Homemade Beef and Broccoli

beef and broccoli

My husband and I love Chinese food.  I love everything about it . . . from the chopsticks, to the placemats that tell me what animal I am on the Chinese Zodiac calendar.  I love that Chinese food is ready in about 2 minutes, flat.  I love that I can finally hold my chopsticks correctly.  Yes.  I love nearly everything about the Chinese food experience.

And the only thing better than having Chinese food is having Chinese food that tastes every bit as good as the restaurant kind, but healthier and made in your very own kitchen in 15 minutes, flat.

That’s right.  You come through the door, hearing your kids whine how hungry they are . . . and you blink your culinary magical fingers, and dinner is served.

Did I mention this recipe uses only 1 skillet? Yes.  Supper is ready in 15 minutes, and there is only 1 dish to clean up. 

Can this recipe please run for president?  Because I’m having a hard time trying to figure out why anyone wouldn’t love it.

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Homemade Beef and Broccoli

Ingredients:

1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tbsp. cornstarch (divided)
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce (divided)
1/4 cup oyster sauce (more on this, later)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. garlic powder, or 1/2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1 bag frozen broccoli florets

Directions:
Place beef pieces in a plastic bag.  Pour 2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce over the meat.  Close the bag and gently shake until all the meat is covered in soy sauce.  Reopen the bag and add 1 tbsp. cornstarch.  Close the bag, again, and shake until all the pieces of meat are lightly coated.  Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes, so the meat can absorb the flavors.  Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a cast iron skillet.  Sauté the meat until nicely browned on all sides.  As meat is browning, place 2 tbsp. soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken broth, and garlic in a bowl and stir to combine.  Add your liquid ingredients to the pan once meat has browned, making sure to scrape browned bits at the bottom to add to your sauce.  Allow meat to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until meat is cooked completely.  Add frozen broccoli and stir to coat with sauce.  Cook for 7-10 minutes until broccoli is crisp-tender.  Combine cornstarch with 2 tsp. water and stir.  Add this “milky” mixture to the beef and broccoli.  Stir.  Mixture will thicken as it heats.  Serve immediately over white rice.

Now, in pictures!  Because I know you’re thinking, “What the heck is oyster sauce?”  I’ll show you in a minute . . .


The first thing we want to do is set our beef to marinating.  You can buy beef stew meat already cubed, at the store, or you can buy and cube your own– you need roughly 1 lb (about the size of a 4×6 card) for this recipe.  Place your beef in a plastic bag and coat with 2 tsp. of low sodium soy sauce.  Close the bag and shake well, so all the meat gets coated.  Reopen the bag and place 1 tbsp. of cornstarch into the bag.  Close and shake, again.  The beef will look like this– not white, but nicely covered.  Allow this to sit while you work on the rest.  If it sits for about 10 minutes, all those flavors soak in, and they are DEEEEEEELICIOUS.

If you have a cast iron pan, break that baby out!  Get some olive oil heating in there (about 1 tbsp. olive oil) and allow it to heat up nice and hot (not smoking hot).  It takes the pan roughly 10 minutes to heat up, and it takes the meat roughly 10 minutes to marinate.  It’s a match made in heaven.
You want your meat to get these nice, browned sides.  When it starts to look like that, turn it over so all the sides can get nice and toasty.  While your meat is cooking, combine the “sauce” ingredients– your 2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy, 1/4 cup oyster sauce, 1/2 cup chicken broth (you can find zero or low sodium varieties if you are watching your sodium), and garlic (either freshly minced or powdered).
Wait a minute!  You promised you were going to show us what oyster sauce is!
Indeed.  Here she is, folks.  You can find this little beauty in the Asian food aisle at any grocery store– even at Walmart, where I found this one.  This sauce is what really gives it that “I feel like I am eating in a Chinese restaurant!” feel.  Yes.  You’re welcome.  Pass the chopsticks.
Once you have mixed up your sauce ingredients, add them to your meat, which is now nicely browned on all sides.  “Deglaze” your pan.  This just means that you add your liquid and gently scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spoon or spatula.  These browned shreds are busting with flavor and will take your supper over the top! Yum!
After the meat has simmered in this sauce for 5-10 minutes, check to see if it is done (cutting into a piece of meat is the easiest way).  If it’s completely cooked, go ahead and add your broccoli.
No need to thaw or steam . . . just dump it frozen, right into the sauce and meat.  Stir and make sure that all your little guys get covered with sauce.  Everyone gets some. There’s plenty for all.  Take turns . . . (can you tell I’m a Mom with a toddler?  Once, I actually reached across the table and began, absent-mindedly, to cut someone else’s meat.  I was so embarrassed, but I’m just so used to doing it.  haha).
Let the broccoli cook just until it is crisp-tender.  This should take about 7-10 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is.  You don’t want to overcook it.  It should still be nice and green and pretty.
Here’s a little secret about cornstarch– that stuff is MESSY!  Yes.  It’s the toddler who got into your spice cabinet (again).  It’s the uncle who talks with his mouth full.  It’s the neighbor who has remnant crumbs of yesterday’s meal in his beard.  It’s messy stuff.
To cut down on the mess, mix your 1 tbsp. cornstarch with about 2 tsp. of warm water.  Stir it up. At first, it will seem like the cornstarch doesn’t want to do anything but stick to the bottom . . . but keep stirring, and it will play nicely with the others, eventually.  The water’s warmth helps, too– cold water doesn’t work as well. When it is fully mixed, it will look kind of like whole milk.  It settles out quickly, though, so be careful to stir right up until you add it.
Dump your cornstarch mixture into the pan and stir.  The cornstarch will kick in as it heats, so continue to stir, and your liquid will become deliciously thick and saucy.  Turn off your heat.  It’s time to eat!  Serve this immediately over white rice (if you’re busy, like most Moms are, by necessity, make some minute rice.  It takes 5 minutes. Presto!  Done.).

beef and broccoli

And there you have it, folks. It’s delicious.  It’s different. It’s quick . . . and the lower sodium means you won’t balloon with 5 pounds of water weight tomorrow.  Enjoy, and please pass the fortune cookies!
Because you did it. And I’m just so proud of you.

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