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Beef Stew with a Bite

The key to Beef Stew with a Bite is good bone beef broth. You can use the cheap stuff, but either making it yourself or coughing up some money to your local artisan broth maker results in a rich and most excellent stew. Pepper wise, you can use whatever you want, but I prefer 1 habanero1. This stew does bite, but it won’t offend most people. Additionally, if you aren’t feeding 6 people and are planning on freezing meals, the heat and flavors mellow over time; time is a secret ingredient. Let your stew mellow, man. If you want to dial it up, add 2 habaneros for Beef Stew that Punches You in the Mouth.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3lbs. of beef chuck
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 tablespoons of oil if needed
  • .25 cup of all purpose flower
  • 1 large onion or 2 small chopped onions
  • 3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 habanero diced (I leave the seeds in)
  • 1.5 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 cups beef bone broth
  • 1 to 2 cups of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • .5 teaspoon of dried thyme (about 1.5 teaspoons if fresh)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 4 large carrots cut into diagonal pieces
  • Rice or potatoes (to serve stew over)

Instructions

  1. Dice the bacon into .5 inch pieces, and on a medium heat, fry it in a large soup pot or dutch oven until crisp. If the bacon is particularly lean, use a tablespoon or so of oil. Though it is less healthy than olive oil, I prefer vegetable oil for stew. Once the bacon is crisp, remove it and set it aside.

  2. Cut the beef chuck into 1 inch cubes. To taste, add the salt and pepper to the cubes and massage in. In small batches brown the beef, remove, and set aside. When browning the beef, try not to let the individual pieces touch each other. This step takes a bit of time, but it is worth doing right.

  3. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, habanero, and onion to the leftover beef juices and bacon grease in the pot. While stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, cook the mix until the onions start to turn clear or for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or 2 while stirring.

  4. Add the beef and sprinkle it with flour, stirring it until all the flour is absorbed.

  5. Add enough beef bone broth and water until the meat is covered. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and sugar.

  6. Cook for 2 to 3 hours on a low heat.

  7. Add carrots and cook for another hour.

  8. If you like your stew a bit more thick, make a slurry with corn starch or flour and add it to the stew.

  9. Serve over rice or potatoes.

And don’t forget, “Let it mellow, man.”


  1. While I like jalapeños and serranos, they result in a stew that is a shade greener in flavor. 

Piggy Butt, Surprise! – Crock Pot Pulled Pork Recipe

The following is a recipe for pulled pork cooked in a crock pot. Having a food processor is also handy, but it is not necessary.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lb. piggy butt (pork shoulder)1
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil (optional)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers, or 1 habanero2
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cumin3
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Salt and pepper your piggy butt or pork shoulder. I like a bone-in cut, which can take a little longer to cook, but it results in more flavor. If you want, wipe down your crock pot with olive oil, and place in the meat.

Pork Shoulder
Pork Shoulder with Bone of Forest Raised Pig

Put the onion, garlic, hot pepper(s), cumin, oregano, and vegetable oil in a microwavable bowl and microwave it for 5 minutes and stirring it occasionally. This will bloom the spices and soften the onions. Alternatively, you can do this step on the stove. I have found that the microwave works just as well and is a little easier4. I tend to only use the stove and a pan if I’m cooking other things in the same pan to let the flavors mingle.

Bloomed Marinade
Bloomed Marinade

As an extra step, I now take the heated onion mix and throw it in a food processor and chop everything up a bit more. I like the mix a bit lumpy, but not a puree. Once you’ve done this, rub the mix over the meat. Be careful, as the mix can be hot depending on how quickly you jump from the microwave to the food processor.

Pork Shoulder with Marinade
Pork Shoulder with Marinade

Cook the meat for 7 to 9 hours, shred with two forks, and dispose of the bone. Once the dish is cooked, you can try to remove the grease. Generally, I do not, since this keeps the meat moist and has flavor. I scoop the meat into microwavable containers and freeze it. When I heat it back up, I take the meat out with a fork and leave all the extra grease in the container.

Many hours later...
Many hours later…

This dish got its name from the soccer-ball-sized dog that lives up the street, and who looks like an anime super deformed version of Chewbacca (Chewie) with fused together leg joints (Chewie appears to lack knees). I have often fantasized that Chewie’s favorite dish is piggy butt, which he cooks for his other doggy friends. I further imagine Chewie talks like Mike Tyson and frequently makes his piggy butt too hot, because he adds 7 habaneros, or something insane like a ghost pepper. Chewie’s mouth then burns, and he has to drink all the water he can lap up (from the water bowl, the ditch, even mouthfuls of snow when it’s winter, etc.). Later, Chewie gets a second spicy “surprise” when the piggy butt comes out his other end – hence, Piggy Butt, Suprise!

Piggy Butt, Surprise!
Piggy Butt, Surprise!

Update: The photos show a pork shoulder of a forest raised pig I got at the local farmer’s market in Olympia. I’ve never heard of forest raised pig, but presumably this was a pig who lived and ate in the wood.


  1. The pork shoulder is also known as the pork butt or “Boston butt.” The word butt does not refer to the animal’s rear end, but is Old English for “the widest part.” 

  2. I usually do one habanero pepper. This results in a meat that is spicy, but never as spicy as I think it will be (so it tends to be just right). For the most recent recipe I tried two serranos, thinking that it will give the meat a slightly greener flavor. In terms of heat and flavor, if you like less heat, you might try seeding the peppers and modifying the dish to your palette. 

  3. I tend to like more cumin; you may want to dial this back to one tablespoon to suit your tastes. 

  4. I learned this trick from America’s Test Kitchen. 

Black Beans

So here’s a recipe I make a lot. It originated from something I found online. I then gave it to Mike and forgot about it. He made some modifications to it and sent it back to me. I made some more modifications, and this is the end result.

Note: Mike currently has a version of this which is sometimes referred to as Mike’s 14 Hour Beans. Who knows exactly what the details of it are or how good it is. We do know that the last 10 minutes of the cooking are extremely time sensitive…


Black Bean Soup

Prep 15 min • Cook 8 hour • Makes 8 • Source Tim Gray

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of dried black beans
  • 3 pieces of bacon
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 juice limes

Directions

1. Sort and wash beans.

2. Finely chop onion, peppers, and garlic.

3. Fry bacon and chop.

4. Fry onions in bacon fat.

5. Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. Alternately, simmer on the stove top in a covered dutch oven for about 6 hours.

6. Near the end, mush the beans against the side to thicken.

Notes

Adjust the amount of water added for thicker or more watery beans (1-3 cups of water).

Adjust peppers for desired hotness. You can also add cayenne pepper powder.