Remember Clara Peller? No? She was the 81-year-old bewigged and wrinkled lady with a bad attitude who asked, “Where’s the beef?” on Wendy’s commercials. Hey, Clara. It’s here. In Central Florida.
We have lots of beef. Of the 50 states, Florida is 11th from the top in production of beef cows. As of Jan. 1, 2011, there were 1.63 million beef and dairy cattle roaming around. That’s a lot of mooing. And it’s hard to beat beef for nutrition every day of the week.
Depending on the cuts, you can have it ready in minutes or it could take hours. It’s lean or not so lean. Because fat carries flavor, some of the less-lean cuts are the tastiest. Some of the leanest cuts need long cooking to soften muscles that work hard when they’re part of the animal.
And you don’t need a lot of beef to make a meal. A four-ounce portion provides the proper amount of nutrients to make your body happy. The government says so.
Let’s assume you go on a beef binge and serve it every day of the week. Let’s also assume that burgers are off the menu.
SUNDAY: It’s pot roast day.
Plan for leftovers. Cookbook author Damon Lee Fowler in Classical Southern Cooking tells of his “Grandaddy’s Pot Roast.” It’s simple.
Brown a 3-pound lean chuck roast in lard, drippings or oil in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Pour off the liquid and save it. Put the browned meat on a rack in the pan, cover with sliced onions. Salt and pepper well. Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. Remove the meat and let stand while making the gravy. Pour the fat off the drippings. Mix four tablespoons flour with three tablespoons fat. Return to the pan and cook until it browns. Pour in the defatted juices from the original browning and those from the cooling meat and water for two cups and cook until thick.
Serve the gravy over the sliced meat.
Cut the meat into small pieces and reheat in the leftover gravy. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.
TUESDAY: Let’s get a little ethnic with a dinner of Picadillo.
That’s a Cuban dish of ground beef with onion, green pepper, garlic, dry sherry, crushed tomatoes, potato (cut in small pieces), dark raisins, and stuffed olives. Start cooking the onion, pepper and garlic in a little oil. Add the beef and brown. Drain the fat. Add everything else. Cook a while. Serve with rice.
WEDNESDAY: Hump day is grill day for many families.
Flank steak used to be inexpensive, then someone found out it’s really delicious when cooked quickly and cut across the grain.
Start marinating the meat on Tuesday in garlic, bourbon (just a full shot glass), a little vegetable oil, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a couple of slices of ginger. Refrigerate. Turn it often. Dry and barbecue over a hot fire on Wednesday. You have Kentucky Bourbon Steak.
THURSDAY: Go Japanese with Teppan Yaki.
The popular Western restaurant technique of cooking on a flat grill is called Yaki in Japanese, but it is done at the table in a pan over a burner. You can do it at home without the flash and flourish of restaurant chefs. You need a burner or electric frying pan.
Start with 2-inch pieces of thin beef and any vegetable you like sliced very thinly. Bean sprouts, eggplant, onion, mushrooms, carrot, and peppers work well. Fry some meat and vegetables until done. Diners take food from the pan and dip it into individual bowls of sauce made from equal parts Japanese soy sauce and lemon juice.
FRIDAY: Go Italian with a beef roll called Braciola di Manzo.
Each person gets a portion of a roll of round or sirloin steak pounded thin. Make a stuffing of bread, grated parmesan cheese, chopped egg, garlic, parsley, raisins, and onion. Spread the stuffing over the meat. Roll and tie into a sausage shape.
Brown onion in oil, add the meat and brown well. Add a little red wine (optional), then spaghetti sauce to almost cover. Simmer until tender, about 90 minutes. Slice the roll and serve with the sauce over pasta.
SATURDAY: Get social with beef hors d’oeuvres
Having friends over on Saturday is the perfect time for Carpaccio as a first course. It’s raw beef tenderloin sliced as thin as possible and served with garnishes of arugula and Parmesan cheese slivers. Lemony mayonnaise is traditional, but vinaigrette is OK.
That’s beef every day of the week.
story by TRENT ROWE
Trent Rowe is the food editor of Central Florida Ag News. [/emember_protected]