Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grinding tenderloin burgers, yesterday's jerk pork sausage balls

When I broke down the whole tenderloin last weekend, I saved the “good” fat and all the random meat trimmings and froze them together in a one pound package. I am thawing that today with the intention of grinding it together with thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic for burgers.

The plan is to make very thin patties and sandwich some crumbled gorgonzola between two patties. With tomato and some baby romaine on whole wheat buns, I am looking forward to a very good dinner.

Yesterday the ground pork mixed with a jerk seasoning paste made good sausage balls. Why were they not meatballs, you ask. I beat this mixture in the mixer until the myelin threads developed to bind the mixture together without any “fillers” like breadcrumbs and “binders” like egg. We roasted the sausage balls in the oven. I made a spicy mango-coconut sauce with fresh mango, unsweetened grated coconut, jalapeno, onion, fish sauce, soy sauce, habanero sauce, salt and long pepper. Simmered the sauce for a while then added the meatballs and let that simmer together while the party we took them to got started. I paired the spicy sausage and sauce with a “malted milk punch” that included dark rum. The pairing was received very well. In addition we brought along some malted milk balls and it was funny to watch everyone munch those right down. And the sausage balls? Not a single one was left. I love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More adventures in sous vide

Sous vide -- cooking under vacuum at a controlled temperature -- is fun to experiment with. If you've ready any of my earlier posts about this technique, you already know that an induction burner is your best friend when you are trying to do this and can't (or won't) spend way too much money on all the fancy gear.

For this try I used two six-ounce beef filet steaks, freshly cut from a whole tenderloin. Into the bag with the steaks I put in a bit of fresh rosemary and thyme, and a 1-oz cube of frozen veal demi-glace. It is so much easier to vacuum process the bag when you don't have any liquids in it, so the frozen demi was wonderful to use. I set the control to keep the water temp at 125 degrees and let time and temp do their work. About 40 minutes later, after we had our side dishes done we pulled out the steaks. They were soft and supple, with a faint hint of rosemary in the sauce. And they tasted great, soft and silky on the tongue with flavor that was delicate yet robust. I think the strength in the flavor came from some mushroom caps we sauteed in butter and finished with a bit of oxtail stock. We allowed the stock to reduce and caramelize, and so got Maillard reaction taste with the beef without browning it. Yum.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Milk punch?

Or milk with punch? I blended milk, sugar, malted milk powder, crushed ice, and Meyer's rum. Wow, a frothy fun drink for a warm sunny day. Think I'll have another...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's for dinner: Roasted halibut with mango salsa

I love it when halibut is in season. It is robust enough to take to many cooking methods but is delicate enough in flavor to work in so many different dishes. Today I am rubbing it with olive oil, salt, and white pepper and roasting it at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes, then serving it with a mango salsa I made. The salsa includes mangoes, tomato, sweet onion, jalapeno, and some cider vinegar. I shall add some cilantro just before serving.

With the fish I am making a simple fried rice, with scallions and carrots. Already have cold cooked medium-grain rice on hand. Add a salad with a vinaigrette that has a drop of sesame oil in it, and we have a nice pan-Asian themed meal.

Dessert will be brie with pears and a bit of port.

The weather is supposed to be wonderful this weekend, with temps in the mid-70's, so I suspect we will be grilling beef all weekend. We got a whole beef tenderloin for $7.19/lb, an amazing price. I will break it down into a roast, steaks, and some kebab cubes and go from there wherever inspiration takes me.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cooking projects stacking up - lobster, beef

Many cooking projects still in progress around here. The nine pounds of lobster (only 2 lobsters!) yielded enough meat for several meals, and I made some very nice stock, about three quarts, for lobster bisque. We already had sliced tail meat gently poached in clarified butter with some great bread. I have pasta sheets prepared and will make lobster ravioli with fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, and chives) and serve them with the bisque. I’ll make some extra and freeze them for a quick deluxe dinner. Before I make the bisque I will remove a cup or so of the stock and freeze it so that I can make a sauce for the extra ravioli.

Then there is the oxtail. They made a nice broth, and Dave was kind enough to pick all of the meat. I plan to make an oxtail hash with red potatoes and sweet onions, and serve it with a gravy made of some of the oxtail broth. I will then use the leftovers of that, hash and gravy, and add the rest of the broth to make oxtail soup and freeze that in containers for Dave’s lunches. You might have guessed by now that I like to start with a protein and create a series of meals out of it.

Finally, there is the Chicago Italian beef sandwich project. This one has only one outcome, the sandwiches. I went to Chicago a couple of years ago and fell in love with the Italian beef sandwiches. Dave grew up on them so has a very clear taste memory. I am using a recipe that sounds like it could deliver that taste. Yesterday I rubbed two bottom round roasts (about 5# total) with a mix of dried oregano and basil, onion and garlic powders, and crushed hot peppers. Then they got roasted over a pan of beef broth (in this case, commercial with a little of the oxtail broth added). They roasted to rare, and I shall slice them and reheat the meat in hot broth to put on sturdy rolls that can take an extra bath in the broth. The plan here is to run both roasts through my slicer, and package beef and broth for 2 sandwiches in a package to freeze.