Archive for bacon

Borrowing a computer

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Food in the news with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by restaurantouring

Can’t blog for long — borrowing a computer to check in on the interwebs before I hop on a plane to Cali for the weekend to attend an old high school buddy’s funeral wedding.

Anyway, a Yahoo article about the WORST foods to eat on a date made me chuckle a little bit this morning. What’s wrong with Stilton and carpaccio???

Also, if you haven’t done so already, check out this month’s copy of Men’s Health magazine. This month’s issue (the one with Ewan McGregor on the cover) is pretty food-centric (there’s an article about total utilization of a pig! Hooray!).

And if delicious porcine pleasures aren’t enough to get you to fork over the couple bucks for a copy of this excellent mag, I should tell you that that miserable old curmudgeon, Bourdain, has an article in it about the 13 restaurants you HAVE to eat at before you DIE. So, GO! Read up!

And make travel arrangements for your next culinary vacation.

Honda Crave Contest

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Food experiments at home with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2009 by restaurantouring

20090503 Chipotle Meatloaf

So, the competition is over. I submitted my savory dish for the competition, but I’m not too confident in how the picture turned out (Pictured above. Chipotle-spiked meatloaf. Roasted red pepper coulis. Smoky Chipotle BBQ sauce. Bacon mashed potatoes. Mac and Cheeses: cheddar, lots of freshly grated parm, and a habanero pepperjack. I know it’s cropped on the right. Still working on that / I have been too lazy to fix it. Click on it to see the full picture on my Flickr account). I was dumb and waited too long to make the dish, so I had too little time to remake it.

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Also, I fell asleep/passed out on my bed last night when I should have been making an entry for the dessert competition. Molten Chocolate Hazelnut “Kiss” Cake. Orange-raspberry coulis. Tahitian Vanilla creme anglaise. I thought I was clever with the kiss part, but only because my body was sleep deprived and because my brain is addled.

I woke up this morning cuz the fire alarm went off — not because something was burning, but because I fell asleep on top of it (and all my freshly laundered clothes, which now have lots and lots of wrinkles in them thanks to my fat ass) and apparently, it detected carbon monoxide emanating from my nether regions. Just kidding, it was sticking into my back (I took it down last night when I was roasting peppers in the broiler and threw it on top of my bed).

I always do this. Procrastinate, that is. And I liked how the dessert picture came out, too. Sigh.

Moral of the story: I suck.

Also: I got a 38 dollar parking ticket because I fell asleep and forgot to move my car last night. Alternate side parking, FTL.

Cooking the Easter Bunny

Posted in Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by restaurantouring

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A couple years ago, I was driving a friend’s car (she was too tipsy to drive) when I accidentally ran over a rabbit that was running across route 10, in East Hanover.

Damn thing came outta nowhere.

I felt pretty bad about the whole crushing-a-skull-under-the-driver’s-side-wheel thing, and the fact that it was Good Friday only made things worse. It was like I just killed the Easter Bunny.

So, this year, I decided to kill a bunny rabbit on purpose.

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After severing the forequarters and cutting off the hindquarters, I trimmed the loin from the ribs and left the belly meat attached. I stuffed the loin with some caramelized onions that had been sauteed with some garlic and fresh sage leaves. I wrapped it all in some duck bacon that my good friend, Jose, bought me, seared it off, and finished it in the oven. It ain’t too pretty, mainly cuz the duck bacon was too thick and not nearly long enough, so the whole package unraveled by the time the food hit the plate. I will probably stick with good ol’ pork bacon next time.

I should note that the rabbit did not come with the liver, kidneys, or heart for some reason. I generally like offal, and I try to make an effort to eat it whenever it is available, if only so that it does not go to waste. For this dish, I was actually counting on some rabbit liver, so I was pretty upset when I discovered that this thing came with no offal whatsoever. Bummer.

While the rabbit finished cooking, I sauteed some potatoes in the rendered duck fat from the bacon, and seared some oyster mushrooms to go along with it. I deglazed with some chardonnay that I had laying around and added some fairly concentrated, gelatinous, deeply caramelized duck stock that I also had lying around. I reduced it to nappe consistency and lightly sauced the loin with that. A la minute.

Voila: dinner.

I hope everyone had a happy Easter!

P.S. I’m a big fan of total utilization. As I write this, the remaining bones and carcass from the rabbit is slowly simmering in a pot of water for stock. I threw in some chicken bones I’ve been saving up for the past couple weeks, too. I just threw the bones into a zip top bag in the freezer and took them out to make a batch of rabbit/chicken stock.

check my Flickr account for higher-quality and larger-sized pictures, especially since WordPress does this annoying thing where the right side of all my pictures gets cropped out of the frame (I’ll figure out how to fix it one of these days, I swear): http://www.flickr.com/photos/epicnomz

to learn more about breaking down bunnies into marketable consumer cuts, search for Michael Pardus, longtime instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, on YouTube. His user name is MPardus, I believe. Or, just click here.

Blue Cheese Bacon Burger

Posted in Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2008 by restaurantouring

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I love burgers.  I mean who doesn’t?  And a burger with bacon on it?  My god.  Shoot me (please don’t).  Everybody loves bacon.  Even vegetarians.

It’s a shame that the way most Americans get their burgers in this country is either through the drive-thru window of a fast food chain or from a big frozen box of a dozen or more identical, boring, tasteless, and probably E. Coli-infested “burger patties.”  It’s even worse because it doesn’t take much time or effort to make a great burger yourself, at home.  To boot, it’s satisfying work, and the results are tastier and healthier than the crap you can buy on every other city block.

This burger is really simple.  Take a pound of ground beef (80% lean, preferably.  A mix of chuck and sirloin, preferably.  It’s best if you grind it yourself, but store-bought will do in a pinch, even though it is far inferior), and mix it with some kosher salt (1.5 tsp), freshly ground black pepper (1 tsp), garlic powder (1.5 tsp), and onion powder or granulated onion (1.5 tsp).

Divide this mix in half, and divide each half in half again.  Now, you have four 1/4 pound hunks of meat.  Ball each one up, flatten it with the palm of your hand, and work it into a roundish patty, slightly larger than your bun or about a 1/2 inch thick, if you can manage.  The burger in the picture is a bigger one — probably about 1/3 of a pound and about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Set these burgers aside.  If the meat was cold (if you took the beef straight out of the fridge), time will allow the patties to come up to room temperature, which will make it easier to cook to your desired level of doneness (please say rare or medium-rare!).

Wash your hands.  Soap and warm water, please.  Lather up real good, and scrub for about half a minute.  I work in a hospital, so these things are important.

Turn on your broiler.  You know that section of the knob for the oven that says “broil”?  Yeah.  That.  Use it.

In a cast iron skillet, crisp up some bacon and set it aside.  Pour off any excess fat, and return the pan to the flame.  If desired, lightly salt the outside of the burgers with a little more kosher salt.  When the pan is screaming hot, slap down a burger or two.  Don’t overcrowd the pan or else you won’t get the delicious brown crust on the outside of the burger*.  This should only take a minute or two on each side, provided that your pan was hot enough to begin with.

You could make these burgers on a grill or on a grill pan as well, but I like cooking them a la plancha or on a big metal surface (in this case, in my 12″ cast iron pan) like this because more of the burger touches the pan, so more of it browns via the Maillard reaction (a complex reaction which I don’t fully understand.  Proteins and carbohydrates undergo complex chemical changes which produce a lot of deep flavors in food.  Sugars caramelize.  Too much Maillard reaction = burnt).

Flip the burgers and top each patty with blue cheese.  Stick it under the broiler for a minute or two.

As soon as the burgers go under the broiler, slice open some onion rolls and stick it in the oven for a minute.  Retrieve the pan of burgers after the cheese has melted, and grab the rolls from the oven.  Spread some mayonnaise on the bottom of the buns and grind some more black pepper on top of either the mayo or the burger or both.  Put the burger on top of the mayo’d bun, but the bacon on top of the burger, and you’re done.  Want some mushrooms with that?  You can saute some shrooms with the bacon fat before you start the burgers, or you can do it after the burgers have been evacuated from the pan.  Need some green?  Romaine to the rescue.  Don’t forget to turn your oven off.

And if you put ketchup on this burger, I will punch you in the face.

* The key to proper browning is to make sure that you have a hot pan with some oil in it, to make sure that the food you’re trying to brown is fairly dry, and to make sure you don’t overload your pan (called “overcrowding”).  Water soaks up a lot of heat and needs to evaporate before browning can occur.  This is because browning, or the Maillard reaction, happens at about 230 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas water can only reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level.  Typically, the more food you have in a pan, the more water there is to go around, so if you’re trying to brown with a crowded pan, you’re more likely to steam your food, rather than to brown it.  Eliminate the factors that result in steamed food (water, lower temperatures, a crowded pan) and you will have GBD — golden brown deliciousness.

P.S. The oil serves to transfer heat from the hot pan to the target food item, as well as to provide lubrication so that food does not stick [as badly].  Oil can get much hotter than water, and it can coat the food you’re trying to cook, which is very good for cooking and browning.