Today is Canadian Turkey Day. Is it ok to question its legitimacy? It was instated in 1957. That’s like yesterday. Why call it Thanksgiving and not celebrate it with the US the same day? No idea. In any case, people do observe it and it’s a national holiday and a great excuse to celebrate and eat a lot. But today I’m under the weather with the Canadian flu, and I don’t know anyone celebrating it so I will not be doing much cooking other than mixing water with some powdered vitamin C. It also happens to be the day the Americas were discovered by Mr. Columbus a few centuries ago. This guy, the story tells, was an Italian sailor who worked for the Spanish. Sketchy. Anyways, not that I planned it, but here it is, an Italian dish with some Spanish flare on Columbus Day. It also happens to be “Cookbook launch” Day and yesterday it apparently was “You go, girl” Day. Celebration mood up in here.
If you’re a bit OCD, you like chicken and you like to cook it yourself , this post might be of interest. I know I keep talking about chicken. I talk about chicken a LOT. Because I love chicken and I can recount the few times I have had a good chicken dish at a restaurant. In many cases is just a disaster. If at a BBQ, I will politely turn down grilled chicken breasts and stick to eating only the more heat resistant dark meat but even that goes wrong very often. A grill isn’t exactly devised for precision cooking. A smoker… it’s a step up in the right direction and can render some amazing results but how many of us have a smoker sitting in their backyard. I don’t even have a backyard. If I had one and some money, I’d get a smoker. Guess where I’d put it. In the backyard.
Today’s post. Chicken nightmares. In honour to all my overcooked chicken dinners. My chicken cooking improved dramatically after learning a few things about proteins and the effect of heat. Understanding what heat does to food is essential in improving cooking in genera. I find that cooking chicken is a great, relatively cheap and delicious way to fine tune the skill of heat application. Chickens are very complicated creatures. I’m talking about their meat, I’m sure they have very complicated lives too. They can be cooked whole at the same temperature but this isn’t ideal (I love roasting whole chickens, don’t get me wrong, but when on my OCD mood kicks in hard, the notion of roasting a whole chicken just makes me super anxious). Each muscle requires a different temperature and cooking time (same goes for pretty much any animal tissue). We can average those temperatures and cook the whole bird that way for as long as the longest of the cooking times required… obviously there are compromises and the end result although pretty delicious won’t be “perfect”. Cooking chicken sous vide requires the extra step of browning the skin. This sounds easy. Pan sear the thing and done. Well. That’s ok, but I want better browning. I want even browning everywhere which means the chicken meat must be fully submerged in hot oil. Which means deep frying. If you know of a better way, I’m all ears.
Thomas Keller has something to do with this post. Actually, he has everything to do with this post. I didn’t follow his recipe for buttermilk fried chicken which I’ve made once before. I do follow him on twitter tho. I’m a horrible twitter user too. I don’t know how to use that thing or why anyone would find it useful but I post automatically from my WordPress and Instagram accounts to it and I’ve been getting better exposure for the site lately so yay. So many different social media platforms, it’s getting really really confusing but I shall continue to rig up the blogosphere to my advantage as much as I possibly can with the little knowledge I have. Ok, so the other day I get a twitter notification just like this one:
Somehow managed to escape the gruelling office hours just before I totally ran out of whatever positive emotional energy I had left in me. This will be a quick post. I have to go back into hiding before anyone finds me. So… Lamb shanks. Yeah! that’s exciting stuff right? The easiest thing in the world too. The catch is, it requires patience. Weather you are cooking it the traditional way or a using more modernist approach, the patience factor will be there because it takes a long time. Well, I don’t know.. I used to think of it that way. Patience… I’m actually gonna disagree with myself here. Patience has nothing to do with cooking things that takes hours to make. It’s just a simple matter of planning. It’s not like you can’t order a pizza while you wait. I don’t sit by my immersion circulator for 72 hours pacing up and down the kitchen starving to death. Life goes on as it normally does and 3 days later I somehow remember there was some plastic bag with something in it that required a long cooking time in a water bath. I switch the thing off and it’s done. No sweat. No Patience. By the way… spoiler alert: Medium rare and falling off the bone all at the same time. Just saying.
I’m officially kicking off fall cooking season with this super quick post. To your relieve it will be extremely short. Actually the recipe and the instructions are pretty much in the post title so if you choose to, you could stop reading here. If you’re still here, let me tell you that it doesn’t really get any easier than cooking with 3 ingredients, ok 4 if you count salt. Add an electronically super accurate immersion circulator to the equation and then it’s literally cheating. After it’s done I like to let this little guy rest in the fridge for a couple of days and then use it as cold roast beef in sandwiches… ok, that’s a lie… the sandwich part. I eat this thing straight and right away. No diversions. I know no other way.
Another recipe for the budget cooking series. I think it qualifies. Skip the saffron which can be a bit pricey specially if getting the good stuff. There’s even an ISO standard for it…that’s just crazy, although this spice is so unique and amazing I shouldn’t be this surprised. Saffron and Pimenton (Sweet paprika) define Spain’s flavour. I have a few chicken recipes on the blog but this one for some reason never made it in until now. This is something I used to cook when I was in high school and during my college years. It’s that easy and almost impossible to mess up. Sometimes I’d cook it with spaghetti and skip the potatoes (yep, heaven).
For this recipe I used chicken thighs for simplification and flavour. I could have used the whole chicken, but cooking chicken breasts require more control and the flavour doesn’t really shine as much as the flavour in darker and fattier thigh/leg meat does, at least in my opinion. Drumsticks also work really well here as do the wings, so try it if you want. Anyways, enough yapping, let’s get to it!
Yep… more stews… in the middle of summer too.. yep. I don’t care. I don’t need no winter to dictate no official stew season 🙂 Can’t help it. It’s one of my favourite things to make and of course eat. I kept the recipe as simple as possible. With a pressure cooker, this whole ordeal takes about an hour and a half from start to finish. That’s not bad considering we’re talking about short ribs. Short ribs are delicious and fatty. They take about 45 mins in a pressure cooker to get really tender and still hold their shape. Conventional cooking of short ribs can take up to 2 hours and a half, and going sous vide as long as 3 days.. check out my recipe for sous vide short ribs here. I found these short ribs at some local store and they had been stripped off the bone. Sacrilege?… whatever. I work with what I have, plus they looked amazing anyways. I also made a russet potato puree to go with this dish. Plenty of heavy cream and butter. The whole dish is extremely creamy and rich. Perfect for those hot summer nights… or not… probably not… I do have an AC tho.
The basics of stews. Probably 3 important things to keep in mind… again…says me, so proceed at your own risk. Meat, veggies and a cooking liquid. The meat can be seared or not. I like the bolder flavour of browned meat so I sear it when I make stews… or pretty much every chance I get. The veggies…well, sky is the limit, but a good safe base can be onions, celery and carrots. Mushrooms.. yes. Mushrooms and meat complement each other incredibly well. Tomatoes compliment meat just as well. It’s all that umami business. The cooking liquid can be as simple as water. I used water and a cup of port wine. Some people like to use stocks and that’s perfectly fine but I believe stews render their own stock just fine, and with proper seasoning you could forgo of any additional stock needs. That’s all debatable of course so leave a comment if you wanna battle over it. The port wine adds an awesomeness and sweetness kick to the dish but enough yada yada… let’s go:
I didn’t even want to eat this thing it looked so damn pretty. I ate it of course, it’s pork. Awesome roast..well, a roast of sorts. Having to roast in the oven or in a grill is fun and I love it with all the inaccuracies involved, they still yield delicious results. In the 80F degree weather, this approach isn’t so lovely anymore. My tiny apartment heats up so easily. The radiation from the sun alone can heat the place up above 80F (I have an AC unit now, tiny portable one thanks to my land lady, and that helps but still) Running the oven would be suicidal. Sous vide comes to the rescue.
Roasts don’t require a lot of temperature to cook, in fact, most animal protein can be cooked roughly around the 122F-140F degree range with some exceptions. That range is bellow what conventional ovens can deliver anyways. The nice browning on the outside crust is the catch. Sous vide can’t give you that. That requires a great deal of heat, specially if you wanna achieve it quickly. That can be easily done by searing, grilling, torching or in this case, deep frying.
Anyways, quick post today. Super easy recipe actually. The title is the recipe basically. I marinated the pork overnight in some minced garlic, salt about a cup of mirin wine which is super sweet and delicious. If you ever had kakuni this will sound familiar. Mirin will help with the caramelization of the crust too because of the high sugar content. Ok, let me write this down in the form of a recipe:
I love pork. I hated pork chops for the longest time. Dry meat, tough texture, like where the f!@# is the gravy… yeah, I was doing it all wrong for as long as I can remember.
I’m trying to improve the way I cook things these days. Pork chops might have a mighty appearance but they are very delicate and lean meat, similar to a chicken breast to put it someway. Sous vide gives us the control we need to nail the proper doneness and a good quick sear finishes off the job nicely. I don’t mess much with the seasoning. Salt. Let the salad and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction do the rest.
Grilling season is here. Deep frying season is also here, at least in my house. I just got a deep fryer. I can’t express how happy I am that I did. I should have done this years ago. I cook a lot of meat at home and I like a good sear on it. I usually rely on my cast iron pans and lots of oil to do the job. The smoke, smoke detectors going off all the time… and the oil splatter drives me nuts… the cleaning, the nightmare… but that’s just a bad memory now. Deep frying is all I’ll be doing from now on when I need to sear any meat. Deep fryers have a bad reputation in the world of healthy eating I guess. I’m gonna disagree. I think some of the foods cooked in a deep fryer could definitely be on the unhealthy side but I couldn’t blame deep fryers for making them unhealthy any more than I would a pan and some oil. Deep frying meat is not that different from pan frying it or pan searing it, same basics, get oil hot enough to brown it quick. More or less the same amount of oil will end up on the meat anyways and you can always remove the excess with paper towels. Meat is mostly water (about 70%), and really bad at absorbing fat which is great.
Sirloin tip, not to be confused with top sirloin. Sirloin tip tastes like top sirloin but it’s a lot tougher. Probably too tough to be cooked rare, the way you would a top sirloin steak for example. The result would just be too tough. Sous vide is the only way around this issue, otherwise you’d get tough meat or overcooked meat. I don’t like either. By allowing meat to cook slowly at a low temperature, the required breaking down of connective tissue takes place and the final ideal doneness is achieved, rare for this recipe. I love this stuff. I love how sous vide cooking can transform protein. Amazing texture, amazing colour. And then…. I deep fried the whole thing and it was awesome.