A bowl of authentic beef chili or a full-flavored steak on the table is the best argument for ensuring the supply of good beef. Here's one of each, from our test kitchen
Multicolored-Pepper Steaks with Balsamic Onions
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 45 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings
NOTES: To crack the peppercorns, whirl briefly in a spice or coffee grinder or crush with the flat side of a large knife or the flat bottom of a heavy glass.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sweet onions (1 1/2 lb. total), such as Walla Walla, Vidalia, or Maui, peeled and slivered lengthwise
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4 boned tender beef steaks (each 1 to 1 1/2 in. thick and 9 to 12 oz.), such as top loin (New York strip) or rib eye
1/4 cup fresh-cracked multicolored peppercorns (see notes)
1. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are limp, about 8 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with sugar. Increase heat to medium-high and stir often until onions begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves; stir often until liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
2. Rinse steaks and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides lightly with salt, then coat with pepper. Melt remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat (divide among two pans if there's not enough room for steaks in one). Add steaks and cook until well browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn steaks over and cook until beginning to brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer pan to a 375° oven and bake until medium-rare (still pink in the center; cut to test), 7 to 8 minutes, or until as done as you like (steaks will continue cooking for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven).
3. Transfer steaks to warm plates. Spoon onions over the top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves.
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 3 3/4 hours
MAKES: 6 servings
NOTES: Top chili with chopped onions and cilantro; serve with avocado, crumbled cheese, sour cream, and warm flour tortillas.
About 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) fat-skimmed low-sodium beef broth
6 to 8 dried New Mexico chiles (about 5 in. long, 1 1/2 to 2 oz. total)
12 ounces bacon, chopped
4 pounds boned beef chuck
2 onions (8 oz. each), chopped
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cups (16 oz.) dark beer
4 fresh poblano chiles (10 oz.)
1. Pour 1 can broth into a glass measure; heat in a microwave until simmering. Stem and seed dried chiles; rinse, cut into chunks, and put in a blender. Pour hot broth over chiles and let stand 10 minutes. Holding lid down with a towel, whirl until smooth.
2. Meanwhile, in a 6-quart heavy pan over medium-high heat, stir bacon often until browned, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels. Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan.
3. Rinse beef and pat dry; cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks, trimming off any large lumps of fat. Sprinkle beef lightly with salt. Working in batches, add beef in a single layer to pan and turn pieces as needed to brown all over, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer beef to a bowl. Add onion, garlic, cumin, and oregano to pan; stir often until onion is limp and beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Return beef and bacon to pan. Add chile purée, beer, and remaining can broth; bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Uncover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is very tender when pierced and sauce is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer; if sauce gets too thick before beef is done, add more broth as needed.
5. While beef cooks, in a roasting pan, broil poblano chiles 4 inches from heat, turning once, until charred all over, 11 to 13 minutes total. When cool enough to handle, peel, stem, seed, and coarsely chop. Stir into chili about 30 minutes before it's done.
Per serving: 672 cal., 47% (315 cal.) from fat; 68 g protein; 35 g fat (12 g sat.); 19 g carbo (3.7 g fiber); 777 mg sodium; 213 mg chol.