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Kip of the Week: Pörkölt. February 17, 2009

Posted by panterazero in herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, red meat.
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Ah, Hungarian cooking. Especially Hungarian national dishes!… oh, wait, everything out of a Hungarian kitchen is a national dish. But I’m speaking here specifically of the world-renowned meat dishes of the Hungarian prairie — gulyás (goulash) and gulyásleves (goulash soup, which is not goulash, but is still good,) pörkölt (which has never been translated into English because everybody in an English-speaking country thinks all Hungarian stew is goulash), and finally paprikas (“paprikash”) which is what you make when you don’t want your stew to have water in it. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

There are articles, there are books, and for all I know there are fistfights, about the precise distinctions among these dishes. However, they all depend on one of Central Europe’s most robust culinary armatures — red meat, onions, paprika, potatoes or pasta, and some sort of stock. Confronting this, one can only say “How could I go wrong?” And, really, you can’t; but a little extra attention to technique makes for an entirely superior result.

Some day I’ll develop a goulash recipe, but I just don’t have time today to write that book. So let’s concentrate on (very) good (very) old pörkölt, which is really the wellspring of almost all Hungarian stews.

three pounds of stew beef, or a three-pound boneless chuck roast, or a three-pound boneless cross-rib roast
three pounds yellow onions (say, four to five medium)
one tablespoon oil
two Anaheim peppers
two cloves of garlic
three tablespoons sweet or hot paprika
two tablespoons paprika and one tablespoon Santa Fe or Chimayo chile powder
either of the above plus red flake pepper to taste
two teaspoons Bell’s poultry seasoning
one teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
one-half teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
one teaspoon salt
one-half teaspoon ground black pepper
water or stock, as given

If you’re working with the chuck roast or cross-rib roast, cut it into nice bite-size pieces. Also skin and chop the onions, so as to have them ready.

Warm up a large sauté pan or metal casserole, and put the oil in it. Cover the entire bottom of the pan with a single even layer of beef pieces, so that there are no gaps. (You may have to do this in two batches.) Turn the heat to medium or medium-high.

As the beef cooks, juices will bubble up in the gaps between the pieces. So long as this is happening, the pan needs only occasional attention. Once the bubbling stops, though, watch the pan like a hawk, because you want all the juices to dry out and brown nicely, but not scorch! Just when the pan juices are the right shade of brown, the beef pieces will unstick from the pan, so take them out with a spatula and set them aside. IMMEDIATELY add the onions, along with a little more oil if the pan is very dry, and stir until the onions start to shed water and dissolve and pick up the dried pan juices. Here you can lower the heat a bit and cut back to stirring occasionally, so top, seed and chop the Anaheim peppers and crush the garlic.

When the onions are a uniform, appetizing brown, add the chopped peppers, crushed garlic, paprika, Bell’s seasoning, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper, and stir until everything is nicely mixed.

Put the onions, spices and herbs in the bottom of the casserole, then put the meat on top, and add stock or boiling water JUST to cover everything. Keep on a high simmer on the stove, or in a 275° oven, for… oh, an hour to 90 minutes, tasting occasionally to make sure that the beef is tender but not flaky. Serve with noodles or boiled potatoes, and I highly recommend boiled carrots or steamed cabbage as a vegetable side.

© /KC February 2009


KotW: A memory of beef February 15, 2009

Posted by panterazero in food philosophies, Kip of the Week, red meat.
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Probably in 1976, in a restaurant in San Francisco’s Japantown called Sanppo, I had one of the most intriguing Japanese appetizers I’ve ever had. On the menu, it was called “Grilled Beef.”

It was simply two large cubes of beef, which had been grilled, but on one side only. The side of the cube touching the plate was almost, but not quite, charred. The visible top was almost, but not quite, raw.

Give that a thought. It means that a bite of that beef, a vertical slice, comprised infinitesimal layers of every possible degree of doneness — therefore every possible intrinsic flavor — that the meat could have. By a cooking method so simple as to seem slipshod, a genuinely complex and elegant dish had been created.

Now — okay. To begin with, those two cubes were beef of a quality that would be very difficult to buy on the open market. Also, the cooking had been done with fanatical care; I’ve tried to duplicate it since, and have only come close. But whether I’m brave enough to use this technique to create an appetizer, I sure have learned something about browning beef before I stew it. And we’ll get to that tomorrow, when I post a recipe.

Pantera’s Meatloaf December 10, 2008

Posted by panterazero in herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, red meat.


I was recently invited by our administrator, Junk Food Girl — hereinafter referred to as NetHeadChef — to become a full voting member of this blog, and I accept humbly and gleefully.  From now on I will be posting as panterazero, the name on my birth certificate, rather than as Kip of the Week.  And I hope that I will properly answer the honor that has been done me.

Pantera’s Meatloaf

Many of us are just emerging from a stretch of concentration on poultry — personally I’m still using up the dark meat from our Thanksgiving turkey — and, because the US holiday calendar is so odd, we’re about to enter another one.  So, given what I said earlier about saving red meat for special occasions, let’s have some while we’ve got a chance.  I messed around with half a dozen meatloaf recipes from prestigious (or dilapidated or both) cookbooks before I realized that, by its nature, the tastiest meatloaf is also quick and simple.

Preheat oven to 400°F (375°F convection)

four cloves garlic
two slices whole-grain bread, toasted dark and broken up
one teaspoon dried oregano
one teaspoon dried marjoram
one teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red flake pepper
one large onion, diced
one generous pound ground beef
one generous pound ground turkey
two eggs
one 7-oz. can El Pato Mexican tomato sauce
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

1/4 cup good commercial barbecue sauce or bulgogi sauce mixed with 1/4 cup water

In food processor, mince garlic, then add bread and grind to crumbs, add dried herbs and pepper, and pulse.  Add to large bowl.

In food processor, mince onions, add to bowl.

Add ground meats, eggs, El Pato sauce, and mustard. Combine with a large spoon or with your hands, and mix thoroughly, but don’t overwork the mixture. Mound the mixture onto the pan. Bake 15 minutes at 375°, then reduce heat to 325° and bake about 1 1/2 more hours, until the juices in the pan have browned and the internal temperature is 150°.  For the last fifteen minutes of baking, brush with the thinned-down barbecue sauce to glaze.

Let cool slightly, cut into nice thick slices, and serve with pico de gallo, mango chutney, or sriracha.  This recipe is as good cold as hot.

© /KC December 2008

KotW: Rolled Flank Steak Dijon October 15, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in guests, Kip of the Week, red meat.
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Some people dismiss flank steak because it’s not as tender as the glamour cuts like ribeye. Shortsighted in the extreme! Yes, flank is a muscle that gets used, and when properly cooked it can be chewy, but it’s unparalleled for the flavor and texture of “real meat.” It also stands up to a highly flavored stuffing, and the resulting presentation is impressive for company.

one flank steak (about 2 lb.)
fresh-ground black or green pepper

1 — 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs from interesting bread (two heelpieces work perfectly)
4-6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon allspice
one tablespoon cider vinegar
one tablespoon sriracha, optional

1/4 cup Dijon mustard (about)

one tablespoon corn, canola or peanut oil

Preheat oven to 400° (I suggest by starting baked potatoes which are good with this). Put the steak rough side up on the cutting board, salt and pepper it, cover it with plastic, pound it to uniform thickness and let it rest.

Make the breadcrumbs in your food processor. Dump them into a saute pan and toast them over a medium flame, shaking the pan, till the crumbs are golden brown and smell really good. Grind the garlic, parsley, allspice, and vinegar, and the hot sauce if you’re using it, in the food processor; add the breadcrumbs and mix. Wipe out the pan carefully.

Remove the plastic from the steak and spread mustard over the whole rough side, then cover the mustard evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and press it in firmly. Roll the steak up smooth side out and secure the edge with toothpicks.

Heat the saute pan, add the oil, and brown the rolled steak medium brown on all sides; then transfer the steak to a baking pan and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

A very natural liaison between the steak and the potatoes would be sour cream with horseradish and chopped scallions; add a green salad with chopped olives, and you’ll have a dinner that deserves a really broadshouldered syrah or zinfandel. Enjoy!

© /KC October 2008

KotW: Kip’s Koftas September 10, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, red meat, Thai.
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As you’ll realize from the parade of chicken and vegetable recipes in here, I don’t cook red meat that often. When I do, it’s an occasion, and I put a little extra work into it. So it is that hamburger — whose attraction used to be that you only needed to shape it and put it near some heat — works its way into dishes with several ingredients and a slightly fancy presentation. These koftas have a venerable Middle Eastern attitude toward ground beef, but with a bit of Thai spin in the details.

Piece of fresh ginger the size of your thumb, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup prepared red curry sauce (I use Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
pinch salt ]

In a food processor, grind the ginger and garlic as fine as possible. Add the onions, curry powder, allspice and nutmeg, and pulse-chop until minced but not mushy.

Preheat broiler. By hand, combine the onion mixture, ground beef, egg, and curry sauce. Shape into eight thin patties and broil five to six minutes each side. Serve with rice and with more curry sauce if desired. Serves four as a main meat course or eight as an appetizer.

© /KC September 2008

KotW: Beef & Lime Pasta Salad August 7, 2008

Posted by sarawr in entertaining, exotic!, Kip of the Week, red meat.
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[This week’s post is the long-awaited beef & lime pasta salad. It’s a great summer recipe for using up all those leftover grilled steaks, and it’s novel enough to serve when you want to impress. Let’s give a big hand to Kip, the only Schizo who’s not also a slacker!]

I often think that limes get a bad rap. Too often, lime is thought of merely as a dessert ingredient while its blond and blowsy cousin, the lemon, gets to star in an amazing variety of productions. The line gets much more respect in countries with truly sophisticated spicy cuisines, like Cuba, India, and Thailand. This recipe uses lime juice and zest as the top notes for a dinner salad that’s a little different.

1 lb. fusilli, penne, farfalle, broken-up perciatelli, or elbow macaroni
2 cups medium to medium-rare roast beef or steak, slivered
1 cup stock
1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 large or 2 small limes, zest and juice
shredded Romano cheese, to taste
romaine leaves

Start cooking pasta. In a largish pot, saute the minced garlic and nuts in the olive oil till golden, pour in the stock to stop the cooking. Keep mixture at simmer and, when pasta is cooked al dente, add the pasta and the beef. Refrigerate.

Before serving, add the lime juice, the lime zest and the cheese, and mix again. Serve on romaine leaves.

This recipe is somewhat of a work in progress, and I could see adding ingredients like shredded ginger, shredded basil, nam pla, coconut milk, roasted red bell peppers, roasted cherry tomatoes, diced mango…depending on which direction you want to take it. If you feel like trying this and think of any other exhilarating additions, please mail me at panterazero[AT]gmail.com!

(c) /KC July 2008

Mmm, meaty. July 10, 2008

Posted by sarawr in herbs & spices, red meat, roasts.

If you’re not a vegetarian, you probably love roasts. If you’re me, you’re also a little intimidated by them; it’s hard to get a roast just right, and I’ve been trying for years. I’ve been beset by all the usual problems — meat comes out too dry, a roast that looks substantial at the market shrinks during cooking to something more appropriate for a small cat than a family of three, the meat is just right but the vegetables are mushy — and I’d begun to despair of ever getting it right. Thankfully, I think I finally did. A few nights ago I was faced with the letdown that comes after an amazing week, the lack of energy that comes from days without sleep and a looming deadline, and a roast I’d almost forgotten about. I kind of went “aww, to hell with it” and just tossed things together. Here’s the (delicious) result:

A smallish roast (three or four pounds)
Four or five red potatoes
A couple of handfuls of baby carrots
Half of a purple onion
A cup and a half of butternut squash
A quarter cup or so of V8 or plain tomato juice
Decent butter
A little olive oil
Various seasonings

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and prepare your roasting pan by buttering it very lightly (you can use cooking spray too, but your vegetables will be distinctly lacking in flavor). Dice up your carrots, onion, potatoes, and squash and toss them together in the pan. Get about 3/4 of a cup of hot water and add pepper, salt, parsley, some finely chopped garlic, a sprinkle of paprika, and just a splash of soy sauce. Pour this over the vegetables and let everything sit.

Once that’s done, sear the roast in about a tablespoon of olive oil and half a tablespoon of butter. When I say sear, I mean it — you don’t want to brown your meat here so much as you want to crisp the outer layer. Don’t turn the heat all the way up, but get it pretty darn close — about thirty seconds on each side should do it. Let the roast cool a bit, then place it on top of the vegetables with the most fatty side up. Sprinkle the meat with pepper, a dash of Tabasco, and more chopped garlic. Pour the V8 over it until the roast is well-covered but the juice isn’t really involved with the vegetables. Cover the whole thing (if you’re using foil, lightly butter or spray it so that it doesn’t stick to the roast) and pop it in the oven for two hours.

If this wasn’t just a fluke, the meat should come out meltingly tender while the vegetables are firm, flavorful, and just a little bit crisp where they’ve touched the pan. I’d love it if some of you would try this and let me know how it works; I want to do it again, but I have been well-schooled by experience to expect recipes this good to fail miserably upon re-attempt. Good luck!