Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Easy, Delicious, and Multi-Functional

I forgot to share this recipe last week! Something that I struggle with every year is the day after Thanksgiving. I mean, what do you eat for dinner that day? The last two years we have had company, so I've also felt that trotting out a redux of The Great Feast just isn't the most thoughtful thing for my guests. And after a few days of cooking, I still wanted something fairly easy. Last year we made Indian food, which was a huge hit for post-turkey day. But this year, I was stumped. Until Andy mentioned tacos. I had a beef roast in the freezer that was on the tough side, but with the right method of cooking (read:braising) it would tenderize and become delicious.

So I pulled out a recipe that I've been meaning to try for ages for Beef Carnitas. Carnitas is simply a word for an all-purpose shredded meat mixture. I already make a Pork Carnitas from Cooking Light that we simply love, but have had yet to try the beef version. I assembled the ingredients a full week ahead of time. This was going to be made and then tucked into the freezer. It was perfect. It was mild in flavor- with just a touch of heat from some crushed red pepper flake. I went back and forth on using the orange wedge, but I ended up doing so, and I'm so glad I did. It sounds strange, but it really did make the dish! Ultimately, the beef was served up with tortillas, guacamole, and tomatillo salsa, and it was very good. I had leftovers in a quesadilla with some beans and I enjoyed it even more. The only thing I regret is that I didn't take the time to make my own corn crepes- the Beef Carnitas would have sung.

The Beef Carnitas comes together with very little hands-on time, and can be used for just about anything. Tacos, enchiladas, sandwiches, empanadas, anyway you decide to use the beef- you'll love it's versatility. The cumin seeds are my addition- and I loved what they added, so do consider them for your version. You can also add any other seasonings that you would like- maybe chili powder or a chipotle chili for a smoky version. Anyway you do it- it's worth the small effort.

Beef Carnitas
from Cooking Light Magazine

Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves -- crushed
2 pounds beef stew meat -- trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large unpeeled orange wedge

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray

. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add beef; sauté 5 minutes or until beef is browned on all sides. Add cumin seeds and saute for another 2 minutes, or until cumin is nice and fragrant.

Stir in broth, sugar, salt, and pepper; nestle orange section into beef mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.

Remove and discard orange. Continue simmering, uncovered, 8 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

"4 Cups"

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