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Archive for the ‘Beef, Meat and Large Game’ Category

My Father gifted us a few venison chops from his fall hunt (after we got skunked together during Moose season).  He had told me that they were awesome – and he was so right!

This recipe takes a bit of a departure from my normal treatment of game.  I usually go for very simple seasoning as I’m a big believer in appreciating the flavors for what they are.  But it was a Saturday night so I decided to dress it up a bit.  Despite the obvious heavy use of pepper and the small amount of jus, the flavor of the meat did shine through.

This will work with beef as well – though if it’s a thicker cut, you’ll have to adjust your times (for example, here’s a post where we include the timings for a much larger porterhouse steak).

Before reading this, you may want to review this post on the myth of gamey (and why you must cook game medium rare or even slightly less).

Ingredients

  • Any amount of venison chops that you’d like.  Ours tend to be about an inch thick and I cook 2 per person (there’s sometimes some leftovers for the next day).
  • A whole lot of pepper.  I like to use whole pepper and blitz it quickly in a spice/ coffee blender.  You want the pieces to remain very big.
  • Coarse salt
  • Olive oil (a few tablespoons)
  • Butter (about the same amount as the oil)
  • Sides of your choice
  • 1-2 tablespoons of red wine per person
  • .05-1 tablespoons of raspberry preserves per person

When you follow the recipe below, time it precisely.  You don’t want to overcook the deer.

Directions

  1. Make sure your meat is at room temperature before beginning.
  2. Turn your oven onto broil and wait until it’s reached its top temperature.
  3. Pat the chops dry (a paper towel is ideal).
  4. Apply salt before dredging in pepper – use care and pat it down to help it adhere.
  5. Heat an oven-safe heavy pan (ideally cast iron).
  6. Place olive oil and butter in the pan, wait until it just begins to smoke.
  7. Add the chops and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Flip the chops, cook for 1 minute.
  9. Place the pan under the broiler for 3 minutes.
  10. Allow the chops to rest (the longer the better) on a rack with a sheet of foil loosely tenting them.
  11. Work carefully to drain most of the butter and oil from the pan; keep the drippings and a little bit of the reserve in tact (you don’t need additional heat; just remember that the pan is very hot).
  12. Pour the wine into the pan, stir with a wooden spoon to de-glaze the pan.
  13. Add the jam at the end and stir (if the pan is still hot, it may stick so use care).
  14. Cut the meat across the bias (if it ‘leaks’ juice, you’ve started too fast).  Place it on a plate.
  15. Spoon the jus over the meat, allow it to rest for another minute or two.  Serve, spooning a small amount of jus on each plate.

That’s it!  It’s a fantastic dinner!

If you make pappersteak, how do you do it differently?

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It’s a long weekend and we decided to have an elaborate meal in.  While our meal cost us around $35 (for two with enough leftovers for a $3 breakfast), it’s around the same price as takeout and well under the cost of this same meal in a restaurant which would easily run around $100 (and more).

A porterhouse steak looks like a giant T-Bone.   The small side is part of the tenderloin while the other is the top loin (similar to a New York Strip).  It’s sold as a thick cut (generally 1.5 inches is about the minimal thickness) and is a forgiving cut to cook.

The first trick in cooking a GREAT porterhouse is buying a GREAT porterhouse.  Here’s some things to keep in mind:

  1. It will come from a small farm not an industrialized meat plant.
  2. It will be sold by a small butcher who knew where it came from and lots of information about it such as it’s breed and what it was fed.
  3. It will not be fresh.  This one was 40-days dry-aged (here’s why we avoid fresh meat).
  4. Dry-aged and small farming will make this a premium cut (this was $19 per pound) but this isn’t as expensive as it may appear (reference: the economics of grass-fed beef)
  5. It should be at least 1.5 inches thick and weigh around 1.5-2 pounds at that thickness

In reading David Chang’s Momofuko cookbook (he also publishes the awesome LUCKY PEACH), I particularly related to an observation he made on cooking with very expensive ingredients like this.  A steak like this almost dares you to mess it up – it’s next to impossible to improve on it and you need to have the confidence that you’re going to do it justice.  It’s a wonderful challenge that you either pass or fail.

Before sharing the easy technique behind cooking it, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • It doesn’t need a marinade.  Flavors have been developing for 40 days.  Keep it simple.
  • Rare is best to get the flavor from this.  If you want it well done, I’d advise moving to another cut of meat.  A crust on the outside with a pink middle.
  • Let it rest.  People don’t let steak rest long enough.  We cover it with foil and let it sit a full 20 minutes before cutting into it.
  • Rest it on a rack, tented (i.e. top and sides, not completely wrapped) in tin foil.
  • If you really must cut into it to see how we’ll it’s cooked you can – but don’t.  People will argue that ‘only a little’ juice will escape but the whole point of resting is to stop that from happening.  Live on the wild side – if you’ve undercooked it either eat it as is (you may like it) or pan fry it for a moment.  I’d rather have a pan-fried steak than a dry one.  Write down your timing and learn the lesson for next time.
  • You must take it out of the fridge at least an hour and preferably 2 hours before cooking it.  You want it at room temperature before cooking it.
  • Be liberal with the salt; much will fall off.  I rub coarse salt into both sides as soon as it comes out of the fridge and let it warm with the salt on.  Salt helps bring the flavor out.
  • Pepper is optional – many will add it after cooking for fear it will burn (there’s much debate about this).  You can eat this with no pepper at all (there’s lot’s of flavor).
  • Make sure to time your sides right.  There’s nothing worse than screwing up your dinner while waiting for the side dishes to finish.  I roast my potatoes and veggies first, remove them from the oven and cover them before cooking the steak.  They go back in the oven while the steak rests to finish cooking and warm up.
  • This will smoke and possibly a lot (a bigger problem for us because we don’t have an oven fan/exhaust).  Open the windows early.
  • Make sure you have a very, very good oven mitt.  We’re using a lot of heat here and you don’t want to find out your mitts aren’t up to the test.

Directions

  1. Make sure you read the above so you’ve got a salted, room-temperature cut of awesome porterhouse and know the safety tips.
  2. Move the rack in your oven to the top shelf (or the highest that will allow your skillet to fit under it).
  3. Turn the oven to broil (as high as it will go, top burner).  Wait until it reaches full temperature (often about 20 minutes).
  4. Place a cast iron skillet that’s big enough for your steak on your largest burner.  If it’s well-seasoned you won’t need oil (which may just burn because of the heat).
  5. Turn your burner on to max.  You want the skillet to become screaming hot; 4 or 5 minutes.  Use extreme caution.  This is a good stage to ensure that all distractions (in our case a dog with a curious nose) are not in the kitchen.
  6. Drop the steak in the pan (it should sizzle loudly).
  7. As soon as the steak hits the pan, transfer it to the oven under the broiler.
  8. Set a timer for 4 minutes.
  9. Work quick but not at the expense of safety here:
    1. remove the steak from the oven, close the door.
    2. Carefully flip the steak – note that there’s now fat in the pan so watch out for splashes.
    3. Put it back in the oven.
  10. Set the timer for 4 more minutes.
  11. Remove and rest per above.

A great steak should hold its own without the need for anything else, but here’s a few other ways to serve it if you’re a little intimidated by how pink it is or just want to mix it up:

  • Drizzle the cut slices with olive oil, some additional salt and pepper.  This is a very Italian approach.
  • My Filipino butcher showed me how his family drizzle red wine (the same wine you’re drinking) over the sliced meat after its cut and let’s it rest for a few more minutes – the meat will soak up some of the wine for a natural paring (and an awesome jus for potatoes)

This is a very easy meal to make – which is why it can be so difficult to summon the confidence that you’ve got it just right!

Do you do anything differently?

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I grew up on Sheppard’s Pie.  It is the grandddaddy of comfort foods for me.  It may only be rivalled by creamed peas on toast.

The Sheppard’s Pie of my youth was inspired by the comfort food that came out of my Grandmother and her mother’s kitchens.  If is food of a simpler time – and, more specifically, a simpler budget as the depression tightened her hold on many purse strings. 

To this day my Grandmother can stand on her front porch in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and point to houses where the 3 generations before her lived.  And this is important to this story: the Sheppard’s Pie of my youth rarely had lamb (it would have been brought in from far away) and used any ingredients from around the kitchen that one could muster.  Sheppard’s Pie was more of an idea than a recipe and it continues (in my kitchen) as such today.  So the proper name for today’s recipe (featuring ground deer from the fall) is “Hunters Pie” but to me it will forever be that of the Sheppard:

Ingredients (almost everything is optional)

  • 3-4 large Yukon gold potatoes; peeled and cut into large cubes
  • butter
  • cream
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • wasabi
  • 1 pound ground venison
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Paprika or cayenne (I like lots)
  • dry oregano
  • 3 carrots, grated fine (with a rasp)
  • 1-2 onions or leeks, chopped fine
  • Grated cheese (I used Old Cheddar and Gruyère)

Even more optional ingredients that were fabulous:

  • 0.5 cup of roasted red peppers (we freeze them as a puree)
  • 1 cup of chilli sauce (it was hanging out in the fridge and wanted to join the party)

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for your potatoes.
  2. As the water is coming to temperature, heat a large heavy pan (I prefer cast iron) on medium-high, coat with a light layer of oil and wait until it is almost smoking.
  3. Add ground meat to oil – it should sizzle right away.  Add it in small portions (each time you add meat you will lower the temperature of the pan so adding it gradually will allow the pan to retain its heat).
  4. Turn the oven to 350 degrees
  5. Season meat with salt, pepper, paprika or cayenne.
  6. Fry meat until it is well brown (your potatoes should be cooking or cooked by now).
  7. Add remaining vegetables (carrots and leeks/onions) to the meat and cook until tender.
  8. Add pepper puree and chilli sauce (these were the optional ingredients) and cook for a few minutes to reduce the liquid in them).
  9. The potatoes will be done when they fall apart when prodded with a knife (don’t under cook them)
  10. During the final moments of cooking your meat, add the garlic, ginger and oregano.  Stir to incorporate and then remove from heat.
  11. Drain potatoes (making sure to get rid of all water).  Allow them to sit in a strainer for a few minutes to complete the process.
  12. Season with salt and wasabi and incorporate cream and butter as you mash.  Don’t worry about mashing perfectly smooth – some light chunks may remain.
  13. Spoon meat-vegetable combination into the bottom of  heavy pot and top with potatoes.
  14. Use my Trick for the Best Sheppard’s Pie Topping (hint: it’s all about texture).
  15. Place in oven for 45 minutes.
  16. Top with grated cheese.
  17. Return pie to oven for 15 minutes; browning the cheese if needed/ desired at end with the broiler.
  18. Let the pie sit for 10-15 minutes before serving (don’t cheat).

This was just rocking.

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First off, I promise a vegetarian option next week.

Liver and Onions was a meal I grew up on – it never excited me a whole lot to hear that it was cooking but my Father always did such an amazing job of it and I found myself loving it when I pushed myself to eat it.  It’s certainly not a daily dish (in fact it’s less than yearly) but it’s something few cook and it’s full of flavour and is actually a tasty, hearty meal.

Even after picking his brain tonight I didn’t live up to his legend but we came close…

Here’s the breakdown (rounded up when unsure of exact price on the physical plate):

$0.50 bacon (found a pound for $2)
$0.35 pork liver
$0.30 onion (1/3rd)
$0.60 mushrooms
$0.50 brussel sprouts
$0.40 flour, dry mustard, salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes
$0.20 oil, butter or combo of both
—————
$2.45

I’ll save you the details of cooking bacon, sprouts, onions and the like and get to liver.  Most people don’t know how to cook it or have only eaten it overdone and it’s not a lot of fun when cooked to shoe leather.  It’s also remarkably easy.

  1. Heat oil until it is hot.  I use a medium high heat and know it is ready just before it starts to smoke – you should see the oil start to “vein” or a small drop of water from your finger should instantly sizzle when it hits the pan.
  2. Pat the liver dry with a paper towel.
  3. Place a small bit of flour, dry mustard, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes and dredge the liver in it.  It will not take a lot of dry ingredients for this.
  4. place liver in the pan and leave until small drops of blood appear on the top side.  Flip and it’s done when drops appear on the other side – unless you have a very thick piece.

With liver, fresh is essential and thicker is better than thinner – medium well is what I look for – let it rest for a few minutes and test with a slice in the middle.

This isn’t a monthly meal but is a tasty treat and a great change of pace from our normal meals.  Now if I can just learn to cook it as well as my Father…

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Several big name Chefs have been raving about taking a blowtorch to a side of beef.  Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal (both with restaurants on the list of the top 10 in the world) have raved about using a torch to sear a prime rib; we had to give it a try.

The theory is straightforward – a prime rib is best served rare-medium rare acquired with low/slow cooking and most tasty when it is accompanied with a dark brown crust which is accomplished by high heat.  This is a difficult oxymoron to achieve – one objective interferes with the other.

A blowtorch is a source of high heat that will start to cook the surface of the prime rib without cooking the inside.  The technique is simple – light a torch and sear all exposed meat with the flame.  You are simply looking to make the surface grey (not dark brown) and the oven will continue to brown your meat and render the fat (even at low heat).  We did ours on a rack over a tray – the fat will start to render and drip into your pan.

Once the entire roast is grey, season it.  We chose a very simple seasoning of lots of salt and pepper.

The roast can now be put into the over at 275 degrees until the roast reaches a temperature of 128 degrees in the center.

It is important you let the roast rest once it is complete – we waited almost 30 minutes.

The results were full of flavour, cooked to perfection and just an awesome meal.

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I am flying to the UK on Sunday – 2 weeks of work ahead and I’m very excited to be going.  I will get to see some people I haven’t in a long time and I’m very excited about seeing them and about the nature of this trip – launching a new coaching program that has been in the works for about 2 years.

I’m also very excited because of some of the food.  Much of this trip will be in Glasgow, Scotland and there’s some wonderful eating experiences there.  I’ve truly fallen in mad love with Steak and Guinness Pie.  It’s relatively easy to make for yourself and you’ll find a wonderful secret ingredient in most of the great recipes out there: bacon.  Bacon, Beef and Beer.  Mmm Mmm Good.

Here’s a few recipes to check out:
Food Ireland
Epicurious (ps get to know this site if you don`t already)
UKTV FOOD
An unofficial copy of Jamie Olivers` recipe

A word of warning to those of you in North America: if you use Guinness, use the cans.  The bottles are manufactured and bottled in North America, the cans come from Ireland.  Stick with the cans as they have the widget that essentially carbonates draft beer as you open it.  The bottles don’t and are a local product – I could tell you how I know but I’m not allowed…yet.  🙂

Enjoying the comfort food of many nations is an important part of my love of food – if you haven’t tried this relatively simple dish, please do!  I substitute frozen puff pastry (easy to get at most grocery stores – this is not the same as Filo and the frozen stuff is not as good as the real deal but its what I use 9 times out of 10).  I love mine with cold ketchup, Dana likes HP (brown sauce) and we both like hot sauce.  Purists eat it as is.

Share your recipes and reviews or hate for frozen pastry in our comments!

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