Cookbook #102: All-Time Favorite Beef Recipes, Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, Iowa, 1977 (18th printing, 1983).
More ways to cook beef! Guess you know that I am not a vegetarian. I acquired this book in the mid-eighties, and it is a good example of American cookbooks of that decade. The contents include recipes for roast beef, pot roasts, steaks (expensive and less-expensive), meat loaves and meatballs, hamburger recipes, soups and stews, leftover roast beef, and variety meats.
I find it refreshing to open this (dated) cookbook and not be barraged with brand-name ingredients, nor to see packaged mixes as ingredients. Plain fare mostly, not terribly inspiring but some good comfort food recipes.
Paging through this book, I re-discover a recipe I’ve always liked for “Italian Bracioli” – round steak stuffed with onions and rolled up and baked in a tomato sauce. When I was a working mom, I relied on this type of recipe, since I could cook it on a Sunday and heat it up on a weekday. I also tried (and liked) the Spinach-Stuffed Flank Steak and the Oven Swiss Steak. So, I’ll keep this cookbook.
I decide to make “Greek-Style Sandwiches” for this blog. It calls for pita bread, which means I have an excuse to go to the Mediterranean Market on Bluff in Boulder, always an interesting trip (I love exploring shelves of foreign cuisine products).
The above recipe is (in my opinion) an “Americanization” of Greek cooking, so I am calling my version “Beef Steak Pitas”. Most Mediterranean cooking calls for lamb, fish, or chicken rather than beef, and yogurt instead of the sour cream dip with chives. I kept the beef, but I substituted plain yogurt for the sour cream dip, added green onions, and added feta cheese.
Pita breads vary widely. I bought Greek pitas from the Mediterranean store: they were huge and tasty but they did not have pockets. We found we could fold them carefully over the filling like a taco, but it was almost easier to eat them with a fork. Next time I’ll look for pita breads that have pockets. Or, make my own.
- 1 pound sirloin steak
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano (or use 1 tablespoon fresh oregano)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups chopped lettuce
- 1 chopped tomato
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 of a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- pita breads
Slice the steak crosswise into thin strips, and then shorten the strips to about 1-inch pieces. Combine the wine, olive oil, oregano, and salt and pepper; add the meat, cover, and marinade up to 24 hours.
Drain the meat well, then fry in a hot pan for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, ready the garnishes: lettuce, tomato, green onions, cucumber, feta cheese, and yogurt. (The amounts of these are approximate; add them to your personal tastes. A few hot peppers would be good on these too.)
If your pita is thick, microwave for a few seconds and place the meat and toppings on it and serve it like a taco. If your pita breads have good pockets, slice each pita in half and open each pocket and fill with the meat and garnishes.
I first sliced the meat into quarter-inch wide/two-inch long pieces before marinating, as directed in the original recipe (and as seen in the above photo). On tasting the cooked meat, I found it too chewy, so I chopped the meat into smaller pieces before serving. Next time I make these I’ll cut the steak into smaller pieces before marinating – I incorporated this change in my version of the recipe.
These are very tasty, albeit a bit unwieldy with the thick pitas. The meat really has a great flavor, and they look so pretty on the plate with all the garnishes. I’ll make them again!