It is awfully easy, I find, to get into a cooking rut during the winter. For me, the shortening of the days and the addition of more horse chores during fall and winter (horses just eat grass during the spring and summer! They require feedings during the other months of the year) mean dinner becomes an after thought.
The default seems to be meat-heavy-dishes that just don’t excite me. What does excite me, though, is fresh bread. I knew planning a meal around a yeasted dough would get me excited to be in the kitchen (as opposed to dreading this final chore of the day). Thinking over types of breads I’ve not made, I settled on naan.
This dough is super easy to work with and I adore that it is “baked” stove-top rather than in the oven. This leaves your oven free for baking cookies!
Naan (as seen on 3squarechef)
Just when I think I’ve got a well stocked pantry, I run across a recipe like this one that requires me to invest in a variety of ingredients that I have never used before. That’s all okay, though, because those oddball (to me, anyway…I found them easily in my normal grocery store) ingredients led to one of the best beef fillings for tacos, taquitos, and burritos possible.
I had had my eye on this recipe for awhile now, but was turned off by the purchase of whole, dried peppers – something I’ve never done before. But really – it wasn’t a big deal. They were easy to find and made the flavor much deeper than any ground up spice from McCormick would have. The recipe for beef barbacoa takes awhile, but a lot of the time is hands off, and it makes the house smell amazing. Anticipating a delicious meal is half the fun, right?
Beef Barbacoa (from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, who adapted it from The Food Lab on Serious Eats)
- 1 whole dried New Mexico, costeño, or choricero chili, seeds and stem removed
- 1 whole chile ancho or pasilla, seeds and stem removed
- 1 whole chile negro, seeds and stem removed
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided
- 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 1 pound beef ribs
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 4 chipotle chiles packed in adobo, chopped, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 whole chuck roast (about 4 pounds)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 whole bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- tortillas, sliced avocados, cojita cheese, cilantro, salsa, limes, and other condiments for serving as you desire
- 1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
- 2. Place the dried chiles in the bottom of a large Dutch oven and heat over high heat on your stove. Cook, turning the chiles with tongs occasionally, until fragrant and toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a small saucepan and cover with 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until chiles are completely tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
- 3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the now-empty Dutch oven over high heat stove-top until shimmering. Cook the ribs until they’re well-browned on all sides, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes total. Remove the ribs and set aside. Reduce the heat in Dutch oven to medium.
- 4. Add the remaining two tablespoons oil and heat along with the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until deep brown, about 10 minutes.
- 5. Add the cumin, cloves, and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 6. Add the chipotle chiles and adobo sauce, vinegar, and remaining chicken broth. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, simmer until reduced by about half, then transfer the entire contents to the jar of a blender.
- 7. Add the soaked chiles and their liquid to the blender along with the fish sauce. Start the blender on low (be careful of blowups!) and slowly increase the speed to high. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
- 8. Place the beef roast in the Dutch oven. Add the browned ribs, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, the bay leaves, and the prepared sauce. 9. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place the lid on the pot, slightly cracked, then transfer to the oven. Cook, turning the beef occasionally, until completely tender and a cake tester or metal skewer inserted into the meat shows little to no resistance, about 4 hours.
- 9. Discard the bay leaves and ribs (meat from ribs can removed and added to the roast to be eaten if desired). Transfer the chuck to a large plate. Return the Dutch oven to the stovetop, and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced to about 1½ cups, about 5 minutes.
- 10. Beef can be shredded and served immediately or transferred to a sealed container along with the liquid. You may refrigerate up to five days. When ready to serve, shred beef into large chunks with your fingers or two forks. Return the beef to a pot along with the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook, gently stirring and folding until the beef is hot, tender, and coated in sauce. Season to taste with salt. Serve as desired with condiments mentioned above
It is a truly unfortunate situation when life gets in the way of, well, your life. Maybe I’m the only one that has noticed that I’ve been blogging less and less. The first “less” started with the school year…and the second “less” fell into line shortly after that. It isn’t that blogging hasn’t been a priority – it has just been that making blogworthy meals hasn’t been.
My husband has been a trooper through it all – he loves my cooking so much but he has not complained at all at the lack of variety of meals, the “fend for yourself nights,” and the fall-back take-out dinner time that has become unfortunately routine.
On a night when I decided to make a meal that I loved and one that I hadn’t blogged yet, I turned to this beans and rice recipe. I decided this in a flash about 3:45pm on the way home from a particularly tiring day at work. I knew that I had all but one ingredient: the powdered chicken gravy spice packet.
Now, this is not an ingredient I usually cook with – in fact I only use it when I’ve made this meal (twice before) – and I had decided that if the dollar store on the way home from work didn’t have this ingredient then I’d just skip it. I can’t speak for skipping it, however, because it turns out that the little dollar store stocked chicken gravy packets and life went on as planned.
As far as including such an off-the-beaten-path ingredient (for me) in the recipe, I can say this much: I’ve shared enough meals with the maker of this recipe to know that if Bridget calls for an ingredient, it must be necessary and make the dish the best it can be.
My husband was a little deflated when he saw that I was cooking, asked what the meal was, and heard the response was “beans and rice.” This meal, however, was exactly what we both needed. Super simple and satisfying while tasting miles better than canned soup or Chinese takeout.
Spicy Beans and Rice (lightly adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 (4-ounce) cans green chile, diced
- 2 chipotle chiles from adobo sauce, minced
- 1 (0.85 ounce) package chicken gravy mix (recommended: Simply Organic)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tomatoes, chopped, or ½ (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 2-3 cups cooked white rice
- Saute diced onion with 1 tsp oil in a medium sauce pan.
- Add remaining ingredients except rice to the saucepan and bring to a light simmer.
- Cook approximately 30 minutes.
- Stir in cooked rice, if desired, or serve bean mixture atop rice.