of time, that really wasn’t hard to remember; we made the marinade after dinner one night and pulled it out the next night after work. Couldn’t be easier.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds brisket (this was leftover from the 6-pound flat we got for Rosh Hashanah)

1 1/2 cups beef broth or stock (or one bottle beer)

1-2 T  Worcestershire sauce

2-3 T mustard (this Dusseldorf mustard may have changed my life.  It’s unbelievable.)

about 1 T brown sugar

1-2 T salt

a generous sprinkling of  paprika

several cloves of garlic (which I forgot.)

You may notice that these amounts aren’t exact. I don’t measure when making marinades; I just add a pile of favorite flavors that I think will work together straight out of the bottles. It seems to work.

Directions 

I like to trim most of the fat from my brisket, because I don’t like the texture and don’t need the calories. I left more than usual this time because in the smoker, the fat will melt and run off into the drip tray. When braising, that fat just sits there on the meat and congeals. Blech.

Start the marinade by standing a big zip top bag up in a saucepan or giant ramekin. Add the broth or stock or beer.

Pour in the Worcestershire sauce.

Then the mustard.

Time for a bit of sugar.

Lots of salt.

And finally the paprika. Toast up some garlic cloves and toss them in, too, if you have them.

The meat goes in last, then fold over the bag and pop it in the fridge for a day or so. At minimum, I would make the marinade in the morning before work and have this for dinner the same night.

When you’re ready to cook, sprinkle some wood shavings into the bottom of the smoker. I used the bourbon-soaked oak chips. Yum.

Add the brisket on the rack. I threw on some more kosher salt, because salt is my favorite.

Almost close the smoker lid and heat the burner over medium-high.

When you see a wisp of smoke come through the crack you left open, slam it shut and let it smoke for about an hour and a half.

When it’s done, open up the smoker and check with a knife to be sure it’s fully cooked.

The only other trick here is to cut the brisket properly. You’ll see some pretty well defined lines, and the temptation is to cut parallel to those lines.

Cut at a 60 to 90 degree angle to those lines instead, and make thin slices. This helps the meat fall apart more easily and seem more tender.

Serve with green beans sautéed in olive oil and homemade applesauce.

I’m not much of a carnivore, but I could eat this every night for a week and be happy. That little smoker is easily the best $30 I’ve spent on my kitchen. It’s quicker and easier than an outdoor smoker, and I can use it while living in an apartment. It’s fantastic.

 

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Brisket

Brisket brisket brisket brisket yum! Sorry about that. It’s just that I’ve never made brisket before. My mother-in-law does (and she makes a mean one, too. Way better than mine turned out. Grr.)

Anyway. I always worried that if I made brisket it would come out tough or bland, so while I order it often in restaurants and stare longingly at it in the butcher’s case, I’d never tried to make it myself.

Then I saw this beautiful cut behind the counter for less than $5 a pound. How could I say no?

Could you? This four-and-a-half pound behemoth cost me just over fifteen dollars and made a great middle-of-Passover meal. With a side of broccoli and roasted red potatoes, I almost didn’t miss the bread.

Almost.

Ingredients (serves four with leftovers)

3 pounds brisket

2 T olive oil

salt and spices to taste (I used cayenne)

1 pound onion*

1/2 pound carrots

1/2 pound celery

6-8 cloves garlic

3 T brown sugar

1 cup red wine

2 cups beef stock

bay leaves

Directions

Most briskets are bigger than three pounds. Mine was four and a half, and some of the others at the butcher weighed in at a whopping eight pounds. So you’ll want to cut it down to three. Three pounds is also the most that comfortably fits in a 9×13 pan, and that’s what I used to cook this. Once you’ve cut it down to size, trim the surface fat by running a knife under the fat layer parallel to the skin.

Heat the oven to 300°F

It really doesn’t need the fat to be tender, I promise.  Salt and season the meat generously, then heat the oil in your biggest frying pan.

And curse up a storm when this happens.

Thanks to my teflon fingers (seriously, I grab things right out of 400°F ovens all the time, and only rarely end up with eensy little blisters on my fingers. Don’t you try it, though.), I managed to brown it pretty well. Then you’ll want to arrange your celery and carrot in a layer on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Plop the brisket on top of them, and toss the garlic cloves in.

Look at all that beautiful caramelized onion. Unfortunately, Mr. B smelled it from across the apartment and walked around lighting incense making loud hacking and gagging noises until I threw all that lovely onion away. Oh well. He’s allowed to be picky about one thing; goodness knows I’m picky, too.

Pour the beef stock and wine in around the brisket, dust the top of the meat with brown sugar, and float a bay leaf or two in the pan.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for two hours. Pull it out, flip the meat, and cover tightly again and bake for another two hours. That’s four hours of covered baking.

In the end, you have a meltingly tender piece of meat that has absorbed every flavor you cook it with rather nicely. Were it not Passover I would have used a bottle of beer in place of the wine, and I think tomato would have been amazing, so those of you who are not allergic may want to throw in a can of crushed whole tomatoes and see how that turns out. And hey, have some onions for me.

I had some of the leftovers today for lunch, despite my hate- and fear-filled relationship with the microwave at work. (There was an incident involving some nukerwave popcorn. The fire department was called.) Even the soft cooked carrots reheated nicely, and I think for a first try it came out rather well.

Next time, I will use beer. And maybe some ketchup. And all of my dignity, it will be gone.

I’m okay with that.

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Beef Asparagus Rolls

I first had these rolls at a lovely Japanese restaurant near work. I don’t eat much sushi, especially here in Texas where I only half-trust the fish, so I order a lot of teriyaki and tempura dishes. When I saw beef asparagus rolls on the menu, I got pretty excited. A roll without fish? Genius! I had to have them. I was a bit surprised when they arrived, though, because they were not your traditional rolls at all. No rice. No nori. Just grilled asparagus wrapped in grilled beef and garnished with a hint of soy. So simple. So elegant. So easy to reproduce at home.

I’m very lucky, in that the Asian market near my apartment sells this amazingly thin sliced meat. Chicken, lamb, beef, you name it. The lamb is great seared and stuffed into some pita with tzatziki. The chicken makes some fun sandwiches. And the beef made these fun little rolls that I just can’t wait to make again. If you don’t have access to deli-thin raw meat, put a lean steak in the freezer for 20 minutes or so and carefully shave off thin slices with a very sharp knife.

I served them with tempura veggies and sticky rice pressed into happy little star shapes. It’s a meal I wish I could take to work, because every last bite of it makes me smile.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 pound asparagus spears

1/3-1/2 pound beef, sliced very thin

salt and soy sauce to taste

Directions

Steam the asparagus for a few minutes until approximately al dente. This took about 5 minutes for me, with my fairly thick spears, but yours may be longer or shorter depending on your taste and the asparagus you buy.

Take two or three spears of asparagus and wrap them snugly with a layer or two of beef.

Repeat until you’ve got a nice pile of rolls.

Heat up a cast iron skillet or grill pan. Sprinkle a roll with salt and grill on the stove over medium-high heat, rolling the asparagus continually to cook all sides evenly and to keep it from sticking to the pan.

It’s not too different from cooking a hot dog. These are way easier to cook one at a time, so be patient with them. They take about 5 minutes apiece to cook to medium. Mr. B would have eaten them raw if I’d let him, so I didn’t cook his as long. Sprinkle them with soy sauce before serving. In the restaurant they were served sliced into bite-sized pieces, edible with chopsticks. I was too hungry by the time I’d finished cooking to bother, so I declared them finger food. Mr B didn’t mind.

Serve with rice and tempura and enjoy!

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