The mission was this. Make nine great dinners for a big group, but create menues simple enough so that I could get a morning’s worth of work in (ie justify 10 days in Key West) and not freak out at 4 pm. One of the first issues is what to cook food in, the vessels. So a valuable tool was the above Lexan tub which I borrowed from my friendly neighborhood restaurant, Fire (thanks Doug!); the immersion circulator was a huge help (I need to do a post on what lessons from this device that apply to home kitchens without one). I also had two huge pots for boiling green vegetables.  After making sure I’d have the right tools, I planned the main proteins, a few of which I either made in advance or ordered. Read On »

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On Thanksgiving, I offered a roast/braise combination cooking technique for turkey. Interesting that I use a dual cooking technique for our traditional holiday Christmas meal as well. The Grill/Roast method, which I write about in Ruhlman’s Twenty. I don’t think there’s a better way to cook a rack of beef (or a whole beef tenderloin) than this combination grill-roast method. It gives the meat great grilled flavor and allows you perfect control of temperatures and timing. I use the method in during holidays, to serve beef tenderloin sandwiches on a buffet or a rack of beef for a large group of people because I can grill the beef a day ahead if I want and then just finish it in the oven. Flavor the meat on the grill, finish it in the oven. It’s beautiful. Read On »

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I’ve written about pastrami short ribs, and love them because they’ve got the perfect meat-to-fat ratio. But ever since the arrival of a Big Green Egg (planning a review soon), I’ve wanted to do a proper pastrami, which is essentially a corned beef brisket, coated with pepper and coriander and smoked (the result above was perfect—look at that awesome fat). While I’ve published the corned beef recipe from my book Charcuterie, I haven’t really talked about smoking strategies at home. I recommend two different methods: stove top and in a kettle grill. Stove-top smoking is easy with an inexpensive ($43) Cameron smoker. I bought one a few years ago and it works great for bacon and would work great for this brisket. Briskets require long low heat though, and this is tricky on a stove Read On »

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Just about anything can be grilled that won’t slip through the grate or grilling basket. You can’t grill batter, you can’t grill soup (though you could keep it hot on a grill). I don’t know that I’d grill a tough vegetable, like cabbage or kale, but you could try. One of my favorite vegetables to grill is radicchio.  Its natural bitter notes take on the smokey charred flavors of hot open flames deliciously. And when paired with the acidic sweetness of balasamic vinegar, it’s a great side dish. I’d like to underscore the importance of balsamic vinegar here. Its intense sweet acidity offsets the natural (pleasing) bitterness all foods grilled over high heat pick up. I love a product called Crema di Balsamico, which is basically pre-reduced balsamic. Just a few drops of it are Read On »

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Heart is an excellent muscle to eat: it’s lean and flavorful (meaty but not organy—it’s a hard working muscle, not squishy spleen), it’s got a good bite, and it’s inexpensive (I bought the three-pound grass-fed beef heart for six bucks last Saturday). And one more thing: it puts to use a cut that is often thrown away; it’s important that we do our best to make use of all parts of the animals we kill for our food. I use a beef heart here, but you can use a veal heart which is a little more tender and mild.  I first had beef heart a couple summers ago when Pardus visited. He stuck it on skewers, a good strategy because you invariably end up with different sized chunks after trimming.  Last year, during Pardus’s visit, Read On »

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