Roast chicken on the grill June 6, 2013Posted by Peeps in Cook's Illustrated, Cooking, Home, random stuff.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I were watching America’s Test Kitchen. It’s a relaxing way to spend half an hour before I have to walk the dog. And we might find something we want to try.
They did a show on how to roast a turkey on a charcoal grill, so that you can save oven space at the holidays. And even though it’s nowhere near the holidays yet, and we didn’t have a turkey handy,we decided that we wanted to try it.
We still have several whole chickens in the freezer and we thought that it might be worth trying. Roasted chicken in the Summer time without heating up the house? Let’s go!
You start by cutting four slits into the back of the chicken to let rendered fat drain out. The skin then needs to get loosened. Yes, it’s not a fun step, but you need to do it. Then you need to season the bird. In this case, salt inside the cavity to start. The turkey version called for something like two tablespoons, but we scaled it back a bit. It was a large chicken, but not quite that large.
Some salt needs to get under the skin of the bird. Get as far as you can reach without tearing the skin You’ll be happy you did.
Then the outside of the bird gets covered in a mixture of salt, pepper and baking powder. It apparently helps with browning and makes the skin crispy. And who doesn’t want that?
The bird gets covered with plastic wrap and goes into the fridge at least overnight. Two days will work, if you don’t mind having the bird take up all that room in your fridge.
When you’re ready to cook, you need to get the grill ready. Unlit coals on either side of a disposable aluminum pan filled with water need to go into your grill.
Once your coals are hot, you pour the hot coals on both sides of the aluminum pan and close the grill to let it heat up.
The way of arranging the coals and the pan allows you to cook the bird on indirect heat. The water in the pan helps even the heat out and creates a slightly more damp cooking environment.
Once the grill is hot and the grates are clean, place your bird right over the pan of water and close the lid. Now walk away for a while. Check the bird after about two hours, you want the breast meat to read 160 degrees and the thigh to be 175. Once the bird is cooked, let it rest for about fifteen minutes or so. And don’t look at the stuff that ended up in the aluminum pan, it’s not terribly pretty.
This was great. It wasn’t quite as brown as we would have liked, but it also wasn’t on the grill all that long. The skin was crisp, the meat was well seasoned and juicy and there was very little to clean after dinner. I think this might happen more than once over the course of the Summer.
If you care, you can see how to do this with a turkey right here.
Pork under pressure March 14, 2013Posted by Peeps in Cook's Illustrated, Cooking, Food, random stuff.
Everyone who reads our blog knows all too well how much we use and love our pressure cooker. It’s a very rare week that goes by when we don’t use it for something.
Not too long ago, we found out that the good people at Cook’s Illustrated were coming out with yet another cookbook. But not one we could ignore, not this time. It’s their new book of pressure cooker recipes.
Needless to say, we were pretty excited about the idea. They always have solid, reliable recipes that taste really good. The sad part was that it wasn’t going to be coming out until the middle of March. And we didn’t want to wait that long to try it out.
Fortunately, my wife reads a great many food blogs. Apparently one of them, Macheesmo, was contacted by Cook’s Illustrated not long ago and given a free copy of the new book. Along with a brand new pressure cooker. He apparently has a lot more readers than we do.
After we got finished seething with jealousy, we realized that this was our chance to try the recipe that Macheesmo blogged about, Pork Vindaloo. We love Indian food. Particularly when it doesn’t involve going somewhere or taking a long time.
We followed the recipe exactly. While Toys cut the meat into bite sized cubes, I measured and cut up everything else.
The browning of the pork took a while. And a few more batches than two. More like five. But hey, I’m not a professional. Once everything was ready to go, the lid when on and the pressure was on. Thirty minutes under pressure and a natural release, about another fifteen minutes.
We served it over brown basmati rice and with a nice India Pale Ale. It was fantastic! Since it make so much, we had it for lunches for a couple days afterwards, and I think we even had enough left over for one more dinner.
If you own a pressure cooker, at the very least try this recipe. If you regularly use a pressure cooker, you may want to consider getting the book. They have never once let us down.
And thank you to Macheesmo for letting us try something out of a book that we’ll be getting soon.
A new take on cheesesteak February 28, 2013Posted by Peeps in Cooking, Food, random stuff.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I had “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on the television. Now, neither of us likes the host in the slightest, but the show is pretty cool.
This episode featured a place owned by a Korean guy who did a thing he called a Korean cheesesteak egg roll. He marinated the shaved ribeye in various Asian seasonings overnight, grilled it, wrapped it in an egg roll wrapper, fried it, cut it in half and poured melted cheese on it. It looked mighty good, actually.
The thing is, the marinade looked pretty familiar. It looked very similar to what we use to make kalbi with. So, we looked at each other, and said “Why not? Let’s make a sandwich.”
We also had another reason we decided to try this. So we could try out the latest kitchen toy we acquired.
That’s right, a meat slicer. The in-laws seemed to think that since I’m forever making bacon and pastrami and such that we needed a slicer. Well, we probably could have lived without one. But since it was a gift and all, hey, let’s play with it!
First, we needed some ribeye. Fortunately, we just got a great deal on a whole one that we had cut into steaks. We pulled one steak out of the freezer and didn’t let it thaw much. We figured that it would be easier to slice really thin if it was still mostly frozen.
As a quick aside, the slicer is a pretty cool toy. It’s not as good as a commercial one, but at the same time, it doesn’t take up as much space, either. Nor is it as heavy. But I will admit that cleaning it isn’t a lot of fun.
The sliced steak went into a bowl. On top of that went about half a batch of our kalbi marinade. Yes, that was in the freezer, too. Short ribs and Asian pears aren’t around much at the same time, and almost never on sale. So, we plan ahead.
That went into the fridge until the next day. Good flavor takes time, you know.
The next evening, we drained the seasoned meat in a colander for a while, then pulled out our griddle and got to work.
We knew shortly after the meat started to sizzle that we might have a winner on our hands. How, you may ask?
Yeah, a giant dog right at my feet while I’m trying to cook. Oh well.
Now, we didn’t completely think this through. Places that make cheesesteaks grill the meat on a flat-top. Lots of room, nice even heat, durable. I would love to have one. Particularly when I want to use a spatula to chop the meat I’m cooking while I’m actually cooking it. Our griddle, nice as it is, won’t tolerate that. So, I had to make do.
Back on the griddle to finish cooking. And to melt cheese. Toys decided that she didn’t want any, she wanted to try the flavors out unadulterated. I will put cheese on just about anything. And often have.
The meat goes onto rolls and we served them with fries. Because, what else would you serve with it? The verdict? All in all, a very tasty sandwich. The rolls we served them weren’t quite right, so these were very messy to eat. But the flavor was very good. Cleaning up afterwards wasn’t a lot of fun, either. But if we do it again, we might be able to fix some of that. If you have the time and equipment, I would say it’s worth trying.
On Applying What We’ve Learned February 21, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Cook's Illustrated, Cooking, Homemade, random stuff.
Just in case you’re worried that I’m all hung up on that whole veggie thing – I’m not. Believe me, I am now, and always will be, a big fan of pork!
Remember a loooong time ago, when I made the Chinese BBQ’ed pork chops? You may also remember that the marinade I used there was originally designed by Cook’s Illustrated to be used, not for pork chops, but for boneless ribs.
Yes, I know, ribs ARE bones. I hate that they make them boneless. Kind of like boneless chicken wings, huh?
But I digress.
See, here’s the thing.
I feel most confident in the kitchen when I’m following a recipe. Not just any recipe, mind you, but a good recipe.
Something I’ve done before, or something that’s from a trusted source.
And after years of taking direction from trusted sources, you know what happens?
Technique. That’s what happens. You learn things – you learn what works, and sometimes you even learn why.
So. Back to the Chinese pork.
The original recipe for this Chinese pork called for marinating boneless ribs (actually, pork shoulder) and then baking them low and slow. first covered, then uncovered.
So then I thought about how Peeps likes to do the Mexican carnitas in the pressure cooker – using that same hunk of pork shoulder.
And then I thought about the pork vindaloo that is in Cook’s Illustrated’s upcoming pressure cooker cookbook (which is IN my Amazon cart even as we speak!). We did get hold of that recipe, Peeps made it the same day I made this, and he’ll be sharing that soon.
And once more, I said “huh.”
You can see where this is going, right?
I wondered if there was any reason I couldn’t take this hunk of pork, marinate it overnight, dump the works into the pressure cooker, and end up with Chinese barbecued pork in half an hour or so.
I think it sounds perfectly reasonable, don’t you?
So that’s what I did – I dumped the pork, along with the marinating liquid, into the pressure cooker, cooked it for about 40 minutes, and then pulled the meat out of the cooking liquid.
Of course, being pork shoulder, no matter how well I’d trimmed it ahead of time, there was plenty of fat, so I strained and de-greased the liquid, using the gravy separator.
It’s sort of going to be gravy, right?
And then – honestly, this probably took as long as anything else – I reduced the DAYLIGHTS out of the strained, de-fatted cooking liquid. I mean, I boiled that stuff down until it was about half of what it had been.
Then we added some ketchup and honey, and we reduced it some more!
Technically, what we wanted was more a “glaze” than a “gravy” or even a “sauce.”
See, here’s what we did.
I lined a sheet pan with foil – this is VERY important! – then laid all the hunks of meat out on the pan, then brushed them generously with half the glaze.
Under the broiler for, oh, 10-15 minutes, until they were starting to get kind of crispy and, well, grill-ish looking. Then we flipped them over and did the same on the other side.
You see now why we lined the pan with foil, don’t you?
And that was it – barbecue in the pressure cooker. Leftovers are going into some Asian noodle soup, and further leftovers will be perfect in fried rice.
Don’t tell anyone though, but I served the barbecued pork with rice in our new pasta bowls.
I’m a rebel like that.
I wrote out the recipe right here for you.
Monday Musings: 02.18.2013 Edition February 18, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
I’m going to make a confession here. Ever since I read the King Arthur Flour blog post about mini pies, I have wanted a mini-pie maker in the worst way!
For two years, I’ve managed to convince myself that, no, I don’t NEED it. No, I don’t have room for it. And definitely don’t need to be making (and eating!) pies on a regular basis!
Then it happened. Woot had little, 4-well pie bakers really cheap, so, well, I gave in and ordered one.
But seriously, what’s cooler than a little tiny scrambled egg and cheese breakfast pie?
We have a local pottery store that, once a year, has its annual “seconds sale.” And while most of the stuff is seconds, some is just “been around for a while and we need to make room for new stuff” and most of it is absolutely gorgeous. Or at the very least, really cool.
So over the past several years, we’ve been working on replacing our mass-production dishes and glasses and replacing it with more unique, handmade items. It does start to add up, but I’m doing it gradually, and I love it!
However, this is essentially the only time I can afford to walk in that store - so when I do, I certainly make it worth the trip!
I addition to a few glasses, a couple of bowls, and some beautiful pasta dishes, I even found us a new teapot – I’m so thrilled with it!
We, um, well, winter’s back.
We woke up to a fresh pile of snow – and it’s getting COLD!
However, Sunday is bone day, and Jarly doesn’t care if it’s 15 degrees out and snow is falling from the sky by the bucketful. It’s BONE day!
Fear not, though – when he was ready to come in, we let him and thoroughly toweled him off – Jar does love a good rubbing with the towel!
I have noticed, when I come in from walking the dog in the mornings, that I don’t have a clock within sight of the front door. I like to check and see what time it is when I get home, so I know how much time I have to feed the dog, feed the cat, make breakfast, pack lunch, and get ready for work.
So. . . since I was in the pottery shop anyway, where better to find the perfect new clock for my new front entry?
I cant’ wait get the walls painted so I can see what it’s going to look like for real!
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. It’s gonna be a cold, wintry week, and we’re pulling stuff out of the freezer, so the week’s menu will reflect that.
Monday - I was looking for something meatless to do this week, and I found this swiss chard, ricotta and sausage torta in the archives. It sounded good, but not meatless. So I made a few changes – first, we’re using some of our garden kale instead of the chard, and I seasoned some white beans with rosemary, sage, garlic, fennel and pepper. So it’s sort of a greens & beans (and ricotta) pie – in a whole wheat parmesan crust. And who knows – maybe there will be enough filling left to do some mini-pies too!
Tuesday - We realized last week that we’ve got quite a bit of boneless chicken breast in the freezer,so we’re making it a point to, well, to use it. This week we’re making this creamy garlic chicken that we discovered several years ago. Some barley or some other grain, plus a salad or some sort of vegetable, and it’ll be fantastic.
Wednesday - Just so you know, the Chinese barbecued pork last week was a success – and we’ve got a bunch leftover, so we’ll use some in a nice Asian noodle soup – basically some Asian chicken stock I made and canned a while ago, with some diced pork, scallions, and fresh linguine tossed in. It sounds simple, but it’s fantastic on a cold, wintry evening!
Thursday - This is embarrassing – I’m starting to get empty quart canning jars piling up, and nowhere to put them – all the boxes seem to be full of jars of tomatoes! In the interest of emptying some of those jars, we spent the better part of Sunday with a big old pot of sauce cooking on the stove. Plus I’m looking forward to trying out our new pasta bowls!
Friday - You know, I would imagine that the long-simmered ragu would probably make a nice sauce on pizza night - definitely worth a try, huh?
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.