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Beef it up

Saturday, October 6, 2012
Stir fried beef is a simple and easy meal. Photo courtesy: Korbelicious on FLickr


Today much negative criticism surrounds beef, the king of red meats. There are lots of inhumane practices associated with the cattle industry, especially in the US. Cows are herbivores and should eat grass, not grain, and should graze in pastures. But this is not the case. They are often penned up for hours with a trough full of grain to overfeed themselves. These cows that are fed animal by-products or non-grass fed cows are sometimes found to be infected with many dangerous strains of bacteria like staph and e-coli. To safeguard this they are in turn fed low doses of antibiotics. These animals tend to be somewhat diseased, then they are slaughtered and their meat is sold on the open market. 
We in turn eat the meat and become sick in the longer term. How can you tell good beef from bad? Look at the colour of the fat in the beef. Cows that eat grass tend to have a cream coloured fat, while those that eat grain tend to have white fat.
Beef from New Zealand or Australia where the farming practices are more humane and the animals are largely grass fed and pasture raised is the better choice. When eating out look for notifications on the menu, better restaurants have been boasting about grass-fed beef for years.
Despite the criticisms, a good steak, pot roast or roast beef dinner is still one of the most welcomed meals today by many. Although a good cut of beef may be costly at times, or the right quality beef may be hard to find, you can still beef up your life and enjoy a delicious beef meal through the use of a good marinade or by using a longer cooking process. You don’t have to divorce yourself from beef altogether if you are very health conscious. Simply cut down on the portion size you eat at any given time, or incorporate other ingredients like vegetables in your beef recipes to reduce the quantity of beef used. You’ll find that you can have your beef and eat it too!  
Chili cumin steak saute
• 1 tbs chili powder
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp minced garlic
• 2 tbs olive oil
• 1 tbs red wine vinegar
• 1/2 tsp brown sugar
• 2 tbs fresh Portuguese thyme, chopped (oregano)
• 1 and 1/2  lbs sirloin steak, cut into strips
• 2 tbs olive oil
• 1 large onion, julienne
• 1 small bell pepper, julienne
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• Salt
Combine the first seven ingredients, rub onto steak strips.
Marinate for one hour.
Heat olive oil in a sauté or frying pan; add peppers, onion and garlic.
Cook for a few minutes; until peppers turn bright green. Add steak and fast fry, turning all the time.
After about four minutes remove from heat and season to taste with salt.
Serves four
Tamale pie
• 2 tbs vegetable oil
• 2 lbs ground beef, lean
• 2 large onions, chopped
• 6 cloves garlic
• 2 tbs herb paste
• 3 tbs chili powder
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1/4 tsp allspice powder
• 1-28 oz can whole tomatoes, finely chopped
• 1-15 oz tin black beans or red beans
• 1 cup chopped green olives
• 1/3 cup chopped chadon beni
Topping for tamale pie
• 1 cup all purpose flour
• 1 cup cornmeal
• 1 1/2 tbs sugar
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 cup chopped chadon beni
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 1/3 cup milk
• 1 egg
• 4 tbs melted butter
• 4 ozs grated cheese
Preheat oven to 375F.
Season meat with herb paste.
In a sauté pan, make the filling: heat oil, add onion and garlic, add beef and brown thoroughly, add chili, cumin and allspice, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add tomatoes, beans and olives, combine and cover.
Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add chadon beni and remove.
Make the topping
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
Beat egg with milk and add melted butter.
Add to dry ingredients, add cheese and chadon beni.
Stir well, the batter may be a little soft but will firm up quickly as the cornmeal tends to absorb a lot of liquid.
If batter seems too dry, add a little milk.
The consistency should be like a muffin batter.
Grease a medium-size casserole dish.
Spread some batter onto the bottom.
Spoon the beef mixture onto this then top with the remaining corn batter.
Bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden.
Serves four


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