You don’t always have to start from scratch. Sometimes you can tweak an already great product. Last week we amped up some Frank’s hot sauce.
We soaked and drained some guajillo peppers. We added Bulleit bourbon, sliced jalapeños with seeds, smoked paprika and rendered Edward’s bacon fat. Bring the mix to a simmer.
Allow it to cool and put in a blender with ramps, both tops and bottoms. Purée,…
Beef Tongue Sauerbraten with Gingersnap Mustard
Having just finished Oktoberfest, I’m still thinking a lot about German food. I think many of those dishes are great for fall whether or not you’re a German restaurant. One of my favorite dishes is sauerbraten, or sour beef. You take a lean cut of beef and marinate it in a spiced vinegar brine for 3 days, and then cook it in the brine with some beef stock. The cooking liquid is thickened with gingersnaps to make a delicious gravy.
Next week I’m cooking a benefit dinner for our local food bank. As part of the dinner, there will be a grand charcuterie buffet with around a dozen items I’ve made. I knew I wanted to serve cold beef tongue. With Oktoberfest on my mind, I had a breakthrough.
Beef tongues were cleaned and jaccarded, and will brine for the three days. They will be braised in the cooking liquid for 2-3 hours. Peel them and let them cool in the cooking liquid. When cold, they will be sliced.
To incorporate the gingersnap element, I decided on a gingersnap mustard. Grind gingersnap cookies in a food processor. Add enough hot water to make a smooth paste, and whisk it into your favorite dijon or whole grain mustard. This might be my new favorite condiment.
If you’re looking for a great sauerbraten recipe, check out this one from Woodberry Kitchen’s Spike Gjerde over on Food Arts. I’ve been using that brine recipe for years.
I don’t see why this recipe won’t work, but I guess I’ll see in a few days.
How I Do Grits
I am not a southerner and I didn’t grow up on grits. It wasn’t until I met my wife 15 years ago that I first tried them. But those weren’t really grits. They came from a packet, were mixed with microwaved water and finished with a knob of butter. I was unimpressed.
When I first visited Charleston a few years later I gave them another chance, and I was a changed man. In the years that followed, I sought out the best way to make grits. There will be people who’ll say there’s a better, or different way, but this is how I do it.
Start with good quality stone ground grits, not instant or quick cooking. I change it up between both white and yellow. I use either Anson Mills, Geechie Boy Mill or the lesser known War Eagle Mill. I like to cook them in whole milk at a ratio of 4:1, soaking them in 1 part of the milk overnight. So, take 1/2 cup of grits and mix them with 1/2 cup of cold, whole milk and let them soak in the fridge overnight. The next day, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk.
Since they take some time, I like to cook them in a double boiler on the stove. Put a pot of water on to simmer and put a metal bowl on top. Add the grits, milk and a teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring every few minutes, for around 45 minutes.
When they’re done, I like to add a handful (1/4-1/2 cup) shredded sharp white cheddar or smoked gouda cheese. That’s how I do grits.
Right now there are a few items on my menu that use fennel bulbs. To get the amount we need, we have a ridiculous abundance of the fronds and stalks. The past few weeks have been full of fennel experiments. My favorite use for the stalks is to make a stock with them and turn that into a syrup which can be used in place of Absinthe in cocktails. The stock also works great in desserts.
But it’s the…
Venison/Bacon Meatloaf with Lingonberry BBQ Sauce
This is one of the new fall dishes that I really love. The combination of lean venison, with the fattier bacon works out just right. The meatloaf goes great with some smoked gouda grits and braised greens.
The meatloaf will make slightly more than 1 loaf pan, so you might be able to make some additional meatloaf muffins for the kids if that’s your kind of thing. Also, you’ll have more BBQ sauce & rub than needed, but I find that they’re great to have hanging around and don’t really last that long.
YIELD: 8 Portions (plus a little more)
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ pounds ground venison
1 pound bacon (I used Edward’s)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon allspice, ground
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon aleppo pepper (or other dried chili flakes)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons cold water
½ cup liquid whole eggs
½ cup pretzel crumbs (pretzels ground in a food processor)
non-stick cooking spray
lingonberry BBQ sauce for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the celery and onion. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Grind the raw bacon in a food processor, being careful not to make it into a paste.
In a medium bowl, add the venison, bacon, sautéed vegetables and spices. Mix gently by hand. Add the Worcestershire sauce, water and eggs, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the pretzel crumbs.
Wrap mixture and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add meatloaf into pan until almost full. Cover with foil and back 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking until a temperature of 155 degrees F is reached.
Cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Remove meatloaf and slice into 8 pieces.
Serve with Lingonberry BBQ sauce.
Lingonberry Barbecue Sauce
¼ cup black coffee
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup ketchup (Heinz)
1 ¼ teaspoon Texas rub (see below)
¾ cup lingonberry preserves (whole berry cranberry sauce would be acceptable)
Place all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a simmer, continuing to cook on low heat 30 minutes.
This will make more than you need for the BBQ sauce, but it’s great to have on hand for meat & seafood.
1 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoons sea salt
½ tablespoon black pepper, ground
½ tablespoon granulated garlic
½ tablespoon onion powder
½ tablespoon cumin, ground
½ tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
½ tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly, and reserve.
Sage Brown Butter Solids
Sometimes you start down one path, and end up going down a much more exciting one. I was working on some sage brown butter for a new dish. It was simple. I melted a few pounds of butter with a handful of fresh sage and an extra scoop of dry milk to boost the “brown flavor”. The butter was brought to a boil, and held at a simmer for a few minutes. The pot was pulled from the stove and cooled down for an hour with the sage and solids still in it. The butter was strained, and it was nice. Not mind-blowing, but just about what I’d expected.
Then I started nibbling on the chewy chunks of milk solids. They were kind of caramely, nicely set off by the sage butter. I wanted to do something, but the fact that they were buttery would limit me.
Just this week I saw an older post on Ideas in Food about using tapioca maltodextrin to fix this problem with fried artichokes, and this must have been rattling around in my head.
I scraped the buttery, browned milk solids and remaining fried sage into a food processor, and ground them up. I added the tapioca maltodextrin and blended the mixture. I added some sea salt and turbinado sugar, and continued to blend.
I loved it. It was sweet, salty, buttery and malty, with a bit of chew. Some of my cooks thought it was great. Some people downright despised it. It tasted like breakfast sausage because of the sage, and that was the biggest issue for some. Now, what to do with it.
On Sunday I broke out the masa harina, thinking I was just going to add water and make tortillas. But we were serving Prime Rib, and had all this wonderful fat, so I thought I’d render some out and make tamale dough with it. And Sunday morning coffee seemed like a good replacement for the hot water. So I ended up with a Prime Rib Fat & Coffee Tamale Dough.
I threw a lot at the wall to see what…
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might have seen my original post on Corn on the Cob Bourbon, ISI Infusions and Fat Washing from 2012. This summer, I started talking with Jed Portman from Garden & Gun magazine about it, as well as all things corn husk related. I’m thrilled to announce that my recipes for the bourbon, as well as a roasted corn husk syrup and a cocktail called the Street Corn Sour are currently on their website. Please head over to their website to find these three recipes.
Always the bridesmaid, chopped liver is an under appreciated dish. I’m not Jewish, and didn’t grow up eating it, yet it’s something I crave deeply. A decade ago I spent a few years running a couple of kosher kitchens. Unfamiliar to me at the time, it’s something that I’ve grown to love.
At it’s core, it seems like a simple dish. You caramelized some onions, sauté some chicken livers and hard boil…