All posts tagged beef

Beef Spice Rubs

So, I’ve been gearing up for the cooking competition (technically I think it’s just a showcase, but I bet there will be judging or others eating…so I call it a competition) which lay ahead (the one I’m being sponsored to compete in by the Missouri Beef Council that I mentioned in an earlier post.)  I’ve been doing a lot of cooking with different cuts of beef (mmm…rib eye), but mainly I’ve been thinking.

Amongst the major proteins, red meat, and steak in particular, has one unique property that I have to account for in the competition: it tastes good by itself.  You can take a steak, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, let heat do its thing for 2-3 minutes per side plus 6-8 minutes in the oven and you have a masterpiece…and you didn’t have to fuss one second . With a good steak, the best thing you can do is get out of its way.

But This is Still a Competition

I keep seeing the judges’ face (who look a lot like Tom Colicchio in my mind’s eye) as they examine  my perfectly cooked steak and giving me the “all  you did was add salt and pepper to this steak?  Please pack your knives and go” look.  No, wait, Padma’s there, too.  Which starts Mrs. WellDone yelling at me because I’m spending time with that woman and suddenly, this imagining is getting me into a lot of trouble…

Anyway, until Sunday,  my thought was that this competition will live and die on the sides I prepare.  Which is why I have been cooking sides.  Lots of sides.  And maybe a sauce.  So I’ve been cooking sauces.

But then it occurs to me…I could choose spice rubs other than salt and pepper.  Theywouldn’t need to be as aggressive as the rub I’d put on BBQ or chicken or slow cooked Mexican pork because they would tend to hide the flavor of the steak.  But, a little rub might be just the trick.

Here’s three rubs I am seriously considering.

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Cooking the Cowboy Way

Cooking the Cowboy Way

Cooking the Cowboy Way

The good folks at Andrews McMeel sent me Cooking the Cowboy Way: Recipes Inspired by Campfires, Chuck Wagons, and Ranch Kitchens by Grady Spears with June Naylor to review.  This may have something to do with my previous comments regarding the impossibility of dissolving my marriage on the grounds of my wife not liking seafood in Kansas, a state in love with it’s barbecue.  But either way, I’m always happy to review cookbooks and learn new ways to cook, especially when I get back to my cowboy roots.

Actually, that’s a lie.  I have no cowboy roots, but maybe I could grow some with the right cookbook?  Maybe Cooking the Cowboy Way could let me do just that.  Weighing in at 222 pages, the book is divided into 10 chapters, each featuring the cowboy cuisine of a different region from Alberta, Canada to Sasabe, Arizona, to Arlington, Texas to right here in Kansas City, MO.  Each chapter begins with a write up of the area and the cowboys that live there and then showcases regional specialties as prepared by the owners of famous ranches, cowboy eateries, and barbecue joints at each location.  

Spears is given some pretty amazing access into some of these restaurants and manages to snag  signature dishes from each ranch or restaurant, including the Jackstack Hickory Pit Baked Beans (recipe below), a flavorful mole sauce from Sasabe, and Lonesome Pine Ranch’s Kolaches (Czech pastries for breakfast or dessert.)  Also, every chapter is graced with dozens of professional color photos, both of the food, and the cowboys who eat it.

Cooking the Cowboy Way: The Good

Overall, Cooking the Cowboy Way is a great cookbook with lots of good recipes for how to cook beef, poultry, fish, and other meat according to traditional regional styles.  The mole sauce, for instance, stuck out as being something that looked really good, but something I could make despite having so many ingredients.  Plus, I learned something about my own town…apparently we were one of the originators of the Arnold Palmer drink, a mixture of half lemonade and iced tea.

Plus, the photography in the book is nothing short of stunning.  They’re the kind of pictures that make you want to get on a horse and run down some cattle.  Which having ridden a horse before, I can tell you is sure recipe for saddle sores.  But that’s another story.

So, the book gets high marks there.

Cooking the Cowboy Way: The Hrmm…

So, the one thing that surprised me about the book was that I was expecting something a little less… civilized.  Spears went to restaurants and ranch owners to get their recipes.  I was expecting something a bit more primal, like a campfire cookbook or something that would let me cook 120 meals with nothing but a knife, my Dutch oven, and a campfire.

It wasn’t that.  Sadly, I could make everything with a stove, a couple burners, and the other accoutrements of civilization.

On the other hand, I got the recipe for Jackstack’s hickory pit beans, so I guess civilization isn’t so bad.

Cooking the Cowbow Way: The Recipe

So, here is the bean recipe I keep talking so much about.  See, in Kansas City we have more BBQ places per capita than anywhere else in the world.  Still, for the most part, the debate about where the best BBQ can be found boils down to two places: Fiorella’s Jackstack (a family owned chain of barbecue restaurants) and Oklahoma Joe’s (a BBQ place that started in half of a gas station.  Though to be fair, it was a large gas station.)

My personal favorite is Jackstack.  It’s 1A, but 1B is definitely Oklahoma Joe’s.  Really you can’t go wrong either place.  One of the things that nudges Jackstack ahead of Okie Joe’s, though, is their baked beans.  They’re sweet and smoky and just packed full of meat.  I’d be happy with them and some fries…heck, I’d make the greatest loaded French fries in the history of humankind with that…

So of course, when I saw the recipe in the book, I knew that was the recipe I’d try from the cookbook. 

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Braised Chuck in a Mexican Mole Sauce

Don’t look now, but this post is coming at you from Big Acres Gourmet Products!

I first learned of Big Acres Gourment when I overheard a conversation on Twitter (is that overtweard?) @melanieyunk talking about her amazing mole sauce that she demoed on the radio.

I. Love. Mole.

So of course I asked for a bottle.  I should have asked for case because I am so craving some more

Beef Mole

I promise not to say holy mole!  I promise!  But boy howdy was this stuff good.  For those who don’t know what mole is, it’s a Mexican sauce and the most widely known savory (non-dessert) usage of chocolate.  Mole is a combination of peppers and spices and bitter chocolate that forms this indescribable sauce.  When it’s done right, it’s mindblowing.

When it’s not done right… well, they’re called doggy bags for a reason.

The thing I liked about Big Acres is that their mole was sweet (from the raisins that they add), but also pleasantly spicy.  It also had good body (I am assuming that came from the nuts they add.)

Now, the traditional mole dish is chicken mole, where cooked chicken is combined with mole and usually served with beans, rice, and tortillas.  So of course, when I got my bottle, I couldn’t do chicken mole.  Where’s the challenge?

Ready to see what I did?

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