Tag Archives: Beef

The Best Beef Stock

29 May

This is beef stock so rich and beefy it’s almost like a beef soup.

I never made as much beef stock as chicken stock, because I thought the flavour was always too vegetabley – even though I tried various recipes and always roasted my beef bones. It turns out the secret is to use more beef. Lots more beef. So much beef that you can use the leftovers to make enough chilli for a week.

Whenever I freeze a batch of stock I get this very satisfied nesting feeling (I also get that feeling after a big grocery shop). It’s like … if there were a zombie apocalypse, we would last a few days longer than we otherwise would, and that makes me happy.

Oh. Oh. That reminds me! A couple of years ago, James told me he’d had a dream that there had been a zombie attack, and he said by the time he was able to make it back to the apartment I had been killed and Kyoto was patrolling the boundary. And he said he’d been sad, but not really surprised that I had perished and Kyoto had survived. I was so offended. The cat is tougher than me??

But anyway, here is the stock bubbling away. That’s the largest Le Creuset dutch oven you can buy, and you can see that the meat was stacked all the way to the top to get that beefy flavour.


  • 1-2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 3kg beef shanks (which the butcher told me was the same as beef osso bucco), meat cut from the bones in large chunks
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 litres boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Heat 1 TBSP oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the meat, bones and onion halves on all sides in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, and adding additional oil if necessary.
  2. Remove the contents and set aside. Add the red wine to the empty pot and cook until reduced to a syrup, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Return the bones, meat and onion to the pot. Reduce the heat to low then cover and sweat the meat and onion until they have released about 3/4 cup dark, very intensely flavoured liquid, about 20 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to medium high and add the water and salt. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to very low, partially cover, and barely simmer until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  5. Strain the stock into a container, discard the bones and onion, and set the meat aside for another use. Let the stock stand until fat rises to the top, then skim the fat and discard.

The result is the darkest, beefiest stock you’ve ever had. I had this simmering on a freezing Autumn day, and it warmed the apartment and made it smell fantastic and homey. It’s certainly more expensive than making chicken stock, but since you can use the osso bucco afterwards it’s not so bad. Just don’t be like me – I only had a pricey bottle of red wine available and couldn’t be bothered going out to buy more, which resulted in fancy beef stock.

Simple Beef and Kidney Bean Chilli

16 May

I made some beef stock which required 3 kilos of beef osso bucco, and needed a recipe to use up the leftover meat. Since I used my The New Best Recipe book from America’s Test Kitchen (a 2009 Christmas gift from Kyoto) to make the stock I figured I’d stick with the same book and make up a bit pot of chilli.

Unfortunately I think I used the wrong kind of chilli powder – mine says “hot chilli powder”, and holy crap was it hot. James liked it (though I heard him blowing his nose heaps) but it was nearly inedible for me, even though I dumped a lot of Greek yoghurt in to cool it down. Aside from the taste, the main problem was when I first started frying the spices.

It was alright at the start – some sneezing, and a bit of coughing here and there. But it gradually built up so James and I were both coughing – this dry, really unpleasant hacking cough.

And then the cats started coughing.

I felt so bad! I kept wailing “I’m so sorry!!” but they seemed to take little comfort in that. All I could do was pat them on the back as they did their adorable little kitten coughs. Then afterwards I saw them desperately drinking from the water bowl.

Curse you chilli! You were not nearly tasty enough to justify the chemical warfare involved in your preparation! Ignoring the crazy spiciness, it did turn out beautifully thick and tender, so I will use this method again (though re-adjusting the chilli powder). It made enough for 6.


  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 medium red capsicum, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chilli powder (NOT hot chilli powder or you will regret it)
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 kg 85% lean ground beef (I used about 2kg of osso bucco cut into big chunks and leftover from making beef stock)
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans (I used regular ones), drained and rinsed
  • 800g can diced tomatoes
  • 800g can tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, capsicum, garlic and spices and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown.
  2. Increase the heat to medium high and add the beef. Cook until no longer pink.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for an hour.
  4. Remove the lid and simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender and the chilli is dark, rich and slightly thickened. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt.
  5. If possible, make it a day in advance and reheat before serving.
Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 serving: 601 calories, 52% fat, 29% protein, 19% carbs
(using 1kg beef mince like the recipe indicates, instead of my version. 52% fat seems high? I don’t know if that’s right!)

Thai Beef Cheeks in the Slow Cooker

20 Jan

And now for the recipe that keeps overflowing my slow cooker, but is so incredibly tasty that I continue to make it. It is so tasty that I am willing to spend $180 (in gift cards – but it’s still money!) to buy a slow cooker that will enable me to eat this more often.

I found this recipe on a Melbourne food blog, The Hungry Lawyer. The initial prep is a bit more complicated than I normally use for slow cookers – there’s a lot of chopping and measuring, and I always forget how much extra work it is, and allocate myself 10 minutes when I actually need closer to 20 or 30.

It’s supposed to serve 6, but I find it actually serves 4 (even if I buy an extra beef cheek), maybe because James and I are pigs and take giant serves of beef. I could stretch it out to 6 meals, but that would mean less delicious meat. Easier just to buy a bigger slow cooker so I can make more cheeks at a time (Me justifying a new slow cooker: “yes, but when you consider it in terms of cheeks per minute …”)

To cut down on prep get the butcher to trim the cheeks for you. The first time I made these I did it myself – first of all, it was gross because cheeks are pretty ugly, and second of all, it took forever. Yes, I do need to sharpen my knives. But it’s still easier to get the butcher to do it.

Even after trimming, it’s not a super lean cut of meat. If you’ve ever had those Asian stews where the meat melts in your mouth because they’ve used a nice fatty cut of meat, that’s what these cheeks feel like. Some people don’t like that mouthfeel, but stewy meat reminds me of mumfood, which I always find comforting. The beef in the picture is a particularly fatty piece – most of the cheeks were leaner than that.

Also the sauce this makes it incredible. Like James will lift the plate to his lips and slurp it down.


  • 5 or 6 beef cheeks, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cm piece galancal, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 4 cm piece ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks (Note: If you cannot source galangal, just double the amount of ginger used)
  • 2 lemongrass stems (pale part only), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup tamarind paste (Note: I used something called tamarind puree, hoping it was the same thing, and it seemed to work fine)
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • small handful of coriander stems (roots and all), thouroughly washed to remove all dirt and grit and finely chopped
  • 3 hot chillies, thinly sliced
  • 3 or 4 kaffir lime leaves, crush in your hands before adding to the dish to release the lime oils
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3 cups water (Note: I add 1.5-2 cups because of my small slow cooker and it’s fine)


  1. Place the sliced onions, lemongrass, chilli, galangal, ginger, garlic, coriander stems and crushed kaffir lime leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Slice each beef cheek into two even sized pieces. Coat each piece of meat in the seasoned flour.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the beef for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown. Make sure that your beef is well browned to ensure that it does not look grey and unappetising after slow cooking.
  4. Arrange the browned beef cheeks on top of the sliced vegetables.
  5. Add tamarind paste, brown sugar, fish sauce and water to the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on the slow cooker’s ‘Low Setting’ for 8 hours. I personally like to start the cooking on ‘High’ for an hour or two, then reduce the heat to ‘Low’. (Note: If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could cook this dish in a casserole dish in the oven on 170 degrees for 3 hours and 30 minutes).

(Sorry, no macro breakdown because my calorie counter doesn’t have beef cheeks listed and I am too lazy to go hunting around. My guess is mostly fat and protein, very little carb. Higher in calories than a cut like chuck because it’s fattier)

Easy Massaman Beef Curry

24 Nov

I love meals where you chuck everything in a big pot and then leave it for a few hours. The only downside is that having the stove on for several hours can heat up the apartment, which wasn’t the best, since it was 33 degrees and we face west, but I it was a small price to pay.

I wanted something easy, and this recipe from Taste had a lot of good reviews. Based on the comments I omitted the coconut cream, and I also cut out the potatoes. Boo to empty starches! I think next time I’ll try adding more meat and leaving out the peanuts since I didn’t think they added that much. That’s nitpicking a bit though, because honestly, this was fantastic.

I also think I’ll double the recipe next time. This recipe makes enough for 3 or 4, and it would be good to have some extra leftovers to freeze.

Look at the curry bubbling away!

I thickened it with a cornflour and water slurry about 30 minutes before it was done. I was quite proud that I remembered – normally I forget until the end and then I’m too hungry to wait the extra time.

I had a crisper drawer full of broccoli (it was $1 for 2kg at the Vic Market – tell me you wouldn’t have done the same!) so I cooked some of that and served it all with a small side of quinoa. I can always tell when James likes a new meal because he goes and gets seconds even though he’s full.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 650g chuck steak
  • 3 tablespoons massaman curry paste
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until evenly browned. Transfer to a plate. Add 2 tablespoons coconut milk to pan. Cook over medium heat for 20 seconds or until hot. Add curry paste. Cook for 1 minute or until aromatic.
  2. Return beef and juices to pan. Add stock, peanuts, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods, sugar, tamarind concentrate, fish sauce and remaining coconut milk. Stir to combine.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 or 3 hours or until beef is tender. Serve with rice.


    Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
    1 serve: 649 calories, 64% fat, 27% protein, 9% carbs


Rib-Eye Steak on the Weber

18 Nov

I’m not used to thinking of steak as a healthy meal, but maybe that’s because I normally associate it with fries. But steak is on a weekly (or at least fortnightly) rotation at our table because it’s such a healthy, filling meal with a great macro breakdown.

I used to use Alton Brown’s method of cooking steak (sear on both sides in a cast iron pan, then finish in the oven) but it’s definitely less hassle grilling it on the Weber.

I think the stovetop to oven method wins out a little in taste, but that’s probably because James and I are still getting the timing right for the barbecue. And the advantage to cooking on the Weber is that we can do asparagus at the same time. We had a spare red capsicum and grilled that as well for some extra colour, and served it all with a small side salad.

It’s hard to tell from that photo, but this was actually a pretty substantial 400g rib-eye. It’s just that the overflowing vegetables make it look small. Once upon a time I would have decided that the asparagus was enough of a vegetable accompaniment, but nowadays I try to make sure that vegetables are at least 50% of the plate.

I think I’ll have to start getting a bit more scientific about cooking times – next time I get steak I’ll measure the thickness – I’d say this one was roughly 2-2.5 inches thick. We cooked it for 2.5 minutes each side and it turned out on the rare side of medium rare. For the same size steak I would try for 30 seconds longer next time since it was a touch rarer than we prefer.


Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
400g rib-eye steak: 824 calories, 41% fat, 59% protein, 0% carbs

Burritos in the slow cooker

7 Nov

Now that James is at home during the day, I’ve been experimenting with inverting the size of our meals. We normally have a small breakfast, medium-sized lunch and large dinner, whereas I’ve heard that it’s actually better to have a big breakfast and a small dinner. I do feel less hungry during the day, but it was pretty weird having burritos for breakfast.

I had to be a bit tricky with the timing – the chuck gets slow cooked for 6 hours, so I stayed up until 2am to chuck everything into the slow cooker. Luckily it’s super quick, so I was in bed at like … 2:05. In the morning I woke up to the smell of burritos in the air. Then it was just a matter of making the guacamole (which, in hindsight, I also should have made the night prior), and assembling the burrito.

    This slow cooker recipe makes enough meat for 10 burritos, which will feed me and James for 2 meals. It works out pretty well because the guacamole recipe also makes enough for 10 burritos (although you have to be pretty generous with the servings). A jar of salsa is enough for both meals, and the only thing that doesn’t get used up is the sour cream.

    Slow Cooker Burrito Meat

    800g beef chuck (I cut this into 4 or 5 big chunks)
    1 onion
    taco seasoning mix (I make my own, but you can also use the individual serve packets from supermarkets)
    1 cup water
    1 small jar taco sauce


    1. Thinly slice onion and place in slow cooker. Add beef chuck.
    2. Combine seasoning mixture with 1 cup water and pour over beef and onion.
    3. Set slow cooker to low and heat 6-8 hours (I find 6 is enough but it will depend on your slow cooker)
    4. When meat is done, remove from slow cooker and shred with a fork. Add taco sauce and combine.

    Even though taco seasoning is cheap at the supermarket I make mine from scratch. It just seems wrong to buy pre-mixed when I already have all the necessary ingredients spices. This recipe from Allrecipes makes about the equivalent of a single serve sachet that you can buy for 50c at Woolworths.

    Taco seasoning mix recipe

    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper


    1. In a small bowl, mix everything together.

    The macronutrient breakdown of the meat is actually pretty good, though obviously the fat and carb counts go up once you add guacamole/cheese/sour cream and the tortillas. But the meat is the tasty part – I bet James would not be opposed to just digging in with a fork.

    This time I subbed in low fat sour cream, which tasted like plain yoghurt. That works though, because now I can just use a dollop of yoghurt (which I always have in the fridge) instead of going out and buying sour cream especially. In other healthy news, I realised the other day that I used to be able to eat 4 of these for dinner and now I’m satisfied by eating 2. How times have changed!


    Very Rough Nutritional Guide
    Enough meat for 1 burrito: 110 calories, 23% fat, 69% protein, 8% carbs