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Barrack’s Cooking: Coconut Curried Beef Braise

03 Feb
Barrack’s Cooking: Coconut Curried Beef Braise

I haven’t been shy about my love for the crock pot. The slow cooker is one of many highly used tools in my kitchen arsenal that I find an absolute pleasure to use. There’s something about slow cooking that appeals to me. Our society places way too much priority on work, money, careers, social media, any media, that we often put food on the back burner. Many cultures celebrate food daily and center their culture, families, and social interactions around food. American culture views food as a means of sustainment and rarely anything more than that, save for around the holidays.

Which is why I love Slow Food. Slow Food is a movement that was started in Italy and has made its way over to the US. As a whole, slow food celebrates the process of bringing food from the farm to the kitchen to the table. It’s a bit of a grass roots movement to get people involved in their food and close the gap that people have when associating the food they eat with actual ingredients. For me, though, Slow Food is more about a cooking process that involves putting time and love in so one appreciates the flavors as much as they appreciate the effort they put into their food.

But slow food doesn’t necessarily need to be arduous and time consuming, which brings me to my next point; good food can be cooked by single soldiers living in the barracks, with the right tools and a little bit of effort!

I’ve been in the barracks here at Castle Greyskull and I’ve seen soldiers’ rooms. They consist of four cemented walls with a few windows and come with a refrigerator and microwave. Most of them don’t have their own bathrooms, so soldiers have to use a community restroom/showers for all their personal hygiene needs. These barracks that soldiers from my unit are living in are barely better than the barracks from AIT. Other soldiers, over in Schofield Barracks, get rooms that two soldiers share, but each room has a common area including a full kitchen, a bathroom, and they get their own private bedroom. It’s not really fair for the soldiers in my unit.

Did I mention they only have a microwave? How is anybody supposed to eat healthily without a means to cook? I’ve taken some of these guys grocery shopping before, and their grocery bill consists of microwave meals, hot pockets, pizza rolls, and pop tarts. When they aren’t eating in the barracks, they go out to eat, which isn’t really any healthier and can be very expensive here in Hawaii.

Fortunately, it was recently approved for these soldiers to keep small kitchen appliances in their rooms, such as George Foreman grills and slow cookers. I know a few of them like to read my blog, now and then, since I like to spam myself on facebook, so I’d like to start doing them a favor and give them the methods to make pretty darn good meals in their rooms that are healthier than frozen meals and cost way less.

Laura helped me come up with this particular meal. She had seen her chef at work put together a curry and coconut beef braise at work for their family meal (which is a meal that kitchen staff cook specifically for themselves and the front of the house staff.) If curry scares you, have no fear! I’m not really a big fan of yellow curry, myself, but I find this dish to have a fairly subtle curry flavor, with the meatiness of the chuck meat being prominent. Although the meat requires a good 18-24 hours of marinating for the flavors to meld, this recipe really takes a minimal amount of time.

Coconut Curried Beef Braise

Makes about 3-4 servings

For the Marinade

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of stew meat or a chuck roast cut into one inch cubes
  • A piece of ginger about the size of half a thumb
  • The zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of yellow curry powder

chuck roast is very underrated

Directions:

  1. If using a chuck roast, try to trim the fat away as you are cutting it into one inch cubes.

    Cut up chuck!

    Cut up chuck!

  2. Peel the piece of ginger and mince into small pieces.

    Choppin Ginger

    Choppin Ginger

  3. Combine the ginger, lemon zest, coconut milk, and curry powder in a small bowl and mix together.

    Combine ingredients for the marinade

    Combine ingredients for the marinade

  4. Place meat in a zip lock bag. Pour the marinade over the meat and close the bag, pushing all the air out as you seal it. Shake the bag to mix the meat with the marinade to thoroughly coat it. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours.

    Marinate for 24 hours for best flavor

    Marinate for 24 hours for best flavor

braises are one of my favorite slow foods

For the Braise

Ingredients:

  • Tasty marinated meat from above 😉
  • 1 medium onion, roughly cut into one inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 red bliss potatoes
  • 1 cup of roughly chopped carrots
  • Salt to taste

isn’t this frickin easy?

Directions:

  • Place onions with a little bit of oil in the crock pot.

    Fancy Onion Picture

    Fancy Onion Picture

  • Add the marinated meat and chicken stock in the crock pot. Cover with the lid and turn the heat on high. Cook for at least two hours, up to six.

    Pour in the stock

    Pour in the stock

  • Two hours before serving, cut the potatoes into about 3/4 inch pieces. Stir potatoes and carrots into the beef, which should be fully cooked and tender at this point.

    Cut up the potatoes and carrots

    Cut up the potatoes and carrots

  • Cook for the remaining two hours, or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Salt to taste.

    And, done!

    And, done!

  • This can be served as a full meal as it is, with another vegetable, or over rice.

    I served it with some asparagus tossed in butter

    I served it with some asparagus tossed in butter

Again, if you’re not a big fan of yellow curry, don’t let its inclusion steer you away from this recipe. There’s only a teaspoon for a full pound of meat, and it really lends a subtle nuance to the meal. In fact, the lemon from the zest is more prominent in flavor.

A dollop of sour cream is a nice touch

A dollop of sour cream is a nice touch

Oh, and here’s Jack!

Jack!

Jack!

This is to be a first in a series of Barrack’s Cooking recipes that I will feature at least bi-weekly. Let me know what you guys think!

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2 responses to “Barrack’s Cooking: Coconut Curried Beef Braise

  1. Anonymous

    February 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    hardy, all i read is barrack. obama. cooking. lol. anyway. looks tasty. i can’t wait to come visit when i get back from japan! you are going to make a delicious meal and i will bring the sake – but no promises on what kind. we have been busy here. and not a lot of chances to get out. tell laura and jack i said hellooo 🙂

     
    • inquebiss

      February 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      I’m not cooking Obama. That would be cannibalism, plus he out ranks me, so I’m sure it’s punishable by UCMJ. The deliciousness of my meal will be directly proportional to the tastiness of the sake you bring 😉 There’s some pressure for ya! Can’t wait for you to meet Jack!

       

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