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Archive for the ‘Red Meat’ Category

…and red all over

My friend Virgle Kent calls me Liz Lemon. No, it isn’t because of the glasses. It is because I am a huge spaz.

A few months back there was an episode of “30 Rock” where Liz has her boyfriend, Drew (played by the Adonis-like Jon Hamm), over for dinner. It is a series of humiliations, pratfalls, and indignities; she screws up dinner, accidentally flashes him and says all the wrong things. VK pinged me the next day and told me that is what he imagines a date with me is like.

I didn’t help my case, my “Hey, no, I am nothing like that klutz, trainwreck Liz Lemon” case, when I spilled half a glass of Prosecco on myself a few weeks back when we were at lunch and I just kept on talking. He appropriately mocked me, I just moved right on along, barely noticing.

I am used to it. I have lived with myself for 28 years.

I trip. I cut myself. I fall. I slam in to walls and walk in to coffee tables. I break glasses and drop eggs. I tumble down the stairs at least once a year. The fact that I have been on and off all these headache meds, which effect my balance and equilibrium, for 5 years doesn’t help. Sadly, the pills cannot take all the blame. It is me. It is who I am. To know me is to love that I can barely stand on my own two feet.

As a result, I am habitually covered in bruises.  Sometimes I can pinpoint their origins but most of the time I have no idea from whence they sprang. For instance, this huge bruise on my left hip?  Ugly purple and green?  Absolutely no clue, but I am assuming I walked in to something.  Oh bruises, I know you well.

Another thing I know well is a burger and what could be better than a black and blue one? To know it is to love it.  This burger was insanely moist thanks to a few things; the onions and garlic sweat out in to the meat, the ground meat had a decent fat content and the sausage imparted some delicious fat as well. The worcestershire sauce and balsamic certainly doesn’t hurt.  I demoed these and everyone went insane with how good they tasted.  I really think the sausage and blue cheese add an unexpected element to the burger that brings it up to the next level.  I overcooked them–I was worried about them being too rare for the crowd–and they were still pretty amazing.  That is a mark of a good burger.  The picture is subpar–I was so hungry I forgot to snap a picture of it plated–but you can see how juicy they are.  Best of all, these are super easy.

Look, I can barely walk but I can make a good burger.  Trust me.

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Black and Blue Burgers

4 lbs ground beef (not too lean)

3 sweet Italian sausages, cut out of the casing

1 medium sized red onion (or half of a large red onion), finely diced

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

3 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

3 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup blue cheese

Salt and pepper (don’t be shy)

Mix together all ingredients with hands. Preheat grill or grill pan. Cook to desired temperature. Don’t be a bitch like me and overcook them, but these are so moist that even medium well, they are really great.

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Hi everyone, I’m Brian from over at The Life of Brian.   Lexa is away this weekend and she honored me by asking if I would guest blog for her today.  Naturally, I accepted and hopefully I can lend a masculine touch over here today. I hope you enjoy, but  if you don’t, flame away.  She’ll be back Tuesday….

Although it may not feel like it this morning, spring is nearly upon us. Soon we’ll shed our winter coats and mittens in favor of shorts, sundresses and flip flops.  We’ll rediscover the outdoor patios of our favorite watering holes and remember the simple pleasure of enjoying a light brunch outside.  Winter will be a distant memory very very soon.

One of my favorite things about spring, besides all that stuff listed above, is the first cookout of the season.  I’m not talking about the makeshift, wanna-be, middle-of-the-winter-but-it-warmed-up-to-50-today sorta BBQ.  No ma’am, I’m talking about a full blown it’s-been-over-70-degrees-all-week-and-now-it’s-Saturday-so-let’s-BBQ-bitches! kinda BBQ.

Good friends, cold beers, chips and salsa, potato salad, corn on the cob, and of course…   cheeseburgers on the grill.  What could be better right? (OK, so I can think of a few things that would be better, but this is a family blog here)

I love cheeseburgers with all my heart and soul.   No, I’m not talking some fake-ass cheeseburgers that come out of a freezer case.  I’m talking about beautifully hand sculpted mounds of sizzling ground beef, loaded with great toppings.   So here’s my favorite version of the glorious cheeseburger:

Beautiful  Cheeseburgers (makes about 8 1/4lb cheeseburgers)

Ingredients

For the patties

-2lbs of ground beef (I prefer having the butcher grind it for me, but regular ground chuck will do here. No more than 85% lean though)

-2tbsp worcestershire sauce

-2tsp onion powder

-2tsp kosher salt

-2tsp celery salt

-1 egg

-2tbsp of butter, finely diced

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Roll into pool ball sized mounds and form into patties about 1 inch thick.  Place on a platter and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature in a cool, dry place (takes about 30-45 minutes).

During this time, crack open a beer and get that outdoor grill heated up.  After pre-heating for about 20 minutes, lay the patties on the grill and sear on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each. You want a nice  brown crust on both sides of the patty, but you want to to burn it.  Once seared, move to the top rack of the grille (or, in lieu of a top rack, you can make a basket out of aluminum foil and place the burgers in there).  Turn the heat down to medium, or in the case of a charcoal grill, transfer the patties to a cooler portion of the grille surface.   Place your choice of cheese (more on that below) and finish on the top rack for about 3-5 minutes depending on the temperature you like.  Serve on a toasted bun immediately.
The Bun
Ah yes, the bun.  The tie that binds this whole package together.   There will sometimes be ways to cut corners while making burgers, this should never be one of them.   I know that paying $5 for package of buns seems like a lot when there are plenty of $2 packs of buns in the bread isle.  But trust me when I tell you it can make all the difference the world for your little bundles of burger joy.  That cow worked died so you could have a tasty cheeseburger, don’t dishonor it by sticking it in a cheap ass bun.

If you’re so inclined, I also recommened toasting the bun with a little bit of butter too.  It gives it a little bit of crispness and really brings out the flavor of that beautiful piece of bread.

Toppings
People’s choice of toppings vary greatly and can range anywhere from simple ketchup and mustard to bone marrow and foie gras.  Here are the toppings I like to offer when I make my burgers:

-Sauteed red onions

-Sherried and grilled mushrooms

-Sun kissed tomato slices (normal slices of tomato,  sprinkled with salt and sugar and slow cooked in an 200 degree oven for 35 minutes to bring out the tomato flavor

-Romaine lettuce

-Tangy burger sauce (1 part sriracha, 2 parts mayonnaise, dash of lemon juice, dash of salt)

Or, just go crazy with your own.   I try all kinds of stuff on burgers and have found lots of fun ways to jazz it up.

The Cheese
A perfect burger cheese should be melty and creamy, without turning oily or greasy.  American is fine, but try other cheeses like some nice cave aged cheddar, muenster or even Monterrey jack.

Once you have all your pieces together, assemble and enjoy with an ice cold brew or, if you’re not the drinking type, a cold mug of root beer.  Now,  if only I could find my flip flops…

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My Way

One of the best things in this world is when you manage to convince people you are doing them a favor but in actuality this kindness comes from a place of self interest.

“Your legs look so pretty in heels” really means “Those freaking Uggs were searing my corneas and if I had to look at them for one more moment I might have vomitted”.

Or when I say “You should totally go on a date with him; he seems like a great guy!” what I am really getting at is “If I have to entertain your sorry, pathetic ass for another Friday night I may shoot myself.”

And “Let me make us all dinner before we go out” is my special way of saying “You need some food in your system because I sure as hell am not going to be the one to hold your hair back in about 4 hours.”

Really, it is all about me.

Last Friday, before the blogger happy hour, I had Maxie and Deutlich over and I told them I would treat them to some food while we threw back. Now , I did want to feed the girls–this is what a gracious host does and at my core I am a nurture caretaker–but I would being lying if I was trying to lay a good foundation for them. They seemed ready for a good time– a very good time– and I didn’t want any nonsense on my hands.

The happy hour that night was a blast even if Arjewtino picked the worst spot in the place and I spent the sum of the evening freezing in my teeny, tiny dress. (I know some of you might be thinking, “She should have dressed more appropriately” to which I counter “Clearly, we have not met”.) I want to thank all of you for coming out and I am sorry if I was not entirely on top of my game. My brain was frozen. It was a pleasure meeting all of you…really.

This is the dinner I made for the lovely ladies before me and my breasts braved the arctic chill of Marvin. Aren’t you just a little but jealous? Hell, I made it and I think I deserve a slap on the ass for this one. I pasted a recipe below from Emeril that is perfect to work from; it does reflect most of the changes I made. I am going to say it; I think this adapted recipe is better than Emeril’s. I, perhaps, kicked it up a notch? I added basil to the recipe (the original didn’t call for it), messed with the proportions and removed a lot of the liquid. I like a thicker, heartier sauce and I see no need for beef broth in this so I took it out. I didn’t really measure anything–from the carrots, to the wine, down to the garlic–but that is the perfect thing about this recipe…it is pretty fool proof. Before anyone asks…no, there is no way to “lighten this up”. I just don’t think it would be anywhere near as good with ground turkey or soy crumbles or without the bacon. Yes, I said it…I think the bacon makes a big difference here; it adds a depth of flavor and a smokiness that is essential. Just eat a salad the next day, hop on the treadmill, and do your best to embrace the temporary jiggle this will add to your wiggle. It is worth it. This was kick ass good and I can not encourage you more to try this for yourself; you, your guests and God him/herself will be so happy.

So, yes, we were full, happy and no one puked. It was a win for everyone.

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Classic Bolognese

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced (I just used four strips)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic (a couple cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and their juice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream ( I used fat free half and half)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Pasta…I like fettucine…

Directions

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, basil, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the cream and butter stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and toss to blend. Divide among pasta bowls and serve with the cheese passed tableside.

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Acting Out

Once an idea is in my head it is there…100%. Until I act on it, it haunts my every waking moment.

Take, for instance, my nose stud. The idea crept in my head the summer I was working at the ranch. I spent much time weighing the pros and cons of such a piercing, but finally landed staunchly in the pro column. It is a part of me; I can barely remember a time without it, but good Lord if I haven’t had a few issues with it.

Employers have asked me to take it out.

My mom, though she has come around, was none too pleased about it.

It has been accidentally ripped out more than once.

Despite these things, it is an obsession that I am glad I acquiesced to. I mean if nothing else it taught me to stand up the the bossman, yes? It has brought some life lessons to me.  Anything worthwhile in life may bring you a bit of grief, but you have to follow your instincts.

The idea of goulash crept in to my head about two weeks ago and I was not able to shake it. Seriously, every day I thought about making it…it was an illness.  The thing is, while it was pretty simple to make, it caused some grief.  This has a lot of onions that need to be finely chopped.  Now, I don’t mind, but that is a lot of crying, let me tell you.  At the end of the day, though? So, so worth it.  I implore you to make this a day ahead so the flavors can meld together, but this was homey and comforting and super flavorful.  I was a bit disappointed I could not find sweet paprika, but the regular worked just fine.  I followed this recipe pretty loyally as I had never made goulash before; luckily I knew I could trust Deb over at Smitten Kitchen.  I cut this recipe in half and still had a ton of food.  This would be great for a dinner party with lots of red wine.

So yes, a bit of a pain, but a perfect obsession.

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Goulash

From Smitten Kitchen

5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet*)
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 cups beef broth
1 to 5 cups water or beer (use the former to make a stew, the latter to make a soup–I added one cup)
1 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine

In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In fat remaining in kettle brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with slotted spoon to bowl.

Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick.) Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, 60 to 75 minutes.

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I grew up in a house with a lot of music, very loud music. My mother takes a deep amount of pride in the fact that I knew all the words to Sgt. Pepper before my third birthday. I used to ride Dobin, my rocking horse, to Van Halen’s 1984. I was forced, forced I tell you, to dance like a maniac every Christmas to Feliz Navidad; some people go to church, we worshiped at the alter of Jose Feliciano.  The vibrations of the music rocked picture frames off the walls on the regular. Once, a vase sitting on top of the stereo shattered from the shear force of the amplifier pushing out Stevie Ray Vaughn at 11. This is why my iPod is always on full blast; I was raised this way. It is in my blood. Also, there may be some lingering hearing damage.

My parent’s did their best to school us in Classic Rock. I took much more a shine to it than my brother, singing along to Roger Waters and Deep Purple with my parents. As a result, when they scored some pretty sweet seats to the Allman Brothers when I was 15, I went with them. I sat with them for 3 hours, bopping along to the music, breathing deep as a contact high slowly set in. It was fun, albeit a bit untraditional…kind of like my whole childhood.

Now, the one thing that has always irked me about this is how my parents will scream up and down they they hate country music, but they adore the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Little Feat. Some may argue–they certainly have–that it is Southern Rock. That is just another word for country. These bands are comprised of Jim Beam drinking, Marlboro smoking, Mama lovin’ rednecks. For the love of God, the Allman Brothers named an album after peaches and Gregg Allman’s son is named Elijah; if that ain’t country, I don’t know what is.

What’s so wrong with loving peaches and bourbon and all the fun that comes with it?  Nothing, I say. This spice rubbed flank steak with peach bourbon sauce was pretty damn delicious, proving the inherent excellence of the ingredients.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the spices on the steak are perfectly balanced, sweet with somplexity from the coriander, dry mustard, and cumin. The sauce is the star, though; tangy and spicy, it dresses the steak perfectly.  Also, it is steak! And healthy!

And, maybe, a little bit country…

Spice Rubbed Steak with Bourbon Peach Sauce

From Cooking Light

* Sauce:
* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 1/2 cups peach nectar
* 3 tablespoons brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
* 3 tablespoons bourbon
* 2 tablespoons ketchup
* 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
*

Steak:
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar
* 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
* 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 (1-pound) flank steaks, trimmed
* Cooking spray

Preparation

To prepare sauce, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until tender. Add nectar, 3 tablespoons sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 15 minutes). Add bourbon, ketchup, Worcestershire, and red pepper; cook over medium heat 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in the lime juice. Cool slightly. Pour the sauce into a blender, and process until smooth.

Prepare grill.

To prepare steak, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and next 7 ingredients (1 tablespoon sugar through black pepper); rub over both sides of steak. Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve with sauce.

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Love Lost

“Watch out for Lem on the metro; don’t let her pick up any guys”, Aunt LifeSaver ordered sassE.

This is how a girl gets a reputation. You pick up a guy ONE TIME on the metro and you never live it down. He wasn’t a complete stranger; I had met him a few times. It was baschert, to be honest. I ran into him on the platform after a night of celebrating my birthday. He was a friend of a guy I dated. Sure, he needed coercing, perhaps I maybe had to reassure him our friend was “dead inside” and most surely wouldn’t care. Look, it was my birthday. A gal should always bestow herself with the best, prettiest gifts and my gift to myself this year was a 6’3″ cornfed Midwestern boy. I normally don’t do pretty, but boy oh boy, was he ever.

We got back to his place, proceeded to drink and talk until 5 am, smooched a bit…and we passed out. I woke up the next morning, said good bye, and participated in the most bizarre walk of shame. I had nothing to be ashamed of, yet my dress from the night before betrayed me. A few sideways glances and muffled snickers were thrown in my direction as I sauntered home.

It is shocking, really, how I always manage to foil myself. Such a perfect opportunity he was…just such a damn waste. It was all for nothing.

It was as if by mentioning this incident Aunt LifeSaver cursed me. Another metro tragedy ensued this weekend, but of much lower proportions: I arrived home to realize my leftovers had materialized in to the ether.

Metro would not get the best of me a second time–one delicious thing has already alluded me–so I took last night to recreate my lost meal. This salad with Korean beef took about 5 minutes to prepare, making it a great option for a weeknight dinner. The marinade can be thrown together the night before and the meat left to sit in it overnight. The siraccha adds kick and the brown sugar gives the meat a sweet edge. Flank steak is a very tender cut of meat; the steak is velvety and delicious. It is a flavorful, easy, and healthy dinner.

It was just as good as my lost leftovers…but I can guarantee not nearly as good as that boy would have been.

Korean Flank Steak

A Lemmonex Original

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons siraccha chili sauce

1 spring onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, mined

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 flank steak (~1 lb)

Combine first eight ingredients together. Tenderize meat and put it in a large freezer bag. Add marinade. Marinate for at least an hour, flipping the bag over a few times. Cook on grill (or grill pan/foreman grill); 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing meat against the grain. Serve over salad.

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