The Last Chapter First – Summer Shredded Beef and Potato Nachos 1

I have a stack of books by my bed and I’m trying to pick out which ones to take to Greece.  In grad school, we spent a lot of time talking about first sentences, opening paragraphs and the power of chapter one.

Had I asked Gavey before she died, I’m certain she would have said it’s all about the last chapter and how the story comes to an end.  In her later years she was a part time librarian.  It often took returned books a long time to make it back to the shelf.  Gavey would lose herself in the stories and sit on the library floor, tucked away in the stacks.  She read the last chapter first.  “That’s how I know a book is worth reading,” she told me.

The last chapter of my Summer Shredded Beef and Potato Nachos were tender bites of meat smothered in a well-seasoned sauce with a finish of velvety texture.  The crispy potatoes were a great contrast and the sweetness from the peach highlighted the fruit in the cooking liquid. With a sprinkling of feta on top, there was a tartness added to the dish which made each bite a part warm, part cold pop.

Flipping to chapter one, Saving Money on Inexpensive Protein, I found myself with one and a half pounds of chuck steak.  It’s a very inexpensive cut of beef and tends to be tough.  When it’s cooked slowly and the tissues are allowed to break down, it transforms into a mouth-watering bite of beef.

So now that I’ve had a meal worth eating, I still have to decide which books are worth taking.  Any suggestions?

Summer Shredded Beef and Potato Nachos
Serves 4

2 TBS olive oil
1½ pounds chuck steak
Salt and pepper
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
3 cups beef broth
1 orange
¼ cup dried cranberries
1½ TBS butter
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
2 peaches, sliced thinly
4 TBS feta

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels.  Heat olive oil in a large oven safe fry pan.  Season beef with salt and pepper.  Add beef to fry pan and sear both sides (2-3 minutes a side).  Remove meat from pan.
NOTE:  A Dutch oven would be great for this.  I used a fry pan which had a lid because my Dutch oven is in storage.  Click here for advice about purchasing an inexpensive Dutch Oven.

Lower heat and add onion.  Sauté briefly, 1-2 minutes.  Add broth, and with a wooden spoon, work the drippings from the meat off the bottom of the pan.

Juice the orange and cut the two halves into quarters, remove any seeds.  Add the beef, orange juice, orange segments, and cranberries to the pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover with the lid, and place in preheated oven for 2 hours.

Remove the fry pan from the oven CAREFULLY with oven mitts.  Remove meat and set aside.

Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and reduce liquid by half, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in butter and remove from heat.

While the liquid is reducing, shred beef.

Heat fry pan over medium heat.  Add beef and sauté for 2 minutes.
NOTE:  This will help add a little bit of crisp texture to the beef, similar to the beef for Mexican Carnitas.

Stir in reduced liquid.
NOTE:  Beef can be made a day a head and reheated.

Preheat oven to 400 with a baking sheet inside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add potatoes and par-boil for 3 minutes.  Toss with salt and pepper.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

Spread potatoes on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are golden and crispy.

Layer the potatoes with the shredded beef and peaches.  Top with feta and serve family style.Recipe in print-friendly format

About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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One thought on “The Last Chapter First – Summer Shredded Beef and Potato Nachos

  • Ann Kirtman

    I always enjoy brushing up on my knowledge or lack thereof of the greek gods and goddesses and their stories. They are always so fascinating and come in handy when you are looking at old ruins!
    The Illiad and the Odyssey are each an undertaking but would definitely set the stage! I am sure their last chapters are good! Have a wonderful trip.