Friday, March 7, 2014

Cooking with Beer... You're Welcome

If you know me, you know there are few things in this world I love more than cooking.

And if you guessed that one of those things are the Green Bay Packers, you'd be correct.

The other?

Beer.


When not drinking wine or at a bar pounding Don Julio on the rocks with a splash of soda and lime juice, I'm looking for a good wheat beer.  And if the place I'm in has a cider beer or a dark, chocolate stout? I'm in heaven.


And if you've never cooked with beer, I highly suggest it.  I think Guinness is the easiest to cook with and it pairs ridiculously well with beef.  This is a "low and slow" braising dish that won't let you down flavor-wise.

Guinness Braised Beef

Ingredients
Slab of Beef to Braise (I used chuck - it's the 'shoulder' of the animal.  For a great overview of the Beef Primal Cuts, I suggest checking out About.com's article here)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 bulb garlic, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 russet poatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pint, Guineess
2 cups beef stock
salt and pepper (to taste)
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 225° (the key here is "low and slow")

2. Using beef that has been allowed to rest to room temperature for 15-20 minutes, rub that bad boy with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Rub your seasonings in on all sides.  Spend a lot of time on this. Pretend like it's your third date.
  

 3. Heat a dutch oven (or oven-proof roasting pot) to high heat and drop in butter and olive oil.

4. Brown meat on all sides, allowing to sear.  If you're freaking out that bits are sticking to the bottom of your dish, don't. They're flavorbits known as sucs and not only will they release from the bottom of your pan during your hours to cook time, they'll provide additional and awesome flavor to the dish.  Once all sides are good and brown, remove from the dish and set aside on a plate.
 

5. Reduce heat on your pot to medium and add sliced onions.  Stir around using a wooden spoon.  Chances are some of the sucs will release from the bottom of the pan as you stir and scrape.  Allow the onions to get soft.  Add in your peeled garlic and stir.


6. Once the onions are soft and the garlic has been cooking for about 3-4 minutes, add in your Guinness and beef stock.  Probably it'd be a good idea to take a swig from the Guinness just to make sure it's good enough to add to your dish.
 

7.  Allow the pot to come to a boil and add in your browned beef as well as any juices that have collected on the plate.  Allow to simmer for a few minutes, scooping some of the onions over the beef.

8. Cover your pot and place in the preheated 225° oven for 7 hours. My roast was about 3.5 pounds.   Every 90 minutes or so, I'd take the lid off and rotate the beef around to make sure all sides were hanging out in the juice nicely.

9. When there is about 90 minutes left, add in your carrots and potatoes.
 

10.  At the end of the full cook time, take your beef out to rest on a cutting board.  Mine started falling apart so it got a little messy.   Allow to rest for 10 minutes and shred.  I started off slicing, but soon realized the meat was falling apart  on its own, so shredding with a couple of forks worked just fine.
 

11.  Scoop out the carrots, onions, garlic cloves, and potatoes. Reserve in a dish to serve with your roast (the garlic will be amazingly delicious).

12. The au jus the beef has cooked in will be fantastic to serve with the meat.  Otherwise, you can make a gravy. Simply make a roux with 3 T. butter and 3 T. flour and add liquid to get to the gravy consistency you want while whisking.

13. Serve on a plate and scoop the au jus or gravy over your meat.  If you have leftovers, put the meat back in the au jus and refrigerate.  Enjoy!



So at the beginning of the week when I started writing this entry I was pretty sure I was coming down with a cold.  Which sounds about right since this weekend I'm heading up to Wisconsin with a group of friends for a weekend of ice fishing (for the dudes...sigh), cross country skiing (for the women-folk), and general drunkery.  Sure enough, but Tuesday/Wednesday I had no voice and couldn't breathe without wheezing.  Sexyface.


It's a good thing I've got a freezer full of pre-made meals I can pop in the crockpot.  Because there is no way in hell I would be standing over a stove after a long day while sick.


I made a slew of freezer meals recently that are so easy and so delicious, no one will know you weren't slaving over a stove for hours. I don't want to post anything up here that I haven't tried, so here is a meal I made within the last week that I'll absolutely be making again.

One of the meals I pulled out of the freezer to make last week was a copycat PF Chang's Mongolian Beef Recipe I snagged from Six Sisters Stuff.  I modified their recipe a little bit to make it not only a freezer meal, but also a crockpot meal as well.  Although, when I came home from work that night, I realized that while I had thawed out the beef, I forgot to toss it into a crockpot.  Go figure.  I'll show you two variations here.


Mongolian Beef

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds of flank steak, cut into stir-fry strips
1 tsp ginger, minced or grated
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. water
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 T. garlic, chopped
1/2 c. carrots, grated
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
3 T. vegetable oil

Method
1. Add the beef strips to its own freezer bag.

2. In a separate freezer bag add the ginger, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, carrots, and green onions. Seal, label the bag with instructions (as seen above - it reads: Thaw beef and coat with 1/4 c. cornstarch. Add beef to crockpot. Coat with remaining ingredients. Cook low 4-5 hours") and pop both bags in the freezer.

3. Since I forgot to put mine in my crockpot, I thawed the beef ahead of time and tossed with the cornstarch, ginger, garlic powder, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

4. Heat vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and brown on all sides.
5. Once browned add freezer bag with sauce and veggies.  Stir to coat and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook 10-15 minutes or until meat is cooked through and sauce has thickened,  stirring occasionally.
 


6. Serve over rice and garnish with more chopped green onions  and (shown below) grated carrots.






BAM!

Now I'm off to go make a ridiculous amount food for the weekend away!


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