Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grilled Beef Brisket

Not the corned variety...
Just the cut itself. When cooked properly makes a tasty treat and so versatile.

This brisket was destined for a molasses brine and a hot grill.

To be sure, brining isn't something I do on a regular basis. Mostly, I cook everything fast and hot with little patience for brining or marinating or glazing or basting...but sometimes, the day is just right.

Step 1: Brine
In a large stainless bowl I combined slivers of garlic a generous pour of molasses,  salt, pepper, chili flakes and a cup or so of vinegar. This was rubbed about the beef and then water added just until the meat was covered and allowed to rest in the fridge overnight.

Step 2: Cook
This beast went straight to the grill! Braising, no matter the kind, just wouldn't have done it justice. Get your grill SUPER hot first. you really want to get a big sizzle when you throw the cut on to seal in all of the juices. After a few minutes flip it, turn the heat down, and let it cook on. Make sure to check periodically as any fat may burn. Try Try TRY! to handle your meat as little as possible! And ever EVER pierce!

When is it done? I like my beef on the rare side. Use a thermometer if you want to be precise. I rely on the thumb trick. With your palm up squeeze the base joint of your thumb toward the center of your hand. The super squishy part where the flesh between your index and thumb lie is rare, as you travel down to the base (the meaty part of your thumb) toward your wrist it resembles the texture of a more and more well done cut.

With practice, you'll be able to test the doneness of a cut of meat simply by a well placed finger poke. Springy? still red. Well done will be far more firm.

Step 3? Don't forget to let it rest at least 10-15 minutes. It's perhaps the most important part of the whole thing.

Step 4. EAT!!!! (my favorite part)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sandwich Tutorial

There are two things that I am REALLY good at.... make that three. Making sandwiches,  messing up everything else and fixing that mess so that it seemed intentional. I get it from my Momma. (not the sandwich part though)

I would wager that most of my culinary know how came from learning how to fix atrocious muck-ups. My mom was the queen of turning a failed something or other into a work of art....and at accepting the forthcoming compliments as if the dish on the table was exactly as she intended. I learned an extraordinary amount from her.

One of my favorite memories is of the fallen and burned angel food cake we cooked at Papaw's house. OF COURSE it was surely the ovens fault. It could not the screaming toddlers pounding around the house stomping their feet. It could not the anxious peeking into the oven (and slamming of doors to corral those same toddlers). Oh No! it was the OVEN's fault. I can't remember precisely what was done with that cake. Perhaps we ripped out the still good center and served it with fruit and whipped cream? I certainly remember it taking a good deal of time to fan out the smoke from the kitchen.

Enough about that. I love sandwiches!

The trick is in having just the right proportions of everything, the perfect blend of crunchy and soft, not too thick bread and the layers all in the right order! I like to think of a sandwich as a French style of entree plating; where it is combined in a way that lends harmony to the whole and forbids any one element from taking over.

There are those who relish in the gratuitous "big hunk" of something. I for one feel that a sandwich is best experience through the blending of flavors that can only be accomplished through paper thin slices. There are also those who believe a sandwich just isn't right without a thick hearty slice of bread. Bread, methinks can be wonderful. A big hearty slice deserves nothing more complicated than a hearty slab of cheese, a hunk of salami or a slathering of butter! A sandwich however, deserves nonesuch. It is a far more complicated matter. The filling is the centerpiece and the bread simply a carrier.

 1. Seal and season. The spread I used is a mix of mayo, stone ground mustard, and cholula sauce. Seasoned with thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

 2. Layer and add any special flavors. Lettuce should always lie on the bread to protect it from any sog producing juices. Cheese goes on the other bread slice. (or the meat if you don't like cheese--or split the lettuce if you are going for a vegan sammy) Protect the bread at all cost! I've added a bit of balsamic vinegar over the chicken.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Beef Sushi!

Who ever said sushi must be made if seafood probably is a stickler for the "rules".

Rules are good but only exist so that you can break them!

Take New England clam chowder for instance.

Here's a new take. BEEF! Sushi! 

Inside: grilled medium rare slivers of molasses brined beef brisket, cucumber, tomato, horseradish cream cheese, avocado and brown rice.

To dip? (in photo)Worcestershire and Cholula of course! A little creamy horseradish mixed with Cholula made a wonderful dip as well.