If you venture out of our local area of Jackson, Missouri you’re likely to get funny looks if you talk about kettle beef. But around these parts it is the staple of church dinners, civic functions and family reunions. It is down-home comfort food.
Basically, it is a savory, fall-apart-tender, juicy rendition of a pot roast.
So easy and soooooooo good. Inexpensive whole food.
Our processing plant located in Jackson produces kettle beef from the grassfed chuck roast we raise at our farm, Rain Crow Ranch. You can buy it that way (already cut into 1-1 ½ inch cubes of chuck roast) or you can cut up about any roast yourself.
Grassfed beef is lean, healthy and safe. Beef you can feel good about eating (or feeding your family). No doubt, my opinion is a little biased but it represents beef raised with pride on an American family farm – mine! Rain Crow Ranch in Missouri.
You can also use stew meat, rump roast, arm roast etc. But my favorite is a chuck. It has a bit more fat than other cuts but bursting with flavor. And hey, the fat in grassfed is good fat!
Preheat a dutch oven. Dump in the raw beef to sear. Generously season with salt and pepper. Our beef has a pure and clean flavor so I don’t like to cover up real beef taste with lots of heavy seasoning.
After browning the beef. I remove it from the pot and add the aromatics. In this case, I had on hand green bell pepper, onion and garlic. I would have liked to add celery but my daughter who seems to be half rabbit had eaten it all. Out here at our ranch, you don’ t just run to the store; round-the-corner is about an hour trip.
Anyway, I finely chop the veggies. I have to fine chop so some of my crew don’t see green things in their food. In the same vein I used to hide finely chopped raw broccoli and carrots the spaghetti sauce. But that is another story.
Cook the veggies until translucent. Then add the beef back into the pot. Don’t you love one pot meals!
Now if you are in a hurry you can simmer on top of the stove for a couple of hours until the beef is tender. Yet, I am not a good pot stirrer and prefer to cover the pot and put it into the oven to slow cook until dinner time. I had 4 hours so turned the oven to 275.
Sometimes I will cook all night at 200 degrees. You can also slow cook in a crockpot. Put it on before you leave in the morning and you are greeted with the best, mouth-watering smells when you return home hungry. p>
Did you know that muscle tissue is 80% water? Yep, didn’t go to vet school for nothing.
That is why I do not add additional water or broth to the beef as I slow cook it. The simmering beef with a tight cover collects the most wonderful au jus in the pot.
You can eat it just as it is.
But I like to thicken the juice to make it a little more like gravy. You can do this with corn starch, flour and lots of other ways.
Today I simply added a little flour into cold water and mixed well to get rid of any lumps.
Pour the flour and water into the pot of beef and stir carefully. That tender beef will be falling apart. Gently heat on the stove top or in the oven to keep it warm.
Now comes the question. How are we going to eat this yummy smelling beef in gravy? Get inventive. I have served it over egg noodles, rice, and mashed potatoes. But I just got in a new order of grits.
If you are north of the Mason Dixon line you may not know all about grits. Raised in the south we consider it manna.
Grits have their origins in American Indian corn preparation. Traditionally, the corn for grits was ground by a stone mill. The results are passed through screens, with the finer siftings being grit meal, and the coarser being grits. Many communities in the United States used a gristmill until the mid-20th century, with families bringing their own corn to be ground, and the miller retaining a portion of the corn for his fee.
Three-quarters of grits sold in the U.S. are sold in the South stretching from Texas to Virginia, also known as the “grits belt”.
It is a part of our southern culture and you learn to say, “kiss mah grits!” pretty early.
I have a T-shirt with GRITS (girls raised in the south)
Yellow grits include the whole kernel, while white grits use hulled kernels.
Being a grits aficiondo and only having quick grits available locally. I order our grits from a traditional mill in Midway, Kentucky, just outside of Lexington. http://www.weisenberger.com
Weisenberger Mills is located on the South Elkhorn Creek in southern Scott County, Kentucky. The creek has provided the water to power the mill’s twin turbines since the early 1800’s.
Six generations of Weisenbergers have operated the mill at the present location since 1865.
But let me get off my tangent and back to the meal at hand.
The basic formula for making grits is 1 part grits to 4 parts liquid (water, milk, broth). Yet, for these darling grits to form a foundation for our beef and gravy I wanted them a bit more substantial so the ratio was more like 1:3.5.
I added 1 part grits to 3 parts chicken broth. As it began to cook and thicken I added ½ cup of cream. You could use milk but I love creamy grits. Once cooked and thickened (takes a good 30 minutes) I stirred in a half stick of butter.
Wallop a healthy spoon of grits on the plate. Top with our beef. Get ready to be wowed. Comfort in a big way.
Here’s the Kettle Beef Recipe:
3 lb. Grass Fed Kettle Beef or roast cut
1 finely chopped onion
1 small finely chopped pepper (green or red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T Corn starch or flour
1 c grits
3 c chicken broth
½ c heavy cream
½ stick butter
Place raw beef in a preheated Dutch oven to sear. Season with salt and pepper. Once browned remove the beef from the pot. Toss in the onion, pepper, garlic and cook until translucent. Add the beef back to the pot, cover and place in oven to slow cook for several hours on 275. Peek occasionally and make sure the beef is not getting dry. If it is add a bit of packaged chicken broth. When the beef is tender remove from the oven. Mix ½ cup of cold water with the flour and stir till no lumps. Add to the beef and broth, stirring only gently. Place back in oven to keep warm and let the gravy thicken.
One hour prior to the beef being done make your grits. Mix grits with the chicken stock and stir on low temperature till it begins to thicken. Add the heavy cream and continue to stir. Once thickened and done (after about 30-45 min) cut up butter and stir into the grits.
Place a portion of grits on the plate making a well in the center. Add the beef on top.