Showing posts with label Tips and Techniques. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips and Techniques. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Grilled Beef Flank Steak “Pastrami” – Backyard Deli

I’ll do a proper pastrami one of these days. Maybe right after I get a smoker. But in the meantime, this pastrami-spiced beef flank steak should do nicely. As with all "cheater" recipes, managing your expectations is key.

You can’t get the texture and color of a real “pastrami” without the curing step, where the meat is soaked in a brine, before being spiced/smoked, but you can get pretty close to the flavor, using the spice rub seen herein.

We’ve used a similar technique to turn plain corned beef into “pastrami,” as well as create a duck Reuben; one of my favorite videos of all time. By the way, the ingredient amounts below have been adjusted slightly, as my spice rub was a tad bit overpowering.

I’ve backed down the black pepper and mustard, but as with all spice amounts, that’s really up to you. If you simply put salt and pepper on a flank steak, and grill it properly, you’ll have something delicious to eat, so keep that in mind as you rub your meat. 

I ate mine fresh, but if you let it cool, slice it thin, and warm it up in a pan with a little splash of water, and a tiny pinch of sugar, you’ll have something even more pastrami-like. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

SPECIAL NOTE: I let my meat warm to room temp before grilling, so the inside reaches my desired temp a little quicker, and before the outside spice rub gets too black. Conversely, when grilling a steak, and there's nothing to burn on the surface, I generally like the meat cold, so the outside has plenty of time to sear, before the meat inside is done. 


Ingredients for 4 large portions:
1 trimmed beef flank steak (usually 1.5 to 1.75 pounds)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dry mustard
- For best results, cook to a medium. I pulled at about 135 F. internal temp, which will rise to about 140 F. as it rests.
-Serve with slightly sweetened mustard and rye bread
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Homemade Dill Pickles – Naturally Fermented, Whatever That Means

This is going to be an easy post, in that I know virtually nothing about fermenting pickles. The only thing I know for sure is how to make them, and for me, that’s enough. If you make a simple salt brine, add some spices, and submerge Kirby cucumbers in it for about a week, you get some fairly delicious pickles.

Maybe it’s dumb luck, or just overwhelmingly good karma, but fortunately I’ve not experienced any of the problems I’ve seen others lament; such as mushy texture, scary molds, or exploding jars. Apparently, cucumbers are one of the more finicky things to pickle, but that hasn’t been my experience.

Like I said in the video, I’ve only made these a handful of times, so maybe my time is coming, but I’m pretty sure if you measure your salt right, and store the fermenting pickles at an appropriate temperature, you should get something close to what you see here.

Having said that, I will refer any and all of your questions having to do with variations, troubleshooting, probiotics, and/or best practices, to the Internet. The purpose of this video is to simply show the process, and how ridiculously easy it is. If this seems like something you want to try, and it should, I recommend doing lots of research before starting, so at least you’ll have someone else to blame if things go horribly wrong.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that you have to use pure salt for this. Table salt can contain additives like iodine, which inhibits the bacterial growth necessary for this to work. I’m also giving you weight measurements for the salt, since the size of the salt crystal can really effect measuring by volume.

Other than getting your brine right, just be sure to get very fresh, very firm pickling cucumbers to make this with. If your cucumbers start off soft and mushy, your pickles will be terrible, and not have that loud crunch associated with the finest examples. I really do hope you give this a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
2 pounds very fresh Kirby cucumbers, washed thoroughly
Handful of fresh, flowering dillweed
For the brine:
8 cups cold fresh water
8 tablespoons Kosher salt (By weight, you wants exactly 80 grams. The brand of kosher salt I use weighs about 10 gram per tablespoon, but yours may not, so it’s best to use a scale if possible.)
4 cloves peeled garlic
2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
2 teaspoon black peppercorn
3 or 4 bay leaves
4 whole cloves

- Ferment at room temperature (I hear that between 70-75 F. is ideal) for about a week. Check every day as these can ferment fast. They are done when you like the taste. If you go too far, they start to get soft, and the inside gets hollow. Keep the brine level topped off.
- This makes extra brine for topping off.

Pickling Spice Note: I tend not to like a lot of spices in my pickles, so I believe the amounts listed here are fairly puny compared to most recipes. Feel free to find one of the many pickling spices recipes online, and use that instead.
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Saturday, September 24, 2016

How to Make Your Own Prepared Horseradish – Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Every time I use horseradish in a recipe, I get e-mails from people asking me how they can make it at home. They mention they can get the fresh root, but can’t find anything already prepared in the jar, which in some cases is hard to believe – like when the email originates from New York City – but regardless, this is still a very worthwhile thing to learn how to make.

Worthwhile, and somewhat painful, if you’re not careful. As I mention in the video, the fumes produced by this process are very intense, and will cause burning eyes and runny noses, if you’re not in a well-ventilated space. Having said that, using a little common sense, it’s really not that bad, and so totally worth it.

This really is quite easy if you have a food processor, but if you don’t, a heavy-duty blender will work, although you may have to add more water in the first step, to get the mixture fine enough. You can also grate this very fine on a microplane, but that would probably only be practical if you’re making a smaller amount.

Once your horseradish has been ground finely, the technique is very simple. I like to wait two or three minutes (this is supposed to make it hotter), before adding the salt and vinegar. Then, I’ll simply process, adding as much water as necessary, until I have a nice, smooth, creamy mixture.

And while this looks like something from the grocery store, the flavor is incomparable. Intensely hot, and aromatic; this is the real deal. So, whether you’re one of these people, who lives in a place where they don’t have jarred horseradish, like apparently New York City, or you always wanted to try and make some yourself, I really hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 3 cups: you read this please in here
1 pound peeled, cubed fresh horseradish root
cold water as needed (about 3/4 cup total)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup white distilled vinegar
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Poached Pears “Belle Helene” - Why Escoffier Really Created This Dish

They say Auguste Escoffier created this dish in honor of the opera, La Belle Helen, but we chefs know the real reason. How else are you going to use up bruised pears in such a delicious and beautiful way? Okay, so maybe that wasn’t his motivation, but as you’ll see in the video, it sure does work great.

The recipe is very straightforward, so instead we’ll go into your options for the chocolate sauce, as well as what to do with all that extra simple syrup. We have two chocolate preparations that will work for this (and have been linked). The first would be our easy hot fudge recipe; and the second, and more traditional choice, would be the classic chocolate ganache.

If you follow the link to the later, you’ll be taken to our Boston Cream Pie video, where you’ll see the technique for creating a classic ganache, but you’ll probably need to adjust the ratio of cream to chocolate. Generally it’s equal parts chocolate and cream, but if you want something more pourable, then 2 parts cream to 1 part chocolate (by weight) would work better.

As far as the extra vanilla poaching liquid goes; you’ll want to strain it, pour it into some cool looking bottles, and give it away as edible gifts. The taste is incredible. Better than the pears, if we’re being honest, and would make a fantastic holiday treat for the wannabe mixologists in your life. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 poached pears:
6 cups water
zest and juice of one lemon
4 bosc pears, cored and peeled (you can also use Anjou or Bartlett)
1 split vanilla bean, or a few teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, depending on size and firmness
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts – Less Time, More Skin = Better Breasts

Cooking up a few chicken breasts should be a fast, easy, and delicious experience, but for many people it’s actually a slow, hard, and disappointing one. There are several reasons for this, and hopefully this demo for how to pan-roast chicken will eliminate them.

The most important factor is doneness. By “pan-roasting,” you can easily monitor the internal temp, and as I recommend in the video, start the pan sauce when the meat reaches about 150 F. By the time your sauce is done, and the chicken is covered in its hot, buttery goodness, it should have reached 155-160 F., which is what I shoot for.

At this temp, the chicken will be perfectly safe, while remaining moist and tender. I know many recipes, and reference sites, call for longer cooking times, and internal temps of 165-175 F., but that’s just crazy. Unless, you want tough, dry meat; in which case, that works wonderfully.

Also, I think it’s very important we leave the skin on. Not only does this add a lot of flavor, but also much-needed moisture. Even if you’ve been brain-washed into thinking the skin is “bad” for you, which it isn’t, you can peel it off before you eat it, but I recommend leaving it on during the cooking process.

And yes, we’d be getting even more flavor and moisture if we just left the breasts on the bone, but the whole point is for this to be fast to make, and effortless to eat. Otherwise, we might as well roast a whole chicken.

If you’re not into creating your own boneless, skin-on breasts, like we did in the video, you can have the butcher at the market do this for you. You’ll have to go to a larger store where they cut up their own chicken parts, and tell them exactly what you want, but they’ll hook you up at no extra charge. I really hope you give this easy, and very effective technique a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
4 boneless, but skin-on chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs, optional
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup *vinegar
4 tbsp cold butter, cut in smaller pieces
a splash of chicken broth or water, if needed to thin sauce

*I used apple cider here, but literally any vinegar will work. Some of my favorites are sherry, balsamic, rice, and champagne vinegar.
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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Home-Cured Holiday Ham – First You Brine, Then You Brag

There are many reasons for making your own holiday ham, but the best one of all, may be the most superficial. After the holidays, as people are standing around the water cooler, bragging how great their glazed carrots were, or how amazing the cranberry sauce came out, you can say, “That sounds great, but did anyone else cure their own ham? I didn’t think so.”

Above and beyond establishing your culinary dominance with friends, the other reasons are pretty good too. You can flavor your ham any way you want; you can somewhat control the salt content; and depending on how many people you need to feed, can cure any size cut of pork you want, from a whole leg to a small loin roast.

There are thousands of different brine and spice combinations, but the procedure is pretty much the same no matter which way you go. However, there is one thing all these recipes have in common, pink salt. To make a true ham, you’re going to need a curing salt that contains sodium nitrite, which is what gives the meat its pink color, and signature “ham” taste, verses something that just tastes like roast pork.

This magical ingredient goes by several names, including Pink Curing Salt #, Insta Cure #1, or the one I used, Prague Powder #1. Yes, you can theoretically use things like celery juice, but long story short, nitrites are nitrites, and it doesn’t matter where they come from. For more info on that, and potential health issues, this article by Michael Ruhlman is a good read.

Once the ham is cured, you’ll want to give it a soak to rinse off the brine, and how long you do this can effect how salty your meat is. I prefer just a quick dunk, but you can leave it for as long as 24 hours, which will produce what I’ll call a low-sodium ham. It’s still pink, and flavorful, but barely salty. Experimentation is the only way to figure out how long to you should go, but I wanted to give you the range.

If you do want a home-cured ham gracing your Christmas table, I’ve given you just enough time to get it done. A local butcher should be happy to give you a few tablespoons of pink salt, otherwise it’s quite easy to find online. Whether it’s for a holiday dinner or not, I really hope you give this a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
7 to 10 pound fresh, bone-in pork shoulder “picnic” arm roast (or any large hunk of pork)
For the brine (adapted from Ruhlman’s basic ham brine recipe):
6 quarts water
18 ounces kosher salt (this is about 2 1/4 cups Morton's Kosher Salt, or 3 2/3 cups Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, as they have difference size grains)
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pink salt #1
1 rounded tbsp pickling spice, or any spices you want

For the optional glaze:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt  

- Once cured, you should smoke and/or roast your ham until it reaches an internal temp of at least 145-150 F. 

- For a more detailed video on how I prep a ham for the oven, check out this Crispy Honey-Glazed Ham video.
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