Offal–the other tasty bits

When I look at the meat counter in the supermarket I always wonder why we use so few of the parts of the animals that we raise and slaughter for food.  It seems wasteful and disrespectful of life, and  we’re missing a lot of good eating that way. Obviously, I favor of using all of the beast if you’re going to slaughter it to have a steak or a roast (the skeletal muscle, in other words).

Maybe part of the reluctance to use organ meats is that many cooks don’t know how to prepare these other bits–they can be a bit more complicated to cook than a steak. Certainly many popular cookbooks don’t include recipes for them.  It might also be because we are told that these are not good for us–that they are high in fats, and in cholesterol–which is supposed to be so terribly, horribly unhealthy for us. Maybe it’s also related to controversy about whether or not fat, and animal fat in particular, is actually bad for you–government and medical recommendations on what we should–or should not–eat.

There does seem to be increasing  interest in “variety meats” as something other than pet food. (Yes, I will  share the giblets with the cat when we’re cooking chicken or turkey but I will not give them all away.)  There are some excellent cookbooks available now.  I’ve added some of my favorites to the bibliography. Whatever the reasons, I’m glad to see it (and you can expect more of my opinions on the high-carb, low-fat controversy about how to get rid of the excess weight we tote around with us).

But to get to the thing that got me started on this particular topic. One of my favorite bits of offal is tongue and I found this delightful post on Fae’s Twist & Tango with a recipe for cooking tongue that is a good addition to my collection recipes for that particular bit of the beast.

(It’s really unfortunate that “offal” is pronounced like “awful” so that enunciating that word leaves a lot of people thinking that you’ve said “awful”–which is what many think of organ or “variety” meats. I’m sure there are people who love foie gras and caviar, and maybe even shad roe, who would not consider other organ meat from a cow, or a pig, or a chicken.  But offal is not awful–it’s good stuff.)

Easy Foolproof Béarnaise Sauce

safifer:

Béarnaise sauce is great. It can be made without a lot of fuss as you see here.

Originally posted on Stefan's Gourmet Blog:

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Béarnaise is one of the classic sauces from French cuisine and it is great with steak. The traditional way of preparing it au bain marie requires quite a bit of skill, as the sauces curdles easily. It also requires you to make clarified butter first. And even though you should make clarified butter to cook the steak anyway, using a slightly different technique you can make sauce béarnaise easily with minimal risk of curdling.

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Last night’s dinner: a nice juicy steak cooked sous-vide and then seared quickly in very hot clarified butter, hand cut fries, sauce béarnaise, a green salad, and a nice glass of Saint-Émilion Grand Cru.

There are some variation on the recipe, but the basic idea of béarnaise is a hollandaise with tarragon. Some recipes also add parsley and chervil. Some recipes use tarragon vinegar, but instead you can just as easily use the stems of the…

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Radishes: Easter Egg vs. French Breakfast

safifer:

Radishes are a sure sign of spring to me. The ones you grow yourself will be quite different from the one you get in the plastic bags at the supermarket.

Radish sandwiches are awesome–with a little salt and European-style butter on pumpernickel (especially freshly baked) accompanied by a glass of champagne.

We don’t usually think of radishes being treated as a vegetable.  Here are some other things to do with them, e.g.  radish soup.

Originally posted on gettin' fresh!:

I grow a lot of radishes. My husband, who’s not keen on too many vegetables, loves them. As does his father, who regularly sits down to an entire bowl, which he eats plain except for a sprinkling of salt. So every spring I make sure to put in a healthy radish patch, just to make sure I have some left for me!

Radish Varieties L: Easter Egg, R: French Breakfast

The two varieties I’ve been regularly growing for the past few years are Easter Egg and French Breakfast. Easter Egg is actually a mixture of varieties, which is one of its primary advantages. Radishes grow very quickly (mine mature anywhere from 4-6 weeks from sowing, depending on the weather), and they also quickly pass their prime. Sowing a mixture of varieties helps space out the harvest a bit, and with Easter Egg, you have that variation built in.

French Breakfast radishes mature slightly earlier than…

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Addendum to “Hard copy or Digital”

Addendum to Hard-copy or Digital?

I’ve admitted being an addict, so I do buy lots of cookbooks. It’s lovely to have the books where you can pull them out anytime and fondle them,  but don’t forget about your public library.

I have an OverDrive app installed on all my electronic stuff so that I can check eBooks out of the library!  It’s a great way to explore lots of book without needing extra shelf space, or spending money!

Hard-copy or digital?

Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single CookI’m a sucker for cookbooks–especially by an author that I know has great recipes and knows about cooking for one!  I have Joe Yonan’s book Serve Yourself and love it–now I find that he’s got another that I want–Eat Your Vegetables.  Now comes the debate–do I do hard-copy or digital?

I do love books–and I’m sure that I’ll never be without some of the “hard copy” in my possession. But–there are advantages to the digital, especially as e-readers improve. But there are several attractions of digital versions–given my aversion of house cleaning it’s certainly much easier to dust the e-reader than a shelf of books. And, I love being able to have a selection of books no matter where I am.  There’s the price, too–since the e-edition is usually less expensive (though I can’t use the word “cheaper” here). Then there are some of the downsides….

Right now I’ve got reading material in several different e-readers: Kindle (just the third generation, not the Kindle Fire), Google,and  Kobo account.  That is frustrating.  I have the Kindle app installed on laptop, notebook, droid….you should see me trying to figure out where to look for Nigel Slater’s Ripe! Is it in Google, or Kobo–I am sure it’s not the Kindle–since there are color photographs, but….

[Hiatus here…skulking on the internet for availability in various e-readers,  and discovering eBook management and  converter software]

I’m back–just finished reading the introductory material to Eat Your Vegetables, and quickly perusing some of the recipes. It’s another winner for cooking for one–in digital format!

Love digital, but I still do  buy hard-copy when a book that  I want to read is not available electronically!  For example, Nigel Slater’s cookbooks, when they aren’t available on Oyster, either–tough to be an addict!

Roast NY Strip Loin

safifer:

This is a great way to do strip. If you’re cooking for one, you can use a strip steak cut about 2-2-1/2-inches thick. It gives some “leftovers” for a roast beef sandwich. It’s one way to cook roast beef for a single-serving meal with not too many leftovers.

Originally posted on The Domestic Man:

The NY strip loin, sometimes called loin roast or top loin, is a cut taken from the top of the cow’s short loin. The short loin is located near the spine, past the ribs but before the tenderloin and round. This is a crowded area of the cow in terms of butchery, as the porterhouse and tenderloin also come from this section. In fact, this strip loin is basically an uncut series of NY strip steaks. Confused yet? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to break down a cow in order to cook up this delicious specimen.

We’re going to roast this loin in a method similar to my most popular post, this Perfect Eye of Round. We’ll blast the roast at 500F to create a nice crust, then reduce heat to 250F until it’s medium-rare.

Not one to leave a job half done, I also roasted…

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A chicken casserole

As it’s getting warmer, we do tend to change the way we cook and eat.  Generally I turn away from things with the label “casserole”, but from Frugal Feeding blog here is a keeper for summer, even though it’s called a casserole. I’m also sure that you’ve noticed that I do like to use chicken thighs, so this is right my my alley.

If you’re cooking for one, the “leftovers” are awesome–just cold/room temperature, added to a green salad.  (I want to try this in my Schlemmertopf–I suspect that I won’t need to brown the chicken first.)

Dandelion greens for supper

soon to be supper
soon to be supper

Yesterday, it was sunny, a bit breezy, but warm enough to have the doors and windows open (in spite of the pollen).  Today, that warmth and sun is somewhere else, so I needed some sort of cool weather, one-pot meal.  (One-pot particularly since I’m right in the midst of a big indexing project, too.)  My rapid trip through the local Harris Teeter left me with a lovely big bunch of dandelion greens, and a pair of Sicilian sausages to play with.  Add onions, red bell peppers, and a little garlic and it will be supper.

Although the  dandelions are blooming (and that’s good–my bees will be here soon) I didn’t go out and forage for the greens.  I took the wimpy way out and bought them.  But they still taste good.

The dandelion greens from the supermarket are going to be older, tougher leaves than I’d pick were I out foraging.  The really young  leaves can be used as salad greens, uncooked.  These need cooking. Whether cooked or raw, dandelion greens are bitter–in a good way that makes them pair particularly well with the “sweetness” of Sicilian or Italian sausages.

Sicilian sausages
Sicilian sausages

The Sicilian sausage is similar to Italian, but has orange added so  it is “brighter” and not quite as “sweet” as Italian, nor as spicy as hot Italian, but the contrast between the sweet spices of the sausage and the bitterness of the greens is lively–certainly not bland.  Since these sausages are not hot, I added some hot red pepper flakes when I was seasoning the greens.

The sausages were browned (as described by Nigel Slater in his Real Food:

all in the pot
all in the pot

Very, very slowly and gently in a bit of olive oil.  (If you’re cooking for one, at least get some of his books from the library–they’re fun, easy reading, and have some good advice about food, and cooking in general, and one particularly.)

I added two medium onions thinly sliced, a red bell pepper cut into strips, and three large cloves of garlic (chopped), to sweat with the sausages for a bit, and finally, the chopped dandelion greens (with the very bottoms where there was only stem and no leaf removed with a hefty  pinch of kosher salt.  No extra liquid is required as the onions and peppers will give off some liquid, and the moisture left on the greens after washing is enough for cooking in the covered brasier. The domed lid will accommodate that pile of greens until they wilt down to not much volume like most greens.

Other than a pinch of kosher salt, garlic, and the red pepper flakes, I didn’t add other herbs or spices as I thought the seasoning of the sausages was enough contrast to the bitterness of the greens.

sausages and greens
ready to serve

I would really have liked to add some cannellini beans, or other white beans, but since I’m trying low-carbohydrate eating to lose some weight, I just couldn’t do it–though it was tempting, and I love beans. (A small display of will power, here.)

As you can see, there’s no recipe for this–you just use peppers, onions, and greens so that it looks right, keeping in mind that greens do really cook down to less than you expect when you look at them raw. I would have used a smaller amount of vegetables had I been adding the cannellini (or garbanzo) beans to this–or added another sausage.

That second sausage and the rest of the veggies have been popped into a heavy-duty freezer bag, with as much air removed as possible, to await another chilly, rainy day when I need something warming to eat–my version of the TV dinner.

ÒΔÓ

Wine?  But of course! Nothing really fancy. Just part of a bottle–my last one unfortunately–one of my favorite “everyday” Chateau d'Oupia Les Heretiques, IGP Pays de l'Herault, France labelwines: Chateau d’Oupia Les Heretiques.   It’s a blend of old-vine Carignan (90%) and Syrah (10%) that has some bright clean, cherry, plum, and spice that goes nicely with a lot of my casual cooking–even just a burger, or just sipping without food.  It’s also in the price range to make it “everyday”. It’s time to go to the Wine Cellar at Sutton Station and get some more of this.

plate of sausage, veggies
A son goût!

 

Homemade Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

safifer:

I just have to pass this along–chipotle peppers are something I use rather often. I think this will beat the tinned ones from the supermarket.

Originally posted on Stefan's Gourmet Blog:

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My favorite kind of chiles are chipotles because of their smokiness. Chipotles in adobo sauce, a sauce made from tomatoes and ancho chiles, are a great condiment. I love them for instance with chicken, mushrooms and cream. Chipotles in adobo sauce are available in cans, but since I like to make everything from scratch, I wanted to try making my own chipotles in adobo. I used a recipe by Pati’s Mexican table. It wasn’t hard at all, and the result was amazing. Chipotles in adobo from a can are great, but these homemade chipotles in adobo sauce have a more complex and well-rounded flavor. I will definitely make them again. I made a few adjustments, most importantly not using fresh tomatoes because they are out of season (and even if they were in season, tomatoes here are not that great). Here’s my version.

Ingredients

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For about 850 ml (3…

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Chilean sea bass (Patagonian toothfish)

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I wandered past the seafood display in the newly opened Fresh Market.  There was Chilean sea bass (this name is really a marketing ploy)!  Or really, Patagonian toothfish.  It’s not pretty when as  the whole fish, but it’s luscious in the pan.  It’s also NOT cheap. And there are some that are considered “sustainable”, so I wasn’t being totally irresponsible–just fiscally irresponsible for my budget.  But it had been, literally, years since I’d eaten this luscious fish.  No will power effort here–I brought some home.

When I spend this kind of money for special fish (how about 7 ounce piece for $13.00–yes fiscally irresponsible, and the hock-your-soul category) I’m going to make very sure that I don’t screw up the cooking or seasoning. The texture is firm and meaty with large flake (in that respect somewhat like monkfish, tuna, or swordfish, but still has character of its own) and moderately oily so it doesn’t dry out during cooking. The flavor is often characterized as mild, buttery, somewhat like cod, halibut, or stripped bass;  not fishy in an undesirable way.  It’s the combination of flavor and texture that makes the toothfish so special–and nothing else can really be substituted if you want that particular flavor-texture combination.

If you’re looking at something called just “sea bass” it’s probably not toothfish–that’s usually sold as “Chilean”.  There are, however, a lot of fish sold as “sea bass”–white-fleshed, and lovely as well, but not as special, or expensive, as the toothfish, but still well worth trying.

The toothfish is oily enough to allow for lots of flexibility in method Picture of a cast from a 70kg Patagonian Toothfish of cooking–even broiling or grilling.  To keep it simple and let this special fish really shine, I took the really easy route: seasoned with salt and baked in a covered dish in a 425°F oven for about 25 minutes since it was a thick (almost 2 inches) piece of filet.  While that cooking was going one, I made a pan sauce of brown butter, shallots, and white wine, salt and pepper.

Efforts are being made to legally harvest toothfish, so before you buy check the source, but then break the budget and enjoy! (This image is from the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators, Inc.)

The wine? Well, another glass of my Alandra Portuguese white since this was a really simple preparation–and that’s a good all purpose white wine for causal use on a weeknight when I want a rather short glass.

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