"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Lazy Pulled Pork

    I am deep in study for yet another professional certification, but I also need to eat, and I need to GREATLY reduce my junk food and salt intake. But I also want good food, not just dairy products and rabbit food, and I just do not have the hours required to accomplish all these targets.

    Perusing the local micro-mart I find that they have pork butt on sale, I may just take a page out of my father’s cook book… I’ll pull out the slow cooker and let it do all the work.

    At the lair I find I am out of BBQ Rub and BBQ Sauce. This may not turn out to be the usual slap-dash event that slow cooking has become, but I suppose I can spend a couple of hours away from my studies, and decompress in my kitchen. So I’ll include those:

    BBQ Sauce
    In my youth a good night out included dinner at the Real Pit BBQ in Harker Heights, Texas. The owner / operator made a special BBQ sauce. I remember all kinds of people trying to get the Recipe, to Include a U.S. Senator and Several Governors of the State of Texas.

    As these things go, I grew up and moved away, but did not forget that sauce. After a lot of trials and a lot of errors, I complained to my sister, that I just could not get that sauce right..

    Well seems, I have been upstaged in the Social Engineering department. My sister had gone to school with owner’s son and had actually helped them make the sauce on several occasions. The secret ingredient is… As I have said before:

    Again pit masters are a secretive about their bbq sauce recipes as they are about their rubs. The items you will see in this blog are “GENERAL IDEAS“, my own recipes were given to me by my mother, grandmother, and great grand mother… I’ll hand these down to my children at some point, IF they prove worthy.

    BBQ Rub

    Rubs are a must for any good bbq or smoke job. If you do not do this, you really are missing out on 1/2 the flavor and 1/2 the fun of BBQ or smoking. (Note: This is NOT grilling, any six idiots can burn meat over an open fire.) To weave the subtle components of meat, smoke and spice into a heavenly culinary experience takes knowledge, technique and skill.

  • 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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  • Bad Wolf Surf and Turf

    IMG_4819

    It’s late summer and grilling time at my upstate lair. The local mega-mart had porterhouses on sale, plus a sale on 16-20, raw, shell on, IQF shrimp. Sounds like surf and turf to me.

    I’ll season both sides of the steak, with a steak salt, (~1.5″ thick, 1.5lb) and let it come to room temperature, whilst the shrimp are thawing. And go down to prep the grill.

    I’ll want a high direct heat for this and things will move quickly, so if you are going to do this have everything ready

    The first thing to go on is the steak, directly over the sear station, let it sit for ~2 1/2 minutes, turn 90 degrees and let it cook for another 2 1/2 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, flip the steak, and place the shrimp on the grill.

    Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes and flip, rotate the steak 90 degrees as well. (Forms those nice cross hatch grill marks), after 2 additional minutes, take the shrimp off in the order they were placed on the grill and remove the steak. (The shells will be a vibrant pink, and the flesh opaque.)

    Rest the steak for 5 minutes and serve.

  • Quick, To the Grill FatMan!!!!

    As it is coming to Memorial Day and the opening of the grill season, it’s probably a prudent idea to review the basics of grilling. Here is a compilation of posts on grilling, the basics, hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks ….

    I was talking with Madam Bad Wolf, about our plans for the coming holiday, and the menu for said holiday and plans. She not so gently reminded me of some of my less memorable meals on the grill. This inspired me to start making notes on how to grill the more traditional items….

    Do note: Grilling is NOT Bar-B-Que ….

    Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above or below. Food to be grilled is cooked on a grill (an open wire grid with a heat source above or below), a grill pan (similar to a frying pan, but with raised ridges to mimic the wires of an open grill), or griddle (a flat plate heated from below) . Heat transfer to the food when using a grill is primarily via thermal radiation. Heat transfer when using a grill pan or griddle is by direct conduction. In the United States, when the heat source for grilling comes from above, grilling is termed broiling. In this case, the pan that holds the food is called a broiler pan, and heat transfer is by thermal radiation.

    Direct heat grilling can expose food to temperatures often in excess of 260 °C (500 °F). Grilled meat acquires a distinctive roast aroma from a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction only occurs when foods reach temperatures in excess of 155 °C (310 °F).
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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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  • Cast Iron Chef – Pepper Steak

    After mastering yet another vendor proficiency test, (one could say I am now buzz word compliant), I decided to chuck the rest of the afternoon and go visiting clients.

    Sitting in an office high overlooking a major intersection, and chatting with a client as he reviewed my missives posted here, a slow cooked pepper steak produced by his wife, was mentioned. As he went on to describe the mouth watering lusciousness of the meat, the contrasting colors of the stop-light peppers and the richness of the gravy produced I knew I HAD TO HAVE that recipe.

    Also remembering that I had made the lady of said clients house a gift of a 18″ Bad Wolf special chef’s knife, I decided that my usual brash tactics might not work, and that a bit of kitchen research would be the better part of valor…

    The real key here is low and slow cooking in a moist environment….

    Collagen, the predominant protein in connective tissue, is quite tough to chew, and is found in abundance in tougher and cheaper cuts of meat. (Almost the tougher / cheaper the better). At 150 degrees it starts to melt and become gelatin-like as the temperature climbs. At 150 the muscle tissue will have tightened fully and the bonds between individual protein molecules become stronger and tighter. These bonds become so tight they drive water from the meat back into the braising liquid!

    IF REMOVED AT THIS POINT, THE ROAST WILL BECOME TOUGH AND DRY.

    Once the internal temperature of the meat reaches 170 degrees, a second process begins as melted collagen makes meat seem tender and moist. Further heated, the collagen in the muscle will break down progressively into soft gelatin as the tightened muscle tissue strands continue to separate.

    Because collagen won’t melt completely until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 200 degrees, the meat must be cooked to this temperature and held there for an hour to take full advantage of this phenomenon.

    The meat fibers will swell to take on the liquid surrounding them, and with the collagen will turn to gelatin, so that the meat becomes a wonderious tender, moist, taste treat seasoned with all the goodness of the various peppers, onions and garlic that have simmered with it.

    Do note:
    I’ve not used high priced sirloin, or tenderloin, but have used chuck steak which is quite economical that produces glorious flavor and a worthy texture when cooked properly. And properly is low and slow.

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