Beef is never my first choice when it comes to meat. So when I received a can of beef for Christmas, I almost traded it for a can of chicken. Don’t get me wrong. I grew up eating my fair share of steak and burgers, but I simply never purchased beef for myself once I left home. I never missed it, so I never ate it.
At this point, I imagine I should back up a bit and address your question, “You got beef for Christmas?”
Yes. I love practical gifts, and next to batteries and stamps, canned meat is about as practical as it gets. In all seriousness, practical gifts excite me. I can almost guarantee I do not wear most of the clothes I received for recent holidays past, but you better believe I still use my stash of batteries and stamps.
This year, my grandma gave her kids and adult grandkids a giant can of beef and a giant can of chicken. The animals are raised and sold by a farmer in our home town, so I consider this farm-to-fork at its finest.
On a cold winter day (and there have been plenty of those in the south this winter), I set out looking for something to make with my canned beef. Shelby at The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch had the answer.
Shelby’s blog was my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month. I like to think Shelby and I go way back, since I sent her salted vanilla chip oatmeal cookies for my first Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.
Take a moment to think about that. Of the thousands of cookie swap participants, I was matched with Shelby, and then we met again in the same SRC group. It was meant to be.
And that’s a good thing, because I could cook from her blog for days. She has so many great recipes to choose from (Buffalo-Style Stuffed Eggs are definitely on my short list) that I was glad I was on the hunt for a recipe with a specific ingredient.
If not, I would probably still be deciding. Ultimately, I gave the Beef Lo Mein a long, hard look before settling on the Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash.
What is tagine? I had no idea, but Google told me it is a cone-shaped dish commonly used for cooking in North Africa. Its shape allows meat to cook slowly, and as a result, become very tender. Other answers to the tagine question were “beef stew”, which is close to what we have here.
The combination of spices – paprika, cinnamon, ginger, and red pepper flakes – in this recipe interested me. Add to that the fact that everything I needed to make it was already in the fridge, and the choice was pretty clear.
That is yet another good thing, because this beef tagine was just what I was looking for when I set out to make winter comfort food. It was warm and flavorful and made for a perfect lunch and dinner. I don’t know that someone with a traditional beef dish in mind would love it, but I certainly did. I served my beef tagine over noodles (I still had lo mein on the mind), but I Imagine a side of rice or couscous or slice of crusty bread would be just fine too.
Thanks, Shelby, for making this another enjoyable SRC experience. Enjoy!
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound shredded beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup vegetable broth or beef stock
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 3 cups of 1-inch cubes)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
- Combine the paprika, cinnamon, salt, ginger, red pepper and black pepper in a medium bowl.
- Add the beef to the spice mixture and stir well to coat.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the beef, onions, and the garlic and, stirring frequently, cook until the garlic is fragrant, about one to three minutes.
- Stir in the broth (or stock) and the tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- Cook for five minutes, then add squash.
- Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender.
- If desired, garnish with cilantro. Serve with couscous, rice, noodles or enjoy alone.