Friday, November 8, 2013

Mandy's Magnificent Tacos

It is Friday night, and a holiday weekend for us so it was only fitting that I make Mandy some tacos for dinner since she sat in traffic for two hours tonight just to get home.  Tacos are one of those amazing dishes that you could pretty much have every night a different way and never get tired of them.

So for tonight I made good old fashion ground beef tacos.  While they are simple, they are so magnificently delicious.  To make them I put a pound of ground beef, 2 table spoons of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of taco powder, and a 1/4 cup of beer in a pan and cooked the mixture until done.

While that was cooking Mandy chopped up all of the goodies to go on top.  Tonight it was black olives, lettuce, tomato, american cheese, cheddar cheese, El Pato hot sauce, and El Yucateco Habanero hot sauce.  Oh yeah, we almost forgot the refried beans....

Now for the transportation device, I used some locally made corn tortillas that were cooked in oil to get them crispy on the edges, but soft in the middle so it would still fold. To build these masterpieces Mandy and I have our own processes for how the assembly should occur.  I start with refried beans, a layer of habanero sauce, meat, El Pato hot sauce, cheese, lettuce, black olives and tomatoes.  For Mandy the process isn't much different, but her's look like a work of art topped off with ketchup as the final ingredient.

Now the important part, beer....  I paired my tacos with a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid IPA.  Absolutely fabulous combo.  The bitterness of the hops, mixed with the heat of the hot sauce, and saltiness of the tortillas and meat was a perfect pairing.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Spicy Cheddar Cheese Burgers

Tonight we needed something special.  Today was an exceptionally stressful day at work for no real reason other than the self importance of a few individuals.  So at this point nothing soothes an ailing mind like a big juicy hamburger.  Top that off with a spicy cheddar cheese sauce and a side of fries and now you got yourself a meal.

For the burgers I used some of my fresh ground beef that I cut from the beef shoulder clod portion of the chuck.  Because of the fat to meat ratio these burgers were lean enough that they didn't shrink into nothing, but enough to create great juicy burgers.


When I make hamburgers I like to form them by hand and only lightly pack them into patties that are approximately 6 to 8 ounces a piece. This ensures that as they cook they will maintain their mass, but not be overly dense and dry out.  I coat them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and let the meat come up to room temp before I toss them on the grill.  For the cheese sauce I combined two tablespoons of IPA, cubed up cheddar cheese, american cheese, and diced green chilies.

I like to start hamburgers out on a high heat to sear the outside and then turn it down to let them cook through. While I like a good medium to medium rare burger, Mandy likes them cooked through to just past medium.

Either way, fresh ground burgers beat store bought meat from a foam tray any day.

Pair that with a Stone IPA, and you have an amazing end to any crappy day of work....

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Amazing Flat Iron Steak

This past weekend I cut down a Beef Shoulder Clod into steaks, a roast, stew meat, and ground beef.  One of the cuts from the Shoulder Clod is the flat iron, which comes from the top blade of the Clod.  Up until a few years ago the top blade was cut in such a way that it was not truly desirable because of a tendon that runs through the middle of the top blade.  When cut properly, the tendon is removed revealing the second most tender cut of meat on the cow.... The flat iron. This underdog cut has all of the tenderness of a filet with the taste of a sirloin.  It is an absolutely phenomenal cut of beef.

To prepare this magnificent cut of meat I did something a little different than my usual oil, salt, and pepper.  I added two tablespoons of soy sauce to the mixture and let it marinate for about an hour before I put the steaks on the grill.  I sauteed up some zucchini and squash, and placed the steaks on a preheated grill to sear for 3 minutes on each side.  I then reduced the heat to medium and let them cook for another 8 minutes.  This cooked them to a perfect medium rare.  Like a filet, this steak is at its best when cooked to medium rare or just this side of medium, you do not want to overcook it.

We had some leftover dirt potatoes from the night before so we reheated some to add to the steak and veggie mixture.  The ribeye has always been at the top of my favorites list, but the flat iron is definitely competing with it for first place!

Monday, November 4, 2013

STX Turbo Force 3000s Meat Grinder

I have posted a couple of times discussing different combinations of meat that I have ground up to make burgers, but I have never posted a review on the machine that I use for grinding.  I have the STX Turbo Force 3000s Meat Grinder.  It is a commercial strength grinder that is cost effective for use in the home.  For me it is more than powerful enough to grind up meat for use as burgers, or to stuff sausages.  It comes with different plates for course and fine grinds as well as sausage stuffing tubes.

I don't have anything to compare it to personally as this is my first grinder, but I can honestly say, this was an excellent choice.  I did a lot of research on different models prior to investing in a grinder and this one got rave reviews on all of the sites I visited.  Plus for the money this thing will grind all day everyday.  Tonight I jammed 4lbs of cubed up shoulder clod through the STX 3000s in less than 5 minutes, twice!!  Which means you could pump quite a bit of meat through this puppy in a short amount of time.  Plus it has 2 speeds and reverse which is nice for grinding, stuffing, and backing out clogged up pieces (haven't used reverse yet....)

If you think you need an industrial size grinder for your home, then hopefully you are pumping a whole side of beef through that puppy on a daily basis to make it worth the investment, and your wife would have to be a lot cooler than mine (not likely) to allow a huge piece of machinery in the kitchen.

For the average guy/gal that wants to satisfy his/her inner caveman/babe every once in a while by grinding up some meat or stuffing some sausage, this is it.

Tonight I used the STX 3000s to grind up the scraps and smaller cuts from the shoulder clod that I cut down on Saturday.  I placed the meat in the freezer for 30 minutes to pre-freeze it prior to loading it into the grinder to help it feed through easier and to keep it below the danger zone (40 degrees) while working with the meat.

I had 4lbs that I turned into ground beef.  I kept 1lb for burgers this week and froze the rest in 1lb packages.  As far as meat to fat ratio, this was a fairly lean batch of meat so without separating out the meat and fat, weighing it, and doing some math, I cannot accurately estimate the percentages in this batch...

Now comes the important part,  cleaning the grinder.  When I say important, I mean crucial! Nothing would be worse than poisoning your friends or family, so cleaning every single piece with hot soapy water, and ensuring all residue is removed is important.  After it is clean, wipe it all dry, and lightly coat with a food grade oil.  I store my parts in gallon freezer bags to keep them clean.  DO NOT STICK THE PARTS IN THE DISHWASHER! It will cause the carbon steel blades and plates to corrode, and discolor the aluminum parts.  

Anyways, hopefully this was informative, and while you may not run out and buy a grinder, unless you are like me and enjoy playing with your meat... huh, get your mind out of the gutter, if you do, this is an excellent grinder! I have placed a convenient link on the blog for the STX 3000s TUrbo Force, if you are interested! This upcoming weekend the STX is gonna make some sausage for the Crews house.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Smoked Beef Clod Center Roast

This weekend I cut down a beef shoulder clod for use over the next few weeks in various dishes.  Today I smoked the Clod Center Roast which is part of the Clod Heart that I cut from the Clod, which is part of the Chuck....

Confused, yeah it is a lot to think about, but ultimately it is a roast, and is smoked just like a brisket.  So to start I gave it a light coating of paprika, salt, and pepper and wrapped it over night in the fridge.  Today I fired up the smoker and brought it up to 225 degrees.  I smoked the 5 1/2lb roast for just about 5 hrs.

Hindsight being what it is, I would have left it on for another 2 hrs, but it is still super tasty.  There is enough there that I can do some different dishes throughout the week.

For tonight I paired the smoked meat with what we call "dirt potatoes",  a dish we learned from Mandy's family.  It is a mixture of cubed potatoes, sweet peppers, salt, pepper, and butter.  Simple and delicious, along side green beans this was a great meal!

As for beer, I chose a Red Hook IPA which was awesome!

Smoked Beef Ribs and Green Beans

Last night after I finished cutting up the Beef Shoulder Clod it was time for dinner, but I really wasn't up for preparing a big meal, plus it was late.  So I pulled smoked beef ribs out of the freezer and placed the vacuum packs into a pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes to reheat the meat.  I prefer this method to microwaving.  You can do either, but boiling the packs allows me to control the level of heat better than a microwave.

I also threw some fresh green beans into a pot of boiling water while the meat was thawing and heating up.

In under 20 minutes we were enjoying smoked beef ribs and green beans for dinner.  Quick, easy, delicious! Mandy likes having a couple of choices when it comes to sauce so I gave her some Sweet Baby Rays and some Texas Style spicy sauce. I also de-bone the beef ribs so that they all fit on the plate. and are easy to dip.