Friday, February 10, 2012

52 weeks of cooking, Week 6: Arroz Carreteiro, Cowboy Style


I don't know whether I've mentioned it on the blog before, but folks who know me also know that my dad's been building a huge outdoor fireplace/smoker. It's really coming along nicely, as you can see.

That big recess above the fireplace? That's where the TV will go. It's a shame I'll be moving away in August!

Earlier today there was a bit of back and forth over whether to cook a stew on the fire out there (dad's idea) or to cook my Brazilian-themed dish for this week's challenge (which is why I thought they'd been thoughtful enough to thaw out the beef in the first place). So, we compromised and did both! The bigass cast iron pot needed some seasoning after having been repeatedly cooked and cleaned on the fire, anyway. I saw no reason that a cowboy's dish that translates to 'waggoner's rice' wouldn't be better cooked in such a manner, so two birds, one stone, right? I started off with some very simple ingredients - beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, tomatoes, corn, and rice.

10 minutes of prep indoors, and everything from there on was done outside.

With some oil heated in the pot, I added in the garlic, onion, and pepper. It sizzled enough right away that I just gave it a little stir before adding the meat.

Veggies. And MEAT!

The lid went on, and that would be the last time I touched that pot without some welder's gloves. After a few minutes, I gave the meat a stir, then let it cook a little longer. I probably stirred it 2 or 3 times before the tomatoes and corn were added in.

I had to post a picture of these, because I think it's awesome that the gloves are called 'Blue Beast'. Also, kevlar? Badassery.

Anyway, in went the tomatoes and corn, and I let everything cook over the fire for a bit before adding some additional water and stirring in the rice.

It was also a bit cold today, so the heat from the fire was nice.

We ended up keeping it on the fire for about two hours total, although it really could've come out after an hour. When we decided that it cooked long enough, we took it off the hook and set it in the fireplace near the coals to keep warm. Two hours later it's sitting on silicone trivets in the kitchen, and there's still a bit of steam coming up when the lid is opened.

Just after being taken off of the flame. We let it sit near the fire for another 45 minutes or so.

All in all, it was good stuff! I didn't add much salt and pepper at the beginning, so that was added at the individual level. I always like to be cautious with salt since you can't take it away once you've added it, so there's that. I also wish I'd added some latin american peppers into the mix, but we each added our own favorite blends of hot sauce to taste.

Okay, so it wasn't really roughing it, but the 'cowboy style' meal was a nice way to fake it. Not too bad for a February afternoon outdoors.

Arroz Carreteiro (Waggoner's Rice)

  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 5 small cloves garlic
  • 2 lbs beef shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 1 quart jar tomatoes
  • 1 can 'mexicorn' or whole kernel corn
  • 3 cups long grain white rice

Chop onions and pepper into small pieces, mince garlic, and add salt and pepper to taste. In a large pot, heat cooking oil over a fire and add vegetables. When vegetables become fragrant, add beef and allow to brown, stirring as necessary. Add tomatoes and corn, and 2-3 cups of water as needed. Cover and bring to a boil. Add rice and replace cover, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot. Serves 6-8.

Total prep/cook time: 2 hours
Family happiness rating: 7/10

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