Friday, February 18, 2011

Help with tough beef and recipe for Spanish Rice Casserole

The other day on a fellow ranch wife's blog there was a discussion of what to do with tough cuts of beef. It got me thinking that she is not the only one out there with that problem. There have been plenty of times that I have planned and cooked a meal only to discover that you needed a chain saw to cut the meat and eat it when it hit the table. So is there a solution that works and does not take all day to the problem of tough meat? Yes, at least for me there is. One is to slow cook the meat; this is a tried and true way to help tenderize meat that is less than cooperative. This can be done in the slow cooker for roasts, london broil and brisket (my favorite way to cook BBQ brisket, but that is another post all together!), but what about recipes that call for meat cooked in a skillet quickly. That is when tough beef can be even more difficult to deal with, unless you take one extra step in the cooking process. Cut the meat as described in the recipe and brown it in the skillet just like normal, but before you add any more ingredients add enough water to cover the beef, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the beef is tender. Watch the water level during that time and add more water if needed. When the meat is tender, drain off any excess water and continue on with the recipe as normal. I have used this trick on everything from Chinese stir-fry to Indian curry; beef stew; chunky beef chili; beef stroganoff and a wide variety of beef dishes of which I will share with everyone over the next few blogs. The following recipe is one of those that were a childhood favorite and I have made some changes to over the years. Again just like the other recipes here I hope you enjoy and hope that this tip helps you the next time you are worried about an overly tough piece of beef.

Spanish Rice Casserole

1 lb round, flank or sirloin steak; cut into 1 inches pieces
1/2 onion chopped
4 oz can of chopped green chilies
1/2 bell pepper chopped
2- 8oz cans of tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups instant rice and correct amount of water according to the rice package
salt, pepper and chili powder to taste

1) Brown the meat and if needed to make more tender add enough water to cover and simmer until tender. Drain off the extra water. Add bell peppers and onion and cook until soft.
2) Add the tomato sauce, water, chilies and seasoning. Bring to a boil and add rice stir well and turn off the heat and let sit 5 minutes.
3) You can top this with cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes or you favorite Mexican food toppings.

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