When I was growing up, Sunday dinner was always at my paternal grandparents' house. My Papa, Mr. Woodrow Ladner, is one of the best cooks I know and is probably the reason that I've always missed out on the last ten minutes of any Sunday sermon. I made it through Sunday school with no problem, but as noon approached I found myself struggling to ignore thoughts of fried chicken and gumbo in order to pay a respectful amount of attention to the pastor. To this day, I have an almost Pavlovian response to benediction prayers that start my stomach grumbling.
While Papa does, in fact, make the best fried chicken in the world (hands down, I won't hear any arguments), my favorite specialty of his is his beef tips. When I came back home for weekend visits from college, this is what he always made for Sunday dinner. I've decided recently that I've got to learn to make it for myself. One day I'm going to have grandkids and I want them all to have big Sunday dinners and plenty of beef tips. I'll leave it up to their parents to keep them in line during church.
Braised Beef Tips
2 T shortening
2 lbs. beef, cubed
1 can (10 1/2 oz) condensed beef consumme
1/3 cup cranberry cocktail juice
2 T soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
2 T cornstarch
1/4 cup water
4 cups hot cooked rice
Melt shortening in large skillet; brown meat on all sides. Stir in consumme, cranberry juice, soy sauce, garlic & onion salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour or until meat is tender. Blend cornstarch and water; stir gradually into meat mixture. Stir constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 min. Serve over rice.
I used pre-cubed stew meat as opposed to cutting up a roast, so I sacrificed a little tenderness for convenience. However, I went ahead and used shortening instead of a "healthier" fat. There's only so many corners you can cut, I say.
I'm going to need more practice. My effort wasn't nearly as good as my Papa's. But, I don't think it ever will be. Yours won't either, I promise. Don't let that discourage you, though. We can't all be the "absolute best", but we can still aspire to "really really good."
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