Friday, September 20, 2019

Dry-Aged Prime Rib – I Waited 42 Days to Be Confused

If you’re thinking of dry-aging your very own Prime Rib of Beef for the holidays, then you really need to watch this video. You might learn a thing or two, and there’s even a chance you’ll still want to do it. By the way, I’m not trying to discourage you, since it is a fun, and fascinating foodie project, which does produce a delicious, juicy, and tender Prime Rib, but if you’re after “that funk,” then like me, you may be a little disappointed.

I’ve dry-aged meat before, but never longer than a week or so, and after doing lots of research (mostly on Serious Eats), I knew I’d have to go at least 30 days to enjoy any kind of noticeable change in favor. So I decided to go well past that, and ended up aging it for 42 days before it went into the oven. It looked great, and it smelled great, but ultimately it did not have the level of funky fermented goodness I was after.

I’m not sure if I needed to go even longer, or my garage fridge is lacking in desirable bacteria, or my saltwater wipe-down sterilized the surface, but whatever the reason, I was left with nothing more than an amazingly juicy, tender, and delicious Prime Rib. That’s not something you’d normally complain about, but after waiting 6 weeks, I wanted more.

So, if you have any advice or theories as to what happened, or didn’t happen, please pass them along. I’m assuming a few of you brave souls will give this a go, and if you do, I’d love to hear about your experience. In the meantime, I’m going to make an extra funky blue cheese butter to serve with the leftovers, and pretend. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
1 Bone in Prime Rib (mine was 10 pounds, 8 1/4 after aging)
enough salt to season generously
For the salt wipe:
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Roast at 500 F. for 20 minutes, then reduce to 300 F. (or lower), and continue until you reach your desired doneness. I usually pull at 122-125 F. to get something close to a medium rare after resting.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Walnut Crusted Chicken Breast – It’s all About the Nut Glue

I almost never order a nut-crusted entrée in a restaurant, since they usually use a sugary glaze to hold them on, and/or feature a too sweet nut, like pecan, or macadamia. That’s not an issue here; since we’re going with buttery, subtly bitter walnuts, held on with a very savory “nut glue,” made with a garlic and mustard base.

I like this approach so much better, especially since it allows me to do a little bit of a sweet pan sauce, featuring honey, which is a classic pairing with both walnuts and mustard. Above and beyond the ingredients in your nut crust, the protection this layer of deliciousness provides can actually make a boneless, skinless chicken breast seem like it was just carved off a freshly roasted carcass. As long as you don’t overcook it, that is.

I caused a little stir on Twitter yesterday, when I said (in so many words) that you don’t need to cook chicken breast to 165 F. internal temperatures, as the FDA would like you too. I said, accurately I believe, that 150 F. is plenty hot enough, as long as it holds the temperature for at least five minutes. I think it’s so much better that way, but I’ll leave that up to you, and your probe thermometer. Regardless of how long you cook it, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Servings:
For the “nut glue:”
4-6 cloves finely crushed garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
For the rest:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
For the pan sauce:
all the pan drippings
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey

- Roast for 25 minutes at 375 F., or until an internal temp of 150 F.
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Friday, September 13, 2019

5-Minute Fisherman’s Stew – Give or Take

Of course this Fisherman’s Stew takes more than five minutes to make, and I’m actually referring to the approximate cooking time once the seafood hits the pan, but as they say, it’s only false advertising if someone else does it. Besides, one taste and I’m sure you’ll forgive any temporal exaggerations. If, that is, you use really great seafood.

A recipe this simple has many advantages. It’s fast, easy, and doesn’t require a ton of prep, but the downside is, there’s nowhere to hide sub-par ingredients. So, unless you’re going to splurge on the freshest, sweetest, most pristine seafood you can find, you may want to look for another recipe.

Above and beyond that very critical directive, you’ll also want to be sure your brothy base is aggressively seasoned before you toss your seafood in. Since we don’t season the fish and shellfish directly, we need to make sure we have enough salt, and whatever else you’re using, to go around. Other than that, not much can go wrong, and assuming there’s some crusty bread nearby, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Portions:

For the brothy base:
1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes (if your tomatoes aren't nice and sweet, toss in a teaspoon of sugar)
2 cups fish stock, clam juice, or if time are tough, water
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste

For the rest of the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 very thinly sliced fennel bulb
salt to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
8 ounces firm white fish, like halibut or sea bass, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
8 peeled and deveined raw shrimp
12 mussels, scrubbed clean
12 clams, scrubbed clean
some crusty bread
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Pear Clafoutis – Almost as Good as it Looks

It sounds odd to say that a recipe’s biggest problem is that it looks too good, but that’s sort of the case with this pear clafoutis. Through no fault of its own, this crust-less, custard fruit tart looks a lot sweeter, and richer than it actually is. So, please be sure to adjust yours and your guest’s taste buds accordingly. Of course, you can make this sweeter, with more sugar, or richer, with some cream instead of all milk, but there’s something to be said for those rare recipes that I would describe as, “just sweet enough.”

Which reminds me, be sure to taste whatever fruit you’re using for sweetness, since you may want to adjust the sugar level based on that. Another key, especially if you’re using pears, or apples, is to make sure you slice them thin; otherwise they will not cook through by the time your custard is cooked.

As I mentioned you could cook the fruit first, but I’ll leave that up to you. If you use the traditional cherries, or something like tender juicy berries, this will actually cook faster than the time is given here, so I’d start checking for doneness after about 25 to 30 minutes. Speaking of different fruits, apparently if we don’t use cherries, this is referred to as a “flognarde,” which I’ll never get tired of saying. Hilarious names aside, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
(The baking dish I used was 10-inch wide)
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, divided (one for pan , one for top)
3 generous cups thinly sliced sweet, ripe pears
1/2 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds
For the batter:
3 large eggs
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar depending on fruit’s sweetness
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

- Bake at 350 F. for about 45 minutes, or until fruit is soft, and custard is cooked.
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