Carbonade Flamande

Imagine a dish that combines the beefy-ness (is that even a word?) of Beef Bourguignon and the natural sweetness of French Onion Soup, you get Carbonade Flamande, a sweet-sour beef and onion stew made with a lovely beer from Belgium. The beef is slow-cooked to perfection, with the help of the enzymes in the beer, they become so tender that you can break it apart just by lightly pushing it with the tip of a fork, while the natural sugars are slowly extracted from the onion, mixing perfectly with the sweetness of the beer. This dish is usually paired with french fries (which are invented in Belgium), boiled potatoes or mashed potato.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 kg (about 2.2 lb) Chuck Beef
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion
  • 1 Shallot
  • 30 g (about 2 tbsp) Butter
  • 1 L (about 4 cups) Belgium Abbey Beers
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 fresh Thyme
  • 2 fresh Bay Leaves
  • 2 pieces of Bread (preferably Gingerbread)
  • some mustard, salt, and black pepper

How To Make This:

  1. Cut the chuck beef into 5 cm (about 2 inches) cubes, you don’t have to trim the beef because the fat is where all the flavors come from. Marinate the beef cubes in 1/2 L (2 cups) of beer for about 1 hour with some cloves, you don’t want to marinate the beef for too long because the enzymes will turn the meat from tender to mushy.
  2. Drain and dry the beef, save the beer. Season the beef generously with salt and black pepper, then in a heated pan, place 15 g of butter in the hot pan, then immediately sear the beef cubes in the pan, cook each side for about 2 min or until they turn brown. Place the browned meat in a container, don’t clean the pan.IMG_9986
  3. Thinly slice the onion and shallot, then in the same pan, add 15 g of butter over medium-low heat, cook the sliced onion and shallot for 10-15 min or until they turn into a dark brown, completely soft and reduced about 1/2 in size. You can add a tbsp of brown sugar for some extra sweetness.BeFunky Collage
  4. While the onion is being caramelized, let’s talk about the beer. I used St. Bernardus Brewery’s Abt 12, which is not a certified Abbey beer, but any Belgium brown ale will do, with a bit bitterness, fairly heavy body, and a pronounced fruitiness and cereal character. Some people use Trappist beer, which is a bit pricey compared to most, but uses whatever you prefer.IMG_0006
  5. Place the caramelized onion and browned beef cubes together in a heavy duty stew pot or dutch oven, mix in a bit of flour, then add all of the beer, herbs. Then generously spread some brown mustard on 2 pieces of bread (preferably gingerbread), place them face down into the pot and let it soak. Bring the stew to a boil, then cover the pot and let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 3 hours.IMG_0110
  6. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley, serve the stew with some french fries, boiled potatoes or mashed potato.
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Reverse-Seared Steak

I love beef, it’s rich and packed with flavors and essential nutrients, and among all the dishes one can make with beef, steak is my favorite. There are many ways to cook a steak, a grilled steak is always great because the charred grill marks just add that perfect amount of smokiness, but not everyone has a grill and most griddles don’t get to a high enough temp to cook the steak & char the surface properly. The pan-seared steak is another classic, it’s simple and effortless, the full contact with the pan allows short cooking time and creates a lot of “fond” (the bits that stick to the pan) which if you deglaze it with some wine or stock, make a great sauce. However, there is still too much moisture in the meat, thus preventing the pan reaching a high temp and makes the surface soggy. And for both method to work properly, the meat must be allowed to rest to achieve even cooking, and a lot of the juiciness of the steak is lost during that time. The solution to fix the problems of both method is called “Reverse-Searing”, you roasted it first in a low temp oven to cook it, then sear it to create the crust, this way, you don’t need a big grill because all you need is an oven, meat thermometer, and pan.

There are 3 main advantages if you reverse sear a steak:

  • Less “gray ring” – for those who enjoy a good tender, rare or medium rare steak, there’s nothing worse than a gray ring of well-done meat wrapping around the tender juicy goodness. The slow cook in oven allow the meat to cook more evenly, kinda like sous vide, with an all pink cross section
  • Better browning: By cooking it in an oven, most moisture on the surface is removed so the outer surface can be browned perfectly! This is why I prefer severe searing than sous vide because when you sous vide a steak and then sear it, the surface is too wet for a pan to reach a high temp for browning
  • Easier & cheaper: With this, you have more time, for people who sear or grill their steak, a rare to a medium rare might just be 30 sec difference in cook time, whereas the low temp oven extends that to about 10 min. Also, you don’t need a big grill or an expensive sous vide machine which costs about 100+ USD, all you need is an oven, a meat thermometer (about 10 USD), and a pan

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1 – Prep:

Choose the right meat, even though almost any cut of steak works, my personal favorite is a thin 1 1/2 to 2-inch thick cut rib eye, it is both flavorful and tender, and marbling of fat makes it super juicy, a nice thick strip would also work well for reverse searing. Season your meat generously with salt and black pepper, then place them on a baking rack over a roasting tray. Preheat the oven to about 120°C or 250°F, you can set it to any temp as long as it’s within the 93°C/200°F – 135°C/275°F, lower temp allows the meat to cook more evenly, but it takes a lot longer.

Step 2 – Slow Roasting:

Place the entire tray in the oven, and roast until the center temperature hits about 5°C/10°F below the final temperature at which you’d like to serve the meat, this would take any time from 30 min to 1 h, really depends on the cut you use. Try to get the temp once every 8 min or so. Also, you need a good/accurate thermometer for this process, but there’s no need to break the banks for one, a small usually costs thermal-pen less than 10 USD and is very reliable.

Step 3 – Searing:

About 2 min before the steaks reach 5°C/10°F below the ideal temp, heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over high heat, you want the oil to smoke just a little bit, which means the temperature is at about 200°C/400°F. Add the steaks with a tablespoon of butter and cook it until it’s nicely browned on the first side, which should take about 45 seconds. Flip the steak and cook the second side, and don’t forget about hold it sideways to near their edges.

Step 4 – Serving:

DO NOT REST! Cut it up and serve it straight away, the steak is already evenly cooked in the oven, so there’s no need to rest the meat!

 

 

Broccoli & Beef Stir Fry

Even though this dish is considered to be one of the “American-Chinese Food” dishes, I actually had this dish very often when I was growing up in China, it’s just one of those great combinations of flavors, and it’s quick and easy! This recipe serves about 2

You’ll Need:

  • 3/4 lb beef
  • 1 lb broccoli
  • 1/3 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 thin slice of fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

How To Make This:

  1. Cut the beef into 1/8-inch thick strips, marinated the beef strips in the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch for about 30 min to 1 hour
  2. Rinse the broccoli and cut into florets, blanch them in boiling water for about 1min, strain and rinse with cold water to cool
  3. Heat up a pan or wok with vegetable oil over medium-high heat, lightly fry the garlic and ginger, then add the beef strips and stir-fry for about 2 min, then add the blanched broccoli & oyster sauce, cook for another 2 min
  4. Sprinkle on some roasted sesame seed, serve it with some rice

The “Casanova” Burger

A while back, The Cheese & Burger Society published a list of delicious burgers, and on top of that list, is the “Casanova” burger, made with Swiss cheese over a 10 oz patty with ham and sauteed mushrooms over some potato rolls. However, to me personally, after making this burger, I realized that this recipe has several issues, first of all, the hams are a bit hard to chew, so you can’t get a clean bite; second, the potato rolls are a little too soft, and make the burger feels super light; and third, the sauteed mushroom just fell off when you eat it. So to fix it, I changed the recipe up a little, first, we are going to use some seared prosciutto instead of ham, then instead of the sauteed mushroom, we will cook them with a béchamel sauce, and switch the potato buns to kaiser roll. So here is a better, beefier and easier to eat this version of the “Casanova” Burger. This recipe makes one burger

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You’ll need:

  • 3/4 lb 80% fat ground beef
  • 1/2 small shallot (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 strip thick cut bacon
  • 3 thin slices prosciutto
  • 5 medium size Crimini mushroom
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 kaiser roll

Hoe to make this:

  1. Cut the bacon into small pieces, finely mince the shallot and garlic, then in a pan over medium heat, sear the bacon bits for about 2 min, then add the shallot & garlic and cook for another 3 min or until the bacon bits are mostly crispy. Place them in large bowl and let them cool down, then mix it with the ground beef
  2. Slice the mushrooms, then cook them in the same pan over medium heat with the butter for about 1 min, then mix in the flour, lightly toast the flour to get rid of the raw taste, then add the milk and stir constantly or until it turns smooth, add ground nutmeg if you want to take this to another level, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir until the sauce turns thick
  3. Form the beef mixture into two 6 oz patties, make it a little wide than the bun so when they are cooked, they shrink a bit and fits the bun perfectly. Heat up the pan over medium-high and cook each side for about 3 min per sides for rare, 4 min for medium or 5 min for well done. Place the cheese on top, cover the pan, then turn off the heat and let it sit for about 2 min or until the cheese melts, let the patties rest for another 5 min after cooking
  4. Sear the prosciutto over medium heat until it turns semi-crispy (about 2 min), the prosciutto is usually very salty thus we don’t need any salt in this dish. Toast the buns and brush the buns with some butter for better texture and flavor
  5. Spread the Dijon mustard on the bottom bun, the mayonnaise on the top, then on the bottom, place 2 slices of cooked prosciutto, then the 2 patties, then another slice of the prosciutto, with the béchamel mushrooms on top

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Beef Barbacoa

The traditional Mexican or Caribbean barbacoa is a method which a whole sheep are slow-cooked in pits covered with maguey leaves. But since it’s hard to get or cook a whole lamb, we are doing a more modern version which is made with the head of a cow (I know, WTF?) or chunks of cow or lamb.

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You’ll Need:

  • 2 lb beef chuck
  • 1 onion
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 chipotles(smoke-dried jalapeño)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili powder

How to make this:

  1. Place the chuck in a dutch oven or a heavy-duty pot, add the chopped onion & bay leaves, then cover half of the meat with smoke-dried jalapeño, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, and water,
  2. Cover and braise the chuck at 120C or 250F for at least 6 hours, add 1/2 cup of water for every hour you add, flip the chuck halfway to ensure even cooking
  3. Once the meat is braised, drain & save the liquid (perfect broth for any soup), discard the bay leaves, then blend the tomato sauce & chili powder until smooth, shred the meat with forks, mix in the salsa
  4. Place the meat back in the dutch oven and roast it in the oven at 120C or 250F for another 2 hours
  5. Server it over some tortillas with cilantro and chopped onion

Pan-Seared Steak

One of my favorite things in the world is steak, no matter if it’s T-bone, sirloin, or ribeye, but my all-time favorite is filet mignon, just a perfect piece of meat. So, how do one cook the perfect steak at home? The simplest method is pan-sear, and here’s how to do it.

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You’ll need: any cut of meat of your choice, cut to about 1-inch thick; salt; pepper; clarified butter; meat thermometer

  1. Trim the extra fat off the steak, then try the steak as much as possible. Rub the steak with salt and pepper, place it on a rack over a plate and let it dry brine in the fridge for at least 4 hours, up to 15 hours
  2. Brush off the extra salt and let the steak sit on a rack to reach room temperature, this step is very important
  3. Heat up a pan on high to about 260C/500F, add in the clarified butter
  4. Lay the steak in the pan, let it continue to cook for 2 min, until the bottom is browned, then flip and sear for another 2 min, try not to move it so that the crust can form
  5. Place the meat thermometer in the center of the steak, until the temperature reaches your desired doneness
  6. Let the meat rest for at least 10 min before serving

Steak & Ale Pie

Happy Australia Day! Here is an improved version of the previous meat pie, instead of minced meat, we’ll use juicy, tender steaks, with a beer or ale of your choice, I use Guinness.

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You need: 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1/2 tbsp butter; 1/2 large red onion; 2 carrots; 1/4 lb mushroom; 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar; 2 cloves garlic; 1 1/2 lb skirt steak; 1tbsp black pepper; 1 tsp salt; 1 tbsp flour; 1/2 cup beef stock; 1 tbsp tomato paste; 1/2 cup dark beer or ale; 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce; 1 sheet shortcrust pastry; 1 sheet puff pastry; 1 egg

How to make this:

  1. Finely mince the red onion and garlic, roughly chop the carrots and slice the mushrooms, then heat up a pan on medium with butter, cook the onion, garlic, and carrots for 5 min, then pour in the vinegar and cook for another 7 min, until the onion are caramelized
  2. Cut the steak into strips, then toss it with some olive oil, salt, and black pepper, then in a pan heated over high heat, brown the meat for about 2 min per side, then add in the sliced mushroom to soak up all the remaining fat
  3. Pour the beer into the pan right after the meat is browned, maintain the high heat while stirring constantly in order to deglaze the pan, after about 1 min, turn the heat down to medium-high, and add the flour, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock, stir constantly to prevent any lumps. After about 3 min (or until the sauce thickens in the pan), turn off the stove
  4. Roll the shortcrust pastry and puff pastry into the thickness of 1/4 cm, use the shortcrust pastry as the bottom and puff pastry on top, brush it with a layer of egg wash, then bake it in a 175 C or 350 F degree oven for 30 min
  5. Serve it with some chip, mashed potatoes or peas