Posts tagged meat
Friday, July 16, 2010

oven barbecue ribs

barbecued ribs

In my next life, I want to be a pit-master. I want to live in Texas, preferably in the Hill Country, and dedicate my life to slow-cooking meat. I can’t imagine saying this twelve years ago at the height of my impassioned vegetarianism. Ironically, it was barbecue that brought me back to my meat-eating ways. Ribs, to be precise. My, how I’ve come full circle. I’m now not only eating ribs, I’m making them too. Twelve years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself ever eating meat, but now! Now one of my dream vacations involves a hands-on intensive course learning how to grill properly. Grill like I mean it – with gusto.

liquid glaze misemixing the rub

Sadly, in my current life, I am outfitted with an apartment sans a back yard, and subsequently without a grill or a smoker. If I want barbecue, I have to either go out for it, or make it myself. In my kitchen. Using an oven. I can just see barbecue devotees rolling their eyes as they read this – barbecue in the oven? You’ve got to be kidding! And I swear to you all that the second I get my hands on a backyard, some serious, real, honest-to-goodness grilling is going to happen. You can hold me to it. I’ll make up for lost time.

ribs, rubbed

Speaking of time, the key to making ribs in the oven at home is simply ample time. You can’t rush the process – or disaster will follow. This is a thing of patience: you surrender the ribs over to low heat for several hours and you let the slow-cooking process do its thing as the meat grows tender, flaky, relaxed. [I resist using words like “succulent” and “moist” because I strongly dislike them. These, as well as the word “juicy” make me shudder and lose my appetite.] Instead of just cooking your meat at high temperature, which can yield some tough and chewy results (fail!), you gently coax it into a state of gradual submission (success!), so it practically falls off the bone when you try to bite into it.

It didn’t hurt that the meat came from one of my favorite purveyors – these ribs were perfection, with a nice layer of fat to keep them from drying out, and a healthy pink color. I’ve been to the farm where these ribs came from and you can tell – these are some of the happiest and well-cared-for animals you’ll see. The pigs were practically smiling.

ribs, rubbed

I made these over the 4th of July, when the East Coast heat wave was in full swing and it was far too hot to do anything outside. I turned the a/c on, dialed the oven to 200 degrees F, and puttered around the kitchen busying myself with potato salad and pie until the ribs were done and ready for our plates. We ate them in a pinch with only a few ribs left over for the following afternoon lunch. When life gives you ribs – you fire up the grill. But when life gives you some ribs and an oven – well, you know what to do.

ribs, rubbed and rested

Continue reading oven barbecue ribs.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

beef brisket with merlot and prunes

beef brisket with merlot and prunes

I’ve a soft spot for humble meals made quietly, slowly, with nothing more than basic ingredients. Dishes that cook over slow heat for hours, particularly meat. Meat, that when you cut into it, slowly falls apart, so soft you hardly need to chew it. Meat that comes with a rich, thick sauce. Meals like this – I could eat on an almost-daily basis.

brisket. hello, gorgeous!

Sadly, I do not. Partly because I try to be thoughtful about meat consumption, partly because I work hours that don’t allow me, upon getting home, make a meal, that cooks over several hours (albeit, sort of happily cooks itself as time goes by) because that would mean, I would eat at midnight. Or later. And while I’ve fond memories of making and eating goulash at 1 am in college, college this is not, and somehow showing up for work late isn’t the same as skipping your 8am accounting class. The tardiness policy at work just isn’t very lenient.

brisket mise

Beef brisket is just one of those meals that if you’re spending a few hours at home puttering around, or expecting company for dinner, can be made with minimal effort and some glorious results. The concept is rather simple. You take a fatty slab of meat, brown it to lock in the flavor, brown the vegetables, and combine everything with something like wine, pomegranate molasses (with which I’ve been having a decade-long love affair!) and some dried fruit. In this case, the fruit of choice is prunes.

browning the brisketbrowning the brisket

Wait, come back! I know I just said prunes and I know they’re about as sexy as granny panties, but, please give them a chance. Cooked in stews, or slow-cooked in wine, sugar and spices, they transform themselves into something incredible lush and luxurious. I know, I just called prunes “luxurious”, when nothing could be more pedestrian. But, have I ever lied to you? Well then!

ready for cooking

I learned, pretty late in life, that brisket is sort of this traditional Jewish meal served during holidays or Shabbat meals. I didn’t grow up with it, so I felt it was my cultural duty to master the craft. Of course, I was cooking dinner with which I was hoping to impress, and I chose a dish that I’d never cooked before. Smart? I’d say not really. Was I a bit nervous? Absolutely. But everything came together without a hitch and the meat cooked perfectly and didn’t resemble pressed sawdust neither in looks nor in taste. If you’re looking for a centerpiece dish for Passover – look no further than this. And while it is always recommended that you do a practice run with a holiday meal beforehand, I’m pretty certain you will succeed with this one because the building blocks of a great dish are already included in the ingredients and the cooking process. If you cook it patiently and slowly, you will get a “humble” meal that will delicious and festive enough to be fit for a king.

Continue reading beef brisket with merlot and prunes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

stuffed cabbage

stuffed cabbagge

No one ever tells you this, but the week after you get back from vacation is impossibly busy. For all you know, you come back, relaxed and tan, full of those lovely umbrella drinks, sand in your bag – and then wham, you get knocked down by work and life that apparently had the audacity to go on without you. You return to a full mailbox, bills to pay and laundry to do. I mean, the nerve, right? Shouldn’t the world stand still while you’re exercising your right to a bikini and a beach chair every day for a full week?

hollowing out the cabbagesteaming the cabbage
riceonions & celery

Oh and don’t get me started on the cold. The bone-numbing, soul-sucking, stop-you-in-your-tracks cold. I mean, I can’t even properly describe my dismay. Someone at work mentioned today that New York average temperatures around now were always in the mid-thirties and, well, we’ve certainly dipped below that just about every day. As luck would have it, my flight got into Newark on the same day that security breach took place and the airport was in near lock-down mode. I suggested to the pilot we turn the plane around and got back to Dominican Republic and he gave me a stare. I thought to myself, “Fine, but it’s either this, or an umbrella drink, buddy – you choose.”

stuffingall mixed
lining the potremoving the vein

We’re not even a month into this winter and already I’m whining. I swear, as the years go by the cold gets to me more and more. I complain about it bitterly, but get very little sympathy. Russians are supposed to tolerate these temperatures without so much as a shrug, I am told. But since I’ve not lived in the blustery St. Petersburg winter in over 21 years, I really can’t claim high tolerance for cold weather. Even if you do give me a vodka shot to quell the pain.

how to rollhow to roll
how to rollhow to roll

What I find myself doing, however, is craving Russian food. Badly. I like the heartiness and honesty of it; the way that it fills me up and makes me feel warm as if wrapped in a blanket. A food version of Snuggie, if you will, but far more attractive looking. And for me, in moments like this, stuffed cabbage really hits the spot.

a view from the top

In Russia, we called this dish “golubtsi”, and I’ve heard my Ukrainian friends refer to them as “holubki”. My friend Ryan took it one step further and referred to them as “pigs in blankets” and when I made fun of him and told he confused the name with another dish, quickly proved me wrong. But whatever you call them, they are amazing. In fact, they’re even better in the next few days as flavors develop more, and, if that weren’t bonus enough, they freeze beautifully too. Which is a great asset when you arrive home from the airport at 1 o’clock in the morning, starving and cold. A few minutes of defrosting in a microwave and you have a comforting, warm, soothing dinner. And if my week is busy, I can manage it, because I can have dinner ready in mere minutes, and focus on those other pesky things that took place in my absence, clearing my schedule for more important things like editing vacation photos. Clearly, more of a priority than paying bills.

stuffed cabbagge

Continue reading stuffed cabbage.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

veal ricotta meatballs

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

This is a very important post, dear readers. One that’s taken me many hours to put together, because I cannot implore you enough that whatever it is you’re doing right now – you need to stop and rush to your kitchens to make these. I know – you’re thinking, meatballs, big deal, what’s the rush. But because I’m what you’d call, a meatballs skeptic, this is doubly important. I wouldn’t just sigh over any meatballs, right? They would have to be really, truly magnificent. And they are.

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

These are the meatballs I’ve dreamed about for over a year. A year, people – do you know how long that is in food obsession terms? That’s twelve long months of fantasizing about these orbs made seemingly out of meat clouds and so delicious and light, they practically melt in your mouth. You barely even have to chew them. And until very recently, they weren’t a staple in my kitchen. But that’s all changed now.

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

About a year ago, a good friend of mine took me to a little wine bar in the East Village called Terroir, run by the same lovely folks behind a thoughtfully run restaurant “Hearth” where Marco Canora, the chef behind this recipe, makes his amazing dishes. She had mentioned, on our way there, that aside from an excellent wine list, there are some worthwhile nibbles we should order, namely, the veal ricotta meatballs, which we promptly ordered upon arrival and that order changed everything I knew about the dish. These weren’t regular meatballs of my past: heavy and dense and bland; instead they were light, delicate and perfectly seasoned. I tasted a bite of Parmiggiano, a gentle hint of ricotta, a tang of tomato sauce. Instantly smitten, I knew, at that exact moment, that these were the meatballs I’ve been searching for (if one does indeed go on a search for the perfect meatball, which you know I would, because that’s the kind of girl I am).

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

Since then, I’ve sent dozen of my friends to the bar, always instructing them to order the meatballs and have tried to recreate the magic at home. Until two nights ago, I’ve been using the Mario Batali recipe, but after Deb alerted me to Marco Canora’s recipe, I switched over. The ingredient list and proportions are very similar, if not identical. But a few additional steps, and helpful hints below, I think, make this recipe more useful. These meatballs are a process and take over a day to make, which, I know, is a bit belabored for something as rustic as a meatball. However, asking your butcher to triple-grind your meat (which is recommended below) ensures a delicate, light texture. Starting on your ricotta cheese the night before, is a necessary step because store bought ricotta just won’t cut it, and you see in the previous recipe just how easy it is to make ricotta at home. Moreover, I read somewhere, in relation to this recipe that you need to have your ricotta cheese need to be the texture/density of tofu (super helpful, right?), really helps you in determining how much draining of ricotta you have to do. And there’s also chilling the meatballs before frying them. I’m not sure what chilling your meatballs before frying does, but I dutifully followed directions and can tell you, it’s worth the trouble because the results are that good.

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

And while normally meatballs are an accessory to spaghetti, I urge you to resist having them play second fiddle. These are in their own category of excellence and deserve to be first violin at your dinner with a solo performance. Serve them alongside a simple salad, as it’ll only highlight the rustic simplicity of the dish. Spaghetti and meatballs, just might become a thing of the past.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

thai beef salad

thai beef salad

Over here at Sassy Radish kitchen we’re in packing mode, finishing food we have and making do with what the pantry offers. Save the occasion dash for an herb or vegetable, cooking here for the next few weeks has to be about not wasting (and thus inventiveness for me) and less about flipping through the latest issue of Gourmet looking for my next fix has come to a screeching halt.

thai beef salad

You see, here at SR I have big news! SR kitchen is about to get bigger. As in square footage. I’m trading my cozy (read: tiny) walk-up kitchen for a spacious, open, with a huge island and shelving (see the pictures) one. To tell you I’m excited, would be a huge understatement. I am counting down the days! Oh and did I mention that it comes with a dishwasher? Every time I say the word dishwasher an angel gets his wings. Or at least it feels like it. Say it with me – deeeeshwaaaasher. Doesn’t it just sound so musical and lovely?

kitchenkitchen

As excited as I am about this new kitchen, I will miss my 40 square foot kitchen I made a pretty good use of over the last 12 months. I didn’t expect to move out so soon, but an irresistible opportunity presented itself. And now I get to be closer to friends, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Baked Bakery, the Clover Club and other delicacies that will challenge my waistline. While I’ll miss my cozy little kitchen, I’m ready and excited for a more spacious one.

thai beef saladthai beef salad

Since moving requires packing and perishables do not good packing goods make, I’ve initiated an operation that I’d like to call ECIMK (Eat Crap In My Kitchen). The operation was fully commenced when my friend Marc came over for dinner a few weeks ago. You know you’ve got a good friend on your hands when you write “I have a lot wine and we need to make a dent in the supply.” And your friend dutifully obliges with an “I’m there!” response. And not only does your friend arrive hungry, but also helps you through three (3!!) bottles of wine in one night. Between the two of you. How lucky can a girl get?

thai beef salad

One of my not-to-be-packed items was this lovely skirt steak, chilling in the freezer waiting for the opportune moment to make its statement. Now, this is probably the part where I should tell you that happen to really love a skirt steak, so much so that I’d rather have that for dinner than a filet mignon. I’m an odd girl, I know, but that’s just how things are around here.

thai beef salad

I also come with some odd cravings and on any given day there are a few meals I can always happily consume. A Thai beef salad probably sits at the top of that list. Hearty enough for a dinner dish, it’s the perfect antidote to a sticky muggy day because you get the cold, refreshing crunch of lettuce, the bite of the spicy/sweet chili lime dressing, and the nice heft of beef. Filling, yet not heavy, refreshing, yet you won’t go hungry in an hour. I think it’s the epitome of a perfect meal.

thai beef salad

As you can tell from pictures, I like my meat on the pink side. By all means, please cook it longer because everyone’s preferences vary quite a bit. Not only is this a favorite, but also happens to be super easy to make. The whole thing comes together in under 20 minutes. Including all the prep work. You can even make this on a weeknight when you have little time to cook. And it makes room in your soon-to-be-emptied freezer too. How about you? When you’ve had to move in the past, what were some of your more creative uses of food so it didn’t go to waste?

Continue reading thai beef salad.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

beef bourguignon

beef bourguinon

Even though I keep claiming to have broken up with winter a couple of weeks ago, I’m still carrying my gloves and wearing my scarf and wool coat because it’s just not that warm in the mornings are evenings. Sure, the temperatures claim to be more temperate during the day, but that also happens to be the time when I sit in front of a computer, inside, and deal with client related matters. And so upon leaving the office, I’m once again met with a rather persistent chill. A chill that’s clearly being shoved out by the onset of spring, but like a guest that overstays his welcome, this chill lingers in hopes perhaps of sticking around another week or two.

browning the meat

Well, despite the fact that I’ve been ready for spring for quite some time, the weather still dictates warmth and comfort when it comes to my food. A salad sounds delightful in theory, but when all is said and done, when I get home from work, what I want is something soft and warm and filling. And beef bourguignon fits the bill.

mushrooms for the stew

I meant to make it all winter season and yet something would always upstage it. A soup, a chicken dish, cake, even (hey, cake can totally be dinner). Honestly, I can’t figure out why because this is so good and so flavorful that I should have made it in large batches over and over and frozen portions for later consumption. Better yet, this dish gets better the next day after the flavors had a chance to develop, which makes for leftovers you’d be looking forward to having.

beef bourguinon

Continue reading beef bourguignon.