Pressure Cooker Corned Beef

20160317_131753[1] (1600x1060)In a slow cooker it’s an 8 hour project.  It takes several hours to boil one atop the stove.  In my Instapot pressure cooker it took 90 minutes for the meat, and the veggies just a few minutes.  There is additional time involved reaching temperature, and some spent winding down but this corned beef was so good I ran back to Kroger’s for two more that I’ll cook today to chill and slice for sandwiches.

Guinness Lamb Stew

DSC_5396 [1600x1200]We had plenty of lamb left over from that crockpot leg of lamb yesterday so it seemed a no brainer to make an Irish stew for St Pat’s Day.  This one started with browning bacon in the pot.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel and cut up a carrot and potato to brown in the bacon fat.  I had plenty of onion from the dish yesterday or I would cut one up to go with the other veggies here.  (If you are starting with fresh lamb pieces you would brown them in the bacon fat before the veggies go in.)  Let the potato get a little color,  then add a tablespoon of tomato paste and a good sprinkle of flour and stir that for a minute to cook the flour a bit.  Now add beef broth and a bottle of Guinness or whatever other dark beer you have, and then dump in the leftover lamb that you’ve pulled apart or cut down to bite sized.  Add back the bacon and a spring of fresh rosemary and a bay leaf.  Simmer for a couple of hours, then serve with some nice crusty bread.DSC_5397 [1600x1200]


It’s been cool and cloudy all day here.  Before she went to the shelter to spend a few quality hours cleaning cages and feeding the critters Mrs J dug a bag of stew beef out of the freezer.  I’m always game for beef and barley soup.  My take on the recipe is to add a couple of roughly chopped onions.  This reminded me so much of the classic French onion soup I decided to treat it much the same way in presentation.  I lightly trimmed and toasted slices of my latest sourdough white bread and floated them atop the soup, then added some muenster cheese on the croutons and a good sprinkle of grated asiago over everything.  Gave this a brief toasting under the broiler and served it with a caution that the bowl was going to be hot.

I’m rather pleased with the way the soup turned out.

I noticed yesterday when I returned from the store and was putting the groceries away that I had bought a big box of baby spinach leaves-forgetting that I already had a big box of them.  I’ll be making something of those tomorrow, I think.  Any ideas?  A classic spinach salad always works for me.  I did notice a recipe for sautéd spinach in garlic oil that looked great.  I do have some riccota so something in a stuffed pasta shell would work.  Stay tuned!

Italian Beef

Mrs J suggested this and dug the beef out of the freezer this morning.  We hurried the thawing along with a hot water bath and then a turn or two in the microwave.  It was still pretty firm in the middle when I cut some slits and stuffed them with fresh garlic slices.  I fired the burner under the Dutch oven and got some oil hot and plopped the beef in there to brown.  While that was happening I mixed a cup or so of beef broth from the soup base I use.  To this is added a packet of Italian dressing seasoning, some oregano, basil, onion powder, parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  With the meat browned on both sides I dumped the broth mixture into the pot and covered it.  I had bread in the oven so I simmered it on the stove top until the bread was done,  then took off the lid and stuck the pot in there.  Gave it about another 45 minutes or so then removed the beef to a cooling rack.  When cool the meat shredded easily.  I returned the meat to the pot and stirred.  Now is the time to dump in a jar of pepperoncinis, liquid and all.  Trust me on this.  Good stuff.

I mentioned something in an earlier post about the sourdough buns we used for this.  They were an attempt at hot dog buns.  They turned out in varying sizes and shapes, and they were tough and chewy-not the best thing for hot dogs.  Great for this Italian beef recipe, though!  There is plenty of juice that comes with the meat, and the practice is to dunk the sammiches into the juice.  It takes some tough buns to hold up to it.  These were just perfect for it.


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Mmm…Onion Soup

This recipe is so easy I’ll break precedent and actually list it:

4-5 onions, sliced thin

some butter

a bit of flour

dry sherry and/or white wine

beef broth

bay leaves



toasted baguette slices

shredded Swiss cheese

Cook the onions down in a sauce pot with a dash of salt and a grind of pepper.  You want them to caramelize.  When the color suits you (dark brown is the goal-I usually settle for “golden”) add a pat of butter and a bit of flour, say about a tablespoon of each and cook it in for a few minutes, then splash in some dry sherry to help deglaze.  Scrape up those nice brown bits.  Add a quart or more of beef broth and a few bay leaves.  Tie the bay leaves up with fresh parsley and fresh thyme if you have them, else just sprinkle in some dried thyme and parsley flakes.  Remove the bay leaves before serving, natch.

While the soup is simmering, slice a baguette and preheat your oven to 425 or so.  Toast the slices for croutons to top the soup, then sprinkle on your choice of shredded cheese.  I used Swiss tonight, Gruyere is commonly cited for use, didn’t have any.  Place the soup bowls on a tray and place them in the oven for the cheese to melt.  I see photos of onion soups presented at table with the cheese bubbling and overflowing the brim.  Dramatic I guess, looks to me like a chef did it once by accident and lied – “I meant to do that!”  LOL

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Corned Beef

This brisket has been in the freezer for a good while now, bought it back in the spring and promptly stuck it into the freezer.  I saw it today when I opened the freezer door to take a look at just what we had in there.  It seemed like a good day to drag it out and thaw it.  We had a few potatoes left, and some carrots, and I knew we had a head of cabbage in the fridge.  Just about everything you need for a good Sunday dinner.

I usually just cover the brisket with water and simmer it for a few hours but after reading several recipes online I decided to use some dark beer plus beef broth.  I had a 24oz. bottle of Guinness bought back when we were making mustard and dumped that into the sauce pot over the meat, and finished with beef broth to cover.  Most all the recipes agree that an hour of simmering per pound was right and I went by the clock rather than poke it with a thermometer, but 160 degrees is done if you prefer to use yours.  In any case, the 3 pound brisket got 3 hours at simmer before I removed it to a platter and covered it with foil.  I popped it into a warm oven to keep it hot while I boiled the veggies.  You can cook them a while and then add the cabbage last.  It took about 20 minutes for the cabbage to get tender.  Today I cooked the carrots and the potatoes until they were done and removed them to a covered dish and then cooked the cabbage.  No hard and fast rule but I found it easier to get the various parts done without over cooking them that way.

The mustard dressing was a combination of the whole grain stout mustard I made earlier in the year, some prepared horseradish, a bit of the cooking juices, and thickened with corn starch.  It added an interesting tang to the meat.  Lots of pictures!


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Au Poivre

I’m going to post this verbatim, from a friend I chat with pretty often.  He keeps urging me to do a steak with this.  If I had some green peppercorns I’d do it today.

J- My Au Poivre recipe – you will LOVE it – seriously, it is really world class stuff.

About 1/4 to 1//3 of a cup of green peppercorns. I’ve been using the dried ones and putting in a little water to soften them up a little. I then crush them. If you use fresh green peppercorns, then you really do have to make sure you crush the peppercorns.

2 big shallots – about 4 decent size bulbs

12 ounces of red wine – I’ve been using this Spanish Tempranillo that is simply awesome and was under 10 bucks.

2 sticks of butter

16 ounces of beef broth.

I don’t have it, but if you really wanted to go overboard, if you had demiglace, then I’d add a spoonful or two.

Chop of the shallots fine, and saute them in a stick of butter – you want them very soft, though not really heavily carmelized.

When the shallots are done, add the green peppercorns. Cook them with the shallots and butter for a bit. If you need more butter, add more butter.

Add the wine and the broth. Reduce by about 1/3. Add the rest of the butter. Again, you can add more butter if you think you need it.

At this point, it is great and should be thick enough depending on your taste. I add arrowroot b/c I like the suace to be thicker. But If you added more butter and let it reduce a little more, you can get it to a great consistency too.

(reformatted for clarity)

Beef and barley soup with onions

Or:  Beef and onion soup with barley?  Nah, I fall for alliteration every time.  I used a bit of red wine in this after I had it going, wish I had thought of that earlier.  In the recipes I’ve seen that call for wine, most of them say to reduce the wine early.  In this recipe I should have added it to the browned beef and cooked that down before adding the broth.  It turned out fine nonetheless.  I like the simplicity of this, just a few ingredients that develop a great flavor.  This is great even without the wine, so don’t worry if you don’t have any.

Brown the beef in a little oil, add some sliced garlic and some red pepper flakes when it starts to dry out.  That may be the best time to add in some nice red wine.

I used beef broth from a carton.  Not a purist who makes my own.

I used most of two onions, sliced, not diced.  I like the larger pieces in this soup.  One could brown the onions with the beef early on, but I like the texture they have when added to the broth.  This soup simmers a good long while.

Add the barley with the onions (do NOT use instant barley).  Rule of thumb:  Use way less than you think it needs.  This is one quarter cup.  Give the soup an hour or so at a simmer and check to see what it looks like, if you think you need more barley go ahead and put some more in there.  Like I said, this soup simmers for a long time.  I ended up adding another eighth cup.  I also added  the wine at that time, about an hour into the simmer.

This is another one of those soups that can stand the simmer longer than you can stand smelling it simmer.  Mrs J declared it soup after about three hours.  I mixed some corn starch in a bit of broth and added it to thicken.  You may need to add some broth as you go along.