Posts Tagged ‘beef’

Tortiere Grandmere

Tortiere

I’ve been dreaming about getting my hands on my French Canadian grandmother’s tortiere recipe for years, possibly decades, now that I come to think of it.

But it wasn’t until they moved Mamere from one nursing home to another earlier this year that someone finally found a copy of the original to send out to all of the kids and the kids of their kids.  I’ve been itching to make it ever since, but the idea of a hearty, meaty pie didn’t really jive with our warmer than usual Ontarian fall.

So, now that it’s starting to be cold weather eating season, it seemed more than appropriate to give the old girl a whirl.  What you see above is a rather decimated version of Antoinette’s tortiere; I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture for myself until after we’d already dug in.  No matter.  It will wow you all the same.

The original made 4 pies, but I have scaled the recipe down and added bay leaf for a little extra whiff, other than that, it is as she wrote it down, many years ago.  Bon appetit!

Tortiere Grandmere

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Panino Sinestro (Or, I Give You The ‘Nduja Burger)

'Nduja Burger

Ever since I made ‘nduja back at the beginning of May I’ve been playing the waiting game while it fermented, cured and hung in my kitchen window, taunting me.

During that time my friends Larbo and Scott of This Little Piggy and The Sausage Debauchery (respectively) have been churning out all kinds of wondrous delights made with their versions of the piquant spread while I’ve been quietly biding my time.  In fact, Larbo’s probably been the most prolific, creating ‘nduja di bufala, ‘nduja pate and most recently an ‘nduja mortadella to make us all jealous and drooling.  Once I work through some of my own ‘nduja reserves I fully intend to build on his pate idea, but for now I’m holding those cards close to the chest.  Lest you think that Scott’s some sort of slouch, let me tip my hat to him for single-handedly starting up a mail order business to bring ‘nduja-making supplies (and other imported Italian goodies) to the masses.  As you can see, our combined aim is to completely blanket the planet in ‘nduja fever!

Hanging

In an attempt to keep mine somewhat traditional, I’d let the ‘nduja hang for as close to the year I’d originally intended as I could possibly wait.  Some of it will surely see a 1 year anniversary since my first attempt was a double batch, leaving me with close to 6 kg of ‘nduja hanging around waiting for inconspicuous consumption and culinary inspiration to strike.

This very weekend was the first time since I stuffed the ‘nduja that I’d had an occasion to cut down a finished link and give a taste, and words cannot express how truly excited I was.

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There’s An App For That

Fin!

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself purchasing Michael Ruhlman‘s Ratio application from the iPhone App Store.

It’s a bit of a dirty little secret that I’ve become addicted to food and cooking apps, and I have the Epicurious, Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals, and Nat Decants apps to prove it, and now Ratio as well.

Now, I may have a fair amount of respect for the Charcuterie book (moreso for its co-author than for Ruhlman himself) but the more I see him on TV (typically on No Reservations) and with that whole “are we too stupid to cook” thing he blundered last week, the more I’ve started to view him as a pompous, self-aggrandizing ass.

But, I had bought the app for the inherent practicality of it, so I still intended to test it out.

Ratio Dough

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Over The Lips And Past The Gums

Ugh

Several months ago when I purchased a quarter of a grass fed cow, a rather large and unwieldy package stamped simply with the word tongue found its way into my freezer.

And for months, I couldn’t fathom exactly what I should do with it.

I’d had tongue on several occasions in the past, including at The Black Hoof in the form of a thinly sliced sandwich (among other things), but I’d never felt the need to tackle this offal matter at home.

But then one day, I felt like making these, figuring that instead of the pork cheeks, I’d substitute in the tongue.  Not knowing too much about tongue, I assumed that the results would be similar since tongue is a rather fatty, gelatinous cut.

So, before I left for work one day, I tossed the requisite ingredients into my handy dandy slow cooker alongside the tongue, and went on my way.

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Meatycake, Meatycake, Butcher Man

Stockcakes

Day by day, it’s getting colder and colder, and becoming more and more apparent that summer is long gone.  With that shift in seasons, we spend a little less time cooking outside on the grill, and a little more time indoors baking, braising and stewing, etc.

One of the indicators that typically signals the arrival of fall for me is my willingness to spend time making homemade stock.  Such a steamy, sweaty endeavour would be out of the question during the dog days of summer, but in the fall when days are brisker and nights hold a chill, warming the air with rich, meaty scents sounds like a wonderful, reflective idea.  It also happens to appeal to my waste-not-want-not mentality.  Each time I make stock, I continually marvel at the amount of flavour you can extract from little more than kitchen scraps.  And with such a small amount of effort, you can improve just about every dish you add it to.  Bored of rice?  Simmer it in stock.  Making mashed potatoes?  Boil those in stock first, too.  Deglazing pan juices?  Stock can do that.  In just about any cooking application where you would use water or wine, stock makes a flavourful stand-in.

But, before we get to the meat of the matter, a few “suggestions” about making stock that will make life a little easier.

1) Be organic – I try to buy as much organic food as possible, mostly because I think it tastes better, but also because it’s better for me and the environment.  I usually try not to preach to others about why they should too, because I understand that some things about food are very personal matters.  In this case I’m breaking my rule, though.  If at all possible, try to use organic food to make your stock.  With something as simple and elemental as boiled bones and veg, imperfections easily come through, so starting with the best product possible will automatically put you ahead.

2) Save, save, save – If you roasted a chicken, save that cleaned carcass in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  Once you’ve amassed a few, you’ll be well on your way to a flavourful stock.  And don’t hesitate to add vegetable trimmings to the bag either, as long as they’re cleaned first.  Carrot peels, onion skins and celery leaves all make great additions to a stock base.

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Time For The Feats Of Strength (And Meat) And Fortitude

Mincemeat

I’ll be the first to admit that my family does have some rather odd traditions.

For instance, when my sister and I each left the proverbial nest, we’d invariably guilt my mom (a now-retired professional chef) into making our favourite Trinidadian delicacies whenever she’d pop by for a visit, which in my case meant the labour-intensive but delicious dhalpouri roti.  Or on my dad’s side of the family, there’s a yearly Kris Kringle exchange that is more like ultimate gift fighting, with the intent being to steal as many gifts from the people who want them as possible.

Of course, this is nothing in comparison to the Everyman’s family’s tradition of celebrating Festivus “feats of strength” more often than I care to remember.

The Raw (Literally) Ingredients

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Comfort Food, Foodie Style

Comforty Delicious

Earlier this year, the Everyman and I had a mostly forgettable dinner at Noce during Winterlicious.  At the time I thought it was quite a shame, because I’d heard nothing but good things about the restaurant prior to our visit.

The one bright spot in our meal was a creamy polenta dish with a sausage ragu that the Everyman literally inhaled.  The other night while trying to come up with something appealing to make for dinner, that particular dish came to mind.  It had a richness of flavour to it that was wholly comforting in its simplicity, like being wrapped in a warm, fluffy blanket on a cold winter day.

Comfort foods are usually creamy, somewhat fatty, protein-laden dishes, and while I enjoy all of those elements, I have been trying to make a shift toward slightly healthier, less meat-centric dishes lately.  With that caveat, I intended to create a dish that had all the impact of its comfort food counterpart, but lighter and exhibiting a refined elegance.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was confident that I could pull it off.

First I started a pot of chicken broth and milk to boil.

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Flowers You Can Eat

Dinnah!

The Everyman and I had company over for dinner on the weekend, which necessitated an early morning jaunt to the farmer’s market to procure the appropriate supplies.

Whilst there, I came across some dainty squash blossoms at my regular heirloom tomato stand and though I knew they’d be too “out there” for our guests, I couldn’t resist picking up a clamshell for myself, anyway.

I’ve eaten the blossoms in restaurants before, but never bothered to prepare them at home.  After staring at them in the fridge for a few days, I settled on what I considered would be a complimentary, yet homey stuffing.  A lot of people will tell you that squash blossoms should be stuffed with cheese, or dipped in batter and deep fried, but I say no.  Instead, I modified a stuffing recipe that I often use for peppers, to produce these tiny morsels of delectability.

Blossoms

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Steaky Steak Steak Steak

Dinner's On!

Rather unsurprising to you I’m sure, but the Everyman and I both really love a good steak.

Despite the fact that we purchased a quarter cow earlier this year, I would comfortably estimate that we eat red meat once or twice a week, but probably eat steak only once a month.  Much to the Everyman’s chagrin, of course!

To be fair, the Everyman consumes steak much more regularly than I, as it’s his de facto higher-end equivalent to a BLT or club sandwich.  (For a long time after I first met him, he had this quirk about only ordering BLTs, club sandwiches or chicken fingers when we went out to new casual restaurants, or always ordered a steak when we went out to nicer ones.  He’s gotten better over the years and experiments much more often, but his thought process behind those choices has to do with the unlikelihood that the kitchen will screw up those kind of orders)

At any rate, thanks to that glorious quarter cow, we have a plethora of steak cuts lounging in our storage freezer (soon to be joined by my half hog, actually).  Through some amazing twist of fate, when our cow was delivered all of the meat was portioned into either a steak, a roast or ground, omitting the usual stewing cubes and flaccid stir-fry strips that would likely not get used around these parts, anyhow.  I’ve blown through half of the roasts already just by making beef jerky, and the ground gets used for weekly burger nights, meatballs and chilis, but the steaks have languished by and large.  It’s not that we don’t enjoy them; their grass-fed beefiness is exquisite.  It’s just that (to me, anyway) beef of this calibre seems to require more care, forethought even.  Sometimes when you get home after a long day at work, that just feels like too much effort.

Well, the other night steak seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered, so I lit up the grill and started perusing the internest for recipes.  I came across this and was mildly intrigued, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I made a bunch of changes to the proportions, then slathered it on the steak and left it to marinate for twenty minutes.  In retrospect I’d probably leave this sitting longer next time (but you know what they say about hindsight).  A quick char on the grill and we were off to the races.  It was smoky, a little spicy (could use more heat next time) and just a little tangy. And with a tiny sprinkle of lime salt it was elevated to a completely new level. Methinks I just fell in love!

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What I Did This Weekend

No one can accuse me of not being exceptionally industrious.  Take a peek at some snapshots of what I’ve been up to this holiday Monday.  Somehow, I think Queen Victoria would be proud.

First, there was the tower of jerky (actually, it took 3 of those towers of cooling racks 4 racks deep to get through all of the jerky meat I marinated) and I’m still working on drying it all.  Before it gets dried it sort of looks like a giant tower of bacon, doesn’t it?

Homemade Meat Tower

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Saturday Night’s Alright For Jerky

One Giant Bowl Of Meat

Being the considerate, caring soul that I am, I noticed that the Everyman’s supply of jerky was dwindling yesterday.

The Everyman absolutely loves jerky, so every couple of months I spend a day making him an Everyman-sized batch that usually lasts for about 2 to 3 months.  It’s also a good way to use up all of the eye of round roasts we got in our split side of beef that I wouldn’t prepare otherwise (we’re not big pot roast-type people).  The first time I ever made jerky was after purchasing Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn about 3 or 4 years ago, while my father happened to be in town for a visit (and who subsequently thought I was insane).  But, back then I was doing it all by hand, which really is a lot of work and probably not worth it unless you’re fanatical about jerky.  When I finally decided to make guanciale this year, I impulsively bought a small countertop deli slicer, rationalizing that it would get plenty of use from all the charcuterie I planned to make.

Well, let’s just say I don’t have nearly enough opportunities to use the foodie equivalent of a circular saw; if only because the thing is so hard to clean that I dread pulling it out.  But, despite the hassle of clean up, it makes slicing half-frozen beef roasts a breeze, and it’s obviously a much easier method for maintaining uniform width.  I decided to go for the gusto and sliced up 2 whole roasts (one a round and one called a clod) which amounted to a triple batch of jerky, wet weight totalling almost 7 pounds.  Now that I’m getting a little more serious about homemade cured meats, I’ll probably use the slicer more often; I’ll just have to time my slicing so I do it all at once to minimize the cleaning headache.  Plus, now that we have the smoker, I can make smoked turkey that the Everyman can then shave on the slicer.

I use the jerky recipe from Charcuterie as a guide, but as with anything I like to make my own tweaks and modifications.  Firstly, I almost double the chipotle en adobo, because it’s a really striking flavor and there’s never enough of it.  Then I also add jalapeno flakes and a few small pinches of tomato powder.  I’ve occasionally added pimenton to the mix, but I find it tends to compete with the adobo rather than harmonizing beneficially.  A recipe, for your perusal;

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Stupid Bowl Sunday

One of the things that I think people find so intriguing about the Everyman and I is that we have very few common interests.  In fact, in most regards we are exact polar opposites; he loves sports and I hate them, he loves big commercial movies while I love documentaries, he is an extreme procrastinator and I am very driven, he is exceptionally messy and I am a neat freak… the list could go on and on and on…

Super Bowl Sunday is no different… I can’t bear to sit through hours of sports on TV and I often end up getting frustrated with the Everyman for monopolizing the TV and subjecting me to so much boring, sexist crap.  I take issue with sports that involve women prancing around in skimpy outfits for the enjoyment of men.  I think it’s demeaning and awful regardless of the fact that women do it willingly, and in general encourages pandering to the lowest common denominator.  Objectifying women really just gets my blood boiling overall, because really, you don’t see men in g-strings prancing around at female sporting events to get the crowd going, so why is it ok to expect that of women?  Aside from that weird group of fat male cheerleaders that is… but that’s an entirely different scenario altogether.

Anyhow, the Stupid Bowl (as I call it) is just another eating holiday to me, and this year (like the last) I decided to make chili.  I don’t really enjoy chili all that much, but the Everyman does, and I do like hamming it up in the kitchen, so I do what I can.  This year I made a few modifications to an old favorite, a tequila lime chili.  Read on for the recipe and happy eating!

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Perversity At It’s Finest

As the Everyman can fully attest, for as long as I can remember I have wanted a cow.  Or more accurately, several cows.  I love cows like most people love puppies; specifically an old breed that I often see on our drive to the cottage that is known as an Oreo cow (black front, white middle, black end).  They also come in dwarf varieties, which I keep trying to convince the Everyman are small enough for me to own.  Unfortunately, he hasn’t bought that line of reasoning yet.  Probably because we live in a condo in the city.  But last night, I finally, indirectly got my own cow.

I did not adopt a cow, although I should, because that would give me easy access to a cow whenever I wanted.  Instead, last night our first split side of beef was dropped off at the house.  It’s not quite a cow in the form I originally wished for, but this kind has its benefits too.

Firstly, it gives me access to a very high quality of meat at an affordable price.  Our organic grocer sources pasture-fed, organic and all-natural animals, and our particular cow was an all-natural beast.  With a hanging weight of 114 pounds, the net product was around 100 pounds of meat.  For those of you who have never purchased a split side of an animal before, 100 pounds is a pretty large quantity of meat volumetricly speaking.  Being that it is only the Everyman and I, hearty eaters though we may be, I fully expect this cow will last us through for the next 9 to 12 months.  100 pounds almost completely filled the 3 shelves of my 13+ cubic foot upright freezer.  As I was putting it all away last night, I was struck with an odd combination of mischievousness and gluttony.  I felt like I was preparing for a cold war or something.   Having grown up in a situation where I did not always have enough to get by, I often have a lingering desire to make sure I never go hungry again.  Part of that was what prompted me to purchase this cow in the first place.  Having it in the freezer downstairs makes me feel more comfortable in the fact that I know I will always have something to eat.

Secondly, I am passionate about supporting local farmers and purveyors who do their best to raise animals ethically and as naturally as possible.  There is too much factory farming going on worldwide, and I do not want to support that.  Not only are conventionally farmed animals not as good for you nutrient-wise, they also tend to come with residual hormones and antibiotics that have no business being in my body.  Buying a large animal helps ensure that farmers who take the time to do it right can continue what they’re doing and (hopefully) still make a profit doing it.

Lastly, it reinforces the nose-to-tail philosophy that I also believe in.  If you are going to kill an animal, you should give it enough respect to try and use as much of that product as possible, and not let anything go to waste.  This includes things like organs, feet, tails, and tongues.  Just because these things are not popular in the North American diet, does not give us the right to throw them away.  It does not honor the animal to pick and choose only the best cuts and leave all the rest.  And so, even though I have little experience with these things, I will now find a purpose for the tongue, bones and off cuts I received.  Even if they only get used for stocks and braises, I will make sure that they do not get thrown away, because that would not only be wasteful for me, but wasteful for the animal and farmer who raised it for me.

So, for the months ahead I will post an ongoing chronicle of my quest to use all that has been given to me.  It may be ugly, and some of it may be downright weird, but I invite you to read along and see what I manage to come up with.  Who knows, I may even inspire some of you to do the same.

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