Donner Party's Preferred Pecularities Recipe

Donner Party's Preferred Pecularities Recipe
The heartbreaking story of the Donner Party, American Pioneers, who because of several unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances while on their way to California, resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating the bodies of those who had succumbed to starvation and sickness, lives on in the annals of US history. That tragic story is the inspiration behind this Halloween dish that may scare some of the guests at your annual Halloween BOO-ffet. I’m not making fun of these early American survivors, or trying to invalidate or belittle their story, but cannibalism is a perfect subject to name food after at a proper Halloween BOO-ffet; it’s creepy! I’m also sticking to the first rule of Halloween BOO-ffet food, that while some dishes may look scary, and some dishes may have disgusting names, the actual food must be high-quality and edible, and I present Donner Party’s Preferred Peculiarities.
This dish is actually my version of a favorite Indonesian Beef Rendang that I have adapted to the Instant Pot. It can be made ahead and frozen, and needs only to be served with fluffy jasmine rice. It is a copy of a luscious dish that I first tasted in an Amsterdam restaurant where they specialize in Indonesian Rice Tables. You’ll want to make this year round, but, of course, call it by a different name.

8 Servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck, or other cut of braising beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 1" chunks

1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh ginger
4 Birdseye chilies, less or more to taste (I use 6)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons lemongrass stalks, finely chopped (see note)

2 14 oz. cans coconut milk

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in the Instant pot on the sauté setting.
  2. Add the beef chunks and stir until browned.
  3. Cut the onion into coarse chunks and put it in the food processor or blender with the garlic, ginger, chilies, salt, sugar, coriander, tamarind, turmeric, and chopped lemongrass.
  4. Process until the mixture is fairly smooth and stir it into the beef.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk.
  6. Cover the Instant Pot, set the valve to sealing, and set to manual for 90 minutes.
  7. When the cycle has finished, do a quick release. Stir well and serve with jasmine rice.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 449 Calories from Fat 271
Percent Total Calories From:
Fat 60% Protein 28% Carb. 12%

Nutrient Amount per % Daily
Serving Value
Total Fat 30 g 46%
Saturated Fat 22 g 108%
Cholesterol 86 mg 29%
Sodium 364 mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 13 g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3 g 12%
Sugars 3 g
Protein 31 g

Vitamin A 48% Vitamin C 99% Calcium 0% Iron 40%

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