Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Orleans Style Boiled Brisket of Beef

On with my quest to finish my beef.  Only two cuts of brisket come off each cow, and this year, I was lucky enough to get one of them.  I think the other sharers of cow would be disappointed to know that I am preparing my brisket this way instead of a more traditional smoked-with-barbecue-sauce style, but my thought process is there are lots of places in Portland I can go eat really good smoked-with-barbecue-sauce style brisket and probably nowhere I can eat it New Orleans boiled style.  So, here we are.

When Borders went out of business last fall, I went to check out what deals were to be had and spotted "The New Orleans Cookbook".  The cover says it is "the most authentic and reliable gathering of great cajun and creole recipes from the city's grand restaurants and modest cafes, from mansions and from country kitchens".  Being one inclined to judge a book by its cover and being one to not pass up a $2 cookbook, I bought it.  It is filled with recipes I will probably never try, like the entire chapter on crawfish (where would I get crawfish in Oregon besides catching them myself) and hogshead cheese (though I suppose I could request the pigs head this winter when I get my pork), but I still like having a New Orleans cookbook around.

1 brisket of beef (5 to 6 lbs)
2 Creole (beefsteak or Jersey work too) tomatoes, cut in quarters
2 medium onions, cut in quarters
6 carrots, cut in half across, then in quarters
6 shallots (or scallions, or for the shallot and scallion adverse, garlic) roughly chopped
4 stalks celery, cut in half across, then quartered
8 to 10 sprigs parsley, stems included, torn into 2- to 3-inch lengths
2 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 whole bay leaves, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp mace
2 qt water, approximately

Place the brisket in a deep heavy kettle or stock pot (like usual, I used my cast iron dutch oven) of about 5- to 6-quart capacity.  Place the vegetables and parsley on top of and around the brisket (the brisket and vegetables should be crowded in the bottom of the pot), then add seasonings and enough water to just cover the meat.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.  Serve sliced with Cream Horseradish Sauce (recipe follows) on the side.  Save the broth and vegetables and serve as a soup course.

Cream Horseradish Sauce

6 Tbsp prepared white horseradish, preferably Zatarain's
1 Tbsp Creole mustard
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine all ingredients except the cream in a gravy boat or deep sauce dish.  Mix thoroughly and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, then add the heavy cream slowly, stirring constantly.  cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

I have eaten some portion of this dish for every meal since I made it.  The soup makes a fabulous light lunch, the brisket is delicious shredded and doused with the horseradish sauce on a sandwich, or just warming up some brisket on a plate.  It is a seriously fantastic dish.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weekend with Mom - Hiking and Little Bird

My mom and I woke up Sunday morning knowing we were going to hike but not quite sure where we wanted to go.  We decided on Salmon Butte, a 9 mile hike with 3500' elevation gain.  My mom had suggested the hike on Saturday, but I shot it down right away after she said "3000' elevation gain".  But for some reason, I was up for an adventure.  It was a very difficult, but absolutely gorgeous hike.  

Unfortunately snow prevented us from making it all the way to the summit of Salmon Butte, or maybe it was fortunate; we saved probably 500' or so of elevation and 2 miles.  The hike ended up to be 10 miles exactly (why are hiking books so often wrong on mileage?), and the hard work on the way up was worth the reward of an easy trot down.

We were very tired after our hike, so we relaxed at home and watched the Giants beat the Indians while waiting for the time to leave for dinner.  

I was delighted when my mom was excited about going to Little Bird  when I sent her a link to the website last week.  Little Bird is a restaurant I have never been to but had been hoping to try for a while.

Our first course was a charcuterie consisting of, starting at 6 o'clock, pickled fennel, pork rillette, pistachio truffle sausage, foie gras brûlée with apricot jam on toast, Saucisson d’Alsace (from Olympic Provisions), and in the middle, duck terrine.  Every item on the plate was spectacular, but the foie gras stole the show, in my opinion.  The sweet and salty flavors and the combination of textures was just fantastic.  

The other appetizer was roasted marrow bones with olive and citrus tapenade.  Neither of us were expecting the bones to come like this; we were thinking they would be cut the other way, into circles.  The only marrow I have eaten is with Osso Bucco, and I love it.  This particular dish, with the olive and citrus tapenade on top, was delicious.

We ordered grilled lamb belly with peas, mint, whipped crème fraîche and grilled Trout with almond purée and green bean salad to share for the entree.  Very tasty, especially the trout.  It was grilled to perfection. 

We cleaned the plates on everything we ordered and were quite full when the waitress asked us if we would like to see the dessert menu.  I like to check out the menu even if I know I am not going to order dessert.  The first item on the list was lavender crème brûlée with riesling strawberries.  I don't even really like crème brûlée, but something came over me that I really wanted it.  Riesling strawberries just sounded so good.

This crème brûlée was the best crème brûlée I have ever had, and one of the best desserts I have ever had.  It was light with the faintest hint of lavender.  We (and by we I mean mostly me) practically licked the serving dish.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention the painting of the owl.  Right when we walked into Little Bird, my mom commented on how creepy the owl is and how it was staring at her.  The table we were given was about eye level with the painting, and my mom was sitting facing it.  The owl stared her down the whole meal.

Bon appetit.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend with Mom - Wine Tasting and Olympic Provisions

My mom was in town this past weekend for a visit, and what a weekend of all weekends we had.  Lots of food, lots of drinking, lots of driving, and lots of walking.

Saturday was a lot of the first three of those "lots".  We went wine tasting, to the organic beer festival, and had a delicious dinner at Olympic Provisions.

We started our day with a breakfast at Bakery Bar, a coffee shop and bakery in my neighborhood.  They brew great coffee and have delicious pastries and breakfast items.  Then we set off for the Newberg/Carlton area for some wine tasting.

After visiting Lenne Vineyards and Carlton Winemakers Studios, we decided we should probably eat something, and stopped at Horseradish, a wine, cheese, and meats place in Carlton, for some food.  We tasted wine there as well, and packed up some treats to eat at our last stop-off, Penner-Ash.

The picture above is the view of Mt. Hood from the back patio at Penner-Ash, where we sat and enjoyed the gorgeous view, tasted their wine, and ate the platter of cheese and meat.  It was great.  With a trunk full of wine (seriously, between our club shipments and purchases, we had at least 2.5 cases of wine), we headed back to Portland.  Of course, we had to make a pit stop at Gonzales Mexican food and bakery for some Mexican pastries, but no pics of that.  

Back in Portland, after a quick stop at my house to drop off the wine, we were off to more drinking: the Organic Beer Festival.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures at the Organic Beer Festival.  Some nice people sold us a coupon they had but didn't need, so we each got a cup and 9 tokens for $15 instead of a cup and 4 tokens for $20.  What a steal!  We intended to just have a couple tastes and save some tokens for Sunday, but we instead drank all 9 tokens-worth of beer each, sat in the grass and listened to hippie-music while watching hippie-folk, and enjoyed the sun.  My mom can't get over the fact that in the summer at 8pm it still looks like it's 2pm in Portland.  Honestly, neither can I.

Once we were out of tokens, it was time for the next segment of our day: dinner.  I guess I should have mentioned at the very beginning of this all that my mom doesn't really eat meat.  Or cheese.  Or, as far as I can tell, anything that didn't grow out of the ground or get fished out of water.  So the fact that on this day, she has already eaten cheese, salami, and cured beef (all part of the plate from Horseradish) is kind of incredible.  And Olympic Provisions is known for cured meats... 

The above is the charcuterie plate we started with (from bottom left corner, clockwise):  chorizo rioja (I think), a saucisson (don't remember which one), country style pork terrine with pistachios (again, I think), something (seriously, no idea what this is, but if I know my charuterie, it's sliced intestine), pickled cauliflower, pickled rhubarb, pickled asparagus.  And mustard, but you can tell can which that is.

My mom ate, no joke, half this plate.  Her contribution to eating dropped off rapidly soon after, but the fact she downed half this plate is incredible.  

Next came the veggies.  We had fried cardoons and roasted radicchio.  

I really wish the picture of the roasted radicchio was better, because my mom and I both agreed that it was the best dish of the night.  I don't really like radicchio.  It's a bit too bitter for my taste, and I never quite know what to do with it.  The last time my parents were in town, we had a radicchio salad at Nostrana, and it was incredibly NOT bitter.  We asked them about the lack of bitterness, and they told us that they soaked it in ice water to de-bitter it.  It was an absolutely delicious salad, yes, but radicchio IS bitter.  Instead of de-bittering the radicchio, Olympic Provisions embraced it, pared it with salty cheese, and roasted it for one of the most delicious plates I have had.  

Next was the meat and fish.

Pan roasted sturgeon, manilla clams, saffron broth and Roasted fresh chorizo, potato salad, grain mustard.  My mom informed me after the food arrived something that I should have remembered: she may or may not be allergic to clams.  So I ate all the clams.  We split the sturgeon, but I was mostly responsible for the chorizo.  Both dishes were good, but again, we were working our way through a bottle of wine...

I usually never order desert, but one of the offerings was dark chocolate “salami” with salt and pepper shortbread.  How can one pass that up?

That stuff that looks like salami?  It's dark chocolate with nuts and maybe other delicious things.  Who knows.  It was really good.  The orange marmalade accompaniment was great too.

That's about it for Saturday.  After our long day of eating and drinking, we were more than ready to go to sleep.

Bon appetit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday night pot roast

I am on a mission to finish all the beef in my freezer before August or September - when 6 Ranch butchers their cows, and I get another freezer full of beef.  So, I have about 3 months to eat quite a lot of beef.  The mission is going to involve grabbing whatever package of meat touches my hand first and making a meal of it.  The first cut I grabbed was a rump roast.  What do you do with a rump roast besides pot roast?

I have before given praise to the Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook (see here and here).  This is a recipe I have made numerous times, and it really is the easiest thing you could imagine.  How does beef, onion, water, flour, salt and pepper become one of the best pot roasts with gravy I have ever had?  I don't even LIKE onions.

I don't know the answer, but I do know I love this pot roast.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 chuck roast, 3.5 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 cup boiling water

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 plus 1 1/2 cups water

1. To prepare pot roast, heat the olive oil in a 4-inch deep, 10- or 12- inch cast iron skillet (as you can see from the pictures, I used my cast iron dutch oven instead) over medium-high heat.  Season the roast with salt and pepper.  Place the roast in the skillet and brown for 5 minutes on each side.  Add the onions and boiling water.  Cover tightly with a lid and simmer gently over low heat until tender, about 2 hours. (Or, alternatively, cover and bake at 325F for 2.5 hours, which is what I always do.)

2.  To make gravy from the juices, transfer the meat to a platter and keep warm.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the 1/2 cup water until well blended.  Stir the mixture into the juices in the pan.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens.  Gradually add the 1 1/2 cups water (for a creamy gravy, you can instead use 1/2 cup water and 1 cup heavy cream, which I sometimes do), and continue to stir until smooth and thickened.  Spoon over the sliced pot roast.

I roasted some asparagus as a side, and enjoyed my meal while watching the Mavs beat the Magic for one of the championship series games.  It was a good night.

Bon appetit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Shooter Sandwich, because that's how I roll

Last week, a friend who obviously knows me quite well sent me this link to a recipe for "The Shooter Sandwich" and suggested I make said sandwich as soon as possible.  I was out of town when I received the link, but as suggested, as soon as I was back home I did as told and created the masterpiece that is the Shooter Sandwich.

The sandwich consists of a largish sourdough boule, 2 ribeyes, 1 onion, sliced, 6 cloves garlic, minced, 2 tsp tarragon, 2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce, 1/3 cup bourbon, 4-7 oz. butter, prepared horseradish, and stone ground mustard.  Unfortunately, I did not have any ribeyes left from the 6 Ranch cow so I had to purchase beef for the first time in I don't know how long.

I'll let you click on the link for directions on making the sandwich, but the progression of the sandwich in pictures and my notes are as follows:

- I don't like mushrooms or shallots, so I substituted an onion.  It turned out spectacularly.
- You really do need to limit the searing of the ribeyes to 90 - 120 seconds per side.  I did 90 seconds per side, and it was perfect.  This sandwich would SUCK if the meat were anything more than very quickly seared, i.e. basically raw.

Also, I actually did light the bourbon on fire and got a picture of it, no less.

That's about it.  This was, I think, the best sandwich I have ever eaten.

Bon appetit.