Update on the July 4th Brisket

J – The brisket came out pretty well, I have to say, all things considered. 2014-07-04 15.05.15First, I clearly should have been more specific at the butchers. I’m pretty happy with the quality of the meat, but next time I’m gonna have to tell him exactly how I want it cut – this was a really nice, fatty, tender cut of brisket, but it was a bit thick and not flat, so it cooked somewhat unevenly. Second, we’ve been having some problems with our oven (as usual) being hotter than it says it is. I tested it in the morning with a thermometer and thought I had it adjusted right, but it still ended up more like 300F than 250F for the majority of the day. The brisket cooked about an hour – hour and a half faster than I thought it would, clocking in at just over 6 hours. The meat is still tender, still juicy, but not quite the fall-off-the-fork tender I was looking for. Luckily, our landlord has kindly offered to replace the oven – he understands the importance of a well-cooked brisket. Even with all that being said – this stuff is delicious, and plentiful:  2014-07-04 15.14.05The dry rub has an intense smoky, spicy flavor – fair warning, if you don’t like heat, I would tone down or even take out the cayenne. It really comes through. Dry aging this overnight really brought some of that flavor inside the meat and tenderized the whole thing. Next time I make this I’ll double the liquid smoke and the beer and go a bit lighter on the dry rub. Given how much of this we have now, we’re going to be eating it all week. Given how tasty it is, that’s not a bad thing, either. All in all, for my first time making brisket at home – I’m calling this one a success.

We’re back, and just in time for a weekend of freedom and meat

J – So, it’s been a while. Life got in the way, moves occurred, and cooking still happened – but pictures and posts got left behind. But, after a 15 month hiatus, we’re back! And just in time for a July 4th meat-filled freedom weekend. We’ll have a few posts this weekend – including our first attempt at grinding our own hamburger meat (hint: it involves bacon and pork fat) and four new summer beers. Without further ado, I wanted to jump right in and tell you all about what I’ve got in the fridge for tomorrow – about 7 pounds of beef.

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Growing up in Texas I always loved brisket, but I’ve never had a big enough oven (or access to a smoker/grill) to make it myself. This year, Ines & I are celebrating our combination birthdays and July 4th this weekend with heaps of meat, and I figured it was about time I tackled brisket on my own. We popped by Central Meat Market in Providence this afternoon to check them out – it’s a great butcher that carries lots of Spanish/Portuguese cuts, which is nice (I’m especially excited about their bacon and pork belly slabs…that might be my next meat project). They cut us some brisket on the spot – not quite the way I would have liked it cut, but I didn’t specify I wanted it flat and untrimmed, so that’s really on me. Still, we walked out with a 7 pound brisket cut with plenty of fat for my taste for about $30, which really ain’t that bad.

I made up a simple rub – equal parts salt and black pepper and 1/3 parts each cayenne pepper, paprika, and cumin, and then 6 cloves minced fresh garlic (see recipe for exact amounts). This rub is a bit like a chili spice, but much, much saltier so the meat will cure. If you like it spicier, take out the paprika or cumin and add in the same amount cayenne. The now-rubbed brisket is sitting in the fridge on a rack curing overnight, and tomorrow it’s going in the oven for…well, the better part of the day at 250F with some onions, Worcestershire sauce, coffee, apple cider vinegar, and a cup of homebrew to keep things moist. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out…we’ll check back in tomorrow with the results!

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Oven-Baked Beef Brisket (for a 7-pound brisket)

In a bowl, whisk together 3 tbsp salt, 3 tbsp ground black pepper, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp paprika, and 1 tbsp cayenne pepper. Mince 6 cloves garlic.

Sprinkle the rub and garlic on all sides of the brisket, with most on the meat side. Rub in well, cover and let sit in fridge overnight.

Remove the brisket from the fridge and let come to room temperature. In a large roasting pan, add:

  • 1 onion, sliced into half-rings
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup black coffee
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup beer (optional, sub in beef broth or water if you don’t want to use beer)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup liquid smoke (optional, I didn’t use it, but you sure can – adjust liquid volumes accordingly if you include this)

Try to keep the liquid around 1 1/2 – 2 cups for a brisket this size. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 250F for 75 minutes per pound of brisket.

Let the brisket rest in the pan for 15-30 minutes after it has cooked. If you want, reduce the pan sauce to a gravy and serve warm. Enjoy!

 

Pan-Seared Steak with a Bourbon Cheese Sauce and a Fried Egg on Top

J – Like all good, red-blooded Americans (and most other humans) I love steak. A good steak is a thing to be marveled at. Growing up in the South, I’ve always been told that the way to cook a steak is on the grill, and to cook it rare or medium-rare (relevant King of the Hill scene) – anything else is a waste of good meat. However, our good friends gave us an Alton Brown cookbook for Christmas, and in it we found a method for making steak that piqued our interest. When we got a couple of really excellent pieces of meat from Friends & Farms a little while back, we decided to give it a shot.

IMG_7176 So the basic method needs only the following: a large oven-safe skillet (we used our cast-iron skillet and it was perfect), a kitchen timer, a colander + a pot lid big enough to cover it, your stovetop, and an oven pre-heated to 500 F. Oh, and two steaks – 1-1/2″ thick ribeyes are best, about 15-16oz each. For the sauce, if you choose to make it, you’ll need either cognac or bourbon (your choice; I used some bourbon and it was delicious), a crumbly cheese (I used goat cheese but blue cheese would work very, very well too), and two tablespoons unsalted butter.

Put the skillet in the oven as it heats. Once the oven reaches 500 F, leave the skillet in there for about 5 minutes, then move the skillet (carefully) to the stovetop on high heat. Leave it on the stovetop on high for another 5 minutes, then (carefully) place your seasoned (salt + pepper + some oil on all sides) steaks on the hot pan. Cook for 30 seconds (time it with the kitchen timer), flip with tongs and sear for another 30 seconds on the other side. When the timer goes off the second time, place the skillet in the 500 F oven for 2 minutes. Flip the steaks one more time and leave in the oven for the final two minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat-safe surface (I pulled one of the guards off the stovetop and put it on there). Remove the steaks to the colander and place them at an angle such that the steaks don’t lie on top of each other, and the juices drip down into a bowl below. Cover the colander with the pot lid and collect the drippings while you make the sauce. IMG_7178

Add 1/4 cup cognac or bourbon to the still-very-hot skillet and deglaze all of the delicious bits stuck to the bottom with a whisk (just whisk it). Let the residual heat of the pan reduce the cognac for ~30 seconds, then add 1 oz of cheese and whisk.

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When the cheese is good and dissolved, add the butter one piece at a time and whisk in until it, too, is dissolved. Return the drippings you collected from the steak and whisk those in, or just soak them up with a few pieces of toast for a delicious snack. Pour the sauce into bowls or ramekins, or just pour on top of the steak (careful – the pan is still molten lava). IMG_7182We also fried a couple of eggs and topped the steak with those – you’re going to eat steak covered in bourbon/cheese/butter sauce, you might as well throw an egg in the mix, too.

IMG_7183Serve with pan-fried asparagus and home-made fries to soak up all the juices left on your plate. Enjoy!

*Note – the recipe here will get you a medium-rare steak. Leave it in the oven for less time if you want it rare (and I bet you do). If you want it medium or, god forbid, medium well, then you just get out. If you’re thinking well done, just go season some charcoal and call it a day, you barbarian. Just kidding – just cook it longer, Conan.

Chicken with spaghetti

This is a Portuguese dish, so it’s not cooked like most pasta dishes (by making the sauce separately and adding it to the cooked pasta as it’s served). The pasta is boiled in the sauce and acquires those flavors too.

Ingredients:
– 1 whole chicken, cut in eights (we like brown meat better than white, so we use chicken legs and thighs)
– 1/2 portuguese chouriço, sliced (optional)
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped
– 1 yellow onion, chopped
– 2 large bay leaves
– 1 chicken bouillon
– 1 cup white wine
– 1 12oz can of tomato sauce
– 4 cups of water
– 1 lb spaghetti
– salt and pepper

Preparation:
Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic, mix well and let sit for 5-10 min. In a large pot, heat olive oil and butter, then add onion and bay leaves. Let the onion soften. Add the chicken, skin side down and let it sear for about 5 min in each side. If you have chouriço, add it now too. When chicken is lightly browned on both sides, add tomato sauce and chicken bouillon. Mix well, then add white wine, cover and let cook for 10 min. Add water and let cook for 10 more min. Add pasta, mix well and cook until al dente (about 8 min). Remove bay leaves and serve.

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Chicken sausage with red peppers

Ingredients:
– 2 large chicken sausage links
– 1 bag of chopped frozen bell peppers, thawed (you could probably also use fresh)
– 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
– 2 tbsp olive oil

Preparation:
Boil the sausage links in water for 30 min. Remove from water and reserve. Add olive oil to a frying pan, add the onion, then the peppers. Let onion and peppers caramelize, about 5 min, then add the boiled sausage. Let cook for 5 min on each side and press lightly to char sides a little. Don’t press too hard because you don’t want to burst the sausage. We had it with white rice and this creamed spinach.

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Honey Roast Chicken

J – Keeping with the baked theme, I decided to be 100% lazy and prepare the delicious ~3.5 pound chicken we got from Friends & Farms last week the same way I prepared the ribs. Check out that post for the dry rub recipe. I sprinkled the chicken all over with my dry rub mixture, trussed it, then tossed it into a 350 F oven until my thermometer read 165 F internal temperature (about 1-1 1/2 hours). As with the ribs, I drizzled the top of the chicken during the last 15 minutes with about 1/4 cup honey.

Roast_Chicken_1  Roast_Chicken_2Roast_Chicken_3This one went straight into Tupperware – Ines was out of town and staring at this chicken too long was going to ensure she never got to eat any, which would have probably meant my death. Enjoy!

Honey Baked Short Ribs

J – I really enjoy barbecuing, but living in an apartment makes that just about impossible. Given that, when we got some really good pork short ribs the other week, I have to say I was a little disappointed – only because I couldn’t make them right. However, after looking around, I found some really good recipes and techniques and decided to just bake them instead. First, I made my dry rub following Chef John’s suggestions: Honey_Ribs_1

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard (I use crushed mustard seeds)

Simply mix the dry ingredients together or adjust as you like – taking out a little paprika/cumin will take some of the kick out of it, and you could substitute a little more sugar (in the same quantity as you took out) to make it a bit sweeter, or maybe add in some ginger for a little more flavor. Up to you. The rub as it is is quite balanced, though, so I might stick with it. The trick is to have about 1/3 salt, 1/3 sugar, and 1/3 spices, and not to mess much with that balance.

Put the ribs onto enough foil in a 9×13 pan such that the foil can cover the ribs entirely – you will want to wrap them up before baking. I put my dry rub into some shakers and coated the ribs evenly on both sides – do not pat! Just sprinkle liberally and let sit at room temp for an hour or two. Otherwise, the rub will clump on the surface of the ribs. The salt will draw out the juices in the ribs and ensure you get a nice even distribution all over the surface, don’t worry.

Honey_Ribs_2After the meat has sat for a little while and spices have set in, wrap the ribs up and pop them into a 350 F oven (bone side DOWN!) for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on your oven. During the last 15-20 minutes, unwrap the ribs so that the top is exposed and drizzle 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey on both sides if you can mange – if the ribs are falling apart by now, just the top is fine. Pop them back in the oven to let the honey bake in, and you’re all done!

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