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  • Texas Red – Chili

    With the recently departed Stella, and the oncoming snow for the weekend, it is time for some serious hearty food. And for this Texas boy, that means meat, and since I live in New York, I have no time to spend hours cooking, so that means the slow cooker.

    From Wikipedia:

    Chili con carne, commonly known in American English as simply “chili”, is a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat (usually beef), and often tomatoes and beans. Other seasonings may include garlic, onions, and cumin.

    Geographic and personal tastes involve different types of meat and ingredients. Recipes provoke disputes among aficionados, some of whom insist that the word “chili” applies only to the basic dish, without beans and tomatoes. Chili con carne is a frequent dish for cook-offs and is used as an ingredient in other dishes.

    From way back in my youth, these are the days my mother made chili, or Texas Red, no beans, no tomatoes, no mushrooms, no tofu, absolutely nothing fancy, just beef, stock, Allium, and capsicums, and perhaps some cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and other trace element style spices. (Alliums are the onion family, onion, garlic, etc, and capsicums are peppers.)

    To quote a description:

    Texas red if it walks the thin line just this side of indigestibility: damning the mouth that eats it and defying the stomach to digest it, the ingredients are hardly willing to lie in the same pot together.

    If one looks at all the legends of how chili was discovered, there is one thing in common…. ABJECT POVERTY, so the meat involved is not going to be the best, but since it will be close to the horn or the hoof, I am sure it will have flavor beyond compare, and collagen beyond believe. (And this is a good thing….)

  • Dahl Bhat with Chicken

    The recent Winter Storm Stella has me going in an entirely different direction. Like straight up … As is straight up a mountain in the high Himalayas. When on thinks about what you see in all the mountain movies about the Himalayas. Himalayas, gurka’s, Curry and rice

    Dhal (Lentil Curry) is usually a soup, this time made with our Asian chicken stock. But as always, we’ll look at some dried red peppers, or maybe serve with a hot pepper / vinegar finishing sauce on the side…

    One could forgot the rice and serve over orzo, or perhaps riced potatoes, or even just with a couple of slices of crusty ciabatta.

    Background

    Dahl bhat is a traditional South / Central Asian and staple dish which is essentially rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal). This is a very common food in South Asian countries specially Nepal. In general eaten twice a day with another (usually spicy, maybe hot /sour) dish called tarkari which can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian..

    The recipes vary by locality, ethnic group, family, as well as the season. Dal generally contains lentils (different types are used according to taste), tomatoes, onion, chili and ginger along with herbs and spices such as coriander, garam-masala and turmeric.

  • Thai Chicken Stock

    As the great storm stella barrels down upon us, bringing heavy snow, high winds and low temperatures, I feel a need, a need for stock, chicken stock, rich, spicy, liquid gold for the production of good soups, gravies, noodles, just about anything. This is a twist on my standard stock that adds an Asian taste to the stock. This would be a natural for the Chicken and Coconut soup, or as the broth component of a chicken curry, or as a broth for Thai noodles, or as the liquid for Dhal …

    From Wikipedia:

    Stock is a flavored liquid preparation. It forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups and sauces. Making stocks involves simmering animal bones or meat, seafood, or vegetables in water or wine, adding mirepoix or other aromatics for more flavor.

    Traditionally, stock is made by simmering various ingredients in water. A newer approach is to use a pressure cooker. The ingredients may include some or all of the following:

    Meat
    Leftover cooked meat, such as that remaining on poultry carcasses, is often used along with the bones of the bird or joint. Fresh meat makes a superior stock, and cuts rich in connective tissue such as shin or shoulder of beef or veal are commonly recommended, either alone or added in lower proportions to the remains of cooked poultry, to provide a richer and fresher-tasting stock. Quantities recommended are in the ratio of 1 part fresh meat to 2 parts water. Pork, although a popular base for stock in Chinese cuisine, is considered unsuitable for stock in European cooking due to its greasiness[citation needed](although 19th-century recipes for consomme and traditional aspic included slices of mild ham), and mutton was traditionally avoided due to the difficulty of avoiding the strong tallowy taint imparted from the fat.
    Bones
    Veal, beef, and chicken bones are most commonly used. The flavour of the stock comes from the cartilage and connective tissue in the bones. Connective tissue has collagen in it, which gets converted into gelatin that thickens the liquid. Stock made from bones needs to be simmered for longer than stock made from meat. Pressure cooking methods shorten the time necessary to extract the flavour from the bones.
    Mirepoix
    Mirepoix is a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes other vegetables. Often, the less desirable parts of the vegetables that may not otherwise be eaten (such as carrot skins and celery cores and leaves) are used. The use of these parts is highly dependent upon the chef, as many do not appreciate the flavours that these portions impart.
    Herbs and spices
    The herbs and spices used depend on availability and local traditions. In classical cuisine, the use of a bouquet garni (or bag of herbs) consisting of parsley, bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, and possibly other herbs, is common. This is often placed in a sachet to make it easier to remove once the stock is cooked.

    I am known to reserve chicken bones from spatchcocked chickens for the purpose of reenforcing my stock. (The addition of chicken feet will also add to the gelatin content)

  • A New Year’s Cholent

    It is Rosh Hashanah, and while I do not celebrate this, I can truly appreciate the food.

    I’ve been rocking and rolling on various projects and living the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet), life. Time to stop and get back to cooking. I want SERIOUS hearty food, I want meat, root veggies, legumes, all in a rich and savory gravy. But a stew just is not going to cut it, and I’ve done roasts of just about anything that would walk, fly, swim or slither. Time to take a lesson from some friends. Time to make cholent, a savory, rich, stew of brisket, beans, veggies and all held together by a gravy that can only happen after hours of slow cooking.

    I already acknowledge the fact that the “fan club”, will be writing me on ALL the mistakes I’ve made. (Send me your recipes, I’ll try them all)

    Using my slow cooker on low I’ll simmer this for at least 10, maybe 12 hours, or until the collagen in the meat melts

    Wikipedia says:

    Cholent (Yiddish: טשאָלנט, tsholnt or tshoolnt) or hamin (Hebrew: חמין‎) is a traditional Jewish stew simmered overnight, for 12 hours or more, and eaten for lunch on Shabbat (the Sabbath.) Cholent was developed over the centuries to conform with Jewish religious laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath. The pot is brought to boil on Friday before the Sabbath begins, and kept on a blech or hotplate, or placed in a slow oven or electric slow cooker until the following day.

    There are many variations of the dish, which is standard in both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi kitchens. The basic ingredients of cholent are meat, potatoes, beans and barley. Sephardi-style hamin uses rice instead of beans and barley, and chicken instead of beef. A traditional Sephardi addition is whole eggs in the shell (haminados), which turn brown overnight. Ashkenazi cholent often contains kishke or helzel – a sausage casing or a chicken neck skin stuffed with a flour-based mixture. Slow overnight cooking allows the flavors of the various ingredients to permeate and produces the characteristic taste of cholent.

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  • Fish Fry …

    I went into the grocery store looking for some beef to make chicken fried steaks, but was less than pleased with the offerings. About to walk out, I walked by the fish counter, and saw fish fillets. I inquired as to the species, (I do so love fried catfish), and was told they were whiting… Given my recent experience, with a fish and chips food truck, I am not THAT fond of whiting… The proprietor sensed my reluctance, and chatted with me about the fish, after I explained my hesitance, he offered to fillet some fresh for me.

    Now I am a southern boy, and I do love fried fish, I was amazed to see it there, and even more amazed at the price. Needless to say 4 lb of fish left with me, as well as corn meal and all the fixin’s. Guess it’s time to fry up a mess of fish.

    Fried fish has always been a southern delight, some of my fondest memories from growing up in Texas are associated with the fish fries the family would enjoy after returning from a all day expedition during a fish run out on either the Lampasses or Cowhouse creeks. But even when we didn’t have time to fish we could always depend on the numerous roadside cafes featuring all the fish and hush puppies you could eat for a dollar.

    What I will do is take out a bit of “funk” insurance and soak these in a bit of buttermilk.

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  • Tacos Con Carne

    steak-taco

    Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, and I will be (hopefully) recovering from a weekend of high pressure ops. That said, perhaps a little bit of Mexico can creep onto my plate .. I am thinking Tacos… But not just any tacos, soft tacos with strips of steak, grilled peppers, onions, fresh cheese, a tangy dipping sauce, perhaps guacamole and some form of lettuce salad on the side.

    A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A taco can be made with a variety of fillings, including beef, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetables and cheese, allowing for great versatility and variety. A taco is generally eaten without utensils and is often accompanied by garnishes such as salsa, avocado or guacamole, cilantro, tomatoes, minced meat, onions and lettuce.

    These come in many varieties:

    The Hard Taco
    Beginning from the early part of the twentieth century, various styles of tacos have become popular in the United States and Canada. The style that has become most common is the hard-shell, U-shaped version. Such tacos are crisp-fried corn tortillas filled with seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and sometimes tomato, onion, salsa, sour cream, and avocado or guacamole.

    The Soft Taco
    Traditionally, soft-shelled tacos referred to corn tortillas that were cooked to a softer state than a hard taco – usually by grilling or steaming. More recently the term has come to include flour tortilla based tacos mostly from large manufacturers and restaurant chains. In this context, soft tacos are tacos made with wheat flour tortillas and filled with the same ingredients as a hard taco.

    The Double Decker
    Comprised of a hard taco wrapped in a similarly sized flour tortilla with a layer of re-fried beans or guacamole between the layers

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