Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Box Monkey Beef and Garlic

For each serving:

1/4 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic

Thaw the ground beef, either in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Crush the garlic with flat side of a french knife or chef's knife, cut off the woody part of the root, and remove the paper covering. Mince the crushed garlic. Cook the ground beef and garlic in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the grease into an empty tin can.

Serve over rice or noodles.

That's it. This is the ur-dish in the box monkey school of cooking. It's the dish that leads many other techniques. It's also a dish that rings many variations; it all depends on what else you choose to add. This dish is a good way to test savory herbs and spices; if a student of the box monkey school wants to test what a new spice tastes like, it can easily be added to this dish.

Crushing the garlic before mincing is important. Crushing the garlic breaks the cell walls, and lets the essential oils out. This makes the garlic more fragrant, and allows a little garlic to flavor the whole dish.

Possible variations: Add ginger (dried or fresh) and other Chinese herbs for an East-Asian flair. Sauces useful for this variation include hot Chinese mustard, horseradish or wasabi, or soy sauce.

Adding basil and oregano points toward Italian. Marjoram or thyme gives it a Northern European theme. Possible sauces include Worcestershire, ketchup, or steak sauce.

Cumin, chilis, chili powder, or cayenne pepper can add a Tex-Mex flavor and zap to the dish. Sauce with salsa or sour cream.

Other sauces that can be used in this dish include Frank's hot sauce or mustard.
This is a decent dish coming home from a club or waking up with a hangover. Honestly, it can even impress dates in the 16 - 22 bracket. It's a wonderful educational foundation for stove top skillet cooking. Mastery of this dish can lead to cooking meat for tacos. Substitute chunks of beef or chicken, and you have the beginnings of fajitas, stir fry, or bubble and squeak.

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