Recipe #7/20: Beef Lentil-Goulash

Hooray for spastic recipes! I was at Safeway looking for ingredients for a recipe after this (no I won’t give away what it is), but they had no green lentils. They did have yellow lentils though, which I hadn’t noticed before (I’ve purchased almost all of my lentils at the local co-op). As I am want to do, I passed by what I have dubiously named the ‘discount meat bin’. Essentially it has meat that has been discounted either because it is in bulk packaging or they have too much of that cut (and it looks and tastes just fine). Beef chuck was about half off ($1.99/lb) so I grabbed a couple 3 lb. packages and tossed them in the basket.
So now I’m at home with beef, lentils and beer. What to make? Some sort of cubed beef dish perhaps. Why not try a take on beef goulash? Cook the lentils, brown the beef cubes, and then simmer everyone together. Some changes were made (the beef really doesn’t need to be dredged in flour since the lentils have plenty of thickening power already) but the underlying actions are the same.
As with most recipes that I make up on the fly, this one is a little different than how I actually made it. I started with 3 cups of lentils so it turned into more of a soup, which I guess it was since I didn’t have any noodles or rice. It was good, but a little overwhelming. I think with a little more beef-to-lentil ratio served in smaller portions atop rice or noodles would work really well. Also, I used olive oil which worked fine, but I wish I had used butter. This dish should work well if you have people over as the prep time is quick and once the beef start simmering in the lentils you don’t have to worry about it. You might be able to cut the 1.5 – 2 hour cook time a little, depending on how much connective tissue is in your cut, but it won’t be as tender. Enjoy!
Beef Lentil-Goulash
Serves, oh, say 6 people.
3 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1 in. cubes
4 oz. butter (Sure you could use less, but then it wouldn’t be as delicious. Plus, this makes lots of servings)
8 oz. dark beer (I used a porter. Also, “8 oz.” is about what is left of a beer if you drink a little whilst cooking)
2 cups yellow lentils
6 cups water
1 Tsp salt
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/2 tsp cumin
(Rice, noodles or any other applicable starch device.)
Place lentils and water in a large pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover for 30 min. (If you’re having a problem with the foam boiling over, try a little olive oil on top to reduce surface tension.) Add spices and puree with a stick blender. (If you don’t have a stick blender, buy one [search under immersion blender]. If you are making this tonight and don’t have one, transfer in batches to a normal blender.) Next, melt butter on a large non-nonstick pan (you want that tasty fond) until it just begins to brown. Add cubed beef in batches, browning on all sides and then transferring to the pot of lentil puree. When all the beef has been browned, deglaze the pan by pouring on the beer whilst whisking furiously. Add tasty beer, butter, fond mixture to the pot and stir. Heat covered on low for 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally. To serve, ladle on top of rice, noodles, etc. and enjoy (with another bottle of your tasty brew).

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