Category Archives: Beef Dishes

Con Carne

Stir-Fry Pepper Steak

Stir Fry Pepper Steak

Back when I was a single college student, not as into cooking as I am today, there was a pepper-steak making kit, I think made by La Choy, that I liked making. I don’t know if it’s even sold anymore. You’d buy the steak separately and cut that up, but the vegetables came pre-cut in a can, along with a little packet of powder you’d mix with water to make the sauce. So it was mostly pre-made, but involved just enough cooking to make you feel like you accomplished something. And it was tasty.

But those preserved vegetables that came out of the can probably weren’t quite at the peak of their nutritional value. These days I still sometimes get the hankering for a simple stir-fry, but I use better and fresher ingredients. This is quick, easy and really good.


  • 1 lb. sirloin steak
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions (scallions)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15oz. can bean sprouts
  • 1 cup dry rice (about 3 cups cooked)
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 15 oz. low-sodium beef stock
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Start cooking the rice according to the rice brand’s cooking instructions. It should take about 20 minutes to cook- just in time for the stir fry to be done cooking.
Cut the red and green peppers into thin strips. Slice up the mushrooms. Cut the green onions into about 1/2″ strips. Mince the garlic and ginger up finely. Cut the steak into thin strips similar to the peppers. Remove the bean sprouts form the can and drain. Now most of your work is already done:

Chopped Stir Fry Ingredients

Now we make the sauce. Mix a heaping tablespoon of corn starch with a little water. Mix that into the beef stock, and add the soy sauce and black pepper:

Stir Fry Sauce

Now heat a couple tablespoons of peanut oil in a large pan, and brown the steak strips with the garlic and ginger. If you have a wok with gas stovetop burners, by all means use that- I have a wok, but alas my stove has electric burners so I use a flat pan to get the temperature hot enough– stir fry should involve high heat and plenty of stirring:

Steak, Garlic and Ginger

Add the remaining vegetables except for the bean sprouts, and stir-fry until the vegetables are cooked just enough to be still somewhat crisp and still brightly colored:

Meat And Peppers

Add the bean sprouts and sauce and cook a little longer, stirring, until the sauce thickens up a little. Serve over the rice. Enjoy!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef

In honor of the fast approaching St. Patrick’s Day, here’s my recipe for corned beef and cabbage. I like to serve it in a bowl with some of the broth it’s cooked in, and with plenty of other vegetables added, especially root vegetables like carrots, turnips, parsnips, and potatoes. So it’s more like a corned beef and cabbage soup or stew. A Black and Tan (pale ale with Guinness Stout on top) makes a fine accompaniment.

I used a 4 lb. brisket of corned beef, which should serve about 4 people with leftovers.


  • 1 Corned beef brisket, about 4 lbs.
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 ribs of celery
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 medium-sized parsnips (optional)
  • 1 largish turnip (optional)
  • 4 medium-large potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1-2 Bay Leaves


Corned Beef in PotAdd the corned beef brisket to a large pot and fill with enough water to just cover the brisket. If the brisket came with a little pack of pickling spices, add them to the water along with the bay leaves, peppercorns, and coarsely chopped garlic. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. It’ll cook for about 3 hours total.

Wash and peel whatever combination of carrots, parsnips and turnips you’re adding and coarsely chop them up along with the onions and celery. Add these vegetables to the simmering water and corned beef after it’s been cooking for about 2 hours.

Peel the potatoes if you like and chop them into 1 or 2 inch chunks (I usually don’t peel the potatoes because I like the potato skins- I just wash the outside skin really well). Wash the cabbage head and remove the outside leaves. Cut the cabbage head into quarters and cut the stem out of the cabbage. Add the potatoes to the simmering water at about 2 1/2 hours of cooking time, and add the cabbage on top.

Let simmer for about another 1/2 hour until the potatoes are soft and the cabbage is well cooked. Remove the corned beef, cut slices against the grain and serve in a bowl with some of the broth and the vegetables. Enjoy!

Bonus: how to make the Black and Tan in the picture:

Start with a good Irish pale ale- I like Bass Ale for this. Fill a glass half full of pale ale. Then take a large spoon and hold it upside-down over the glass. Carefully and slowly pour Guinness Stout (the only real choice for the “black” part of the Black and Tan) over the spoon so it layers on top of the Pale Ale. Enjoy (responsibly)!


Steak with Crab Sauce

Steak with Crab SauceThis is what I made for my wonderful wife Kristina and me for Valentine’s Day. Kristina had picked up some Filet Mignon and King Crab legs, which would have made a terrific meal with the steak and steamed crab legs, but I wanted to do something just a little more special. So I came up with this idea to top the steak with a crab sauce. The sauce is just a modified version of your basic French bechamel sauce (a roux with milk added), but with the crab and extra ingredients I added it turned out even better than I expected. Kristina agreed!

Normally I like to grill steak, as in the “Perfectly Grilled Filet Mignon” post, and I’m a year-round barbecuer…I don’t let cold temperatures stop me. But right now my kettle grill is buried in 3 feet of snow and ice, so I decided to cook the steaks indoors in my trusty cast-iron pan, as in my very first post, “Steak au Poivre“. Either method of cooking the steaks would be good for this recipe, but it is a little simpler logistics-wise to cook the steaks and make the sauce together on the same stove.



  • 2 Filet Mignon cuts of steak
  • Coarse sea salt or Kosher salt
  • Coarse-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of butter



  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 cloves or garlic
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon leaves of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard (optional?)
  • Salt to taste
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Crab from 2 lbs. of King Crab legs


Special Utensils

  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Meat thermometer


Serves 2

First, I got the most time-consuming part out of the way, separating the meat out of the King Crab legs. The King Crab meat really worked well with this recipe, but you could buy some fancy lump crab meat instead if you want to save time. I got probably about a pound of meat or a little less out of two pounds of crab legs, so if you use already cleaned crab meat use about a pound of it.

Seasoned SteaksNow let’s prep the steaks. Pat them down with paper towels to get them as dry as possible, if need be. Add the coarse sea salt or kosher salt and the coarse-ground black pepper liberally to each side, as shown. By the way, the picture shows 4 filets– the two smaller ones were for the kids, who didn’t want and wouldn’t have appreciated the crab sauce. But if you wanted to make this recipe for 4, the amount of crab sauce in this recipe would probably be enough for 4 filets.

Now the sauce. This step you can either do before or during the time the steaks are cooking, depending on how good you are at multitasking. The steaks won’t take long, so you can make the sauce before the point of adding the crab meat, then cook the steaks, then gently reheat the sauce and add the crab meat when the finished steaks are resting. Or you can do the steaks and sauce at the same time and have it all come together at once if you’re a good juggler.

Bechamel SauceHeat up the two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan at medium heat (hey, we’re actually using a saucepan to make a real sauce). Add the garlic, which has been very finely minced, and the thyme. When the garlic just starts to soften up, start adding the tablespoon of flour, a little at a time, stirring, until you get a nice pasty consistency, and stir until it just turns a sand-brown color. While making the roux, heat the cup of milk, either on the stove or in the microwave, then add it a little at a time while still stirring, always stirring, until you have a nice smooth sauce. Then add the grated Parmesan, again a little at a time until it’s mixed in nicely. Now add the tablespoon of spicy brown mustard if you wish. The sauce tasted really good at this point without mustard, but I thought it needed a little something extra, so I decided to add it. Another option would’ve been to add a little horseradish– I have a feeling that would’ve been even better, but sadly I had none on hand at the time. But the mustard was good. The dash of cayenne gave the sauce an extra bite. Add the crab to the sauce right before putting the meal together, and gently fold the crab meat into the sauce instead of mixing– we want to preserve the chunky lumps of delicious crab coated in the sauce, not break it up.

To cook the steaks, heat up your trusty cast-iron skillet on high heat, and melt the butter. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees. When the skillet is good and hot, put the steaks on and cook for a few minutes on each side, cooking to a nice dark-brown sear but not burning. When the steaks are nice and seared on each side, put them on a cookie sheet or similar, insert a meat thermometer in the biggest steak, and put in the oven until the steaks reach exactly 125 degrees for medium-rare (or 140 for medium, but as I’ve said before, I think anything over medium-rare is a crime against steak).

Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes or so, then top with the crab sauce. Serve with your vegetables of choice– I served these with some broccoli and a nice side of smashed garlic potatoes, which I’ll feature in another post one day. Enjoy!


Beef Stew

Beef Stew This has been a pretty tough winter so far, here in Michigan… lots of snow; high temps struggling but often failing to get into double digits; low temps dropping below zero. Right this minute– Sunday, 3:30 pm, it’s 12 degrees out, with snow that’s been steadily falling all day long. So this is the perfect day to get a fire going and make some good old-fashioned cold-weather comfort food: beef stew, pretty much like mom used to make.


  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. stewing beef
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 3-4 ribs celery
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 large or 6-8 small potatoes
  • 1 red pepper (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
  • Splash of red wine
  • About 2 pints beef stock
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


Serves 4

Cut up your stewing beef into bite-sized chunks– around 1″ to 1 1/2″ cubes. Stewing beef is generally a cheaper cut that would be too tough cooked like a steak, but is perfect slow-cooked in a stew until it’s tender. Chuck steak is good for this. If you want to save a little time you can often find pre-cut meat labeled “stewing beef” at the store.

Cut the vegetables up. Dice the onions and mince the garlic into small pieces, but the rest of the veggies like carrots and celery, the more visible veggies, can be cut into more chunky pieces. I added a red pepper because I like the flavor, plus it adds some more vitamins to the stew, but I made this an optional ingredient because it wasn’t in mom’s stew.

Stew BeefYour chunks of beef need to be completely dry so they can be seared, so blot them down with some paper towel if you need to. This is important, because we want to brown the meat for flavor– not steam it.

Searing BeefAdd the butter or oil to a large pot (big enough for the whole stew– this is one of those nice easy one-pot meals). Turn the heat on high. When it’s sizzling, add the meat, and give it a few minutes to get nice and browned on each side before turning each piece over to brown the whole surface of each piece.When the meat is browned, remove it and pour out any excess grease from the meat, leaving just a little bit. Add the chopped up vegetables and cook while stirring until the onions start to soften up a little.

Now add a nice generous splash of red wine and stir up the brown stuff on the bottom of the pan from the seared meat. Cook long enough to let the wine reduce some and cook off the alcohol (our kids are going to be eating the stew too). Add the beef stock, put the beef back in, and add all the seasonings at this point and bring to a simmer. Cook on a very slow simmer for 2-3 hours.

While the stew is simmering, wash and scrub the outside of the potatoes. Peel the potatoes if you want, but I leave the skins on because it adds more fiber, and I like the taste of potato skins (plus, it’s one less thing to do!). Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces, about the same size as the beef. Add the potatoes in the last 1/2 hour of the cooking time– they don’t take too long. Stick a fork in a sample potato piece to see if it’s done.

When the potatoes are ready, mix the 3 tablespoons of flour with an equal amount of water, adding the water slowly, and constantly stirring to make sure you get a smooth paste without any lumps of dry flour. It should have the consistency of pancake batter. Slowly add the flour-water paste to the beef stew while stirring the stew until it thickens up just to a gravy-like consistency. Heat and stir a little longer to make sure the flour is well-mixed in with the stew and the consistency is right (add a little water if it gets too thick), and it’s ready.

Serving suggestion– serve with a nice chunk of crusty French-style bread to help mop up the “gravy”, preferably in front of a nice roaring fire if you have one. Enjoy!

Barbequed Beef Brisket with Chipotle Sauce

Barbequed Beef Brisket

Barbequed Beef Brisket

I finally got around to attempting a slow-smoked barbequed beef brisket today! I’ve been meaning to for a while now. Beef brisket is one of the big three stars of barbeque along with barbequed ribs and pulled pork. The ribs and the pork I’ve done and I was very happy with the results. But I’ve heard barbequed brisket can be a little tricky– it’s easy to end up with a brisket that’s a little tough and on the dry side. And my first attempt could have been a little more tender and juicy, but for the most part I thought it was a good first effort, with room for improvement.

So what did I learn, and what would I do to make it even better for next time? Well, I started with about about a 6 or 7 lb. “point cut” which is one of two cuts from the brisket– the “flat cut” is leaner, so it doesn’t get the same flavor from the delicious melting fat as the beef is cooked low and slow. So, I had the right cut– so far so good. But I made the decision to cut the brisket in half and freeze the other half, because it seemed like a lot of meat and I thought it would cook to temperature more quickly. I probably should have cooked the whole point cut at once.

One note on the type of brisket to buy for barbequeing– don’t confuse this with a corned-beef brisket, which has been cured and flavored with a mix of preservatives and spices, and has that bright-pink color you see in corned beef and cabbage, or deli-style corned beef sandwiches. You want an uncured beef brisket, preferably the point cut.

Normally I would slow-cook something like this in my smoker– the cylindrical thing I used on the barbequed turkey post, but I had just bought a Weber kettle-style grill, the “Gold” model, with a thermometer and an upper grate with a couple cool little hinged wing things on both sides that fold up to add more coals and wood on each side when cooking indirectly. So I was excited to try something a little more complicated than hamburgers or steaks on it. The temperature was easy to keep steady on this grill, but the one drawback was I couldn’t seem to get the temp under 250 degrees without shutting the vents almost completely and risk snuffing out the coals. I think a temp of 225 would’ve been a little more ideal. But I may have started with too many coals on each side. Still, I think next time I’ll go back to the smoker.

So cooking the whole point cut and trying to hold the temp to around 225 will mean it’ll take even longer than my half-cut at 250 degrees, and that took between 9 and 10 hours to reach 190 degrees– the temp at which the tough collagen in the meat melts and makes the meat tender.  Typically when slow-cooking large cuts of meat, there’s a period called the “stall”, I think I’ve mentioned before- the “stall” is where the internal temp of the meat, measured with a meat thermometer, seems to hang around 150 for  hours before it starts climbing again. To combat the “stall” and speed things up, you can wrap the brisket in foil when the internal temp hits around 150. Then remove the foil again for the last hour, or when the internal temp of the brisket hits around 180 degrees, to make sure the “bark”– the dark smoky outer crust of the brisket– has a chance to get nice and crispy. That’s one drawback of the foil-wrap method to fight the stall- it can prevent that delicious “bark” from forming, which  is considered by some the best part of the brisket. The bark on my brisket turned out great, since I didn’t need the foil-wrap trick this time.

Brisket on Grill

Where it all began at 7 am.

Now about the second part of the post title, the Chipotle barbeque sauce…I’ve had a lot of peppers on the jalapeno plants in my garden this year, so I got the idea to try to make my own chipotles– red ripe jalepeno peppers that are smoked for several hours, then turned into a paste or powder. Thing is, it’s hard to make chipotle without growing your own peppers, because it’s difficult to find ripe jalapenos at the store– you usually find only green jalapenos. I left a lot of peppers to ripen on my plants, picked a bunch of them this morning, and smoked them along with the brisket. So when I made my barbeque sauce for the brisket I basically made my version of the North Carolina-style sauce I used when I made pulled pork, but instead of Tabasco I used 4 or 5 of the smoked red peppers. The sauce was really special with the chipotle peppers added! Kristina really liked it too. It could have merited a post of its own. If you want to try making this sauce but unfortunately don’t have any ripe jalapenos on hand or time to smoke them for ten hours, you can use store-bought chipotle powder and it’ll be almost as good.


  • 1 3-5 lb. Beef brisket
  • Chunks of your favorite hardwood for smoking



  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika



  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons rub from above recipe
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 4-5 red ripe jalepeno peppers smoked with brisket, or 1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder


Special Utensils:

  • Smoker or Kettle-style grill
  • Meat Thermometer


Start with the brisket. It will have a layer of fat on one side; it should be about 1/4 inch thick. If it’s much thicker, trim some fat until there’s about 1/4″ left, give or take.

Mix up the rub ingredients and rub it on the brisket the night before. Wrap the rubbed brisket up in plastic wrap, put it in the refrigerator, and set your alarm. You’re going to want to get to get started early, because the barbequing’s going to take as long as 13 hours.

Bright and early the next morning, get the charcoal started and soak some of your favorite hardwood in water for smoking– I used apple and hickory. If you’re cooking on a kettle-style grill like I did, you’ll want to have some type of pan in the middle under the brisket to catch the juices, with coals on both sides to cook indirectly. I made a “pan” for the center of the grill out of a couple layers of heavy-duty foil, added the hot coals to both sides and a few chunks of wood on the coals. Place the brisket fat-side up in the center (that way the fat melts down through the brisket, self-basting it) along with whatever else you may be slow-smoking, like red jalapenos, in the center. Cover and adjust vents until you get a nice steady 225-250 temp. You’ll need to add new coals every 2 hours or so, and more wood as needed.

After a few hours, insert your trusty meat thermometer. When you see the temp reach around 150, that’s when you figure out whether you have time to wait it out to the magic 190 degree mark and ensure a nice chewy bark, or you want to speed things along and wrap it in foil.

Now it’s time to make the sauce. Mix the ingredients and heat in a pan for 15 or 20 minutes to not quite the boiling point– a low simmer is good. If you smoked peppers and want to add them to the sauce like I did, let the sauce cool, then add 4 or 5 peppers (stems removed) to a blender with a little of the sauce and puree. Stop, add a little more of the sauce and puree some more. Repeat until all the sauce is blended in.

If you did the foil-wrap method, remove the foil when the internal temp hits 180 or so there’s around an hour to finish the outside “bark”. At 190 degrees, remove the brisket from the grill and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite sides– I steamed up some broccoli and made another batch of that excellent mac and cheese from this post. Enjoy!