Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: Beef (page 1 of 6)

(plus a couple of rabbits)

GREEK MEATBALLS WITH RICE

One of my favorite ways of preparing  meatballs is how our Greek brethren do it. I have long been a fan of Greek cuisine. They have 3,000 years of history in terms of cooking. We can learn a thing or two from them. So, you can consider this posting as a Greek meal. Simply, it’s meatballs  (keftaides) over rice with fideo (pilafi me fides). The latter dish  is just rice combined with cut thin spaghetti (fideo). Back in Spanish Harlem almost every household would add fideo to their soups. We never thought of combining it with rice (another innovation by our Greek brothers and sisters).

With this Greek dinner I took the liberty of adding saltsa bechamel to the meatballs. Saltsa bechamel is the Greek method of preparing béchamel sauce, that fame sauce attributed to French cuisine (although some historians state its origin is actually Tuscany—but that’s another story). Add some good Greek wine like a Agiorgitiko from Nemea or Xinomavro from Naoussa, and you’ll have a dinner that will transform you to a sunset evening in Athens. Don’t let the Greek wine tongue twisters deter you. An Agiorgitiko is similar to a Merlot. With a Xinomavro, think of a Barolo or Pinot Noir.

For this dinner, I would suggest making the béchamel sauce first. You can set it aside and heat it up again with the main course; then preparing the rice with fideo. While the rice is cooking, you can make the meatballs, which are served drizzled with the sauce.

SALTSA BECHAMEL

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Dash of nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

Instructions:

Melt butter over low heat. Add  flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir until blended into a consistent paste. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and gradually add egg yolks, stirring constantly. Yield: 2 cups

RICE WITH FIDEO

Ingredients:

1½ cups long grain rice
¾ cup fideo (or crushed vermicelli)
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried chives

Instructions:

Combine the rice and fideo and sauté in butter in a 2-quart pan or pot until golden brown. Add chicken broth and chives. Cover and cook over very low heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Yield: 4 or more servings.

GREEK MEATBALLS:

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef or a mixture of beef and pork or lamb
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint or 1 teaspoon dried
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup ouzo or anisette
1 cup flour
½ cup olive oil (or more if needed).

Instructions:

  1. Combine meat, bread crumbs, salt, onion, parsley, garlic, mint, egg and ouzo. Mix well.
  2. Form into meatballs and roll them in the floor. Note that we like our meatballs medium-sized, not small. Place on a cookie sheet and chill for 1 hour.
  3.  Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan  and fry meatballs over medium-high heat until done, about 15-20 minutes. Serve them hot.
    Yield: Makes about 32 meatballs (4 to 6 servings).

 

 

 

 

 

STEAK DIANE

This recipe is called Streak Diane Savola. I got it years ago and, honestly, I don’t remember from where. I do know that ‘Steak Diane’ is a dish in what is known as “Continental Cuisine.” According to Wikipedia, it was probably invented in London or New York in the 1930s. According to my research, the fancified Steak Diane contains varied ingredients such as Cognac, mushrooms, shallots, Dijon mustard and heavy cream. This version doesn’t have any of that. In fact, it’s a rather simple sauté with chives’ parsley, Worcestershire sauce and Amaretto Disaronno.

So, wanna really impress family and friends with something that is both retro and delicious? This dish is it. You can lie and tell them you slaved all day to create this majestic effort.

Ingredients:

4 steaks (rib, T-bone, sirloin or other cut)
5 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 tablespoons Amaretto Disaronno

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the steaks under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat the butter in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
  3.  Add the scallions and cook until soft. Add the steaks and sear on each side. Add remaining ingredients and sauté until desired degree of doneness.
    Yield: 4 servings.

GRILLED STUFFED BURGERS

GRILLED STUFFED BURGERS

If you like grilling burgers (and who doesn’t), you’re going to love this recipe. It takes the lowly majestic hamburger to a higher level. Here we have stuffed burgers. And the stuffing is mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. Think of it as a stuffed pizza burger. And you can use whatever stuffing you want, be it onions, broccoli, olives, you name it. I would not suggest pepperoni. You’ve already got the meat, and adding pepperoni would be having meat stuffed with more meat. Pepperoni lovers would swoon; but some may not. Nevertheless, I assure you, once you try the stuffed burger, you’ll be hooked.

GRILLED STUFFED BURGERS

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 pounds lean ground beef
4 slices mozzarella cheese
9 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hamburger buns

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine onion and garlic powders with ground beef. Form the beef into patties around the cheese, tomatoes and basil. Make sure the stuffing is completely hidden so none leeks out during cooking. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Grill patties until desired doneness and serve on a warm bun with a side salad or any other accompaniment desired.
    Yield: 4 servings.

TERIYAKI MEATBALLS

It always amazes me how the Americanization of other cuisines has been so prominent in our culture. You know what I mean. Think of Chinese-American cooking, which is nothing like the cuisine you would encounter in China.  Think of what we did with French cooking. For example, Vichyssoise is not French. It is an American invention. It was invented in 1917 at the Ritz hotel by a French chef. Then there’s Tex-Mex cooking. You will not find chimichangas in upscale restaurants in Mexico City. Again, another America addition. When I was in Italy, pasta was mainly served as side dish. We made it the main course with such things as spaghetti with meatballs. And, thinking of meatballs, that is where I came across this tidbit, Teriyaki Meatballs. Again, another Americanization of another traditional cuisine, this time, Japanese.

I tried this recipe and it was nothing short of marvelous. You may not find teriyaki meatballs in a restaurant in  Japan (unless they’re catering to Americans), but you can make it at home and enjoy the essence of all the diverse flavors in this dish. With plain steamed rice, it makes for a great repast.

The recipe includes sazón accent (Goya makes a good brand) which is, honestly, a substitute for MSG and can be found in any food store these days.  It is optional in the recipe if you have any qualms.

TERIYAKI MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
¼ cup diced scallions
1 egg
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Butter or oil for frying

Sauce:
½ cup soy sauce
White pepper to taste
Sugar to taste
1 packet sazón accent (optional)
Pinch of allspice
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions:

  1. Mix ground beef thoroughly with parsley, chives and scallions. Stir in egg and bread crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shape into balls about 1½ to 2 inches in diameter.
  2.  Heat butter or oil in a heavy skillet. Add meatballs and fry for about 5 minutes or so or until browned on all sides.
  3.  While meatballs are frying, prepare sauce. In a small saucepan, heat soy sauce over low heat. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, sazón accent, allspice and ground ginger.
  4.  Pour hot sauce over meatballs. Let stand for 5 minutes so flavors can blend.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

MAKARONADA (Tomato-Meat Sauce)

One of the most popular dishes in the Nuyorican repertoire is Picadillo (pee-kah-dee-yoh), a ground meat stew that we serve over rice. Lately I’ve discovered a recipe that is very similar to picadillo, but is of Greek origin. It’s a tomato-meat sauce called makaronada. It’s fascinating that, on two different parts of the world, you could find such similar recipes. The difference with the Greek version is in its ingredients. It includes such things as cinnamon, allspice and cloves, things we would never put in our picadillo. Also, instead of tomato sauce, as we do it, this dish has tomato paste.

We tried out the recipe and found it marvelous. The mix of ingredients with the ground beef makes for a marvelous meal. This dish, I’m told, is normally served over macaroni with grated cheese.  This time around we used whole-heat penne, and it came out great!

MAKARONADA
(Tomato-Meat Sauce)

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound ground beef (can substitute chicken or turkey)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 cups water
¼ cup red wine
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Dash ground cloves

Instructions:

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and beef. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat loses its pink color.
2. Combine the tomato paste and water and add to the meat mixture. Add wine, salt, pepper, cinnamon stick, allspice and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour
3. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve.
Yield: 4-6 servings.

 

 

QUICK-OVEN STEAK

Back on the block, we called this biftec rápido al horno. It translates to ‘quick-oven steak.’ Initially, we would experiment with various condiments to place over the steak before baking it. On trick my mom used was to season the steak, then sprinkle it with a package of dry onion soup mix and then bake it. Sometimes it was just Worcestershire sauce over the meat. Well, I happened to have some left-over barbecue sauce that was about to reach its expiration date, and I decided to use that as a topping. The result was really good, and my parents would have approved.

For this dish you can use any cut of meat on hand, or which you can afford. I use sirloin; but round steak, flank steak, rib-eye or even chuck steak can be used.  How much barbecue sauce you use for the topping depends on you. Some like their steak smothered with sauce, others less so. Let your taste buds be the judge.This is a simple no-nonsense preparation that renders a good meat dish within 25 minutes or so depending on the cut of meat. Enjoy.

QUICK-OVEN STEAK

Ingredients:

2 to 3-pound round or sirloin steak
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Barbecue sauce

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
  2. Season steak on both sides with salt, pepper and oregano. Rub or splash with barbecue sauce to cover meat.
  3.  Place in an oven-roof dish or pan and bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes to desired doneness.
    Yield: 4-5 servings.

 

EASY CASSEROLE

Back on the block we called this a Cacerola Simple, or a simple, or easy casserole. When times were lean and you needed something easy, fast and cheap, this was the go-to dish.  We would take ground beef, or chicken, or turkey, add to it tomato sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, and whatever tubular pasta was on hand be it macaroni, ziti, penne, elbows or, our favorite, bow ties (also called farfalle). Imagine my surprise when I discovered years later, from my lovely wife, that they did the same thing in the Midwest, albeit with different seasonings. So, when my mother prepared her caserola simple, other moms did the same in Indiana.  I wonder  if they also called it an “easy casserole?” I’m sure that even today, this dish graces many an American table.

Although this dish is called a casserole, we do not bake it in a casserole dish. I do it the way my mom made it: she would cook everything in  a cast-iron pan, and then bake it in the same pan. It’s called a cacerola, so if you want to use an oven-proof casserole dish to bake and serve, go right ahead.  We, in the Rivera family, never stood on formality.

EASY CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
½ of a large green pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 pound ground beef (can substitute chicken or turkey)
1 ½ cup bow tie pasta, or other (see above)
1 15-pounce can tomato sauce
½ cup grated cheese
½ teaspoon fresh chopped oregano, or ¼  cup dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet (we prefer cast-iron), heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Crumble in ground beef and cook until browned. Stir in bow ties, tomato sauce, cheese, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3.   Place in oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
    Yield: 6 servings.

POT ROAST

The Sunday pot roast dinner is hallowed ground in America. We have our version of it in Puerto Rican cuisine. We call it Carne Mechada. Thus, I’m always on the lookout for good recipes. The one given today is one of the simplest yet tastiest versions I know. This recipe can make pot roast go from the plebeian to the divine. The secret is to marinate the roast overnight. And what is the marinade? Ordinary barbecue sauce along with dry red wine. Once marinated, the meat is then cooked with traditional vegetables associated with pot roast. We cook it with potatoes, onions and carrots.  If desired, you can add traditional winter vegetables such as turnips and parsnips.

This dish resembles more the traditional Yankee pot roast beloved in New England.  It is not my family’s Nuyorican pot roast. But it will be one of the best meals you can prepare for Sunday or any other day of the week.

POT ROAST

FOR THE MARINADE
4 pounds boneless chuck or round roast
1 bottle (18 oz) all-purpose barbecue sauce
¼ cup red wine

Place beef in a bowl. Pour barbecue sauce and wine over it. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

NEXT DAY:
2  tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2¼ cups water
1 cup red wine
1½ pounds potatoes, washed and halved
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in diagonal chunks
2 large onions, peeled and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  1. Drain meat. Reserve marinade.
  2.  Heat butter and oil in  large pot. Brown the meat on all sides.  Pour marinade, 1 cup water and 1 cup wine over roast. Cover and simmer 2 hours.
  3.  Add vegetables and continue simmering 30 minutes. Mix remaining water and flour. Stir into pot. Raise heat slightly and cook until sauce gently boils.
  4.  Arrange meat on a serving platter,  surrounded with vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve gravy sauce on the side in a gravy bowl or sauceboat.
    Yield: 6 or more servings.

 

 

BEEF AND TOMATOES IN OYSTER SAUCE

Chinese cuisine is so vast and all encompassing that I’m always on the lookout for good recipes that define it’s cooking. This recipe is from Daughter of Heaven – A Memoir with Earthy Recipes by Leslie Li (Arcade Publishing). The book features Ms. Li’s grandmother’s recipes, inclusive of this one, Beef and Tomatoes in Ouster Sauce. From the ingredients utilized, I would consider this is a Cantonese recipe. It’s rather easy to prepare and renders a glorious dish. Served over plain boiled rice, it’s a winner.

BEEF AND TOMATOES IN OYSTER SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon granulates sugar (substitute honey or maple syrup)
1 pound flank steak, cut across the grain in ¼-inch slices (substitute chicken breasts or turkey)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

Instructions:

In a bowl, stir together the cornstarch, soy sauce, sherry, and granulated sugar. Add the steak. Toss the mixture well, and let the steak marinate for 20 minutes.

In a wok or heavy skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat (but not smoking) and stir-fry the onion for 1 minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok, and heat it until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic. Stir-fry for 45 seconds, or until golden. Discard the garlic.  Add the steak and the salt. Stir-fry the mixture for 1 minute.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with the brown sugar, and add them to the wok. Stir-fry the mixture until the tomatoes are just heated through. Add the ketchup. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the onion and the ouster sauce. Stir-fry the mixture for 1 minute.

Makes 4 servings.

 

 

 

SEEKH KABAB

Years ago I acquired an Indian cookbook that had a recipe for Shish Kabob. They called it Seekh Kabab. I’ve been a fan of skewered meats since I can remember, so I tried the recipe. Problem was it didn’t work. It called for lamb mixed with spices to be threaded onto skewers and grilled. The meat did not bind, It just fell of the skewers whether it was wood or metal skewers.  Then I tried something different, I forwent the skewers and cook the kabobs in oil—and it came out perfect.

Thus here is my modified Indian kabob recipe.  It goes great with boiled or friend rice. It may not be a true shish kabob since it’s not grilled on skewers; but it hits the spot if you want a delicious, satisfying Indian meal.

Seekh Kabab

Ingredients:

1 pound (2 cups) ground lamb or beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ inch piece fresh ginger root, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup olive oil

Garnish:
lemon slices
tomato slices
Chopped coriander leaves or chopped fresh parsley

Instructions:

  1. Mix meat with onions, ginger, garlic, ground spices and salt.
  2.  Stir in beaten egg and form the mixture into 8 balls. Then flatten the balls into sausage shapes.
  3.  Heat oil over medium flame in a large skillet or pan. Add meat and cook on all sides until meat is browned and tender.
  4.  Garnish with lemon and tomato slices. Sprinkle with coriander or parsley and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

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