Extra Pasta – Braised Beef in Marinara

I had lots of left over penne rigate from the other day and I decided to bring it back for another spin.  The pasta was originally sautéed with diced tomatoes, garlic and anchovy and then tossed in a satiny-buttery sauce.  The dish was simple and mild, which makes it a great starter for this bolder dish.

This is a quick meal, especially because the pasta was already cooked.  Thinly sliced beef cooks in a matter of a few minutes.  From start to finish, including the salad, this took about 30 minutes to make.  The cotija cheese is used like dried Parmesan in this recipe.  It adds a slightly sharp flavor and it helps to thicken the sauce. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbs olive oil

4 green onions (separate the white and green portions)

16 oz tomato sauce

1 Tsp Italian seasoning

8 oz can of sliced mushrooms

Thinly sliced beef

½ cup cotija cheese

16 oz cooked pasta (penne rigate)

Directions:

Dice green onions.  Separate the white parts from the green.  Set the green parts aside.

In a large skillet, set to medium heat, add olive oil and sauté the white parts of the green onions for one minute. 

Add tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and mushrooms.  Simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add cotija cheese and whisk to incorporate.  Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove sauce to a bowl and keep warm.

Add 1 Tbs olive oil to the pan.  Set heat to high.  Add the strips of beef and stir constantly  until cooked to  rare (about 2 minutes).

Return the sauce to the pan, turn the heat to low and stir with the meat for a few minutes.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Turn the mixture out to a serving bowl and top with green onions and a dusting of cotija cheese. 

Serve with a fresh salad.

*Frozen* Stir Fry

I recently made a beef and vegetable stir fry.  When I say recently, I really mean two months ago.

I realized that I had way more beef than I needed for the dish, so I put the marinated beef in a freezer bag, along with the marinade, and tossed it in the freezer for later use. 

Fast forward two months.

 I had a big frozen block of marinated meat.  Now what?

Well, a sensible cook would have thawed the beef in the refrigerator for a day.  But, I was not in a sensible mood.  I was hungry and I wanted to make dinner RIGHT NOW.  My solution was undoubtedly unconventional but I promise, the end result was delicious.

Note:  I used Canola oil throughout the entire stir-fry process until the very end.  I used sesame oil to prepare the leafy celery tops and green onions, which topped the dish.  The intermittent and distinct flavor of sesame oil gave the dish an element of surprise. 

Ingredients:

1 lb frozen, marinated beef strips

2 Tbs cooking oil (I used canola oil)

2 Tbs fresh sliced ginger

1 onion, julienne sliced

2 medium sized carrots

2 celery stalks (with leafy green tops)

1 quarter head of cabbage

1 tsp sesame oil

2 green onions

2 jalapeños

Spicy sauces: Vietnamese chili garlic sauce and Ed’s Widow Maker (local wicked, habanero sauce)

Cooked white rice, enough for to serve four.

Directions:

Prepare steamed white rice.  Keep warm.

Prepare vegetables.  Chop and slice.  Set aside.

Box-cut jalapenos to remove seeds and membranes.
Frozen solid! OMG…what now?

Heat a wok to low heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.  Add the frozen beef.  Stir to coat and cover. 

Turn every few minutes and remove portions of beef as they warm and separate from the frozen glob of meat.  Set the thawed pieces of meat aside on a plate.

Continue to heat the beef until all of it is thawed.  This took about 10 minutes at low heat, covered.  Remove and set aside.

Add one tablespoon cooking oil to wok and crank up the heat.

Add sliced ginger and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the vegetables and stir fry until the vegetables become tender, but not overcooked.

Add the beef and stir over high heat.  Turn the heat off and prepare the serving dish.

Add cooked white rice to a large serving bowl.  Create a well in the center, for the stir fry.

Add the stir-fried beef and vegetables to the bowl.

Return the wok to the stove and set heat to high.  Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil.  Add the celery tops and green onion.  Stir fry for about one minute and transfer to the top of the serving bowl.

Serve with additional hot sauces and fresh jalapeño for the adventuresome…no need to punish everyone, I suppose.