Swiss Steak ala Alton Brown

Sporadic blog post alert…

My schedule is absolutely insane the next two weeks, so I’m relying on your good graces and a few one-dish wonders to see me through.

It’s not that I bite off more than I can chew, it’s just that piano players are in demand this time of year.  I’m talkin’ seven rehearsals, four gigs, two performances, the children’s Christmas program, and a guest speaking engagement I volunteered to do without checking my calendar first (!) — which includes playing the piano.  Basically “a partridge in a pear tree” kind of insane.

Speaking of biting off more than you can chew…

Back in the 80′s there was a fast food commercial that amused me no end.  In it, a feisty ol’ lady would holler, “Where’s the beef?!”

(Remember that?)

I thought of it the other day when I divided up a chuck roast — half of it for “roast,” a fourth cut into cubes for stew, and the rest sliced and pounded for Swiss Steak.  Three meals outta one roast ain’t bad!

My meal planning was also assisted by a giveaway I won.  (Thank you, Jenny at Savour The Senses – what a treat!)

I’d never used Muir Glen tomatoes before, so I wanted to make something special with them.  Let’s see… one for manicotti, one for Super Nachos, one for stew, and one for Swiss Steak.  Four meals outta one gift box ain’t bad either!

Getting back to the topic at hand, it had been awhile since I made Swiss Steak and I didn’t want to make just any ol’ version of it with those delectable tomatoes.  Lo and behold, Alton Brown’s name came up in my search… and you know how I feel about Alton Brown.

So, I sauteed and stirred to my heart’s content (in between piano practice) and shouted, “Where’s the beef?!” – just for fun.

Swiss Steak ala Alton Brown

(adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe on Food Network)

1 lb. chuck roast (uncooked), sliced against the grain

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c. flour

2 Tbsp. bacon drippings

1 medium onion, sliced into rings

1/2 c. celery, chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen, woohoo!)

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (regular is fine, too)

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3/4 c. beef broth (I used homemade beef stock)

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Slice roast into “cutlet” sized pieces; season with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a pie tin (or on a plate); dredge meat in flour.

Place meat between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound until thin.  (I used my rolling pin to aid and abet this process.)

Dredge meat in flour again; shake off excess and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil or drippings in a Dutch oven ’til shimmering.

Add a few slices of beef at a time (don’t crowd); sauté until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Set aside to drain on paper towels.

In the same pan, add onion and celery; sauté until softened.

Add remaining ingredients; stir well.

Add browned meat, submerging slices in the liquid.

Cover and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is fork tender.

Swiss Steak

Optional:  Holler “Where’s the beef?!” once in awhile, just for fun. :)

Enjoying temporary insanity,

~ Kim

Roasted Veggie, Sausage, and Meatball Cassoulet

Cassoulet:  A rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France.  Ahhh, what could be better on a cool weeknight than a one-dish meal?

Except one that started out as this…

And this…

And finally this?

Sometimes I just can’t make up my mind! :)

Roasted Veggie, Sausage, and Meatball Cassoulet

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

1 head of broccoli, broken into florets

1 red bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks

2 to 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Italian Meatballs (use your basic meatball recipe; add Italian seasoning, oregano, & lotsa garlic)

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

8 oz. whole mushrooms, quartered

8 oz. Italian sausage (in the casing), cut on the diagonal (I used “hot” sausage, my preference)

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

1/2 c. white wine

1/2 c. chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Place vegetables in a large bowl.  (Reserve broccoli & cauliflower stems for soup — blatant hint re: forthcoming post.)

Drizzle veggies with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper; toss to coat.

Transfer to a large baking sheet; leave about 1/4 of the sheet free for the meatballs.

Line the “open space” of the baking sheet with foil.  Prepare Italian Meatballs.

Place meatballs on foil lined baking sheet.  Bake veggies and meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes; remove from oven.

Carefully remove meatballs (foil and all); set aside.

Spread vegetables out over entire baking sheet (give ‘em a stir while you’re at it); return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until “roasted” looking.  Remove from oven; set aside.  (Turn off oven.)

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until golden; remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Increase heat to medium high.  Add Italian sausage; brown until thoroughly cooked.

Deglaze the skillet with white wine.  Add chicken stock, mushrooms, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer.

Have a glass of wine and think about what it is you’re trying to make.

Next…

Get out a large Dutch oven or French oven (which I should have used in the first place) and melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in it.

Add flour to make a roux.

Pour in broth/wine liquid from skillet; whisk until thickened.  (Add more chicken stock if sauce is too thick.)

Stir in roasted veggies, meatballs, sausage, and mushrooms.

Remove bay leaf.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Place casserole in oven.  Heat for 15 to 20 minutes (use the residual heat from roasting the veggies — no need to turn the oven back on.)

Sweet talk hubby as to why dinner is taking so long.

Fix your hair, put on some fresh lipstick, open the oven door and proclaim, “The Cassoulet is ready!”

Serve promptly.

Enjoying messin’ around in my kitchen,

~ Kim

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What I Eat When Nobody’s Looking

I’m no slouch in the dietary department.  I’ve studied nutrition right down to the molecular level and I know what’s good for me.

Most of the time, I snack on healthy treats.

And eat balanced meals.

Or transform leftovers into meatless entrees now and then.

All good.

And good for me.

But…

I have a weakness.

Yup.  Froot Loops.  (Gasp.)  Sugar laden, full of dye, and absolutely delicious.  Sometimes, nothing else will satisfy.

Blame it on the kid in me.

What do you eat when nobody’s looking?  (Remember – nobody’s perfect, least of all moi.)

Enjoying life one covert bowl at a time,

~ Kim

P.S.  If you don’t want the world to know, just put “confidential” at the end of your comment — your secret’s safe with me. :)