don’t know if I mentioned before, but we have sort of adopted a…well, I don’t
know what to call it, perhaps a philosophy, or way of living, or whatever. Anyway, we call it Cleaning Out the
Freezer. We realized we have this
tendency, like many people I think, to purchase bulk packages of food at
reduced rates, use one portion of it, store the rest in the freezer, and sort
of forget about it. When it is time to
figure out the next dinner, instead of rummaging in the freezer to see what we
already have on hand, we purchase all new groceries at the store. I decided to start planning dinner based upon
what we already had in the freezer. But
then I got to thinking, and realized that honestly, we do this with most
everything in our house, not just with cooking.
Our cleaning supplies, organizing, clothing, art and crafting – we so
often think we can’t do what we want without going out and buying something,
rather than taking a second look at what we already have. We have a house and garage cram packed full
of stuff, and yet when we need something, we go to the store to buy it. Not that buying things is bad, but if I’m
going to spend our hard-earned money, I’d rather not buy things I already own. So, we’re trying to look at things
differently. I could go on and on
explaining this, but I’ll leave it at that for now, because really this post
was just supposed to be a recipe, not a soliloquy on what led to me using the
beef out of my freezer.
opening up the freezer this morning to look for dinner, the first thing I
pulled out was a package of meat containing three chunks of what was simply
labeled as “beef for BBQ.” Having no
idea what this vague term meant, I figured when it doubt, slow and low cooking
always does the trick. This is one of
those dinners in which I was very limited to what was on hand. Had I the ingredients, I would have made this
differently, such as adding some chopped onion or bell pepper, or squeezing on
some lime juice and topping with chopped green onions. However, this is what I had, and it turned
out pretty tasty as is, which always makes me happy. This means you can feel free to
experiment yourself! But here’s what I
lb Steak or Stew Beef, cut to 1 inch pieces
tsp ground cumin, divided
cloves fresh garlic, minced
(16 oz) can stewed tomatoes, with onions and peppers, undrained
tb red wine vinegar
(16 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
(4 oz) can mild chopped green chiles
can chipotle chiles with adobo sauce – remove one chile from can, seed it, and
mince it up (reserve the rest for another use)
tsp adobo sauce from the chipotle chile can
cup beef broth
I used absolutely no measurements when preparing this dish, so I’ll do my best
1. Prepare the meat: If it isn’t already cut, slice the meat into
½ - 1 inch chunks. Mix some salt and
pepper into the flour, along with about a teaspoon of ground cumin. Toss the meat in the flour mixture so that it
is well coated.
2. Brown the meat: Heat about ½ to 1 T of Canola oil in a large Dutch
oven type pot, over medium high heat.
Once the pan is hot enough, remove the beef from the flour using a
slotted spoon, and brown it in the oil, occasionally turning pieces to brown on
all sides. If necessary, do in batches
so you aren’t overcrowding the pan.
Remove beef and set aside.
3. Add the tasty
flavor: add another tsp or two of oil to
the pan, and reduce heat a little to prevent burning, and add all the minced
garlic. Stirring constantly, cook garlic
until it start to smell very nice, about 30 seconds. Add 1 tsp cumin, a dash or two of ground
cardamom, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Stir for another 30 seconds or so, then add the red wine vinegar. It should really bubble up nicely, and this
is where you stir up all those tasty brown bits from the bottom of the
pan. Add the meat back to the pan, and
stir in the tomatoes, chiles, chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat to
low. Cover and cook for about 45
minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Take a little sip, and
season as necessary with salt and pepper.
Stir in the beef broth (which really I only added because there just
wasn’t as much liquid as I wanted – I supposed I could have added it with the
meat, but whatever!) and the beans, cover and cook for about another half hour.
The meat should be absolutely falling apart and yummy. I think you could definitely cook it for a
shorter time period, but I think this gave it the best flavor and consistency.
over rice to sop up all those juices, with some corn on the cob and slices of
fresh mango as side dishes. If I knew
how, I would have made seasoned “Mexican rice,” but I didn’t know how, so we
actually just used hot sticky rice, and it was just fine!
care when adding the chipotle chile and sauce – it always adds more heat than I
think it will. You can always add more
if it isn’t hot enough, but you can’t take it away! I like to mince up the remainder of the can
and sauce, and freeze it in ice cube trays for future use, as I never seem to
need more than about 1 chile per recipe, and there’s like 8 or 10 per can.
is especially good with some crumbled Queso Fresco cheese on top. If you don’t know what that is, and you enjoy
preparing Mexican or Spanish type dishes, I highly recommend it. It’s pretty inexpensive and adds a great
touch to these kinds of dishes.
my imagination, I’d had some green onions, avocado, and cilantro on hand – I
would have chopped all that up, stirred in some queso fresco, and garnished the
stew with it. Yum! That was only in my head, though – if you
have those ingredients, give it a try and tell me how it was!
Yield: Looks like it would serve about 4 hungry
people. (*updated - maybe three VERY hungry people...)