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Improvisation Can Be A Good Thing

I wasn't planning on being home tonight , nor cooking.My catering job was cancelled due to water main break. Certain Someone had to fend for himself the night before with his favorite 'Cluck, cluck',Harold's Fried Chicken. I bet you he was anticipating it tonight too. No such luck. I took some frozen beef cubes and placed in the Dutch oven to roast a few hours until he came home.I knew I wanted to use these spices I picked up at World Market the other day.And this beautiful Swiss Chard that screamed healthy! I have a zillion cookbooks but still find myself referring to Internet searches for ideas .I love the look of Star Anise , but feared it due to bad experience with Chinese 5 Spice once. Chef uses it quite a bit in passed appetizers and seared tenderloin.So I wanted to revisit this spice. The meat was roasting nicely and called me to do something. I ground the Star Anise and threw it in. I saw on searches that cinnamon , star anise, and beef seemed to be a popular theme. I threw in some Sherry, vinegar, Soy Sauce, Thai Chili's,onions,and water to the pan. The result was a slow cooked caramelized melange of aromatic spices and tender beef. Certain Someone came home and sniffed the air. The one drawback was that he wanted his noodles and more of a sauce. No to worry. Although I said I was trying to avoid his 'Big Ass Food'( ie: noodles).He retorted who was I calling Big Ass! I added more water to the roasting pan to deglaze, and boiled up some noodles. The result was this.A rather good improvisation if I do say so myself. Even Certain Someone agreed.

Coco's Asian Style Beef with Red Swiss Chard
* this recipe was improvised so measurements were approximated.
1 lb beef cubes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2-3 ground Star Anise
1 cup sliced onions
1 bunch Red Swiss Chard
1 cinnamon Stick
2 Thai Chili's
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 Sherry
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups of water
Asian noodles

Roast beef cubes in oiled covered Dutch Oven seasoned with salt and pepper for 1 hour. Add sliced onions , spices,Soy Sauce, Sherry, Vinegar, sugar, garlic and continue to roast covered for another hour. Check pan periodically and add water as needed . You want a small amount of broth /sauce in the final product.
Wash and stem the Swiss Chard. Roll leaved and slice like chiffonade. Oil fry pan. Saute Swiss chard until just wilted. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Prepare noodles.
Assemble beef atop noodles. Top with Swiss Chard and drizzle with juices from the roasting pan.

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Emiline said...

I bet you enjoyed the night off. This happened to me, yesterday. We had some ice, so work was canceled, and I was sooo happy.

This looks like an interesting, and spicy dish. I like star anise, too. It surprises me how strong it is!

I've been meaning to stop by your blog-I've seen your comments everywhere.

chou said...

Yum. I'm still not quite sure what to do with the five spice in my cupboard. I like the aromatic nature, but even though I'm a black licorice fan I don't enjoy anise flavor in most foods. It's a strange paradox that I still haven't managed to reconcile! Keep warm. :)

glamah16 said...

Chou- I know what you mean. I like nuts, but not so much in my baked goods( except almonds).Something about the other ingrediants made the Star Anise work in this.Other than that, I too have avoided it for the most part.

Deborah said...

I am not good at improvising, and I'm always impressed by people who are! This sounds wonderful!

Sharona May said...

Wow! I love your creativity. I bought Swiss Chard for the first time a week ago. The result was a feta and Swiss Chart tart.

Sharona May

Truffle said...

I've been combining beef with really similar flavours this week! Great minds think alike! Sounds delicious :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

You know, I don't really like 5-spice either. Not sure why. I love all the components of it, but all together, not my favorite. But I applaud you for revisiting the star anise, a spice I do like.

I feel your pain about the noodles and your certain someone, I live with a pasta addict myself.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That dish looks good! Very flavorful!

All my everyday meals are invented. I only refer to my books when I want to make something special/a particular recipe or dish!



Cynthia said...

This is what I love about cooking - the improvisation.