Thursday, April 3, 2014

HOLYCRAPDELICIOUS STEAK!!

I am a firm believer in the time-honored, two-step method for cooking steak:
    1. Get the best quality meat that you can.
    2. Don't Fuck It Up.
I believe I successfully followed this code of ethics this evening.  

I fulfilled Step One by buying a quarter cow (~125lbs split into a variety of cuts) from Haiwick Heritage Ranch (www.haiwickheritageranch.com).  They sell hormone free, pasture raised, grain finished Angus.  No feedlots, no stress, no unnecessary antibiotics.  Plus, it is dry aged for several weeks, which I haven't seen from any other grass fed beef suppliers online.  Awesome.  The quarter cow arrived today, and of course we had to try it immediately.  We decided to thaw out a pack of two New York Strip steaks and give them a shot.  

I fulfilled Step Two by treating the steaks with simple care.  First, I sprinkled a little salt and pepper, then put them on a very hot grill.  I cooked them for a total of about 8.5 minutes, 5 on the first side and 3.5 on the second side, rotating them 90 degrees halfway through each side.  Then, they rested for about 5 or 6 minutes in foil (normally I would let them rest longer, but I was hungry!).  Then, we ate it with a side of salad.  

Resulting Deliciousness:
The steaks were a perfect medium to medium rare throughout, with a respectable crust.  This might have been the juiciest steak I've ever made.  The high quality of the meat was fully on display.  The strip of fat was perfectly done and just melted in your mouth.  This steak was easily on par with any I've had in high end steakhouses (and yes, I've been to Keens and Peter Luger's in NYC).  The dry aging and high quality grass fed meat is definitely the key.  Luckily, I was able to pull off Step Two and didn't overcook it or, worse, cover up the meat's inherent taste with a bunch of seasoning or sauce. 

This is the first time I've bought meat in bulk and so far have zero regrets.  Quite the opposite.  If you don't have a chest freezer full of awesome meat, you should seriously re-examine your priorities in life.  













Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bacon!

This was my second attempt at making bacon.  It turned out very, very good.  This might be my new favorite thing to do.  We decided to invite some friends over to watch Game of Thrones the night I smoked the bacon, so I cut off a few slices to grill and put on burgers.  It was fantastic!  Enjoy!





































Ingredients:
Bacon:
  • ~4 lbs pork belly from www.forestfed.com
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ~2 Tbs fresh ground black pepper


Burgers:
  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef from www.polyfacefarms.com
  • gluten free buns from www.happytartbakery.com
  • 1/4 of a white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ~2 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • ~2 Tbs dried oregano
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • swiss cheese


Asparagus:

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • ~1 Tbs lemon salt (we have some salt with lemon peel)
  • ~2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ~1 Tbs roasted garlic olive oil

Salad
  • I need to get the ingredients from Carlyn, who makes awesome salads, but she is asleep!

Sweet potato fries
  • store bought and made in the oven

Angry Orchard cider was also an invaluable ingredient, if not directly used in food preparation.

Procedure:
Bacon:
Bacon is simple and elegant.  I used a gorgeous slab of forest fed pork belly from www.forestfed.com.  I rinsed it off, patted it dry, then gently rubbed on a cure of half salt and half brown sugar, plus some black pepper.  Then I wrapped the belly in plastic and sealed it in a ziploc bag and put it in the fridge to cure for 6 days, flipping it over every day for even curing.  When it was ready, I rinsed off the excess cure, and was pleasantly surprised that most of the black pepper stayed on while the extra salt and sugar dissolved off.  I did not rinse my first batch of bacon and it turned out too salty.  Rinsing is a critical step!  After rinsing, I patted it dry.  Next came smoking.  When smoking bacon, you are not cooking it, you are further curing it by drying it out, and adding the smoke flavor.  So you want the smoker to be at a low temperature, around 140-180.  As you can see in the pictures, I added a second thermometer to my smoker, the stock Warm/Ideal/Hot indicator is not good enough for keeping a specific temperature.  This cost about $10 and is absolutely worth it.  I smoked the bacon for about 4.5 hours, adding apple wood chips regularly.  Dinner was a little earlier than 4.5 hours, so I took it out and sliced a few pieces off early to grill and put on the burgers.

Burgers:
For burgers, I did my normal procedure.  Whisk 1 egg per pound of meat, add the seasonings and mix in with the egg.  Add the meat and mix thoroughly by hand.  Make patties, thin in the middle so you end up with burgers, not meatballs.  The grass fed beef was from Polyface farms (www.polyfacefarms.com), and it was fantastic.  Usually, I eat burgers with no bun, but this time we got buns from our local gluten free bakery, the Happy Tart (www.happytartbakery.com).  I toasted them on the grill (in the same spot I had cooked the bacon...) and they were awesome!  I also made Sriracha mayo by, you guessed it, mixing Sriracha and mayo until the heat was where I wanted it.  This went on the buns and was used to dip the sweet potato fries.

Asparagus:
The asparagus was simply tossed with oil, salt, and pepper, and grilled.  I got it off the grill at exactly the right time, when it still has a good snap to it.  It was by far the best asparagus I’ve ever made.

Resulting Deliciousness:
This was a great meal with great friends.  I don’t think I’d change a single thing about it.  It was a perfect pre- Game of Thrones hangout!  The bacon turned out fantastic, I can’t wait to eat the other 3.75 pounds of it!