Veal chop

Today I absolutely HAD to go to the grocery store to retrieve some “paper products”…just no way to put it off any longer.  Procrastination was definitely not an option.  So, after giving my lecture this morning, I had a bowl of oatmeal (I try not to go to the grocery store when I’m hungry), and headed out to the store for one item.

Well, while I don’t like shopping for some things, I do find it hard to go through the grocery store without meandering around through the produce, fish, seafood, and meat counters, and occasionally (especially around the holidays when they have chocolate cherry bread) the bakery.

Today my meandering took me past the meat counter.  I usually do check what might be on special–especially when I’ve not decided on that night’s supper–I might well find something that’s not usually in the budget marked down because, while it’s still fine, it’s sell-by date is approaching.   Today is wasn’t a “need to move it” but a “manager’s special”.

I found a lovely veal rib chop (bone in and thick) as a store special (read cheap for veal).  My oatmeal just was not enough to allow me to pass that up–so I came home with a veal chop–since chops of any kind are always wonderful for single-serving cooking.  Now, what to do with this chop?

veal rib chop with whole fresh sage leavesAs comfortable as I am with improvising, I do sometimes want a recipe.  I know that some where in all my cookbooks there is a recipe for “sage-sage scented veal chops” that I just want to look at.  How do I find that recipe?  Off to Eat Your Books. (I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Eat Your Books is wonderful if you’ve got cookbooks and want to find recipes–and they are now indexing magazines and blogs as well as books.)

The recipe is from Every Night Italian (p. 127) by Giuliano Hazan was the inspiration for this (but could not remember who or where to find it).  Thank you, www.EatYourBooks.com!  This is so simple that you really don’t need a recipe.

Sage-scented Grilled Veal Chops

Ingredients

  • one veal chop (at least 1 inch thick, and I prefer about 1-1/2-inch thickness)
  • fresh sage leaves cut into strips or chopped
  • olive oil

Preparation

  • Cut the sage leaves into strips (chiffonade)
  • Pat the sage, with the olive oil, all over the chop
  • Let stand (at room temperature) until your grill is ready–about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • See Ready to Cook (below) for cooking method

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I’ve followed these directions, but I’m a sage lover and I want a bit more sage flavor (even with mild veal) than I get with that standing time, so I’ve tried to find ways to bump up the sage.

I’ve tried processing the sage leaves with some olive oil into a nice green slurry and rubbing that on the chop.  That works well in you have only a short time to get your sage flavor into the chop–but don’t leave that one more than about an hour or you’ll totally over-sage your chop.  Sage is potent even as a fresh herb, some varieties more than others.  I would not cook a chop this way if I did not have fresh sage.

veal chop covered with coarsely chopped sage leaves

I’ve gotten the flavor that I want by very coarsely chopping the sage or even just thoroughly bruising the leaves and patting them over my chop, wrapping it in plastic film, and letting it sit in the refrigerator at least over night, or up to one day, and then cooking it.
So here’s my chop, rubbed with olive oil covered with the sage leaves, ready to go into the refrigerator until I’m ready to cook in tomorrow evening. Depending on the weather, it will be ready to  charcoal grill it, or griddle it, or even pan-sear it.

Ready to cook…..

When you’re ready to cook the chop, wipe off the sage leaves. The high heat doesn’t improve the flavor of sage, and can actually burn them, so I like to remove them.  You’ll want to salt and pepper the chop as you start to cook it.  You want to cook the chop to an internal temperature of 130 ° F (medium rare–for my taste) or a bit longer for medium.

  • If you’re cooking on a gas or charcoal grill, you will want to have  two-levels of heat–high to start brown the chop, and a lower temperature to finish the cooking since it’s a thick chop.
  • If you are pan-searing you’ll need about 2 tablespoon of oil.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke, and put your seasoned chop in the pan.  Let it cook without moving it for 4 to 5 minutes when it should be browned on one side. Using tongs, flip the chop and reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until  it’s at 130 ° F (or desired doneness).
  • For griddling, I use a cast-iron griddle that fits over two burners–so I can kind of have  “two-level” heat with the two burners at different levels. Again, let the chop cook for about 5 minutes without moving it.  Once I’ve turned the chop and moved the chop to the somewhat cooler end, I can put veggies on to cook while the chop finishes.   (If you’re working on a grill-pan, then adjust the heat as you would for the pan searing, but with the heavy cast iron it does take a bit for the heat to adjust.
So quick and easy!

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I ended griddling my chop because it was a damp, rainy day–it was still wonderful.  Added a few steamed fingerling potatoes and some sautéed  broccoli raab (with garlic and red pepper flakes). It was a fine  meal.

(I’m sure I won’t  do this again until there’s another special as it’s a splurge even then, but worth every penny!)

A son goût!

Independence Day smoked lamb shanks

After seeing the photograph and reading about smoked lamb shanks I decided that was what I needed for the Fourth of July.  It took some searching but I did finally find some shanks.  Unfortunately, they were not as large as those shown in that photograph, but I decided to give it a try with the smaller ones.  I also included two goat shanks to see how those tasted smoked. (These were from Two Bridges Farm, Louisburg NC)

I took the basic seasoning  from Rufus’s post:  lots of rosemary, garlic, some chili powder, some cinnamon, and added a healthy dollop of Colman’s mustard powder, salt, and added enough oil to make a very thick paste–heavy on the rosemary.  The shanks were rubbed all over with this, and then allowed to stand (refrigerated) for about 18 hours (overnight until ready to start the smoking process).

The Weber kettle grill was set up with a pan in the middle with water in it; then added hardwood charcoal briquettes (unlit on both sides of the pan.  These were topped with lit briquettes, and the soaked hickory wood chunks.  Vents were adjusted for a nice slow fire.  I opted not to use a mop sauce this time–may well try that on the next round!  But soon there were wonderful smells wafting from the grill–smoke, rosemary and lamb.

Smoked lamb and goat shanksIn an effort to keep the day as simple as possible (read to avoid dish washing, either by guests or me) there were disposable plates. Although I really did have a platter set out on which to serve the shanks, they never made it into a serving dish since we were being so casual; hence, picture of shanks in the pan that was used to bring them from the grill.  The results were fantastic.  (The goat shanks are the two in the front of the pan–the rest are lamb). The seasoning was there, but not intrusive but complementing the meat– the hot mustard added some “spice” and “zing” without ever seeming “hot”.

Mojitos started us off; then we had a very eclectic meal–one of the guests prepared Padrón peppers for starters–I’d never tasted them before, but I certainly hope that it will not be the last time.  Those wereplate with lamb corn on the cob and potatoes followed by wonderful gazpacho, then by crab cakes, with some melon interspersed.  Then,  the main course:  lamb shanks, corn on the cob, and several kinds of newly dug potatoes steamed and then tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and peppers.  There were Purple Majesty, Red Thumb, and Russian banana potatoes mixed.  (Unfortunately, the Red Thumbs lost their pink color during the steaming, but there were the lovely red skins to make it red, white(ish), and blue!)

For those of us who wanted wine with the meal, we had a 2008 Marcillac Rouge “Lo Sang del Pais” (Domaine du Cros)…this was not the wine that I had bought to serve.  My mistake–it was a bottle from my cellar that I  considered before I decided to go visit the Wine Authorities.  They suggested 2008 Rouge “Cuvee Jericho” Vin de Pays (Mas Montel (Mas Granier), France, that I bought.  When I was setting up the serving area, I put out the Marcillac (my original intention) instead of the Jericho (80% Syrah and 20% Grenache)!  The Marcillac was awesome with the lamb shanks–it’s 100%  from Mansois (Fer Servadou) grape.   So I still have a bottle of the Jericho (and some “leftover” lamb shanks–that may well be supper this evening.

This is something I’ll do again, soon…the smoke flavor was not overwhelming, but very complementary to both the lamb and the goat and it was low-maintenance cooking, thought it took about 3-1/2 hours, that let me visit and relax while preparing it.  Perhaps the next thing to get smoked will be a goat leg.  The vendors from whom the goat shanks were purchased said that they had recently tried smoking a leg and it was excellent.  I’m glad that I discovered the post on smoking lamb shanks–and the associated information on smoking.

If there are “leftovers” after this evening, I think that those might end up in something with white beans for sort of a mini-cassoulet (for a hot dish) or maybe even a white bean salad–we’ll see what evolves.

I think there’s more smoking in  my future–and I’ll be learning to make the gazpacho that we had with this meal too!

Smoked lamb shanks

I was browsing the food-related blogs when I came across this post on smoked lamb shanks.  This looks like a must-try one as much as I like lamb. Even though it’s not quick, it certainly would do for single-serving cooking–and I can dream of some things to do with leftovers.

While I don’t have a smoker, I do have a Weber kettle grill, and Cook’s Illustrated has had some how-to articles on smoking using the kettle grill, so I think that I’m going to have to try this one.The July/August 2011 issue had an article (and video) on smoking chicken that makes it look possible to do the lamb shanks on the kettle grill with adjustments to time and only a little modification of technique.

I think this is going to be my Fourth of July food, even if the weather is hot and humid–I’ll just hope that it doesn’t rain!