Better with Bacon – Happy Birthday Julia…

Julia Child would have been 100 years old today!

I grew up with Julia on “Good Morning America” and while watching my DVR’ed episode of “The Chew” this evening (yes, I “zoom” through it every night after “PTI“) I was reintroduced to one of her most favorite recipes – Boeuf Bourguignon!

So here’s to you Julia! Who knows where televised food shows would be today without your pioneering spirit and love for food!

Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients

6 ounces bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef (cut into 2-inch cubes)
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 carrot (sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
3 cups full-bodied young red wine (like Chianti)
2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
18-24 small white onions (brown-braised in stock)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms (sauteed in butter)
parley sprigs

Directions:

Head on over to “The Chew” website for the step by step!

photo via

Related Stories:August 30, 2012 — Get Your Bacon Java at Seattle’s Best…August 29, 2012 — Better with Bacon – Maple Syrup, Bacon and Blueberry Bread Pudding…

Originally posted 2012-08-16 00:40:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feijoada

We host a dinner party periodically which is actually just a book club to which my wife belongs. Typically those types of groups are simply drinking clubs, but this one adds food and actual books. About a week before book club, I realized my original plan of serving cassoulet had been done before. By me. Last winter. It seems as when the weather grows cold, I cook beans – large pots of beans with sausages and off cuts.

Actually I should have never been surprised. Beans and meats are fantastic and this weather has forced my hand. Only, I am not a repeater. Knowing fabada is a not-so-distant cousin to cassoulet, I figured there must be more cousins. I just needed to look.

Then I remembered a Brazilian dish, feijoada, which is very similar to cassoulet only made with black beans and features carne seca (which in its place I used beef jerky). I felt like I had struck gold until I searched for recipes. I looked in Alex Atala’s new book. Nothing. In fact, Atala’s goal is to push past the iconic feijoada and churrasca of Brazil.  I looked online. There were tons of recipes and none developed any consensus with the others, so I did what I thought was reasonable. I made an approximation of cassoulet using the building blocks of feijoada adding some ingredients which might be a tad more Brazilian.

One thing I remember being difficult about fabada was losing bits of the pork tails, bones included, in the dish. If I am the only one eating, I can work around the bones, but if I am serving others, I like to keep their teeth intact, so along with the larger pieces of jerky, I wrapped the pork tails in cheesecloth. Once they cooked long enough, I removed the cheesecloth, chopped the tails and beef jerky and added them back. Before adding them back, I thickened the liquid by mashing a cup of the cooked beans and added them back to the mix.

Next, I wanted to have some flavors from the sugar cane liquor from Brazil, Cachaça, so I cooked the onions and garlic, added them to the beans, then deglazed the pan with the liquor and spooned the aromatically fortified liquor the beans. To me, this was a fun touch.

When finished the feijoada was strongly meaty, as anticipated, and was both smokey from the tails and linguiça and prominently beefy from the jerky. The beans retained their texture and, while most photos showed the liquid strained off, I really liked the bean juice. It was thick and carried hints of sweetness from the orange and cachaça. I wish I could have found a little farofa to add as a garnish, but the bright green garnishes of cilantro and green onion would have to suffice.

There are differences between cassoulet and feijoada that I did not anticipate. First, apparently feijoada is served with rice. Second, this batch  felt lighter than most cassoulet. There are no scoops of lard here, but you still get the clean meat flavors. I like the richness of cassoulet, but I really love the way the feijoada doesn’t kill the rest of the day. Now is a good time to stock up on ideas for meat and beans and I am all ears.

Feijoada

1 1/2 pounds smoked pig tails or necks
1 1/2 pounds Linguiça
1/2 pound real beef jerky, not shrink wrapped is a good start
1 pound dried black beans
1 quart ham stock
3 bay leaves
1 serrano chili
1/2 orange
Water
2 onions, sliced
1 head garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lard
2 tablespoons Cachaça
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
6 green onion, sliced

Step one: In a glass or earthenware dish, cover black beans with water by 4″ and soak overnight. Drain.

Step two: Tie jerky and smoked pork tails in cheese cloth and add to a large stock pot with beans, ham stock and enough water to cover by 2″.

Step three: Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 3-4 hours.

Step four: Remove bag of meat. Chop and remove bones.  Remove 1 cup of beans, mash into a paste. Add back to beans.

Step five: Sweat onions and garlic. Add to beans/meat with bay leaves. Deglaze onion/garlic pan with Cachaça and add to beans.

Step six: Add sausages, orange, serrano chilis. Simmer for an additional hour.

Step sever: Remove bay leaves, orange, and seranno chili. Salt to taste and eat in a bowl with rice (if you want, I skipped), green onions and cilantro.

Originally posted 2014-02-13 00:20:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Better with Bacon – Happy Birthday Julia…

Julia Child would have been 100 years old today!

I grew up with Julia on “Good Morning America” and while watching my DVR’ed episode of “The Chew” this evening (yes, I “zoom” through it every night after “PTI“) I was reintroduced to one of her most favorite recipes – Boeuf Bourguignon!

So here’s to you Julia! Who knows where televised food shows would be today without your pioneering spirit and love for food!

Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients

6 ounces bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef (cut into 2-inch cubes)
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 carrot (sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
3 cups full-bodied young red wine (like Chianti)
2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
18-24 small white onions (brown-braised in stock)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms (sauteed in butter)
parley sprigs

Directions:

Head on over to “The Chew” website for the step by step!

photo via

Related Stories:June 11, 2012 — Better with Bacon – Onion & Bacon Tartlets…June 6, 2012 — Better with Bacon – Whiskey, Caramel, Marshmallow and Bacon Bark…

Originally posted 2012-08-16 00:40:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

3051. YUCATAN BURGERS with ASADERO CHEESE, BACON, and AVOCADO SOUR CREAM

1 Haas avocado, pitted and diced
1 cup Mexican sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
12 slices bacon, diced
2 ounces achiote paste
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 pounds ground chuck
1 teaspoon Mexican chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
1/2 pound asadero cheese (or other Mexican cheese)
6 hamburger buns, split

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
To make Avocado Sour Cream, place the avocado in a small mixing bowl and mash with the back of a fork until relatively smooth. Add sour cream, lime juice, garlic, and oregano; mix until well combined. Refrigerate until serving. Place a large fireproof non-stick skillet on the grill. Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. To make the patties, in a large bowl add achiote paste and orange juice; stir until well combined. Add beef, chili powder, allspice, salt, and pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, top the burgers with equal amounts of Asadero cheese and place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.To assemble the burgers, place a generous amount of avocado sour cream on the cut sides of buns. On each bun bottom, place a patty topped with cheese and equal amounts of bacon. Add the bun tops and serve.

bacon recipe courtesy of: Sutter Home Winery, Inc., St. Helena, CA 94574

Originally posted 2013-09-15 01:30:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Smoked Beef Tongue

“Italian Beef” Tongue

With a large and growing cookbook collection, I get asked by friends who may not have the same cookbook issues, “How do you choose which book to cook from – much less what to cook from the book you choose?” This has to be a common question. My answer – I will grab a book based on what I have at home or based on what the season is. Sometimes, I will see something online which will push me to get back into a book. When I do find a book, the driving force behind picking a recipe is almost always a new technique or ingredient I want to try. In this case, there was a technique which included boiling beef tongue after smoking it. I was skeptical. Won’t you boil off any smoke flavors? Wouldn’t the other way be better? I had to try it for myself.

This preparation of beef tongue comes from the new The New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette who cooks at Toro in New York and Coppa and Toro in Boston. The book packs in a lot of really interesting cured, smoked, encased  and variety meats into a small book and runs the gamut of time-intensive cured and dried sausages to offal tacos. It reads almost like a DIY handbook, fast and dense.

Not what it looks like. This is a tongue in cure. A tongue.

With the guidance within the book, I went to work on a tongue from The Butcher & Larder. First poking holes with a needle to more quickly cure the tongue , then mixing and applying the cure. After a few days, and a few turns in the salty cure, I dried the tongue overnight to prepare it for the cold smoke.

I lit a chimney of coals and tossed in a few logs of apple wood to cold smoke the tongue. With full trust, I laid the cold smoked tongue, still floppy and uncooked, over chopped onions, carrot and celery and covered the tongue with water. After simmering the tongue for a few hours, the house smelled of wood smoke, the water smelled of wood smoke and most importantly the tongue, which has been chilled quickly in an ice bath, smelled still of smoke.

I peeled the tongue while it was still warm and then chilled it overnight in the fridge. In a perfect world, I would have sliced the tongue with a meat slicer to get the perfectly thin and consistent slices. I live in a world with limitations however, so I sliced it into ruddy and inconsistently thin slices by hand. The cold slices reminded me of subtly smokey deli roast beef in flavor, so I grabbed a challah roll, added some cold, sliced tongue and topped it with Bari giardiniera.

Cold tongue sandwich

Upon tasting it, it was lovely, but the addition of the giardiniera made me consider this more like Italian beef, so I steamed some of the smoked tongue and added it to challah roll #2, adding giardiniera again. This was the ticket. It was beefy with a softer texture. The thin slices kept it from being chewy. The smokiness gave it a very savory quality, but it was balanced and not in your face like BBQ or bacon. Bissonnette nails it when he says the things some people don’t like about tongue are solved by cooking it and slicing it like this.

The little bit which grabbed me when I read this recipe was the smoke then boil technique. I was admittedly skeptical about boiling after cold-smoking, but I am a believer. I just had to try it first.

Smoked Beef Tongue
From The New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette
(italicized notes are mine)

1 fresh beef tongue, about 3 lb (1 kg)

For the Cure:
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
2 tsp chili flakes
2 tbsp fennel seed
1 tsp caraway

Smoking chips (I used Apple Wood Chunks)

2 cups mirepoix

Use the jacquard (I used a needle) to punch the whole tongue evenly about 20 times. Rub the tongue in the cure mix and refrigerate it for 48 hours.

Set the chips on fire using one pan, then smother the fire with a small amount of water. Transfer the smoldering chips to the bottom half of a two-part perforated/nonperforated pan. Put the tongue in the top, then cover it tightly with tin foil. Poke 1 or 2 small holes in tin foil for smoke to escape. Cold smoke for 1 hour. (I used my cold smoking set up because I have one.)

Place the tongue in a stockpot and cover with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. Add mirepoix. Bring to a boil, then turn down to just above simmer and cook 2 hours.

Remove the tongue and cool it in an ice bath. When it’s cool enough to handle, peel off the outer skin. Wrap the tongue in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve the tongue, slice it thin like deli meat for sandwiches or cut thick slices and grill. This also works nicely warmed up with chicken stock and
served with lentils.

This Hamburger

Fourth of July means a lot of things to a lot of people. Spending most of my mid to late twenties and early thirties with a dog then kids, it rarely meant huge fireworks. In recent years, it has meant a trip to a cabin on the lake and cooking projects which seemed to be born from the idea of creating more work than needed. Some, like the bone-in brisket and BBQ porchetta di testa, were hard fought victories. Some, like burying a cow’s head in underground coals, were massive defeats. Going into this year’s vacation, I wanted cook something over wood fire and not bury anything in the sandy soil of Northern Wisconsin.

With all due respect to the heroes at Joe Beef and their love of thin pork chops, I opted for a burger. Burgers cooked over live fire are delicious and taste far better than if they are buried in sandy soil, wrapped in banana leaves, and left to cook over snuffed out embers for the better part of a day. Also, if I was going to make a burger, I could customize my burger blend to try something new. I do not, in general, believe there is a best burger blend. I think different cuts bring different qualities to a burger, but in the end, high quality meat is most important with fattiness following directly, buy not closely behind. For this hamburger (as it should be called to further emphasize my burger-blend non-believer status), I picked beef heart for its distinctive beefiness, ground marrow for more beefiness and supplementary fatty lusciousness, and then some regular-old fatty beef grind from the good folks at the Butcher & Larder.

While mixing all of the ground beef parts and the seasoning (salt and pepper only please), I did something I had done only when making sausage. I seasoned, cooked a bit, tasted, and then re-seasoned. It seemed intuitive to do it with a burger to the point where I wondered why I hadn’t done it before. Why is it reserved for sausages? Once they tasted right, I used the wide mouth lid and band from a jam jar to form the burgers into uniform patties.

Then I lit what seemed like a lot of wood in the fire pit between two cinder blocks. After 30 minutes, the wood had burned down to embers and it was clear I would need more – lots more, so I added wood 4 logs at time for another hour until I was working with a nice pile of glowing, white embers. I added the burgers eight at a time and cooked them just below medium with nice crusts created by the intense heat from the piles of embers directly below the grill grate. As burger fat and marrow juice dripped onto the embers, fire shot up to the grate reminding me that I do not love actual fireworks nearly as much as those created by animal fat hitting wood fire.

The toppings are relatively flexible and totally a personal choice with the exception of adding a smear of Merkt’s or Merkt’s-like port wine cheese on the bottom bun. Port wine cheese spread is mandatory. I like pickles, mustard and, egads, some ketchup, but if you like mayo, giardiniera and fig, enjoy the hell out of that. I also subscribe to the method of first assemble the burger then lean in and squish it a little. I do not know why I do it, but it makes everything work. I would bet there is something scientific about why it works, but I can’t be certain.

This hamburger certainly was beefy. I could not clearly taste the different cuts as I ate them, but I enjoyed the intensely beefy flavor a great deal. Cooking the burgers over live fire imbued the burgers with a smokey flavor, but the key with cooking the burgers over the insanely hot embers is getting a crust on the burger without eliminating juiciness from the interior. There is also the added bonus of being able to s’more on the residual heat of the embers after finishing the burger, beans, and ember-blistered carrots*.

Besides having a burger (then s’mores) with maximum deliciousness, I had an incredibly beefy burger with a fantastic crust without spending all day preparing it or picking sand from an oddly underdone hamburger. It left me time to ride on a boat, see my older daughter catch a fish, and talk to my family.

This Hamburger

1350 grams fatty beef, ground
450 grams beef heart, ground
150 grams beef marrow, ground
Salt, lots
Pepper, some
Merkt’s Port Wine Spreadable Cheese or something like it
Pickles and condiments of your choice
3 times more hardwood than you thought you needed.

Step one: Buy impeccable beef or have impeccable beef. Either way. If you want a good hamburger, get beef that is a little better than you think you deserve. Buy beef which makes you feel a little guilty.

Step two: Combine marrow, heart and beef. Salt to taste. Then actually take a bit of the grind, heat it in a skillet and taste it. Then adjust.

Step three: Burn tons of hardwood until it glows white. Cook burgers close to hot coals.

Step four: Consume with the cheese noted above and pickles/condiments of choice.

*This is not really the name of a food, but the carrots where slicked with butter, then grilled over the wood until they were ugly and delicious. Either way, look for ember-blistered carrots everywhere this fall.

Rolled Pastrami

There is flashy food travel – New York, San Francisco, Charleston, but this year I’ve been to some places that do not scream fancy. Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. I am not saying the fancy places are undeserving of their praise, but these other towns have shown me great things, food-wise, as well. On our recent trip to North Carolina, we had shrimp and grits at Crook’s Corner, chaat at Lantern, chicken biscuit (this was a revelation) at Time Out and, during a random stop at Rose’s Meats and Sweets in Durham, we bought some pastrami.

Only it was not just “some pastrami”. Rose’s is a whole animal butcher (in addition to being a sweet shop) so they had access to the navel cut. Not only that, but the real trick here was they rolled the cured navel like pancetta pr porchetta. It was a sight to behold. It was delicious pastrami, but the presentation was ground breaking to me.

When I got home, I picked up a navel of my own. My first test was could I roll it. In its current form, rolling was difficult, so I butterflied the navel and threw it in Ruhlman’s pastrami brine. After three days, I dried the cured navel and covered all surfaces with ground pepper and coriander.

Now, the key moment, the rolling. Inspired by Rose’s efforts and enabled by the butterflying of the beef navel, the rolling was relatively straightforward.

After a night resting in the fridge, the pastrami was smoked to 150F core temperature, then resumed resting in the fridge.

The next day, the pastrami sliced easily and went in the steamer. While the pastrami steamed away, I made a rye porridge with Geechie Boy rye bran, rye berries, pastrami broth, caraway and mustard seeds. This porridge tasted like really great deli rye and was delicious with the pastrami. The pastrami coils unwound in the steamer, but that did not affect its deliciousness.

Being so excited to get home to make this reminded me of my trips and not just those to more lauded areas. That inspiration came from the spicy octopus udon from Cleveland’s Noodlecat, from the milk and bread courses at Ardent in Milwaukee or Chicken biscuit from Time Out in Chapel Hill. It is just like seeing great architecture, great art, or great people. These places are great and I look forward to seeing more of them.