Cranberry Beans

Maybe I’m just a food nerd, but I don’t think there’s much in this world more attractive than cranberry beans.  Cindy in her prime was impressive no doubt (and still is if you were dumb enough to watch one of her recent infomercials), but I still think cranberry beans are pretty f’n gorgeous. 

Although they won’t be in season for quite a while, and most of you won’t be seeing these at your local market, the fresh-shelled bean gives me warm fuzzies.  Growing up in the South, shelling fresh beans with my mom in late summer was quite the memorable bonding experience.  I couldn’t even scramble an egg back in my youth, so this was really about as cooking-involved as I got back in the day.  But mama’s creamed corn with some fresh “butta” beans or crowder peas was just about my favorite thing at that age (other than punishing fried scallops at Red Lobster).

The last time I had them was with my BFF Roy as part of our yuppie feast.  They came out to be absolutely perfect.  Here’s how I made them…

  1. Shell a bunch of beans until you have several cups of beans
  2. Put them in a pot and cover with water
  3. Boil for about an hour until nice and tender

Next, you bring those beans to life…

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces high-quality dry salami, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • Several sprigs of thyme (optional)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (optional)
  • 6T of butter
  • Several cups of chicken stock or water (a splash of white wine is very nice too)
  • Salt and cayenne to taste

 Directions:

  1. In 2T of butter, brown the salami in the bottom of a wide-bottomed pan.
  2. Add onions, carrots, and celery and sweat on low heat for 20-30 minutes until very soft and sweet (obviously you can be doing this while the beans are cooking). 
  3. Drain the beans and add to the pot… Stir, scraping the bottom.
  4. Add your liquid – Half water and half chicken stock with a splash of white wine would be ideal, but there’s enough flavor in the salami that just plain water is fine.  Make sure the beans are fully covered with liquid.
  5. Add your optional herbs at this time.
  6. Bring to a boil and simmer until the flavors are well concentrated and you’re liking the taste.  Reduce a little bit if necessary. 
  7. Finish by stirring in the remaining 4T of butter and season with salt and cayenne to taste.  Salami is very salty so it shouldn’t require much. 
  8. Remove the herbs and serve.  Makes an amazing soup-like concoction that can make a great side dish or even function as a pretty good main course. 

  To make it more of a functional meal, garnish the soup, or any soup for that matter while you’re at it, with the famous 180 Homemade Cheez-it.

Potachos

In March I went super gourmet on ya.  This month, and probably for several months, it’s time to simplify.  Many want to know how to make healthy eating practical – and while I maintain my belief that your homemade food must be really good and satisfying to keep you eating clean homemade meals, it need NOT be difficult or complicated.

Enter “potachos,” my super ghetto potato with a nacho theme – one of my favorite quick lunches over the last month as I busily slaved over the new version of 180 Degree Metabolism

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yukon gold potato, boiled and lightly-mashed
  • Salsa
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Sour cream

Directions:

  • Mash the potato (make sure it is warm to begin with)
  • Season with salt or a seasoning blend
  • Cover with salsa and shredded cheese
  • Broil in the oven until cheese is melted
  • Top with sour cream
  • Add additional condiments, such as fresh cilantro, black olives, or whatever ya like
Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 9:19 am  Comments (12)  
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Rendering Beef Fat for Tallow

Making beef tallow isn’t exactly a difficult or skillful process.  You are basically exposing solid fat to high temperatures to extract all of the fat in liquid form from the rest of the meat and muscle fibers.  Then you pour off the liquid fat and save it for cooking.  Beef tallow is an excellent fat, and has pearly, ivory-like texture at cold temperatures.  Good for cooking vegetables and searing meats in which you want to impart the rich flavor of beef into the food.  Mmm, mmm good.

In the following video, I do not cut the beef into smaller pieces, which would’ve cut down the cooking time and yielded a larger amount of fat.  Probably a bad habit.  But I got 2 cups of good-quality beef tallow nonetheless. 

As an interesting factoid – beef tallow was the most frequently-used household fat in the early 20th century prior to the earliest documented cases of heart disease.  So much for saturated fat clogging your arteries…

As the causation of heart disease science has evolved over the past couple decades, we now know that heart disease is a disease of inflammation, oxidative damage from free radicals, and certainly not a matter of having something we eat jump into our arteries for lack of a better place to go.  What increases oxidative damage and inflammation?  Lots of things, but mostly polyunsaturated fat – omega 6 in particular, the type of fat we embraced while shunning the beef tallow and butter that never did us any harm.  Make friends with tallow.  Its incredibly low concentration of omega 6 makes it a perfect household fat along with coconut oil and dairy products.

Best temperature is probably slightly lower than the temp. I began with.  350 degrees F is probably better.   

Beef Tartare

This post is more of a display than anything, as few of you own an essential piece of kitchen equipment needed to make this dish – a meat grinder.  But tartare is something that is divine beyond words, and if you’ve never had it, maybe you’ll jump off the raw meat cliff the next time you see it on a menu.  Making it couldn’t be simpler.  Simply grind 4-6 ounces of raw beef tenderloin per person in a meat grinder, and mix it with tartare flavoring base, which is comprised of roughly:

1) 2 parts tomato paste

2) 1 part dijon mustard

3) 1 part ground horseradish

4) Plenty of salt and cayenne pepper/black pepper

5) A dash of Worcesterhire sauce

Blend these ingredients together into a paste and mix in 1 heaping spoonful with each 4-6 ounce portion that you grind.  You’ll know when you get the taste just right.  It’s amazing, and the meat is buttery smooth.  Best served with toasted bread, crispy french fries, or something else with some good complementary starch and crunchy texture. 

Blackened Filet Mignon

The Mignon Man March is going strong.  Here’s the next installment – quick and easy (and smoky) blackened beef tenderloin.  This one combines several prior episodes of 180 Kitchen, as I dust the tenderloin with the seasoning blend from the last post, and serve it with parmesan polenta (a former post) and wilted spinach (the first 180 Kitchen post). 

Directions:

1) Coat top and bottom of the tenderloin with blackening spice.

2) Sear on high heat until a nice crust forms on both the top and the bottom.

3) Lightly sear the remaining sides.

4) Place in oven at 350 degrees F until cooked to your liking. If rare, you can skip the oven step.

5) Slice in the middle and serve with some yummy starch and a side of vegetables for a perfect meal.

Next in the Mignon line up is tartare!  Stay tuned!

Money Spice

I hated to keep glossing over this easy seasoning mix, because it is amazing and I abuse it – including in an upcoming video/post for blackened filet later this month. 

I did a quick version of it in my ribs video a while back, but here is a quick post dedicated exclusively to this magical blend.

Ingredients:

1) Sea salt (roughly 40%)

2) Paprika (roughly 30%)

3) Cayenne pepper (roughly 15%)

4) Garlic powder (roughly10%)

5) Dried oregano leaf (roughly 5%) 

Mix ’em all together and use on:

Homemade french fries, air-popped popcorn, seafood, steamed and sauteed vegetables, meats – for both seasoning and blackening and as a dry rub for broiled meats like ribs. 

Using it as a blackening spice for blackened filet mignon is coming up next!

Mignon Man March

It’s March, a month I’ve decided to dedicate to one thing and one thing only on the 180 Kitchen blog…

Filet Mignon.

Most assume that beef tenderloin, or filet mignon is just not an everyday food.  It’s for a special occasion.  Too damn expensive.

Well, I’ve cut the costs of filet mignon to just $4 per portion, and have been enjoying it several times per week for nearly a month.  Beef tartare, bacon-wrapped tournedos, beef wellington, blackened tenderloin… I’ve been having good food and good fun and don’t plan on quitting my mignon habit any time soon.

Anyway, look for some tasty posts over the next 30 days.  The first step is butchering a whole tenderloin in your home kitchen – the key that makes this doable for the advertised price, and that allows you to do a wide variety of things with tenderloin – from roasts to stews to rendering beef fat into tallow for frying. It’s not as hard as it looks, so don’t be a wuss and try it!!! 

White Truffle Fries

Wow you guys.  I’ve been putting down pound after pound of truffled fries cooked in expeller-pressed “refined” coconut oil.  They are simply incredible when you get them right.  Just make sure if you are dropping ’em in the oven like I do in this video, that the heat is cranked up pretty high.  425 degrees F is a minimum if you want them crispy and downright amazing.  This is seriously one of the best things I’ve made and eaten in my home kitchen in the last year.   Make this for yourself, your significant other, or for a small group of friends and they will have a whole new level of respect for your culinary studliness.  Note: the truffle oil, although amazing, is totally not necessary.  Even without it, a perfectly-cooked homemade Yukon Gold french fry that is properly seasoned is a force to be reckoned with.  Enjoy!

Ninja Kitchen Knife Skills

At 180degreehealth, the general sentiment is that the primary determinant of health is the quality of the diet. The two biggest concerns in the standard modern diet above all else are vegetable oil and refined sweeteners. Well guess what? Refined sweeteners and vegetable oil are the two primary sources of calories in the modern diet. Why? They are the cheapest to produce. It is all produced from massive corn monocrops in the American midwest.

This means that restaurant food, even at great restaurants, is often highly compromised with the addition of these two substances. Even in savory dishes, it’s hard to escape the use of refined sweeteners. The use of cheap cooking oils is pervasive in the restaurant industry – foods that have been sauteed, marinated, or deep fried are always chock full of cheap vegetable oil. Salads are almost as bad as the fries due to the vegetable oil base of the dressing.

The solution of course, is to cook your own food predominantly – and keeping vegetable oils and refined sugars out of your kitchen. But this seems inaccesible to most people. The greatest hindrances are know-how and time. That’s what the following video is all about.

To make your quest to become a home chef a reality, one of the most important things to master is the art of cutting. Most people are using techniques that are not only slow, but dangerous, and knives that fit that description as well.

There is only 1 proper way to cut, and this is it. If at first it takes you longer, be resilient. Learning new skills is hard and challenging. It is also rewarding for those with the perseverance to get past mistakes, nicked fingers, and drudgery.

My instructions are simple. To make home cooking a tangible reality, you must learn how to use a knife properly. When you have, you will be empowered and enjoy cooking more than ever before – while spending less of your precious time doing it. Buy a large, and good-quality wooden cutting board, 1 quality knife and steel, such as the 7″ Hollow-ground Wusthof Santoku knife featured in the video (Click here to view it for purchase), and practice these basic techniques until you have mastered them. You won’t regret it!

Baby Back Ribs

There is little in life that I enjoy more than ribs. Yes, I admit, much has to do with the sweetness of the sauce – which takes an otherwise good chunk of tasty, fatty meat and makes it like sheer crack cocaine.  But I have some good remedies for that: make your own sauce and make it REALLY spicy.

Here is a short video on how I prepare the ribs. Note: in the video I do make an error – the time and temperature required for making perfect ribs. In the video I mention that the ribs will be done in a few hours at 275F. Even at sea level, it would probably still take 4 hours at 275F. To make sure your ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, in hindsight I would have recommended to cook them for at least 4 hours at 300 degrees F.

Anyway, really, really tasty stuff – especially during American Football playoff season. I will shred at least a half dozen slabs of ribs, this batch included, by the time the Super Bowl rolls around. Give these a try someday when you need to heat your house and you’re in need of an air-freshener that makes you salivate. Share them with friends, or people that you would like to be your friends. Works every time. It’s like giving bacon to a dog, or chocolate to your grandkids.

Homemade barbecue sauce recipe follows:

Chipotle barbecue sauce (monster batch)

Ingredients:

1 can chipotle peppers en adobo sauce

2 regular-sized cans of tomato paste

½ cup honey

½ cup molasses

½ yellow onion, peeled and cut into 2 or 3 chunks

6T mild chili powder and/or Hungarian paprika

6 whole garlic cloves, peeled

6 Bay leaves (optional)

¼ cup apple cider, balsamic, or rice wine vinegar

Sea salt to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together well and simmer on low heat for at least an hour – preferably longer. Add water if consistency if too thick. Remove lid to allow excess water vapor to escape if too soupy.

When it’s finished I don’t even bother straining it or attempting to fish out bay leaves before pureeing it, but you can if you want to. I just scoop around the whole chunks of onion, garlic, and chipotles.

Note that these amounts are not set in stone, they are just ballpark estimates. Tweak the flavors to your liking. A good barbecue sauce is smoky, spicy, and has a sweet n’ sour tang to it – a synergy of tomato, vinegar, and the added sweeteners.

This is sauce is very high in sugar, so don’t abuse it. It’s damn good though and beats sauces with too many chemical flavor enhancers and enough HFCS to ruin your day.