Dirty Rice

A Cajun classic.  Living only a really long drive away from New Orleans I make the trip usually at least once a year and my favourite part is often the food (its a toss up between that and the smell of urine and shame on Bourbon street).  Last time I was there I got Ann Couiellette’s Book Classic Creole and so in celebration of Mardi Gras, Lynn and I gave a couple of the recipes a whirl.  I’ve modified the recipe from the book a bit because I found it a little bland (basically doubled up on veggies and added more spices).

dirty riceServes 6
Dirty Rice
1 lb ground beef (though some ground andouille sausage would be better)
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Hot sauce (we prefer Texas Pete or North Carolina Pete as we call it since its actually made in North Carolina)
Salt and pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium and add the beef or sausage, cooking until done (about 10 minutes) and making sure to break up the meat.

2. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the vegetables soften.

3. Fold in the cooked rice and add hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

4. It’s that easy.


Steak au Poivre

There’s a restaurant in Austin called Chez Nous.  In case you never took a foreign language in high school, it’s French.  Lynn and I ate there a little while ago and I had the steak au poivre.  It reminded me that a year or two ago Fine Cooking had a whole article on making this classic French dish so I went hunting and found it on my bookcase.  There’s not a whole lot I love more than pepper, so I tend to get a good thick crust going on these puppies, and that mixed with the tarragon, cognac cream is a great balance of rich and savory.  Also, you get to light stuff on fire and that’s always fun.

steak au poivre

Serves 4
Steak au Poivre
4 steaks of your choosing, I vote Ribeye because I like the marbling in them
1 tsp thyme

2 Tbs butter
1/4 finely diced shallot
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp cognac or brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tsp thyme

1. Heat the oven to 425

2. Season the steaks with salt and thyme and then cover them with as much fresh cracked pepper as you like (mines almost completely covered, it is “Steak with Pepper” after all).

3. Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat and put a little canola oil in it.

4. Sear the steaks 2-3 minutes a side and put the pan in the oven (steaks still in it).

5. Cook the steaks until they’re done to you’re liking (5 or so minutes for medium rare).

6. Put the steaks on a plate and tent with foil to rest.

7. In the same cast iron skillet add the butter and saute the shallots until soft over medium heat.

8. Add the cognac or brandy and light it on fire if you want to put on a show, reduce to a glazy consistency

9. Add the cream, tarragon, and the thyme, reduce heat to low and simmer while stirring constantly until thick

10. Finish the sauce with the remaining tsp cognac, any accumulated steak juices, and salt to taste.

11. Serve the steaks with sauce spooned over them.


Official Bolognese

This version of classic bolognese sauce is interred at the Bologna Chamber of Commerce.  It is declared the “official” ragu alla bolognese recipe by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina.  It contains an unexpectedly small amount of tomato, and it mostly just meat with the soffrito for flavour.  (Note: The original version is in metric units, I changed them over the correct units here).  I also found that spaghetti isn’t thick enough to hold the sauce.  I read about it and a fettuccine or tagliatelle works much better.

Serves 4
Ragu alla Bolognese
11 oz minced or ground beef
5 oz pancetta, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 T double concentrate tomato puree
1/2 c dry red wine (I used Chianti)
3/4 cup milk
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Fry the pancetta on low until it starts to sizzle (about 5 minutes).

2. Add the carrot, celery, and onion and raise the heat to medium-low until softened.  Throw in a little olive oil if needed.

3. Add the beef and cook until it is browned and all the liquids gone.  Meanwhile mix together the wine and tomato puree.

4. Add the wine and tomato puree and cook until completely evaporated.

5. Add the milk a little at a time until completely evaporated.

6. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Simmer a minimum of two hours, add more milk if it dries out too much.

Beef and Broccoli

Fresh broccoli is the key to good beef and broccoli.  Well, lets be honest fresh everything is the key to good everything.  But especially broccoli and especially now.  Fresh broccoli still has flavor (sorry steamed) and it has a nice crunch that adds some good texture to the dish.  Also, I didn’t have any fresh ginger but I bet that would have gone a long way.

[I was too hungry so I didn’t take a picture, but y’all know what beef and broccoli looks like]

Serves 2

Beef and Broccoli
1/2 lb flank steak
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 crown broccoli, cut into bit size pieces
Ground ginger
Sesame oil

1. Cut flank steak into 1/2 inch strips and put a thick dusting of ground ginger on it.

2. Heat some sesame oil in a large skillet and add garlic and onion when hot (medium heat).

3. When onions and garlic are cooked add beef.  Cook until browned but not cooked through.

4. Add broccoli and cook 5 minutes or so.

5. Add 1/4 cup water and let simmer for a couple minutes, add cornstarch a little at a time and mix in to make a thicker sauce.

6. Add more water and cornstarch until you have a thick cream like sauce that covers all the beef and broccoli.  Serve.