Tag Archive | italian

The Perfect Italian Beef

I love Italian beef. I’m also a Chicagoan, and I’m going to tell you right now that outside Chicago, there is really no such thing as Italian beef. I’ve been everywhere, and it just don’t cut it. It’s like trying to get a Chicago hotdog out of Chicago, A Philly cheesesteak outside Philly. You can do it, just ain’t the same.

So many of my friends that move out of state tell me at one point or another how they miss Italian beef. It is REALLY good.

My BFF’s mom actually sent me this recipe years ago and I made it ever since. Is it true to form Italian Beef from a greasy hole in the wall in Chicago, no. But it’s still DAAAAMMMMNNNN good. In some ways it’s BETTER than a greasy hole in the wall in that instead of being shaved beef, it’s chunked and meatier and heartier. I’m drooling thinking about it.

It’s perfect because it’s a crock pot recipe. That means minimal work. And maximum flavor. I made it for super bowl because it can be made the night before no problem. Actually gathers flavor that way.

First, get yourself a chuck roast. I use grass fed.

Dump that bad boy in the crock pot with some oregano, red pepper flakes and some onion soup mix.

Now add a jar of peproncini’s with the juice. Mind you you don’t have to cut the stems off, they get nice and soft and you can do that after they cook if you want and just make sure not to serve any up.

Now dump in a can of beef broth.

And a can of French Onion soup.

And in 8-10 hours, you’ve got a soupy, delicious, meaty, spicy mess.

When you serve that puppy up on some crusty italian bread, or french bread, don’t skimp on the juice. A real Italian beef should be so soggy the bread is kind of falling apart.

It’s got some spice to it too, it’s not at all wimpy, so if you like your spice, this is for you. And it’s SO damn good. Freezes AWESOME too!

I never ask this of you but don’t question me on this, just make it. It’s freakin GLORIOUS.

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CP Italian Beef

3 lb chuck roast

1 can french onion soup

1/2 bottle peproncini and 1/2 bottle of juice if you are using large jar, whole bottle of juice and peppers if it’s a small jar

red pepper flakes to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp)

black pepper to taste (about 1 tsp)

1 can beef broth

1/2 package of dried onion soup mix

1-2TB oregano

5 cloves of crushed garlic.

Put everything in your crock pot. Keep on high 4 hours, reduce to low and cook until tender, about 4-6 more hours. Break the meat the stem the peppers with a fork when they are tender, discarding stems when it’s served. You can make this the night before. Serve on hard rolls.

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Pain In The Arse But So Worth It Home Made Pasta

There are a few things that I make that aren’t, technically, “worth it.” By worth it I mean that the cost of doing it myself is not really saving anything when you consider the time it takes to make it. Pasta is one of these things.

Is it because I can’t actually eat pasta or my diabetic beta cells will attack me and make me go blind with high blood sugar? Surprisingly, no.

Is it because home made pasta is more expensive than store bought? No, it’s not, it’s cheaper, but marginally. When you consider the time it takes, it’s not really cheaper since pasta is SUPER cheap. Ok, maybe mine doesn’t have all the chemicals in it either.

It’s pretty much because it’s SUCH a pain in the ass to make, even with my little gadgets, that I’ll still go and buy pasta before I make it. But making it is SO worth it. And I’ve promised myself one day, one great awesome day, when I have the entire day to kill, I will make enough pasta to last this family a year. For now, though, I made enough for just two meals.

I used my handy dandy pasta attachment for my kitchen aid. Yes, man has made such things. I can’t even imagine the pain in the ass it would be to make this without it. I once used a regular hand crank pasta machine, and I’m just too damn lazy.

For all intents and purposes, pasta is super easy to make. You can find a slew of recipes online for it. It requires two or three ingredients usually and comes out, amazingly and shockingly, very very good.

So, the first thing I did was dump the ingredients in my kitchen aid. I believe it was flour, eggs, and some salt. What’s hilarious is that the instructions say you should make a well, put the egg in it, blah blah blah. Yeah, whatever, I just dump it all in there together. I really don’t know what difference making a well would make. But, then again, I’m no chef.

So I dump it all in the kitchen aid with the dough hook attachment

It takes a little bit for it to smooth out. But it does eventually smooth out, not totally silky smooth, but enough like dough.

It starts to roll in on itself and gather up the bits and pieces as it does this. It’s exciting isn’t it!

The dog certainly looked excited.

Ok, maybe not. But it’s imperative she’s in the kitchen with my while I do this. She’s my good luck charm.

Now, I attach the pasta do-hicky to the kitchen aid. Ain’t it cool?

And I start hand kneading the dough. It just kind of helps it form a little better cause it can be a little dry.

The first attachment I use is just a flattener. No, that’s not a technical term, it’s just what I call it. It rolls the dough flat. It has various settings on the side, 1-6. 1 being the thickest, 8 being the thinnest. Depending on what kind of pasta you want, you can roll it thick or super thin. I wanted spaghetti, so I’m figuring on rolling it to a 5. 6 would be like angel hair.

First you’ve got to roll it through #1 quite a few times, folding it half, then reinserting it. This makes the dough silky smooth and pliable, stretchy even. This is what you want. It helps to dust it with a little flour every few times to keep things running smoothly.

Eventually, it’ll become the width of the attachment, which is what you want.

A little ball of dough will eventually stretch to several feet long, so don’t go all happy on how much dough you initially put in there. Usually a palm full is enough.

Once it’s gone through #1 a few times, then it goes through each successive flattener size once until we reach 5. At 5, the sheets are pretty long and look like this:

I’ve got the kitchen aid book open right there! Tips for perfect pasta! Yah right! Perfect pasta=someone else coming in my kitchen and doing it.

Anyway, I lay the sheets on pieces of wax paper that I’ve sprinkled with flour until I’ve done the entire recipes worth of dough. This takes awhile, don’t fool yourself. One recipe worth of dough can easily take 30-45 minutes just to flatten into pieces.

So I go back and flatten some more pieces

See! It even LOOKS stretchy!!!

The dog still isn’t excited at this point. But, she sure did get way more excited when meat sauce was being poured over the cooked, finished product.

Now that all the sheets are flattened I proceed to cut them into spaghetti sized noodles and set them in a “nest.” I was never good at the “nest” thing, the way they’ve got them all nicely nested in the store. Here’s my version of a nest:

It REALLY helps if you have two people doing this because the sheets can get LONG and ANNOYING.

I wasn’t going to be drying this particular batch because it was all going to be used within a couple of days. If you want to keep them long term, you can always nest them, after dusting them with some flour, and freeze. OR if you have the room and patience, go ahead and dry them and stick them in bags or jars for long term storage.

Cooking home made pasta CAN be a little tricky, mostly when it’s fresh. Here’s how I do it:

Salt the crap out of the water. I do that any way, no matter if it’s fresh or dried. I once heard an Italian chef on PBS I think it was say that pasta water should be “salty like the sea.” I agree. The taste is so much better.

Then, get the water to FULL boiling and dump a little bit of olive oil in there. Then put in your fresh pasta and cook it, no kidding 1-3 minutes. I’m so not joking. It does NOT take long and there’s nothing worse than overcooked pasta.

And let me save you a little hair pulling: It’s gonna stick together. It’s not store bought, chemical laden pasta. It’s gonna stick. Learn to live with it. It doesn’t detract from the taste. The worst thing your family is going to do is take bigger bites. And that could be just cause it’s so damn good.

So, there you have it. Home made pasta. Enjoy it! Actually, you BETTER enjoy it because there are diabetic, urban homesteading, pasta making bloggers that CAN’T enjoy it because their body rejects carbohydrates in any form! (That’s my version of “there are starving people in china.”)