Beef Braised in Coconut Milk
I’ve always been a coconut fiend, but I am having a particular moment with coconut milk this fall. I’m pretty much obsessed with it. Some will caution against coconut milk’s saturated fat content, but worry not – the short- and medium-chain fatty acids in coconut milk are great for you. And oh my goodness the deliciousness! What it does to beef should be illegal – this is a seriously rich, silky dish, mmm.
You’ll notice that the seasonings are a riff on the Quick Coconut Curry with Halibut & Broccoli I posted at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly a few weeks ago. So easy, so packed with flavor, it all translates quite nicely to beef.
I made rice for the family but ate mine as is, alongside a pan of kale braised with a little garlic and ginger. Very nice together. I even diced some leftover beef (as is always true of braised dishes, the flavors continue to improve) and stir-fried it with mushrooms and spinach. I’d be very happy with a steady supply of this just ready to go in my fridge, any time. Someone get on that…
Beef Braised in Coconut Milk
1 Tbsp. coconut oil (or other oil)
3 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 6 pieces, trimmed of obvious excess fat
1 small onion, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. green or red Thai curry paste (available in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores)
1 can coconut milk (do not use the carton-version of coconut milk, which is actually quite watery; go for a can of rich, thick coconut milk)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce (or more to taste)
1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 c. thinly sliced fresh basil
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef pieces with salt. Add oil to the pan and when it is hot, brown the beef pieces thoroughly, three pieces at a time, setting pieces aside on a plate as you go.
When all the beef is browned, lower heat to medium, and add onion, garlic, ginger, lime zest, and curry paste and saute for 2-3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Settle beef pieces into the pan (and any accumulated juices from the plate) and cover tightly. Bring to a simmer, then transfer pot to the oven. (Alternately, transfer the coconut milk mixture to a crock pot. Settle the beef pieces into the crock pot. Add the bell pepper. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours. Season with lime juice and adjust seasoning per instructions below.)
Bake for 2-3 hours, or until beef is falling apart (or “fork”) tender. Remove beef pieces to a cutting board. Set pan over medium heat and when it simmers, stir in bell pepper and simmer uncovered for a few minutes until pepper is tender. Stir in lime juice and taste sauce for seasoning – add more fish sauce for saltiness, more sugar for sweetness, more lime for sourness. Stir in scallions and basil. Pull beef into bite-sized pieces and add back to the pan. Serve with hot rice, if desired.