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So, I feel like I’ve been getting away somewhat from what I originally wanted to do with this blog, which is to post recipes with more in-depth instruction for folks (like myself) who are continuing to work on the basics of cooking while also branching out and trying new, occasionally more detailed recipes.  Having been employed at a gourmet kitchen store for over a month now, I have sat in on a few cooking classes and learned quite a bit from the chefs there.  Today I would like to expand on a fairly basic recipe and share some of those tips as we go.  I have also been learning a lot from this amazing book that I highly recommend to any aspiring chef (even just a home chef!): The American’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook.  I used the section on stir-frying, along with some of this recipe, to inspire the following Beef and Broccoli stir fry recipe.

My first instinct is to say that stir fry is an easy meal, and it can be.  But for some reason I often mess it up- overcooking the meat or vegetables, not having enough sauce, sauce is lacking in flavor, etc.  This time I took a tip from one of my favorite local chefs, Dianne McConnell (you can find her blog here).  She is awesome.  And Dianne recommends sauteing in batches.  I have heard her say many times that you do not want to crowd the meat in a pan, or it will not cook properly (advice echoed in the America’s Test Kitchen book).  She has also given this instruction with mushrooms.  I also learned from Dianne about blanching vegetables in order to reduce cook time in the skillet and avoid over-cooking.  I will explain this further in the recipe instructions.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp dry sherry, divided
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce, divided
  • 1 lb boneless sirloin steak, cut diagonally across the grain (I used a method from America’s Test Kitchen where I stuck the meat in the freezer for 20 minutes before cutting, which made it a little easier.  Also, cutting across the grain means perpendicular to the lines of fat in the meat.)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (or more if you like a thicker sauce)
  • 2 tsp sriracha
  • canola oil (I am not adding a measurement here since I did not keep track during the sauteing process- let’s just say I used a bunch)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger (I used the refrigerated kind in the tube to save on time and serious frustration.  What is worse than peeling and grating an uneven piece of knobiness- you tell me!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz broccoli florets (I got the pre-diced kind from Trader Joe’s and loved every minute of NOT cutting this up)
  • 8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced into 2-inch chunks
  • Rice or noodles for serving
I didn't end up using the carrots or onions, but if you do, blanch the carrots with the broccoli and add the onions right before the garlic and ginger.

I didn’t end up using the carrots or onions, but if you do, blanch the carrots with the broccoli and add the onions right before the garlic and ginger.

Directions

Combine 1 tbsp sherry, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp hoisin, sugar and beef.  Marinate for at least 10 minutes but no more than 1 hour (I did 30 min).  Bring to room temperature and drain off any moisture from the marinade.  Pat dry.

While meat is marinating, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add broccoli florets.  Boil for about 2 minutes then strain and run cold water over them to stop cooking.  This is called blanching.

Whisk together broth, 2 tbsp sherry, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp hoisin and sriracha.

Get your materials prepped, as stir-frying is a whiz-bang process:

I obviously did not have the burners on under the plate and bowl to the left, just for the record!

I obviously did not have the burners on under the plate and bowl to the left, just for the record!

Broccoli is blanched, mushrooms rinsed and dried and peppers chopped.

Broccoli is blanched, mushrooms rinsed and dried and peppers chopped.

Cover the bottom of your pan with canola oil and heat over medium high heat.  When oil is hot (but before it begins to smoke) add meat and cook for 3 minutes, turning once.  Do not crowd your pan!  Do not move meat around as it cooks, which will prevent it from browning well.  Cook in batches if you need to and remove from pan.

Reduce heat a bit and add more oil to the pan.  Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, turning once.  Remove from pan.

Don't crowd the shrooms, man!

Don’t crowd the shrooms, man!

Finished shrooms

Finished shrooms

Add peppers to pan and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from pan.  Add broccoli and cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from pan (continue to add additional oil, as needed).  Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (about a minute), mashing into pan.

America's Test Kitchen calls these the "aromatics."  I love that.

America’s Test Kitchen calls these the “aromatics.”  I love that.

Re-whisk sauce to mix up cornstarch and add to pan with vegetables and meat.  Heat through until everything is sizzling and sauce is slightly thickened, about a minute.  Serve over rice or noodles (this time I steamed our rice with 1/2 water and 1/2 beef broth).

Enjoy!  I did.  Thoroughly.

As noted in the caption, I omitted the carrots and onion due to feeling like there was already too much going on.  Plus chopping onion makes me wish I wasn’t.

On a side note, I recently became the proud owner of a Le Creuset fry pan, which is my only gourmet-scale piece of cookware and my first experience using stainless steel as opposed to nonstick.  It is a beautiful piece of metal and I absolutely had to use it to make this recipe, even though ideally, I would have used a larger vessel.  I also learned that, with cookware with an aluminum core, such as the Le Creuset, you are not supposed to cook on high heat at all.  I reduced the temperatures a bit for this recipe, but wrote it out for you as though you are using what I normally do (something cheap and nonstick).  If you are using something with an aluminum core, you can reduce the cook temperatures as needed so as not to scorch your food.

Cooking with stainless steel is definitely a learning curve and I have already burned a grilled cheese sandwich and some fried eggs (since yesterday).  If anyone has tips to offer on how not to continue burning things, I would love to hear them!  Shockingly, I did not burn the stir fry.  It was a stir fry miracle!  Anyway, I have a sweet panini pan which I should really be using for any and all grilled cheese endeavors.  So that was just my own irresponsibility.

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