Sunday Pot Roast Stew

Beef Stew in bowl

Pot Roast Beef Stew

Cold, wintry days scream for a hot stew at dinner time. This is the kind of stew that you get anxious as the bowl gets empty because you don’t want it to end. If I didn’t care about portion size or my waist size, I would have kept eating until this was all gone! This stew takes a little more time than we have to spend on week nights so it’s a great stew to make on a Sunday afternoon. Just put it all together and let it simmer until you’re ready to eat. We threw this together after looking for some recipes online. We couldn’t find a recipe that really matched what we wanted so we just picked the pieces we wanted to include in our stew. It really only takes about 1/2 hour to get the ingredients ready and cooked and then another 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a simmer.

I think of this recipe as having three steps. First you brown the meat. Then you get the vegetables cooked. Finally, you add the meat back to the vegetables and let the stew simmer for 2 hours.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of roast cut into cubes (sirloin or chuck roast)
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat
  • 3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch discs
  • 1 large (or two medium) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 12oz can of beer (we used Michelob Ultra)
  • 1 tablespoon smoke paprika

Directions

Heat the first 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil in a large dutch oven.

Start by cutting your roast into cubes and getting the meat ready to cook. Then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. coat the meat thoroughly. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and the flour will be absorbed. Now, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and mix into the meat to give it a good coating.

Put the meat into the hot bacon fat or oil and brown for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until the meat is browned on all sides. For example, while it was browning, we turned the meat every 2 minutes or so. Once browned, remove the meat into a heat-safe bowl. You could also brown this in 2 batches or use a big skillet where all the meat can be on one level. Our dutch oven didn’t allow us to have one layer so we had to mix it more than normal.

Stew beef browning in dutch oven

Stew beef browning in dutch oven.

Add the additional tablespoon of bacon fat to the dutch oven and let it melt. Once melted, add the carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables cook down for about 10 minutes.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Then, add the potatoes and garlic and gently fold into the other vegetables. Now add the thyme and rosemary and mix well.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

Then add the meat back into the dutch oven and pour in the beef broth, beer and smoked paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil in the uncovered dutch oven.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

Once you reach a boil, cover the pot and reduce for a simmer. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat and potatoes are tender.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

Our Sunday Beef Stew

This is our beef stew after it has simmered for a couple of hours. As you can see, the liquid has thickened up and become a nice, rich, brown gravy.

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Smoked Doña Sauce – a Texas twist on a jalapeño sauce

A couple years ago I posted a jalapeño sauce called the Doña Sauce.  It’s a local favorite and can be found in some variation at most of the Mexican food restaurants in Austin. Once we got our smoker last summer we started smoking the ingredients, and wow does this twist make a difference. We ALWAYS have at least one container of this sauce in our refrigerator! The smoke flavor is a great addition to this sauce.

This recipe makes about 1 liter of sauce and takes about 2 and one-half hours to complete. The majority of the time is in the smoker so the active preparation is only about 30 minutes. If you don’t have a smoker, you can grill the peppers or use our original Doña Sauce recipe.

For our wood chips, we use a 50/50 ratio of mesquite and hickory. When we use the smoker, we take advantage of it and add vegetables. For example, today we’re smoking a chicken to take over to my cousin’s for dinner in his backyard. We just added a tray of the peppers and garlic above the chicken to the smoker.

Here’s a tip for variations: you can use any pepper you want or have available. In our original recipe, we only used jalapeño peppers. In this recipe, we substituted some of the jalapeño peppers with 2 poblano peppers. This reduces the heat somewhat and gives it a slightly sweeter flavor. You can also substitute hatch chili peppers, Anaheim peppers or even sweet bell peppers to reduce the heat and make it sweeter. Austin’s HEB grocery store hosts an annual Hatch Chili Pepper Festival in mid-August so we’ll be preparing some hatch pepper sauce as soon as the pepper start showing up in the stores.

Ingredients

  • 10 medium jalapeño peppers
  • 2 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of salt, divided

Directions

Heat your smoker to 250 F and get your wood chips ready. Once your smoker is hot and the chips are putting off smoke, place your whole jalapeño peppers, whole poblano peppers and garlic haed on a tray and put in your smoker. Smoke the peppers and garlic for one and one-half hour. After the 1.5 hours, the pepper skin will have started pulling away from the pepper and they’ll have a duller green color, kind of like an olive green color. This is what you’re looking for. Put them in a container to cool until they are able to be handled, about 15 minutes.

Smoked peppers and garlic.

Smoked peppers and garlic right out of the smoker.

Once the peppers and garlic have cooled, prepare the vegetables. For the jalapeño peppers, cut in half and then pull out the seeds and inner membrane. To make it spicier, leave some of the inner membrane and seeds. We usually leave about half of the seeds and membrane, but we like it hot. For the poblano peppers, cut them in half and remove the seeds. Finally, break the garlic head apart and separate out the garlic cloves. I know it seems like a lot of garlic, but trust me, it’s not too much. When you smoke them, they get a sweet, creamy flavor and lose the bitterness of raw garlic. The skins should come off the garlic cloves very easily. You don’t need to cut up the cloves of garlic.

 

Peppers and Garlic ready to be blanched.

Peppers and garlic after they have been prepared.

Put the peppers and garlic in a large pot like in the picture below.

Peppers and garlic in pot

These are the peppers and garlic before the water is added.

Add enough water to cover the peppers and garlic and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Peppers and garlic covered in water.

These are the peppers and garlic covered in water.

Now, use tongs to move the peppers and garlic to your blender. Add the 1/2 cup olive oil and the remaining teaspoon of salt to the blender . Add about 1/2 cup of the water that you used for the peppers to boil in. Keep the rest of the water to use to get the consistency you are looking for.

Peppers, garlic & olive oil in blender.

The peppers, garlic and olive oil have been added to the blender.

Use the food processor mode to blend the ingredients into a creamy smooth sauce. At this point, taste the sauce and check for flavor and consistency. we usually add the rest of the salt and another 1/2 cup of water. Depending on your peppers and how thin you want your sauce, you can adjust the flavor with additional salt and water to your preference. Use the blender to mix the additional salt and water until smooth and creamy.

Here is the final stage of the Smoked Doña Sauce. If you look close, we are almost exactly at 1 liter of sauce. Put the sauce in a non-reactive container (we use glass) and store it in the refrigerator. You can use this as a sauce for chips or add it to anything you want.

Blended Doña Sauce

This is the blended Doña Sauce.

Chipotle Paste

This is a paste that we use year-round. We found this in a recipe for grilled salmon and now we use it in many other dishes. My favorite is to use it in a summer pasta salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (7.5 oz can)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano

Directions

This is really simple, just put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix it until it is a creamy paste.

I’ll be using this paste in future recipes so I thought I’d go ahead and post it on its own so I can refer back to.

 

Grilled Salmon with Basil & Mint Pesto

We have a mint plant that is very generous with its leaves. Meaning, we can’t use it fast enough. We also have a basil plant we got from Trader Joe’s which needed to be cut back a bit. So, I started looking for new ideas of uses for them. It just so happened that we also bought a large salmon steak earlier in the week. After searching the internet for inspiration, I settled on this simple recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 piece of salmon (or steelhead trout)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Make your pesto by chopping your mint and basil leaves and put into a food processor. Add the chopped garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients together until you have a pesto consistency.

Salmon coated with basil and mint pesto

Salmon coated with basil and mint pesto

Coat your salmon with the pesto and let sit for at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

Heat your grill to high heat.

Place the salmon on a cedar plank or a grill plate. We don’t have any cedar planks so we just lightly sprayed non-stick oil on a grill plate and put the salmon on the plate in the center of the grill. Cook the salmon for 20 minutes over medium-high heat.

After a few minutes, our grill started to flare up, which is common for our grill. To resolve this, I turned off the heat directly under the salmon and then turned on the outer burners to high. Our grill cooks very hot so this was more than enough heat for our salmon.

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We  didn’t use all the pesto on the salmon and had some leftover. We used it to coat some zucchini noodles as a side dish. We also served it with some lentils. It was a great, easy dinner.

Texas Chili

It’s Superbowl Weekend and what better to go with the big game than a big bowl of homemade chili. I think everyone in Texas has a favorite chili recipe but no one seems to agree whether there should be beans or not. Well, I’ve had great chili both ways so I am not partial to one way or the other. I know some people say real Texas chili has no beans, but, I don’t agree. I’ve always had chili in Texas and I find it both ways, so that tells me there’s no “one way” to make your chili. The best thing is to find a simple recipe that you can go back to time and again. Also, your go-to recipe shouldn’t include a prepackaged pouch of spices, that’s just not right. This is just such a recipe and it does not have beans.

This recipe is very flexible and you can customize it to meet you heat tolerance and available spices. It’s loosely based on the chili recipe provided by Congressman J. J. Pickle from the 1oth District, TX. That would be the Austin area at the time he was in Congress. This also is the district that LBJ represented from 1937 until 1949.

This will serve 6 to 8. You can refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

20160207_Texas_Chili.jpg

Texas chili simmering

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chuck roast, chili ground or small cubed
  • 3 tbls corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Hot water
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (or 1 8oz can of tomato sauce)
  • 3 tbsp masa harina (or flour)

Directions

Put the corn oil into a large, cast-iron pot. Add the meat, onions and garlic and sear over high heat, stirring constantly, until the meat turns light grey. Add the hot water to just cover the meat, onions and garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT or the masa harina. If needed, you can add a little more water if the mixture is too thick. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours. On a low temp, this can go for hours. Skim of the grease. If the chili is too thin, sprinkle with the masa harina and stir, then simmer for 15 additional minutes to thicken.

To serve this, put into a bowl and add your favorite condiments. I like to sprinkle it with cheddar cheese and some finely chopped onions. You can also add a spoonful of sour cream. This chili goes really well with some homemade cornbread or the Texas favorite Saltine crackers.

Chorizo, Squash, and Jalapeno Corn-Bread Stuffing

Here is our golden brown stuffing right out of the oven

UPDATE – this is a repost from a couple years ago. I seem to have messed up that post and couldn’t find it. I found out that my bookmark wasn’t working and that I had changed the URL. That post is here.

This is from a recipe that we found in a magazine a long time ago. It was part of a group of recipes that we used to create a southwestern inspired Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a great alternative to the standard stuffing with a lot more flavor and complexity. By the way, don’t be afraid of the jalapenos, you’re going to remove the seeds and interior veins so it won’t be too hot, but you can cut back on the amount of the peppers if you have sensitive eaters at your table.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled ans cut into 1/2 cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chorizo sausage, casing removed
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped green onions (about 8 large)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded & deveined jalapeno peppers (about 4 large peppers)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Cornbread (2 packages of cornbread mix – see Quick Buttermilk Cornbread below)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the squash and 1/2 cup of water in a large skillet. Bring the water to boil over medium high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the squash is almost tender. Uncover them and sprinkle them with salt. Boil uncovered until squash is tender and water has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Let them cool completely.

Then, saute the chorizo in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked and fat is rendered. About 5 minutes. Break up the chorizo with the back of a fork. Now, strain the chorizo and dippings over a bowl.

Using the same skillet that you just cooked the chorizo, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, green onion, celery and chilies. Saute the items for 8 minutes then mix in the drained chorizo, cilantro, sage, and squash. You can make this a day ahead. Just store it covered in your refrigerator.

Here is our chorizo mixture. We made it on Wednesday night so it will be easier to put together on Thanksgiving morning.

Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a glass baking dish. Coarsely crumble corn bread into a large bowl and mix in the chorizo mixture. Using a small bowl, beat eggs and 1/2 cup broth. Now, add the egg mixture to the stuffing. Gently toss this together. If the mix is too dry, mix in additional broth, 1/4 cups at a time. Transfer this stuffing mix into the prepared glass baking dish and cover with buttered foil, butter side down. Bake this for 45 minutes and then uncover and bake until the top of the stuffing is crisp and gold, about 15 minutes.

Here is our stuffing ready to go into the oven.

CORNBREAD

For the cornbread, use 2 packages and make this before you’re ready to begin putting the stuffing together. You can use any cornbread you like. If you are at a loss, here’s an easy recipe for home made cornbread from scratch or you can use the recipe below:

Cornbread

Here’s the finished cornbread. A classic, just like my Granny would have made in this old skillet.

Mix the following:

  • two 8.5 ounce packages of corn bread mix
  • 1.5 cups of buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted

Blend these items in a large bowl, then transfer to a prepared pan. Bake the bread until tester inserted into the center is clean, about 25 minutes. When it’s done, cool it on a rack. You can make this a day ahead. Just wrap the bread in foil and store it at room temp until you’re ready.

Roasted Beets & Carrots

Roasted Beets & Carrots

The finished product just out of the oven.

Beets, they are one of the foods that people really like or really dislike. I’ve slowly discovered that almost everyone who eats them had a bad experience as a child with beets. My Granny always fed them to me and now I always think of her when I eat them. I guess that’s just one of the reason I love eating these bright, sweet roots.

We’ve been making this roasted beet recipe for a while and really enjoy it. It has a great earthy flavor and is very colorful. In the ingredients below, I list 1 red and 1 golden beet. You can use any kind of beet that you like. We usually just use red beets but this past Saturday we were walking around the new Whole Foods in Far South Austin and saw these bunches of golden beets that looked so good we couldn’t leave without them! There are also some that are red and white that are great if you can find them.

Beets & Carrots

Here is the gold beet (uncut), 1/2 of the red beet and our carrots

If you buy your beets in a bunch, keep the greens from the tops for use later. We’ve come up with really great kale and beet leaf slaw that I’ll be posting soon.

Beets & Carrots

Everyone knows that beets bleed. That is to say, they will turn everything red if given the opportunity. To keep all the vegetables in the dish from becoming solid pink, rinse the red beets in cold water with a couple tablespoons of vinegar before you mix the ingredients together. This doesn’t effect the flavor but it is does make the finished product look better.

Ingredients

  • 1 red beet
  • 1 golden beet
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 head of garlic (about 10 cloves), cut cloves in half length-wise
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper to taste (about a teaspoon)
  • course kosher salt to taste (about a teaspoon)
Beets, Carrots & Rosemary

Here are the beets, carrots and rosemary before we mixed it all together.

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Cut the beets and carrots into bite sized pieces and then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Put the beet and carrot mixture into a baking dish and cover in foil. We also line the baking dish with foil to make it easier to clean up.
  • Cook 30 minutes at 425 degrees