Let’s have a steak, mate: Five grilling tips from the Longhorn Steakhouse hotline

Janet Dickey, who is a manager at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Round Rock, knows that Texans grill year-round, but for many Americans, the summer holidays are when folks first break out the grill.

Don’t forget to clean the grill before cooking on it! Experts from Longhorn Steakhouse answer questions on a grilling hotline that’s open on the major summer holidays. One local manager shared some grilling tips ahead of July Fourth. Contributed by Longhorn Steakhouse.

Dickey is one of a handful of Longhorn staffers who answer calls on the restaurant’s holiday grilling hotline, and she shared tips so you don’t end up with a charred or underseasoned steak on July Fourth or any day. If you have grilling questions next week, you can call the Longhorn Steakhouse hotline at 855-544-7455. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 4.

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Fire up the coals or turn on the propane early, and don’t skimp on the heat. Dickey says the ideal time of the grill for a steak is 550 degrees, so don’t skimp on the charcoal. Use a charcoal starter and put the charcoal in the grill once they are blazing red and start to turn white on the edges. If using propane, turn on at least 10 minutes before you plan on cooking.

Clean your grill, every time. Buy a cheap plastic spray bottle and put canola oil in it. Spray on your hot grill. Roll up a kitchen towel and dip it (or spray it) with oil. Use tongs to rub the towel on the grate to clean it.

Thick steaks only need a dry seasoning on the outside, not a wet marinade, according to Longhorn Steakhouse manager Janet Dickey. Contributed by Longhorn Steakhouse.

Marinade thin steaks; season the thicker ones. Dickey recommends using a marinade for thin steaks, such as flank or London broil, which benefit from a wet marinade. (Italian dressing is a quick marinade that many cooks already have in their fridge, Dickey often will tell callers.) The marinade itself will tenderize the steak, so no need to use powdered meat tenderizer. But for  thicker cuts of steak, skip the marinade and using a hearty seasoning of salt, pepper and garlic powder — not garlic salt, which will make it too salty. “When you’re seasoning your steak, you want to create a crust. You should see enough seasoning to think that’s it’s too much,” she says. Some of the seasoning will fall off when you cook the steak.

Know and love the five-finger test. This is the touch test to determine if a steak is done by pushing on your palm. Here’s how to do it: With one hand open, use your other hand’s index finger to press the pad at the base of your thumb. That’s what a raw steak feels like. When you bring your thumb and index finger together on the open hand, the pad firms up a little, which is what a rare steak feels like. When you touch your middle finger and your thumb, that’s a medium-rare steak, and the ring finger and thumb feels medium-well. When your pinkie and thumb touch, the base of your thumb is much more firm, just like a well-done steak.

Flip the steak every 3 to 4 minutes to ensure even cooking and then let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Keep an eye out for hot spots on the grill where some of the meat might be cooking faster than the rest. Cutting into the steak too early will cause the juices to flow out. If you’re really trying to re-create the Longhorn experience at home, top each steak with a splash of lemon sauce and a pat of butter and serve immediately.

Longhorn Steakhouse employees cook steaks every day, not just on the big grilling holidays, so some of their employees answer grilling questions on a special hotline the restaurant has set up for Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Contributed by Longhorn Steakhouse

 

If Father’s Day rain spoils your grilling plans, here are bourbon-glazed steak tips to make in a skillet

Not all dads drink bourbon and not all dads eat steak, but if the dad in your life does, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Father’s Day treat than this one. (Especially if this weekend’s rain forecast is accurate and you’re looking for a steak recipe to cook indoors instead of on a grill.)

These bourbon-glazed steak tips are a great way to feed a family for Father’s Day without serving individual steaks to everyone at the table. Contributed by Beef Loving Texans

By slicing any number of beef cuts into large cubes and soaking them in a marinade sweetened with bourbon, honey and balsamic vinegar, you can create a skillet full of caramelized beef tips, which is a nifty solution to feeding a family or a small gathering without serving individual steaks to everyone.

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You could use a Texas-made bourbon — among them, Garrison Brothers in Hye, Ben Milam Whiskey in Blanco, Balcones Distilling in Waco, Firestone & Robertson in Fort Worth and Ranger Creek in San Antonio – for the marinade or for serving on the rocks with the meal.

Ben Milam Bourbon is one of many Texas bourbons on the market today. The story behind the name is that founder Marsha Milam wanted to name her whiskey after ancestor Ben Milam, who was killed in battle after urging his fellow Texans to fight against Mexico in the Texas Revolution. The slogan on the bottle comes from a poem about Milam. Brooke Taelor Photography

The Conroe-based Mike Majkszak, who was a finalist in Beef Loving Texans’ Best Butchers in Texas contest, says that a bourbon-based marinade like this one will bring out the richness of the beef and tenderize the meat. Sirloin is usually the most affordable cut of beef, he says, which means you can usually buy a higher-quality sirloin without paying significantly more. Chat with your butcher if you’re looking for alternatives.

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Bourbon-Glazed Steak Tips

2 to 3 pound top blade roast, flat iron or sirloin steak
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bourbon, divided
Spray oil
Salt, to taste

Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. If using top blade roast, make sure to cut away and discard the thick membrane that runs through the middle of the roast.

Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup honey and 1/2 cup bourbon in a bowl or zip-top bag. Add the steak tips and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Heat a heavy, cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Spray with a little oil. Drain the excess marinade from steak tips and discard. Place steak tips in the hot skillet. Cook 5 to 7 minutes until color develops.

Mix remaining bourbon and honey in a small bowl, then pour over steak tips to glaze. Continue cooking until glaze has caramelized and darkened to a rich brown color. The tips should have enough salt from the soy sauce, but you can taste them at this stage and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat, allowing 2 to 3 minutes to cool, then serve.

— From Beef Loving Texans (beeflovingtexans.com)

What’s the connection between the Salvation Army and National Donut Day? Plus, where to get a free one today

Of all the national food days, National Donut Day (or National Doughnut Day, if you’re following AP Style) is one of the oldest.

During WWI, the Salvation Army sent volunteers to France, where they would often serve doughnuts and coffee to soldiers. These women, called “donut lassies,” are often credited with helping popularize doughnuts with the soldiers, who returned to the United States and brought with them the demand. Contributed by the Salvation Army.

It dates back to 1938, when the day was established to to honor the Salvation Army volunteers who handed out doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. Twenty years later, the Salvation Army designated June 1 as National Donut Day to raise awareness (and funds) for their cause. (That makes today the 80th anniversary of National Donut Day, if you really want to celebrate.)

You can read the full story about these “donut lassies” over on the Salvation Army page, but if you’re just looking for where to get a free doughnut today, the answer is Walmart.

Walmart is giving away more than a million free doughnuts today, and according to their representatives, all you have to do is walk into the store to get one.

From Krispy Kreme to Voodoo, Austin has plenty of doughnut shops. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

With the addition to Voodoo, Bougie and several other shops, Austin has become quite the doughnut town in the past few years, but it’s hard to beat the classic glazed doughnut at Round Rock doughnut.

You can also make them from scratch, of course. Might I suggest this recipe for biscuit doughnuts?

 

Picadillo, ramen, lasagna: 10 things to make with hard-boiled eggs that are not egg salad or deviled eggs

Did you get your fill of eggs this weekend?

Hard-boiled eggs are an Easter staple. So are deviled eggs and egg salad. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

If you are looking for new ideas to use up those hard-boiled eggs, allow me to offer a few suggestions. Some of these are going to sound crazy. Others, you’ll want to make for lunch.

Picadillo: This savory ground beef dish is popular from Cuba to the Phillipines, and it often calls for hard-boiled eggs. You can also make a picadillo shepard’s pie.

Lasagna: In some parts of Italy, lasagna is made with hard-boiled eggs instead of ricotta.

Cobb Salad: It’s not exactly the squishy egg salad you might be trying to avoid, but this hearty salad still a good way to use up a lot of eggs.

Macaroni Salad: Hey, I told you some of these would sound weird.

Ramen Sliders: Leave it to Taste of Home to come up with crunchy “sliders” made with small burgers, hard-boiled eggs and “buns” made with raw ramen noodles. Or you could just slice the eggs and serve them in a bowl of regular ramen noodles.

Open-Faced Sandwiches: Serve with any kind of spread you like, from pate to hummus.

Roasted Asparagus: Asparagus served with crumbled hard-boiled eggs isn’t all that odd, but it’s also not a dish to think to make.

Beef Rolls: This recipe from the L.A. Times calls for rolling hard-boiled eggs in raw beef before simmering in a sauce.

Spanish Tapas: Here’s one of many ways to serve sliced hard-boiled eggs on bread, tapas style. This version has anchovies and red peppers.

Borscht: Enough said.

 

 

This spicy black-eyed pea curry will kick off 2018 with a twist

Of all the food traditions associated with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, none are as prevalent as black-eyed peas.

Black-eyed peas are one of the most traditional New Year’s Eve/Day foods in the U.S. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

In the South, we usually eat them in the form of Hoppin’ John or some other kind of black-eyed pea stew, but if you’re tired of Hoppin’ John or just want to try a new dish this weekend, check out this curry from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Crescent Dragonwagon.

This Tanzanian black-eyed pea dish includes a Zanzibar curry, if you can find it. If you’re unsure about the banana, just think of it like an avocado because it adds a similar flavor and texture to the stew. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Dragonwagon included this vegan dish in her 2012 book, “Bean By Bean: A Cookbook: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans!” (Workman, $17.95), where she explains:

“Tanzania was formed in 1964 when two former British colonies…joined to become the United Republic of Tanzania. With Africa’s highest mountain and deepest lake, with coastal areas and a central plateau, the country is diverse geographically, ecologically and agriculturally. This luscious bowl reflects the coast’s coconut palms and banana trees. The seasonings combine indigenous Zanzibar cloves with spices introduced by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, particularly Goa. The beans are widely grown throughout this still mostly small-farm-based country.”

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Don’t let the banana freak you out. You can make this without the banana, but if you like the smooth texture and earthy sweetness that an avocado provides on top of tortilla soup or chili, you might as well try a bite with the banana.

The quantity of water you’ll use the cook the beans and then make the stew will depend on many factors, particularly how cooked your beans are when you start. Her recipe starts with dried beans, but I started with these pre-soaked beans from H-E-B that I thought were more cooked than they actually were.

If I were making this soup again, especially on a weeknight or when I didn’t have as much time as on a holiday or weekend, I’d likely start with canned black-eyed peas.

These black-eyed peas from H-E-B are pre-soaked, but you still have to cook them. Canned black-eyed peas, however, have usually been cooked until tender. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Want to make this a full meal? Serve it on top of cooked rice or add several handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.) during the last 15 minutes of simmering on the stove.

Curried Black-Eyed Pea and Coconut Stew

1 cup dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, ghee, vegetable or peanut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 serrano or jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder, preferably one with lots of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1 (15 oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 banana, thickly sliced (optional)
Banana chips or toasted coconut, for garnish (optional)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Combine the black-eyed peas and 4 cups water in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the black-eyed peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Toward the end of the cooking, heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and cook the onions until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the peppers, chile and ginger and cook, stirring often, for another 4 minutes. Lower the heat slightly and add the curry powder and cloves, sauteing until the oil has taken on a slightly yellowish tint, another 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir the onion mixture into the simmering black-eyed peas, along with the tomatoes, honey and coconut milk. Continue simmering for 5 to 10 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add the sliced banana (if using) and garnish each bowl with toasted coconut shreds or banana chips, if you like.

— Adapted from a recipe by Crescent Dragonwagon in “Bean By Bean: A Cookbook: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans!” (Workman, $17.95)

Break in your Instant Pot, bring in good luck with this 15-minute Hoppin’ John

Are you one of the millions of American cooks who either bought or were gifted an Instant Pot this year?

This bestselling multi-cooker isn’t the only one on the market, but it’s the brand that has inspired dozens of cookbooks to help you make everyday staples and holiday favorites in this pressure cooker-slow cooker hybrid.

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This classic Hoppin’ John is made using an Instant Pot, the hottest cooking appliance of 2017. Contributed by Laura Arnold.

This recipe for Hoppin’ John is from Laura Arnold’s “Instant One-Pot Meals: Southern Recipes for the Modern 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker” (Countryman Press, $21.95), and as you can see, it is unlike a traditional recipe because all of the steps happen in the single appliance, from quick-soaking the black-eyed peas to sauteing the aromatics and bacon before cooking the peas.

Thanks to the multi-functionality of the Instant Pot, the dish cooks in about half an hour. If you want to make it on the stove, you can use the same proportion of ingredients (with slightly more water thanks to the longer simmer on the stove) and order of instructions, but the length of time on each step will vary.

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Hoppin’ John

This Southern classic side dish is typically made with black-eyed peas. But you can substitute your favorite beans in this recipe. Note: To quick soak peas or beans, rinse them thoroughly and place in the bowl of the pressure cooker with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil on the Sauté setting. Once boiling, secure the lid and set on Manual with high pressure for 2 minutes. Quick release, drain peas, rinse and set aside.

— Laura Arnold

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices bacon, sliced 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and small diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and small diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and quick soaked (see note) or soaked overnight
3 cups chicken stock
White rice, cooked, to serve
Scallions, thinly sliced, to garnish

Select the Sauté setting and heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook until browned and crispy, about 6 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Drain half of the fat and discard. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and garlic and cook until almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the cayenne, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook an additional minute. Add the black-eyed peas and chicken stock.

Secure the lid and place on Manual with high pressure for 15 minutes. Use quick release. Serve over white rice and garnish with scallions and crispy bacon. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Instant One-Pot Meals: Southern Recipes for the Modern 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker” by Laura Arnold (Countryman Press, $21.95)

Break out the cookie cutters for these simple salt dough ornaments

I have at least 100 cookie cutters that I’ve collected over the years.

Salt dough ornaments have been a beloved holiday project for decades, and the process remains largely the same as when you were a kid, except the cookie cutters have gotten better. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

How many times do I make sugar cookies and actually use them? Rarely. I don’t have quite the sugar cookie touch of Lee Stokes Hilton, a local writer who loves to bake and decorate cookies with her grandkids, but I do love a good holiday craft project.

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That’s why I pulled out the box of cookie cutters last weekend to make salt dough ornaments, an old fashioned, family friendly activity for people of all ages and abilities.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours together during the holiday break, but they are anything but laborious or tricky. I used this generic salt dough ornament recipe from Allrecipes, and though I overbaked the first batch slightly, you couldn’t tell once we started painting them with acrylic paints.

Texas-shaped cookie cutters are the only specialized tool you’d need to make these holiday ornaments. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I haven’t yet coated the ornaments we made with an acrylic spray or varnish to help preserve them for many years to come, but the only motivation I need to do so is the “Baby’s First Christmas” salt dough ornament I have on my own Christmas tree from when I was a kid. It’s the most beloved ornament I have, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to make some holiday memories (and perhaps lifelong ornaments) with my kids this Christmas season.

Acrylic paint is inexpensive and fun to use on everyday crafting projects like these salt dough ornaments. You could also use glitter, puff balls, glue-on eyes or Sharpies for the detail work. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Salt Dough Ornaments

Use a straw to poke little holes in the dough so that you can thread a ribbon through it, and bake the cut-out dough on parchment paper. Keep an eye on the ornaments after they’ve been in the oven for about 30 minutes so they don’t get overly browned. You’re not eating these, but they can get frail if overbaked. Granulated salt dissolves faster than kosher salt, so stick to the smaller granules.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water, stirring with a large spoon. Finish mixing with hands. Knead until soft and pliable. Roll out on floured surface about 1/8-inch thick. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets. With a toothpick or straw, make a hole in the top of the ornament for threading string. Bake until hard, from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the thickness of the dough. Decorate with paint and varnish to preserve.

— Adapted from a recipe on Allrecipes.com

Here’s how not to screw up your Christmas ham

It’s time to start thinking about that Christmas dinner, and if ham is on the menu, you’ll need to decide how you want to fix it.

Almost all the ham sold in the U.S. is already cooked and sometimes smoked. You can get it with or without the bone, sliced or unsliced, but they almost all come with a packet of glaze to add to the ham while cooking it.

Many cooks swear by a can of Coke, a jar of apricot jelly or even the powdered stuff you’ll find in that packet, but British cookbook author Gizzi Erskine likes to make a pineapple glaze with pineapple juice and red currant jelly and a nice complement of spices, including clove and Scotch bonnet. I’ve adapted her recipe here to include more readily available powdered chilies. You could use pineapple juice and pineapple jelly for even more pineapple flavor, if you’d like.

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No matter what, line your roasting pan with aluminum foil or use a disposable one. The glaze will stick to the bottom of the pan and cause a mess to clean. This recipe calls for baking the ham at 450 degrees, but if you have time and are worried about it drying out, you can cook it at a lower temperature, between 350 and 400, for a longer period of time.

Sealing the ham with aluminum foil keeps it moist while it heats in the oven, but you can take it off for the last 20 minutes if you like some caramelization on top of the ham. The time will vary depending on the size of the ham, but the inside of the meat should measure 140 degrees with a thermometer.

This spiced pineapple ham, which is glazed with pineapple juice, currant jelly and clove, is from “Gizzi’s Seasons Eatings: Feasts & Celebrations from Halloween to Happy New Year” by Gizzi Erskine (Mitchell Beazley, $29.95) Contributed by Emma Lee.

Spiced Pineapple Christmas Ham

The Christmas ham. I love it so much. I’ve written numerous ham recipes in my time — mango-glazed, pomegranate-glazed — if it’s got the combo of sweetness, tartness and spice, it’s going to be a winner. This recipe uses pineapple, and the tartness outweighs its sweetness. I think it cuts through the ham in the most brilliant way.

— Gizzi Erskine

1 (8 lb.) spiral-sliced, bone-in ham
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or other powered chili (optional)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put all the glaze ingredients in a pan and simmer until reduced to a syrupy glaze.

Place the ham in a large roast pan lined with aluminum foil. Pour and brush the glaze all over the ham and, if scored or sliced, into the corner of each diamond or slices. Seal the ham with another layer of aluminum foil. Roast for an hour, until sticky and caramelized. Check the ham several times and baste with any liquid that has gathered in the pan. You can leave the aluminum foil off for the last 15 minutes if you prefer a sticky sweet glaze on top.

Leave the ham to rest for 15 minutes if you want to eat it warm, or let it cool completely. Serves 14 as part of a buffet, with leftovers.

— Adapted from “Gizzi’s Seasons Eatings: Feasts & Celebrations from Halloween to Happy New Year” by Gizzi Erskine (Mitchell Beazley, $29.95)

Tamales: Where to buy ’em, how to make ’em and why it’s not ‘tamale’

[cmg_anvato video=4248025]

It’s not Christmas without tamales in many Central Texas homes.

You can find the most common Mexican-style tamales at food trucks, restaurants, gas stations, corner stores, grocery stores and even a cooler at a neighbor’s house, but you might also celebrate with Puerto Rican-style pastelada or another variation.

No matter which kind of tamal you’re enjoying, stick with “tamal” and not “tamale.” It’s the difference between potato and potatoe, and nobody wants to be the person who misspells “potato” or “tamal.”

Here’s a list of place where you can buy tamales this time of year, but they aren’t as hard as you might think to make at home.

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Making tamales? Get the most from your masa

I’ve made them off and on over the years, and I always love to eat them. If you are lucky enough to get invited to a tamalada, say yes, and if you feel adventurous or brave in your skills, don’t be afraid to host one. I had a friend over for a two-person tamalada one year, and we had a wonderful time splitting the work between ourselves.

It’s easiest to make tamales in a group because they require so many steps. Contributed by the Beef Loving Texans.

RELATED: Why you should stop saying “tamale”

Where to buy tamales in Austin

The filling for beef tamales. Contributed by the Beef Loving Texans.

Beef Tamales

Beef Loving Texans, the consumer-facing site run by the Texas Beef Council, has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to make tamales: and the following recipe for beef tamales.

For the beef filling:
6 lb. brisket
1 onion
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tsp. salt
6 peppercorns
8 dried ancho chiles
1 tablespoon cumin (comino) seeds
Water to cover
1/2 lb. lard (or 1 cup canola oil)
For the masa:
6 lbs. prepared, storebought masa or
4 lbs. masa harina
1/2 lbs. lard (or 2 cups canola oil)
6 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups of broth from beef filling

To prepare the corn husks/hojas: Hojas are corn husks that are dry and papery but usually clean of silks, trimmed, flattened and ready for use. To soften them, pour plenty of very hot water over them and leave to soak for several hours or overnight. Shake well to get rid of excess water and pat them dry with a towel. You’ll need about 3 pounds of husks for this recipe.

To make the beef filling: Cut the brisket into large squares and put into a large pot with the onion, garlic, salt and peppercorns.  Cover the beef with water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer until tender – about 3 hours. Set the beef aside to cool off in the broth. Strain, reserving the broth, and chop beef with garlic roughly.

Cover chiles and cumin seeds with water and bring to a boil. Let them stand until chiles are soft and water cools.  When they are cool enough to handle, slit  them open and remove seeds and veins. Using a molcajete or a blender to grind/blend them along with the cumin into a paste.

Melt lard, add chile paste and sauté for about 3 minutes stirring all the time. Add beef and garlic, continuing to cook for the flavors to meld. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes over a medium flame.  Filling should not be watery. Add salt as necessary.

If you have access to freshly prepared masa that’s ready to use in tamales, buy it. If you want to use Maseca or another masa harina, buy the one for tamales and follow this step: To make the masa from the masa harina, melt the lard. Use a large mixer to mix masa, salt, baking soda, broth and the lard (one cup at a time). Continue beating for 10 minutes or so, until 1/2 teaspoon of the masa floats in a cup of cold water. If it floats, you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light. If it doesn’t float, beat more melted lard into the mixture. Beat until fluffy and semi-shiny. Masa should be of a stiff consistency but spreadable.

To make the tamales: Using a tablespoon or a knife, spread a thin coating of the storebought or homemade masa over the broadest part of the corn husk, allowing for turning down about 2 inches at the pointed top. Spread the masa approximately 3 inches wide and 3 ½ inches long.

Spoon some beef filling down the middle of the dough, about 1 tablespoon. Fold the sides of the corn husks together firmly. Fold up the empty 2-inch section of the husk, forming a tightly closed “bottom” and leaving the top open.

To cook the tamales: Fill the bottom of large soup pot or a tamale steamer with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. If using a pot, either put a molcajete, bowl or ball of aluminum foil at the bottom of the pot and fill in with leftover corn husks. Stack the tamales upright, with the folded part down at the bottom. Pack firmly but not tightly. Cover the tamales with more corn shucks. Cover the top of the steamer with a dishcloth or thick cloth, or cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid.

Cook tamales for about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours over a medium flame.  Keep water in a teapot simmering so that you can refill the pot when necessary. If you use a tamale steamer you should not have to add any more water.

To test the tamales for doneness, remove one from the center, and one from the side of the pot. Tamales are done when you open the corn husk, and the masa peels away easily from the shucks and the tamale is completely smooth.

— Ellen Riojas-Clark

You can put so many different fillings in tamales, including pork, beef, chicken and beans. Contributed by the Beef Loving Texans

Where to buy stollen, challah other holiday breads in Austin

In America, we might associate the holidays with decadent, buttery sweets, but in many cultures around the world, Christmas and other winter holidays are the time to break out the specialty breads.

Stollen is a popular Christmas bread that originates in Germany. This is the loaf you can find at Easy Tiger through Christmas Eve, but other bakeries in town sell it, too. Contributed by Easy Tiger.

Throughout Europe and the U.S., you’ll find families serving slices of fruitcake, German stollen or Italian panettone dotted with candied fruit all month long. In Sweden, where St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13) is one of the most beloved days of the season, saffron buns and vörtbröd are found around every table. 

Where can you buy these baked goods in Austin?

RELATED: Mastering the art of the challah braid

In a hurry? Here’s a pumpkin-spiced French toast to slow you down

Stollen is lighter than the American fruitcake, which might be one reason why it’s so popular here during the holidays. 2007 AP Photo/Jens Meyer

Upper Crust Bakery4508 Burnet Road, is well-known for the challah it sells only on Fridays, but during the holiday months, you can also buy stollen and gift-wrapped stollen.

Sweetish Hill Bakery, 1120 W. Sixth St., sells stollen this time of the year, and it’s also one of the few places that will make the Swedish holiday bread limpa, which you have to call (512-472-1347) in to order ahead of time.

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Easy Tiger baker David Norman is making these saffron buns this week ahead of St. Lucia Day. Contributed by Easy Tiger.

At Easy Tiger, David Norman is selling stollen through Christmas Eve, and he’s also making Swedish saffron buns until Dec. 13. In the following weeks (Dec. 15-17 and Dec. 22-24), the baker and author of a forthcoming book on European breads will be making vörtbröd, another Swedish holiday rye bread with cloves, ginger, the peel of Seville oranges and “wort,” the malt and hop mixture that would be brewed into a strong porter ale. To order, you’ll have to order them 48 hours ahead of time by contacting specialorders@easytigeraustin.com or 512-614-4972.

The Austin-area locations of Central Market and Whole Foods also sell stollen and panettone that are made in-house, as well as fruitcake.