Tag Archives: Beef

Carne Guisada – Puerto Rican Beef Stew

Carne Guisada

When I was a kid, I did not show much love for my mother’s beef stew, carne guisada.  I was told once by a family friend that my mother made the best beef stew and I shrugged it off.  Teenagers are stupid.  I didn’t really get the alchemy behind sofrito, tomato, potatoes, carrots, bay and beef.  My siblings and I would get home back from school and basically ignore the large pot where the beef stew, stuffed pot roast and carne a la catalana would simmer for hours before dinnertime. It was just… there.  It took going away for college and coming back home to appreciate the comforting magic of these slow cooked dishes.   Read More…

Curried Grass-Fed Beef Shanks #CaboRojoSteaks

curried grass-fed beef shanks

It’s hard avoiding all the negative – and sadly true – news coming out of Puerto Rico this summer.  Countless articles explain how the government borrowed beyond its means during the last four decades and the reasoning behind many families leaving the island in record numbers since the 1950s.  Not as many articles have been written about the creative ways some Puerto Ricans are trying to solve some of our more pressing issues, like economic growth and sustainability.  And there are many people who are leading the way down that road through entrepreneurship and collaboration.  We – as a society – need to get through our thick skulls (and sluggish butts) that supporting these local products (and the businesses that consume them) is crucial for our economic recovery.

Let’s go to the mall Plaza del Mercado today

We found out about Cabo Rojo Steaks, a local grass-fed cattle ranch operation, through a friend.  Their Providencia Ranch is located in Cabo Rojo, a town in the Southwestern corner of the island, but they have a retail operation at the Santurce Plaza del Mercado.  Their cattle is fully grass-fed, free range, and humanely raised for eighteen months.  The Cabo Rojo Steaks product line includes everything – from the traditional steaks cuts, beef stew chunks, and churrascos to bones for stock, heart, tongue, liver… it’s all available at the Placita or by special order.  All of their cuts are portioned and vacuum sealed for easy selection and storage.

Cabo Rojo Steaks Ribeye Steaks

Cabo Rojo Steaks Grass Fed Ribeye Steak

Prior to cooking these steaks, I did not have experience working with grass-fed beef.  Beef from grass-fed, free range cattle is leaner than the varieties more commonly available in retail.  There is much less marbling, as you can see on the picture of the ribeye steak above.  To ensure the meat remains tender, it is best to cook it to medium temperature at most.  We coated these steaks in oil, salt and pepper just before tossing them over the hot coals.

Curry can’t be hurried

Grass-fed beef has a gamier flavor than corn fed varieties.  If you like lamb or goat, you would definitely enjoy the taste of grass-fed beef.  When we were looking at the different cuts at their counter at la Placita, I knew I wanted to marry the flavor of the beef with curry.  Curried goat stews are very popular all through the Caribbean.  Somewhere along curry’s journey from India (through Britain) to the West Indies its flavor mellowed out, it met a tomato or two, and obtained its own culinary identity.

curried grass-fed beef shanks

Browned beef shanks ready for braising in the coconut, curry and tomato sauce.

local organic cayenne peppers

Local organic cayenne peppers from Desde Mi Huerto. For a milder taste, scrape out the seeds and membranes. For full on heat add the whole chopped pepper to the pot while sweating the onions.

This curry recipe would work well with short ribs, beef stew chunks, boneless skinless chicken thighs, and of course the shanks (osso buco).   The smells that will come out of the oven while the beef braises… YUM!  Plan to make this recipe with plenty of time.  Prepping for the recipe and searing the beef takes approximately twenty minutes, and it the braising process requires two and a half hours.  It will be worth the time: the meat from the shanks will fall of the bone, and explode with flavor.  There will be plenty of sauce to soak up with white long grain rice, apio root puree, or mashed cauliflower.

curried grass fed beef shanks

Cabo Rojo Steaks has a retail outpost at the Placita de Santurce, operating at regular market hours from Monday through Saturdays.  All of the products featured in this article were purchased with our own funds.  We did not receive any compensation for writing this article or developing the curried grass-fed beef shanks recipe.

Cassava Shepherd’s Pie (Pastelón de Yuca)

pastelon de yuca

Have you ever gotten so hooked on a recipe you’ve made it over and over in a very short period of time?   This holiday season I made not two but three pastelones de yuca.  A Caribbean interpretation of the shepherd’s pie, this pastelón is a layered casserole that combines yuca (cassava) and a savory filling – meat, soy, or veggies.   Pastelones are one of the most versatile pies that can be assembled.  The starches and the fillings are limited only by your imagination.  Any root vegetable or plantain that can be mashed into a soft but substantial puree can be used for pastelón.  Some of my favorites include ripe plantain (the classic!), malanga (taro), and potato.    Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Boeuf à la Mode

Boeuf a la Mode

The picture in front of you is my textbook definition of comfort food: fork tender eye round, white rice, and mushy carrots.  When I get cravings for Mama food, this is what I want.  This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Boeuf à la Mode, was one mustard rub away from leaving me misty eyed.

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Chili con Todo

Chili con Todo

Sundays beg for easy recipes that allow me to be lazy or to focus on other things.  Unfortunately I can’t be 100% lazy today because I have to do some work before another hectic week starts, but it feels good to have dinner in the Dutch oven ready until whenever we are.   Today that’s chili con todo – that would be chili with everything: beef, beans, and tomato.  It is an especially comforting meal in this rainy and windy weekend.  Right after Easter, we have been assaulted by a cold front that doesn’t want to end its Caribbean vacation. Read More…

Arugula Caesar Salad

Arugula Caesar Salad Churrasco

I am a pack rat, especially when it comes to reading materials.  Not unlike many food bloggers and their readers, I have a collection of cookbooks and magazines that threatens to take over cupboards, shelves and closet space.  Lately, despite having all these great references at my disposal, I keep coming back to my Kindle to search through two e-books:  Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” and “The Flavor Bible” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.  After reading so much about them through other food blogs, I decided it was time to get my own copies.  I can’t believe I went for as long as I did without them.   Read More…

Beef Wellington

Sliced Beef Wellington Stuffed with Mushroom Duxelles and Jamon Serrano

My father is a big Beef Wellington fan.  There was a restaurant in Hato Rey back in the eighties, Maxim, that served filet mignons with a spread of mushrooms and paté, wrapped in puff pastry and baked until the pastry turned flaky and golden.  When we were planning my wedding, he suggested having it as the main course and we even tried it at the menu tasting.  When Papa’s birthday came up, I knew I had to give this dish a try even though I had never made it before.   Anyone can get by with a decent recipe and a healthy (?) dose of atrevimiento/chutzpah, right? Read More…

Fettuccine with Tempranillo Sauce, Beef Tenderloin and Goat Cheese

Some time ago, Eduardo and I were walking around downtown Miami, looking at menus and arguing about our inability to just pick a restaurant and go.  With my MILs glowing review in the back of our heads, we finally chose Perricone’s, a trattoria and Italian deli.  I ordered a fettuccine dish with sliced filet mignon, wild mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese in a Barolo sauce.   I am not sure if it was the hour (midnight approaching), the cold (low fifties temperatures normally not associated with Miami), but it was the kind of meal that sticks to your ribs and memory.  The sauce was rich from the wine, beef, and mushrooms, the goat cheese cutting through the acidity with its tang.   Fancy steak dinner gets a pasta bowl makeover! Read More…

French Weekends with Dorie – Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger

I’m so happy I didn’t skip this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe!  What’s better than starting the weekend with a 1/3 pounder, homemade fries, and an Irish red beer?

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Braised Beef Tacos

Braised Beef Tacos

This year, I took over the Mother’s Day hosting duties and had the family over for a Mexican-inspired lunch.  For some time now and inspired by shows on TV about food trucks, I wanted to try a shredded beef filling for tacos.  Although I love short ribs and considered splurging on some, I decided to go with boneless beef stew instead.  The method I followed is the classic preparation for braises: brown the meat, deglace the pan, submerge in yummy liquids and aromatics, and cook long and slow. The broth that this recipe produced is the best beef soup base I’ve ever had.  Whatever you do, please don’t throw these magic leftovers out!  Next time I make this, I’m definitely reserving all the liquid and some of the beef to make a hearty soup with potatoes, carrots and rice.

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French Fridays with Dorie – Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

I’ve been a ‘good girl’ for most of my life, or at least during those crucial childhood and teenage years.  Sure, I dropped a couple of breakables (and a fib here and there) and engaged in sibling rivalry bouts, but there were no major episodes of rebellious, teenage acting-out.  I would even put a stirrer and a lime in my Sprite in the years of quinceañeros when my classmates poured stronger libations into their sodas.  Some of these suppressed bad girl behaviors surfaced slightly belatedly – well over fifteen years later and at this year’s Semana Santa to top it off.  While looking through the kitchen in the Humacao apartment, we came across the liquor cabinets. Yes, there were two liquor cabinets.

‘Dude… there’s cognac here for Dorie’s steaks!  Let’s take that bottle home, they’ll never know!”

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Vaca Frita (Cuban Pan-Fried Flank Steak)

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My husband eats lunch like this on most workdays – what is colloquially known in Puerto Rico as a mixta: a combination of rice, beans, and meat.  The flavors of this particular mixta are distinctively Cuban: the savory black beans cooked with onions, peppers, garlic and a little vinegar, vaca frita with pepper and onions, and a couple of fried plantains on the side.  Preparing vaca frita was a definite first for me, and I hadn’t made black beans this way since college.  I don’t like beans too much.  That makes me a terrible Puerto Rican and NOLA-phile although I do cook them for DH at least every other month.  He does get his fix regularly!

Vaca frita is essentially a twice-cooked flank steak.  The first stage involves poaching the meat for about an hour with water, peppercorns, and bay leaves.  After the meat is cooked and cooled, it is sliced into small pieces, tossed with a couple of tablespoons of sherry and seasonings, and then pan-fried with onions and green peppers until crispy outside.   While researching recipes, I came across what seems to be a point of conflict between vaca frita purists and others – whether the meat should be shredded or sliced.  Another extremely popular Cuban dish, ropa vieja (‘old clothes’) also consists of flank steak, but shredded and simmered in a tomato based sauce until tender.  Purists say that the flank steak for vaca frita should not be shredded, but cut into small pieces.  I went with the purists this time, even though DH’s favorite version, the one served in Miami institution Versailles, is shredded.  I have a hunch that has to do more with restaurant logistics than actual tradition. Read More…

Burgers and Bonarda

During my Saturday errands, I stopped at a wine shop that carries some of the wines I tasted during our trip to Mendoza, Argentina three years ago.  In addition to a replacement Malamado bottle (port-style Malbec), I purchased a bottle of inexpensive Bonarda.  Although Bonarda is the second most commonly grown varietal in Argentina, it is not that well known or easy to find.  For starters, it has a bit of an identity crisis.  This grape is known as Charbono in the US, Corbeau/Douce Noire in France, and its’ practically extint in its current form in Italy.   Bonarda wines can be lighter in body than a Malbec, darker in color (almost inky), with lots of fruity notes (cherries, plums, figs), light tannings and moderate acidity. Read More…

La bistecca fiorentina

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