Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Holy Grail: Mom's Pepper Steak

I finally gone and done it: I called my mom and got her recipe for pepper steak. Now, I know what you're thinking: so what? It's just pepper steak, and everyone has a recipe for pepper steak. After all, I've already blogged a recipe for Chinese Beef and Peppers, and I regularly stir fry beef with peppers over noodles. But see, this is a special pepper steak. This pepper steak was the love of my life; it was the thing of childhood memories, fuzzy puppies, hugs that cured fevers, and moms that wrestled mountaintops plagued by one-eyed ogres covered in goo. This, my friends, is the thing of which my dreams are made. Beef. Peppers. Mushrooms. Tomatoes. Sauce. EXCELLENT.

No kidding folks, this is a great recipe, and it comes from my mama. I've been living 1800 miles away from her for over six years, and this is no easy feat for me (and I imagine for her). I can remember moving here to the middle of nowhere and flying home, only to cry in the fetal position on her bed, begging to come home. Her advice was always realistic and forward thinking: she told me to finish what I started. She also told me that whatever you're scared of doesn't matter, because "if it's gonna get you, it's gonna get you. Nothing can stop that." I've always loved this perspective because it's true: whether it's a tornado or a splinter, worrying about life won't help. In the absence of her in the flesh sassy advice, I often cook dishes that remind me of her cooking. Best to live life since it's gonna get you anyway. And cook. Always cook.

So here it is in all its simple, delicious glory.

Pepper Steak (from the lovely Snooty Snark)

1 lb. round steak, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
1 1/2 cups beef broth
Black pepper
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 green peppers, sliced into strips
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
2-3 tbsp. cornstarch

1. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium to medium high heat; add beef strips to pan and brown. Once browned, move beef to the edge of the pan and add onions and garlic to pan. Cook through until transparent. Add tomatoes to the pan along with 2-3 tbsp. reserved juice and beef broth. Season with black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for ten minutes, or until liquid is reduced.
2. Add mushrooms and peppers to the skillet and cover, cooking until veggies are tender. Add 2 tbsp. cornstarch to the mixture and stir until combined. Cook for another 2 minutes until thickened and either serve or add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch if still runny. Serve immediately over rice.


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