Versatile and Tasty: Ropa Vieja (Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Versions)

Ropa Vieja is one of my favorite items on a local Mexican restaurant menu. I almost always have it in a salad in a tortilla bowl.  So of course I had to figure out how to replicate it at home.

I have tortilla bowl molds and make them for lunch salads all the time. Although you don’t need them, use this method here.

Now to up my game with some tasty ropa vieja. Continue reading

Locked Down Cooking: Raiding the Freezer

I’m trying to clean out the freezer, using up items before my weekly shopping trip. Since I can’t run out to pick up something I may have forgotten, I’ve had to get creative as I cook. Here are two meals made from what was in the house on those days.

My favorite Oven-Baked Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes, with a little twist: smoked brisket gravy. The thing about oven-baked chicken is there’s not enough drippings to make a good gravy. But in my freezer, I had little secret ingredient to make a great, smoky gravy: burnt ends. These were leftover from my very first smoked brisketContinue reading

Barley Beef Soup

I love this soup.  I chopped up a couple of rib eye steaks for this but lesser cuts of beef will work fine.  Start some coarsely chopped onions simmering in beef broth, add the barley.  I like to add plenty, give yourself enough time to see how much what you’ve added actually amounts to if you haven’t used it before, it swells up quite a bit.  Start at 1/4 cup per quart and add more as you see fit.

Brown the cubed beef well in a skillet then deglaze with plenty of red wine, stirring to get the nice bits off the bottom, then add all of that to the broth.  Continue the simmer, adding more broth and/or barley as you go.  I add bay leaves and a bundle of fresh thyme, a couple tablespoons of mushroom soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and ground pepper.  Simmer until the onions have all but disappeared.  Thicken, as needed, with a cornstarch slurry .