Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wild Boar

So, this:

Begat this:

Which begat these ribs:

And two hams.  The ribs were marinated, sous vided, and frozen.  I'll provide an update when I cook them up.

The hams have been curing in a honey-cider brine for 12 days.

This will be an interesting taste test - the meat is as red as beef, and with more fat than I'm used to seeing on wild boar.  South Texas must have had some good eating for hogs this year.

And check out those teeth:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Exercise in Tedium

Pecan tree has gone crazy. Hours of shelling down, hours to go.

Any ideas what to do with a pecan glut?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Oyster mushroom pizza

Forgot to post this awhile back - disappointing yield from the mushroom crop, but those oysters I got were pearly white, and tasted vaguely of crab.

I sauteed them with garlic and herbs, and loaded them on a pizza with a pesto base.

Delicious.  I'm going to re-soak the mushroom log and hope for another flush.  I'm too cheap to buy these at the store, but I could get used to them. . .

Roast Confit Leg of Rabbit

(Many thanks to Richard Knight and James Silk at Feast (www.feasthouston.com), whose similar dish inspired me to try this.)

Many of you likely know that rabbit is about the healthiest meat out there - leaner, and with more protein and fewer calories than chicken or any other peer I can think of.  Of course, given the leanness, it is also difficult to cook properly.  Leg cuts in particular have a bit of connective tissue and require long, gentle cooking to tenderize.

Enter an ancient cooking technique, updated for current technology:  confit.

Dry cure rabbit legs (2 hind, 2 front) in a puree of garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme and peppercorns, and kosher salt.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove cure and pat legs dry:

Now, cryo-vac in a food-saver bag with a couple tablespoons of mangalitsa lard (or duck fat, if you have it).  Here is where your sous vide machine saves you money and mess - the traditional method would involve submerging your rabbit in a pot full of lard or duckfat and poaching in the oven.  This cuts back on the fat, and prevents you from being murdered by your wife for making the house stink of lard.

And don't panic - the fat just provides the cooking medium.  We remove it before serving.

Sous vide at 175 degrees for 10 hours.  Chill in an ice bath immediately.

To Serve:  Remove from bag, scrape off fat and confit jelly (save the jelly for later!! - think of it as super-concentrated rabbit stock).  Flash roast at 450 or broil - the office toaster oven worked for me.

I served on top of a garden salad.  You may serve with bread and German or Dijon mustard.

Flakes apart with a fork - tender and rich, and lean.  Tastes like the best chicken you've ever had.

Not bad for an office lunch.  What are you having today?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sous Vide Ribs

We've graduated to varsity level hardware, ladies and gentlemen.  I happened to acquire a PolyScience sous vide machine at a steep discount, and have been trying to get max mileage out of it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the principles of Sous Vide (which I can address in detail later), see the following link.  The short version - cryo-vaced food is cooked in a water bath held at the desired ultimate cooking temperature for an extended period of time.  The upshot is that the food is cooked evenly all the way through, with the bonus that over time connective tissue breaks down as if braised.


In short - you can have a braising cut of meat (chicken legs, brisket, round, ribs, etc) cooked until falling apart but still not cooked beyond medium, med-rare, whatever you prefer.

In this case, I did 3 racks of dry-rubbed baby back ribs at 140 for 36 hours. . .
1)      Dry rub
2)      Cryo-vac
3)      Water bath at 140 for 36 hours
4)      Remove from bag when ready to serve
5)      Broil until crispy
6)      Eat

I served with a chipotle bbq sauce - but it honestly didn't need anything.  Crackling but tender, like a $50 pork roast - and note the pink color of the meat.

The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Starting to grow. . .

Sunday, May 20, 2012

This is how epidemics start. . .

This foul-looking disease tent should start yielding pearl oyster mushrooms in a couple weeks.

Supposedly they taste like crab. You'll know as soon an I do, unless at first bite I collapse.

In which event, bury me before I start spraying spores.

Growing shiitakes as well

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Return. . . or How to Make Your Child Beg for Beets

This is the face of a child who has been promised beets for dinner.

No bullshit.

The secret?

Take one ball of Neopolitan pizza dough, homemade.  Preferably 00 flour.  Roll/stretch to paper thin-ness.  Try not to weep at your failure to make a perfect circle.

Smear with pureed roasted butternut squash, lightly seasoned.

Top with sliced roasted beets (roast in foil at 400 for 1 hour, peel, slice and marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper).  Add basil. . .

. . . and goat cheese.

Bake in a hot oven (max temperature) on a pizza stone for 8 minutes.

Behold, what She Who Must Be Obeyed calls "Purple Pizza."  A bit Dali-esque in shape, but surprisingly delicious.

Eat.  Regrettably, I cannot include pictures of her eating, as the beet juice makes for an image far gorier than any piggie pictures I've ever posted.  Seriously.

Well, this one's early enough - just to serve as proof that she likes it.  Honest - she's been demanding it for days.

For the adults - same dough, same misshapen paper-thin sheet.  Add: Tomato sauce (I add lemon juice to freshen, plus garlic and dried herbs); sauteed baby bella mushrooms; briefly sauteed chopped onions;  uncured canadian bacon; basil. . .

 Top with conservative sprinkling of mozzarella. . .

Bake on stone in hot oven, 8-9 minutes.

The pictures do no justice (no more iPhone pics) - The cheese emulsifies with the sauce and mushroom liquor, making for a shockingly savory, crispy, ultra-thin pizza.  You'd think it has twice as much cheese as it does.

Slice.  Eat with a nice chianti.  Repeat.

More to come soon, including possible crawfish and, oh. . .  a whole roasted young wild boar.  Why the hell not.

We're back.  Cheers.