Prime Rib Action

I’m going all gourmet on your for the next few posts and then we’re going to go to the extreme polar opposite end of that I assure you – as I’m living in a small efficiency apartment close to the beach for the winter and making some hardcore simple eats.  This post and the two that follow will feature various components of an uber-gourmet meal put together by me and my BFF Roy when I visited him in October – a showcasing of our yuppiness.   

We spent way too much money on this badboy, but hey, we were fired up, and New York City is a great place to lighten your wallet on high-quality and exotic fare.  The pics as you will see are fantastic.  Roy is the greatest photographer of all-time ever, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my BFF.  I am saying “BFF” repeatedly because I watched some show the other day that proposed BFF be banned in 2011.  That just made me wanna use it all the more. 

And yes, Roy and I have been accused of engaging in heavy duty bromance, but don’t call us gay.  Roy’s wife is Tyra basically and I, like Kip Dynamite, “chat online with babes, all day.”  Enjoy our fine hunk of meat…

Prime rib is basically just a big slab of ribeye that is roasted in a large chunk as opposed to grilled up in individual steaks.  A whole ribeye is enough to feed nearly 20 people, so we obviously just used a chunk that was a few pounds (call it 4) for a dinner for 5.  In the meat category, I don’t think there’s anything finer than slow-roasted slabs of ribeye, as tenderloin is flavorless in comparison and lean – and I tend to eat delicious fatty meat or none at all.  This “happy cow” from Madison Avenue’s best butcher shop was a prize to behold (cuttable with a spoon) in all categories of goodness. 

  1. To roast a whole ribeye, get ya a nice slab and coat it with a thick layer of black pepper and obscene amounts of salt – enough to form a flavor-nuke of a crust on the outside.  Because you cannot season the inside of the meat, it’s hard to overdo the pepper or the salt.  Load it up, especially with the pepper.  Give that thing a black pepper stubbly beard.   
  2. In some hot fat, preferably a stable fat like beef tallow or unflavored coconut oil, sear the meat on all sides until a nice, brown crust forms.  The heat will have to be high and oil at the smoking point before you add the meat to ensure good browning. 
  3. Once everything is well-seared on all sides, throw it in the oven at low temperature, ideally about 250-275 degrees F, covered tightly.  As seen in the picture, I threw the meat in on a bed of shallots that had already started cooking down in butter (see “Melted Shallots” recipe in the 180 Kitchen eBook) and chucked some fresh sprigs of thyme straight out of Roy’s garden in there with it.  Optional, but something to think about.   
  4. Roast until it just starts to firm up, but is still kinda squishy (rare or slightly more – should take at least 45-60 minutes but it all depends on the size of the meat, the elevation you are at, how hot you seared the meat, and other factors that make it up to your discretion to figure out)
  5. Remember, it’s better to undercook it and have to cook it a little longer than cooking it beyond the point of no return (I actually overcooked this one just ever so slightly, but it was still good) 
  6. Rest, out of the oven, for 20-30 minutes (covered)
  7. Blast in the oven at high heat for 10 minutes to reheat the meat.
  8. Slice and serve hot with say, the horseradish sauce found in 180 Kitchen: 180 Tips, Recipes, and More    

Published in: on January 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm  Comments (37)  
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Stuffed Bell Peppers

Campfire cooking continues.  This was a fun one.  While the filling inside the pepper would have been a little better with the full bread crumb and egg treatment like that used for meatballs or meatloaf to create a more tender and fluffy texture, it was still yummy.  Definitely hit the spot on a sub-freezing Colorado morning. 

To prepare a stuffed pepper, which is something that you can easily do in your home oven instead of a campfire, make a nice blend of ground meat and seasonings (in this case it was thyme, shallots, and money spice – but you could use any variety you like, such as eggs, bread crumbs, jalapenos, cumin seeds, and salt and pepper for example), and then jam it into a bell pepper as shown in the video. 

Once you got that all figured out, you spread a little oil across the outside of the pepper, wrap that badboy up in foil or place in a covered dish of some kind if making several, and bake on high heat until cooked on the inside.  Anyway, here’s the video.  Yum…

Mesquite-Smoked Beef Brisket

Like good ol’ smoky barbecue?  Well, you don’t need any fancy equipment to make it.  In fact, you can make great stuff with a smoky flavor with a regular backyard grill.  No need for a separate smoker.  The following video reveals how you can do it, how to take the cheapest and most flavorful meat ever – beef brisket, and turn it into something divine, and all of that good stuff.  Yee haw! 

Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm  Comments (6)  
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Guinness-Braised Oxtail

I’m obsessed with good food right now, and this dish, along with the Texas-style brisket briefly shown in the oxtail video, has been among the best things I’ve ever prepared.  Stay tuned to the 180 Kitchen blog for the rest of the year.  I’m planning to go off with some really neat stuff and posts twice per week or more… 

It was a little daring going with Guiness for this braise, but the finished product had a unique flavor that is truly one of the deepest, richest, and most exotic flavors that I’ve ever created in one pot.  I’m not sure I’ll ever use red wine to braise with ever again, especially when Costco sells Guiness for $1 per can.  I served it with a very rare form of Ligurian homemade pasta… a lost art known as croxetti, which someday I hope to demonstrate as well. 

Anyway, the video below (which features the term “poop chute”) demonstrates the universal method for braising, which can work for everything from rabbit legs and lamb shanks to Osso Bucco, short ribs, and the most flavorful – oxtail. 

There’s no finer way to heat your home as we head into fall than with a good braise at low temperature in your oven. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 oxtail, additional meat and bones from other cuts if desired
  • 2 cups each of carrots, celery, and onion – medium dice
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cans Guinness
  • 1 “bouquet garni” or herb bundle of thyme as shown in the video
  • Salt to taste
  • 3T coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Dry oxtail with paper towel
  2. Brown in hot coconut oil until all sides have at least some brown coloration
  3. Remove oxtail and sweat mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) in remaining fat in the pan until very soft and lightly browned
  4. Add tomato paste and toast in the hot pan for several minutes to form what’s called a “pincage”
  5. “Deglaze” with Guiness, add oxtail back to pan along with herb bundle, bring to a boil, and reduce until saucy consistency.
  6. Cover with cold water just until everything is submerged, but don’t drown it.
  7. Bring back to a boil.
  8. Cover with a lid and put in the oven at 300 degrees F for 4-5 hours or overnight at 250 degrees F.
  9. Remove meat from the bones and mix meat back into the liquid.
  10. Skim most of the visible fat off of the surface with a spoon or ladle and save for future use – a good fatty oxtail makes the stew too greasy

Serve, ideally with creamy grits or polenta or root vegetable puree in the center with the stew surrounding it. 

For clarification on any of the above cooking terms, or for other variations of this basic recipe, see 180 Kitchen: 180 Kitchen Tips, Recipes, and More – the ultimate online cooking tutorial.

Homemade Sausage

If you like MSG, nitrates, refined sugar, and “natural flavors,” well then hey, just buy some sausage at the store! 

Unfortunately, even most local farmers and ranchers that have the local meat processing plant make sausage out of their meat have these nasty ingredients added to it.  I find any sausage or processed meat to be a one-way ticket to indigestion and that headachy, sluggish feeling of having consumed way too many additives.

This homemade sausage, which takes all of 5 minutes and just a few dollars to make, will divorce you from the bad habit of buying pre-made sausages forever.  There are very few things you can make in your home kitchen that are more versatile, cheap, easy to make, and popular amongst friends and family members than this simple homemade sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 1 part ground pork to 1 part ground fatty beef (73% lean used in the video below) – a pound of each makes a big batch. 2 pounds of each like I do in the video makes a monster batch!
  • Fat wad of fresh-chopped oregano (dried will do, but is not even close to as tasty)
  • Several minced garlic cloves or 2T of garlic powder
  • Spicy Italian chile flakes or cayenne pepper to desired spiciness
  • Pinch of cumin or fennel seeds (optional)
  • Pinch of chili powder or mild dried red chiles (optional)
  • Lots of salt

Directions:

  1. Mix it all up
  2. Cook a small piece to make sure the sausage is both spicy and salty enough to taste Juuusssst right. 

Cook with eggs for breakfast, eat patties as a full-on meat portion, make “dirty rice,” and whatever else you have to do to enjoy this sausage.  Most of this sausage batch made it on top of 2 nasty-good homemade pizzas covered with all kinds of junk for a small Toy Story party we hosted the other night.  Yeah, I’m really that lame in real life.  Sausage video below:

Real Potato Salad

No personal vendettas against potato salad, but the stuff, all things considered, is pasty goo that I have never been fond of. 

What I am fond of, are very hearty salads with hot and delicious stuff added to them.  Some of the best salads I’ve ever made or have been served contained hot ingredients – from spinach salads with hot currants, duck confit, and andouille sausage to salads filled with fried gnocchi and mushrooms.  The hot-cold combination is amazing, and for some reason, as spring is springing, Aurora and I have been eating this salad like it’s going out of style. 

In a sense, it is going out of style.  Aurora’s jaw surgery is less than 2 weeks away – wired shut for 12 weeks.  I’ll be joining her by doing an old-school “milk diet” for the first month or so.  No salads for us.   

Anyway, we’ve made this salad a half dozen ways over the past month.  In the video, I keep saying that hard-boiled eggs will be added, but in the end Aurora got the eggs and I opted to have my salad without them.  They are part of the “official” salad.  We’ve also made the salad with grilled beef (amazing), beef carpaccio (excellent), and so on.  But no matter how you choose to get down with this full-throttle “dinner salad,” the fried potatoes are a must. 

When done correctly, there is no better salad on earth, or in the words of Mr. Miyagi:

“When do right, no can defense.” 

Here is the REAL potato salad…

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 diced Yukon Gold potatoes fried in coconut oil, beef tallow, lard, or a combination
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, still warm
  • 3 ounces of your favorite cheese grated or crumbled
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • 2 chopped Romaine “hearts” 
  • A little arugula or field greens
  • Fresh-picked herbs (optional) 

Prepare as shown in the video, adding your hot ingredients at the very end so the lettuce stays fairly crisp. 

Simplify by making it with just potatoes and cheese and/or a little shopped salami.  Olives would make a nice addition I would imagine.  I also think it’s easier to bake the bacon in the oven on a large sheet pan (with sides), 1-2 packs at a time so you can make this salad several times but only cook the bacon once. 

Beef Wellington

This concludes our month of mega-gourmet filet action.  It’s about time.  Next month I’m going to try to go to the opposite side of the fence with the easiest, quickest, most ghetto food that I make for myself. 

This is definitely the most fancy pants of ’em all.  Beef Wellington is an old-school French preparation made by stuffing beef tenderloin (ideally with foie gras, but we’re not all jillionaires), wrapping it in Puff pastry, and baking it to perfection. It’s not as difficult to make as it seems at first, and can be greatly simplified as well by stuffing it with something simpler.

In the video I decide to stuff the Wellington with grilled asparagus and cream cheese.  I made it again two weeks later with wilted spinach, Cambozola, and cream cheese and it was even better.  If you want something really easy, a little creamy cheese is probably all you need – like Brie or Camembert.   I leave that call up to you. 

To make Wellington you will need:

1) A big hunk of beef tenderloin

2)Something to stuff it with

3) 1 Puff pastry sheet, rolled out pretty thin

4) 1 egg yolk and a splash of water (egg wash)

Then you:

1) Cut it open

2) Stuff it

3) Sear it in hot coconut oil, ghee, or beef tallow

4) Wrap it and egg wash it

5) Bake it.  In this case 425 degrees F made it slightly overdone before the pastry got fully browned. 450 is probably a better temp. – granted, I’m cooking at 6,200′ in elevation which makes a difference. 

If you dare to make this you won’t regret it!  What a treat for a small gathering of 4-6 people! 

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!