Okay, I know it’s summertime in Louisiana, but the last few days have actually been kind of cool due to the weather system that’s been sitting on us, dumping LOTS and LOTS of rain. Yesterday, I actually made corned beef, which was delicious. So, today, I am making Rice and Gravy. This is a Louisiana dish, a country Cajun dish.
Contrary to the name, it does contain meat, a cheap cut of meat is always good to use here, because the long and slow braising tenderizes the meat. My mother-in-law makes a great Rice and Gravy. Her secret? She actually uses a little bit of mild salsa. Yes, jarred, bought-off-the-shelf mexican salsa. As she says, at her age she’s allowed for a few shortcuts. Well, it always turns out great, and C. absolutely loves it. I’m not going to use the salsa, but will make it the regular way.
Even though hurricane season is upon us, and lately I’ve been trying to empty out the freezer, I need to stock my freezer with some kid-friendly food. Right now, there is nothing in there that I can reheat to serve her a quick dinner. And that has been leading to a lot of bad dinner choices. So, today, I’m going to try to fix that.
So, you want to start with a cheap cut of meat. My local IGA always, always carries thinly sliced seven steak, round steak, boneless short ribs and several other cuts that are good for this. I picked “gravy steaks”; I believe that it is also known as the “blade” steak, because of the thick line of cartilage running through the middle. This cut comes from the well-exercised chuck, which is full of fat and cartilage. The fat and cartilage both add flavor, and is best cooked by a long, slow braise.
- 1 to 2 pounds of meat (I had exactly 1.54 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 medium oniosn, diced fine
- 1 small or 1/2 large green bell pepper
- 2 celery stalks, diced fine
- 1/2 jar of mild rotels, or 1 fresh tomato, diced, or 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste, or 3 tablespoons mild salsa
- salt & pepper
- beef stock and/or water
Due to the cartilage, I pounded my steaks a little thinner, and then sliced them into smaller pieces. Toss the meat in a little bit of flour, just to coat. Heat up your pan, a good cast iron or your Mama’s old Magnalite. Add the oil, and when the oil is hot, add the meat. Let sit for a few minutes to get a good brown on the bottom. This is the most important step in developing flavor for this dish. Once you start stirring the pot, water is released from the meat, and you can’t go back and get that good initial sear.
I know your mama told you not to play with your food (but it’s so much fun), but no one probably told you to LISTEN to your food, did they? To make sure you have a good sear, and that the meat is ready to be turned, not only do I LOOK at the steak, but I also LISTEN to it. When the sizzling subsides, that is an indication that there is less water, thus, mostly cooked and probably a good sear. By listening to my steaks, I can actually prep my vegetables with my back turned to the stove, turning around to flip or remove the steaks when I hear the sizzling subside.
When the meat is browned on both sides, remove from the pot. Add the vegetables, and cook down about 20 minutes, stirring up the little bits of meat stuck to the bottom. When cooking down the vegetables, you do want to stir often, because you really don’t want the onions to burn.
When the vegetables are cooked down a good bit, add the steaks back in. Add just enough water (or beef stock) to cover. Put the lid on, and let cook on a very low simmer for a few hours. After about the first hour of braising, check for seasonings, and add salt & pepper, and maybe a little cajun seasoning, too. Stir every 30 minutes or so, just to make sure that nothing is burning on the bottom.
Serve with rice, grits, potatoes or pasta. Can be garnished with green onions and/or parsley.
Freezes well (without the rice).
and, no, it didn’t reduce that much, I had taken some out to put in storage containers.