divide and dish
Cooking for two can present problems at times.I love beans. My wife tolerates beans. I can get away with a bean dinner about once a fortnight, so I satisfy my beans Jones at lunch with the leftovers when she’s away.I love spicy food. My wife is averse to spicy foods to the point where she says it’s painful. How can something so good for one, affect another in such a completely diverse way?Our experiences of the past two days illustrate a story of steak and chiles and leftover steak and other chiles; a wholly unsatisfactory dinner (for one), a delight (for the other), and ultimate harmony.It all starts with a flank steak. We both love flank steak. A flank steak is about 1 1/2 pounds — way too much for dinner for two — so leftovers make a second meal (or more).I do most of the menu planning and cooking — Carol has a real job — and I like to try new stuff. I saw a recipe in the Chronicle by Joyce Goldstein for Grilled Skirt Steak on a Bed of Grilled Poblanos & Onions. It looked really good to me, flank steak can stand in for the skirt steak, and I trust Joyce Goldstein’s recipes.
Poblano chile peppers (sometimes sold as pasillo) are the mildest of chiles, about a one on a hot scale of ten. I’ve used them in the past, most notably in a soup that I created and called Greengrocer Soup. My wife likes that soup, so I had no hesitation about using Poblanos in another dish.In that soup, the Poblano is a player, but in the Grilled Skirt Steak on a Bed of Grilled Poblanos & Onions, the Poblano is the star. Picture Jason Alexander as George in Seinfeld; good and funny in the ensemble, but a total flop as the star of the sitcom Bob Patterson.In any case, here’s the way it went:Grilled Flank Steak on a Bed of Grilled Poblanos & Onions Adapted from a SF Chronicle Recipe by Joyce Goldstein
Marinate the steak with a paste of cumin, black pepper, lime juice, garlic, oregano, parsley and salt for an hour or two on the countertop.Grill the onions, whole, unpeeled. Grill the Poblanos and peel them. Cut the onions and Poblanos into wide strips.Grill the steak, sauté the onions and Poblano strips for a few minutes to color them. Serve the steak, sliced thin, over the onions and Poblanos. I grilled small russet potatoes to accompany the steak.
That’s really good, sez I. Carol said it was way too hot and picked out the Poblanos. Well, it was a little hot, but just right to my taste. I made a note on the recipe, “next time, grill a bell pepper for Carol.”Which brings us to the leftover flank steak. Cruising my recipe files, I came across a recipe from Rancho Gordo for Carne en su jugo, that I got from their newsletter in September 2006.Here’s what Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo had to say in the newsletter:
One of the highlights of any trip to Guadalajara should be the restaurant Karne Garibaldi. Their signature dish is Carne en su jugo and one bite will make you a fan for life. It’s somewhere between a soup and a stew. Accompanied by grilled onions, tortillas cilantro, it’s a great dish that you don’t see much on menus outside of Mexico. The underrated cookbook author Marilyn Tausend offers her version in Savoring Mexico which has no tomatillos and is seasoned with chipotle en adobo. In fact, it’s not much like what I enjoyed in Guadalajara but it’s so good, I’ve been making it regularly. This version is inspired by hers but I hope you won’t stop researching the dish here.
Carne en su jugo, literally translates, “meat in its juice.” I describe it as Beans, Beef and Bacon, and cooked it November of 2006 for a dinner party. My notes say, “the platter was licked clean.”
Basically, cook your beans. Steve called for Flor de Junio or Anasazi. I used Vaquero when I cooked it before, but this time I used Runner Cannellini. All are good, just different.Cook finely chopped bacon in a sauté pan, take out to drain and cook diced beef in the bacon fat for a couple minutes. Put the beef in a pot.Whirl a couple Chipotles in Adobo with beef broth in a blender. Add that to the beef. Add more beef broth and simmer for about 20 minutes.Divide the beans among individual bowls. Ladle the meat with its broth into the bowls and sprinkle with bacon and cilantro. Garnish with grilled green onions and pass quartered limes and diced red chiles at the table.
That is good stuff.But. remembering the Poblano fiasco, I decided to do the beef component of the recipe two ways. After cooking in the bacon fat, I divided the beef into two heavy saucepans, chipotle mixture in one, no chipotle mixture in the other. I proceeded with the recipe.
Turned out great! Carol loved hers. I loved mine. I gave Carol a taste of mine. “Woo woo, too hot,” she said. Verdict, we were both quite happy with our bowl o’ beans.Carne en su jugo Rancho Gordo Beans Beef Bacon Adapted for two from Rancho Gordo newsletter 9.06
5 ounces of thin sliced bacon, the leaner, the better, finely chopped
3/4 pound of leftover flank steak sliced thin and then chopped. (or non-fatty beef such as sirloin tip or top round)
4 cups beef broth
1 or 2 chipotles in adobo saucesalt to taste (but mind the bacon!)pepper to taste (but mind the chiles!)
2 cups cooked, drained Flor de Junio or Anasazi beans
1/2 cup cilantro, choppedgreen onions, grilled
fresh red jalapeños
1. In a frying pan, slowly fry the bacon until done. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper toweling. Add the beef to the bacon drippings and sauté for about 2 minutes. Divide beef between two heavy pots.2. In a blender, place some of the broth with 1 or 2 chipotles in adobo and blend well. Add to one pot with the beef and divide the remaining broth between the two pots. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring both pots to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 20 minutes.3. Heat the beans in a saucepan and when warm, divide among individual serving bowls. Ladle the meat with its broth into each bowl and sprinkle with bacon and cilantro. Place some onions along the side of the bowl and pass the limes and peppers at the table.