Recipe Review: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

Skillet Beef Stroganoff from America's Test Kitchen

Skillet Beef Stroganoff from America’s Test Kitchen

I’ve made this a few times… and I really like it.

What I *don’t* like is America’s Test Kitchen promises you “this recipe and more on our website” and then when you get there, they aren’t free and if you want a free 14 day trial, you end up subscribed to so many newsletters from them and their partners that your inbox explodes.  (Which is why, if you were to say, zoom in on that photo, you would have a good glimpse of the recipe.. but buy the book. Really. It’s good)

Sidebar: I’m pretty interested to see what Milk Street Kitchen is all about since Christopher Kimball left ATK and launched MSK as his new baby.   Will he survive in Boston?  What about all the Vermont love?  But I digress.

The next time I make this, I would add more pasta. This has ended up soupy every time I’ve made it.  I also don’t generally keep brandy on hand, so I subbed 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar for the brandy Also, I used 3 cups of water and dropped in a tablespoon each of chicken and beef “Better than Bouillon” because it is.. better, I mean. Not as good as real stock  which is what the recipe called for (one and a half cups of each) but it’s what I had. Lastly, I didn’t flatten the sirloin tips.  I just cut them thin against the grain.   This recipe is actually quite excellent and easy.  We had it done in 40 minutes.  It’s going into the regular rotation


Morrocan Spiced Beef

Look.. I know it’s been ages since I posted something.

and this draft has been hanging out forever … so I’m just going to post it.

Because you all should make this.  I cobbled together a few Moroccan Beef recipes from the interwebs and came up with this.

So, please forgive my incredibly lame post and just make the recipe… okay?

Let me know how you like it.

Morrocan Spiced Beef

Morrocan Spiced Beef
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
I have always had a soft spot for cinnamon and beef together, ever since I had my first taste of kibbeh. The seasoning on this meat reminds me of that delicious Moroccan treat.
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ cup golden raisins (see note)
  1. Heat the oilive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  2. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent
  3. Stir in the carrot and cook for about 3 minutes
  4. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne over the top and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, about one minute
  5. Now is a good time for a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  6. Shove all of the stuff in the skillet to the edges and crumble the ground beef into the middle.
  7. Break up the ground beef and cook, mixing in the rest of the ingredients, until the beef is cooked through and everything is well combined
  8. Shove everything to the edges again, and dump the pine nuts in middle and toast, stirring constantly until slightly toasted. Mix the pine nuts in with everything else and turn off the heat.
  9. Stir in the raisins.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning
  11. Serve over brown rice with a dollop of yogurt
If you are one of those people who feel that raisins ruin everything, go ahead and substitute ¼ cup of chopped dried apricots.



Pressure Cooker Short Ribs

I have long been a fan of Mel Joulwan‘s recipes. So much so that I bought Well Fed and Well Fed 2, even though I don’t eat Paleo.

Mel uses a lot of “tougher” cuts of meat which I really appreciate as I enjoy a good long braise.
But here is my problem.

I’m impatient. Like super impatient. Also, I bought an Instant Pot about 6 months ago and when people said it was life changing they WERE NOT KIDDING.

So, now I want to use it for everything. I adore Mel’s recipe for Thyme Braised Short Ribs which calls for cooking them on the stove top for four hours.

But I didn’t start cooking dinner until 6PM because I was super busy brewing beer.

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I always feel a wee bit witchy on brew day

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This is what I did.

I took Mel’s original recipe and made the following changes:

  • I turned the Instant Pot on to saute and seared the short ribs
  • After removing the short ribs from the pot, I added the veggies.
  • I mixed 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and the tablespoon of tomato paste and the tablespoon of dry thyme together and then poured that over the veggies. I skipped the water all together. I mixed it up together and cooked the veggies for a bit. Maybe 5 minutes
  • I put the short ribs back in the pot, poured two cups of chicken stock over the top
  • Then I closed the Instant Pot, set it for 35 minutes on high pressure and walked away
  • After the timer beeped, I waited 15 minutes and did the quick release of pressure because I wanted to eat.. because.. impatient
  • I used my fancy schmancy Oxo Fat Separator and then poured about a cup of the liquid into a small saucepan and reduced the drippings
  • While the liquid was reducing, I pulled the bones out of the meat and pulled off the fat bits


Short ribs in half the time.

Chicago, the Great Depression and Italian Beef

So, hey…

It’s been a few weeks… it’s been a few rough weeks, but I’m pretty sure I’m on the upswing… so here I am, carefully making my way back into the world.  I’ve been pretty depressed since our ParmaQay passed away.

Depression for me looks like this:

  1. Hide
  2. Think I’m ok and handling things
  3. Discover I’m not handling things and have irrational breakdowns over little things that mean nothing. This is a great time to buy stock in Kleenex
  4. Hide
  5. Apathy
  6. Irrational Rage
  7. Hide
  8. Peek back into the world a bit at at time, usually with things that require a “fuck it why the hell not” attitude
  9. Slowly rediscover balance

I’m currently on number eight which is pretty good and I might pop back to apathy for a while and irrational rage may show up again.. but hey… one day at a time.

Step number eight can be interesting… sometimes I do things like bleach out major chunks of my hair..  and contemplate going back to boxing..

You know what else happens? I want to start cooking again.

LB has been asking me to make Italian Beef for… years. YEARS.. now, I’m not Italian..not one bit and I know that Italian Beef is one of those feel good things for her because her mom used to make it when she was a kid. LB was born into an Italian family… in Chicago, the HOME of Italian Beef. LB’s grandmother used to assist a certain gentleman in his import and export business. You may have heard of him? Al Capone? Yeah. This little Irish gal had never even heard of Italian Beef. I was like.. it’s um.. beef? I don’t get it.

A little research and although the origins are disputed, it appears that Italian Beef originates from the Union Stock Yards in the 1930’s which would totally make sense since it’s made from the tougher “cheap” cuts of meat and that would have been right around the time of the Great Depression.

I did a little research on the interwebs after picking LB’s brain about what her Mom did when she made it and I came up with something that was sort of a riff on a Lidia Bastianich recipe. Since I had a 3lb bottom round roast from Tilldale Farm, I figured I’d give it a shot.

I knew I needed wine for this recipe so I ran over to my local liquor store. I usually go with The Goat for cooking but I felt like something a little different so I gave Fireworks Red from Adirondack Winery a shot.

It was pretty fucking delicious.

Anyway, pics in a pretty gallery below followed by my take on Italian beef.

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Italian Beef
  • 3 -4 lbs of bottom round roast
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1½ cups dry red wine
  • ½ cup water
  • Onion and pepper slices sauteed for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
  2. Combine the thyme, oregano and salt and rub into the meat.
  3. Put the meat in a roasting pan on a rack.
  4. Slice the onion and smash and peel the garlic and toss into the roasting pan
  5. Pour the wine and water into the bottom of the pan
  6. Cover and roast in the over for 4-5 hours. About ½ way through, I flipped the beef and took the rack out of the pan so the beef sat in the pan juices.
  7. Remove from the oven and slice the beef against the grain.
  8. Dunk the meat slices back the pan juice for serving
You can keep the beef slices warm in the pan juices in the oven until you are ready to eat. Make sure you soak your bread with the pan juices. Dunk that sucker.

You’ve totally missed me, right?

Look at that.. another “hey I’ve been busy sorry I’ve been away yadda yadda yadda” post. Shocking!

So anyway, this is what I’ve been up to.

I found a new amazing snack.

The Yes Bar

So good, you guys

I’ve been torturing my neighbors with my new banjolele. Please note the Bing Futch shirt. It’s totally cool to wear a shirt about one instrument and play a different one.. right? Sho.

Luna Banjolele

I think I’ll call her “Lola”

I finally mowed the lawn and whacked the shit out of the weeds.. and tried to look tough doing it.

Trying to look all gansta -ish.

Trying to look all gansta -ish.

I rendered down something like three pounds of beef fat I’d been saving. I’m going to use this to make beef confit… eventually.

I guess they call this tallow.. or something

I guess they call this tallow.. or something

I made 16 pints of chicken stock out of the carcasses I’d been saving in the freezer. I finished up the last of the homebrew in front of the window while I waiting for the bitch, Big Betty to finish up.

It was so hot in the kitchen with the pressure canner and the oven going at once.

It was so hot in the kitchen with the pressure canner and the oven going at once.

We bought a big box of meat. Which is why I was canning and rendering like a fool. I needed the freezer space.

That's 30lbs of pastured pig and cow right there.

That’s 30lbs of pastured pig and cow right there.

And we did a 45 whirlwind trip to the most Magical Place On Earth and stayed awake for 20 hours! I felt invicible! Until I fell down.

Such a beautiful day

Such a beautiful day

That’s the snippets. What do you want to know more about first?

Kibbeh-inspired Pot Roast

I love kibbeh.  If you’ve never had it, it’s a Middle Eastern dish of spiced ground meat  with bulghur wheat.  Much like hummus and falafel, how it’s spiced is regional.  In some areas it’s even served raw.   By the way, if you are local, the best kibbeh that I’ve found in the area is at Phoenicians, which I cannot recommend highly enough.  (They are closed on Monday’s even though the website says “open daily”)

I also happen to love pot roast.   Not only is it cheap but it’s easy.  But I wanted something a smidge different than the every day Yankee pot roast.

So, I combined my love of Middle Eastern Spices with the traditional pot roast recipe to come up with something mildly spiced but very flavorful. I’ve also substituted white potatoes for sweet potatoes for a little different flavor (and to be more South Beach Diet friendly- sweet potatoes are phase 2 only and are considered a “starch” because of the amount of natural sugar in them)

This is done in the crock pot. I usually just load it up and move on.. But, you can always sear your pot roast first to add that bit of flavor that come from browning your meat.

Kibbeh Inspired Pot Roast


  • 3-4 pound pot roast.
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock/broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake (can bump up to 1/2 if you like a bit more heat)


  1. Trim the fat from your pot roast. This can be difficult since it’s usually marbled throughout.  I just get the hard fat off the edges.  If desired, sear all sides in a hot pan.  Put the pot roast in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Slice the onion and spread over the top of the roast
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and place them whole on top of the onions.
  4. Stir the cinnamon, allspice and red pepper flake into the beef broth and pour over everything in the slow cooker.
  5. Cook on high for about 5 hours.  I don’t know how long on low (sorry.. I’m always shoving this in the crock pot around 11AM on Sunday mornings).  Turn the sweet potatoes over about 1/2 way through.

Once everything is cooked through, remove sweet potatoes and cut up for serving.  Remove the pot roast and cut up in chunks, I usually remove as much fat as I can at this point. You can take some of the broth from the crock pot and thicken it with cornstarch for a gravy or you can just pour a smidge over your plate as is.   I usually nuke some broccoli for a side dish.