The Good Cook had one of their bundle sales recently. I am hopeless in the face of a good cookbook bundle sale. All it takes is at least 2 or 3 books that I know I want, and I start searching for other books that I think are worth checking out at such fantastic prices. This time, the one I threw into the cart was Bruce Aidell’s The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today’s Meat. On the one hand, it had gotten fantastic reviews, making many best of 2012 lists. On the other hand, as much as I love meat, we are not really “meat and potatoes” people, so I was not sure if it would have much for me.
I’ve said it before, I will say it again. Sometimes when I am wrong I am really wrong. I got this book last Friday and it has already inspired 2 different meals.
For one thing, Bruce gets his inspiration from all over the globe. Even more important, his meals are very one pot. Not always, of course, many are steaks, etc. But many of them are what I might loosely call globally inspired, one pot home cooking. In other words, my absolutely favorite kind of food. And I have not even finished the beef section–the book is satisfyingly huge, with thorough explanations of the different parts of the animal and how to find or substitute what cuts.
The day I received the book, 1 hour before serving dinner, I was inspired to make this meal. It is that fast and easy. Bruce is a fan of individual spice blends, whereas I am more likely to just grab individual spices and cook with them. And the recipe was written for bison, which I cannot get locally. So those were my main changes. The recipe can be made with just about any ground meat in my opinion, with bison, lamb and beef probably being the best choices. I also used the veggies that I had available; carrots, celery, leeks and probably more would all work as well.
- 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 t whole brown mustard seeds
- 1 t whole fennel seeds
- 1 t whole cumin seeds
- 1½ large red onions, chopped
- ½ t ground black pepper
- 2 t ground coriander
- 1 t ground cumin
- 2 t crumbled Turkish oregano
- ½ t cinnamon
- 1 pinch of ground allspice
- 2 pinches ground cloves
- 1 t dried mint
- 1 t dried tart cherry powder (optional)
- 2 T minced garlic
- 1 zucchini diced
- 1 sweet bell pepper diced
- 1-1½ lbs ground beef
- 1 15 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 T pomegranate molasses
- ½ cup water
- You can substitute half cup of pomegranate juice for the two items above
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 T lemon juice (I subbed 1 teaspoon lemon powder), to taste
- chopped fresh mint for garnish (parsley would be great also, but I did not have any)
- 1 lb dry pasta (your choice of shapes), cooked to al dente
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid slightly ajar. When they finish popping, add the fennel and cumin seeds. Roast in the oil for 30-60 seconds, until darkened and fragrant. Add the onions with a pinch of salt.
- Cook the onions for 10 minutes. While the onions are cooking whisk together the following: black pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, Turkish oregano, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, dried mint and tart cherry powder (if you have it). Set aside.
- Add the garlic, zucchini and sweet bell pepper. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the spice mix you whisked together and cook for 30-60 seconds, tossing and toasting the spices.
- Add the ground beef with a hefty pinch of salt. Break into smalled clumps and toss, browning the meat.
- While the meat is browning, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water.
- When the meat is totally browned, add the fire roasted tomatoes. Add the pomegranate juice or pomegranate molasses and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice (or lemon powder). Reduce the heat to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Toss the cooked pasta into the cooked ground meat. If it is too dry (mine was not), add about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Taste for additional salt and lemon juice.
- Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint and serve hot with plain Greek yogurt on the side.