This post marks my first foray into the world of homemade charcuterie, and if the success of this dish is any indication, we are in for a fun and delicious few months of experimenting with this rather ancient culinary tradition. You see, I’ve joined a group of adventurous food bloggers in what has been named “Charcutepalooza – A Year of Charcuterie”. The purpose of the group, which was founded and is being managed by the amazing bloggers Mrs. Wheelbarrow, and the The Yummy Mummy, is to encourage all of us participating to delve into the mystical world of charcuterie with a little help from cookbook author and food writer extrordinaire, Michael Ruhlman.
Beef & Veal
This dish comes to us courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis of FoodTV fame. You may have noticed that I rarely, if ever, cook food that I picked up from a TV show. That’s mostly due to the fact that the abundance of food tv these days is food as blood sport, not food you’d ever necessarily want to cook and serve your family and friends. That’s not to say I don’t watch the competitive stuff, in fact I loved watching my friend Jody Adams compete on Top Chef Masters last season, and regularly tune into other Top Chef series’ when they air. I also have to admit to being a sucker for any Gordon Ramsey show, you know, like “Hell’s Kitchen” or “The F Word”. I think part of the appeal of Ramsey’s shows for me is a little game I play in my head as I watch, trying to gauge whether I think I could survive his tirades without throwing a dish at his head.
The boys and I traveled to Washington DC a few weeks ago to visit with my brother and his family, and to catch Roger Waters’ “The Wall” concert. Before we go any further, a quick tip from a long time Pink Floyd fanatic. Any of you out there that have even the slightest interest in seeing this show, I strongly urge you to do so. It is a musical and theatrical extravaganza unlike anything you have seen before, a real tour de force, and worth every penny of its admittedly high ticket price.
OK…switching hats now from my concert promoter’s baseball cap to my restaurant promoter’s toque. Today’s dish is one that was handed to us on a promotional card (pitching a new cookbook,Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking ) as we left dinner at the quite fabulous “BLT Steak” the night before the concert. BLT Steak is the uber-steakhouse of the talented French chef, Laurent Tourondel, and while this particular recipe was not on the menu the night we dined there, we knew immediately that it was one we wanted to try soon.
My wife and I sat down the other night with a few cookbooks to suss out some new “ski house friendly” recipes to add to our normal seasonal rotation. These are dishes that are either easily and quickly prepared at the end of a long ski day, can be made without much fuss by tossing a bunch of stuff in a slow-cooker before hitting the slopes in the morning, or can be made at home in advance and easily transported to the mountain.
This “Italian Pot Roast” immediately caught our eye, and was SO GOOD, that it easily earned a spot in this ski season’s meal plan. We found the recipe in a great cookbook called The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World by Lynn Alley, in fact, it is the dish that graces the cover of the book. Lynn shows the pot roast served over polenta, which was my intention too, but when I went to the pantry to reach for some, I found much to my horror, that we were out! Luckily, I had some wheatberries there, and some leftover soffritto in the fridge that combined to make a tasty bed over which to serve this delicious roast.
This gorgeous little treat is a slight adaptation of a Jaime Oliver recipe from his great cookbook,Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook , and it was a big hit around our table a few nights ago. We found it a delicious way to serve steak, and just loved the way the meat juices mingled with the creamy beans and leeks to create a plate-licking pool of goodness.
Arthas, who is always up for a big old slab of red meat, assisted with seasoning and grilling the meat, as well as slicing and washing the leeks. Beyond that, there was hardly anything else to do. The mincing of some fresh herbs, and the dumping of the canned beans into the pan he left to yours truly….he’s a slave driver I tell you!
Prior to leaving for Paris, my boys and I had a few days away “just us guys”. It is a trip we do every year right at the end of school, and as luck would have it, we get to celebrate Father’s Day while we are off having a blast together….it is absolutely perfect. This year, the boys bought me a few books in celebration of the big day, one, written by Justin Halpern is called Sh*t My Dad Says and is riotously funny, I can highly recommend it. The other is entitled Guinness: Celebrating 250 Remarkable Years and is a wonderful history (complete with some scrumptious recipes) of one of my favorite libations. My boys always know just what to get me, thanks guys.
As we flipped through the pages of the Guinness book we found a number of recipes that were immediately deemed blog worthy, from Guinness Bread, to Shepard’s Pie, to Bangers and Mash with Guinness Sauce, but the one that stood-out above all others, the one we wanted to cook first, was this one, Guinness Burgers.
With a brief return of Winter weather here in the Northeast (it was 35℉ when I went for my morning run the other day), I couldn’t help but reach into the freezer to pull out our one remaining pack of Daniel Boulud’s short ribs for dinner. I am fairly well convinced that if you look up comfort food in the dictionary, you’ll find a description and picture of these ribs. With the exception of Duck Confit, or perhaps a really good cassoulet, there is no shorter route to my heart than to place a helping (or two) of these ribs in front of me. This recipe is from Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud Cookbook: French-American Recipes for the Home Cook, and is one that you will make over and over and over again, I guarantee it.
This is a dish that I’ve been making for years, in fact, it is one of the first recipes I learned when I started to get into cooking, and certainly played a part in drawing me to want to study French cuisine more seriously. It has become a staple of our winter recipe rotation, and each year when we make it we always make a double batch (sometimes a triple) so that we have plenty to freeze, and I would encourage you to do the same.
Few things in life give me greater joy than to see the bottom pull-out drawer of our freezer packed with nice, flat vacuum-sealed bags of this bourguignon, some chili, a bolognese, and a variety of soups. I love knowing that a delicious meal is ours for the making with nothing more than reheating required, or can be tossed into a cooler and brought north to feed us after a long day on the slopes. All this joy can be yours too with hardly any additional work on your part. If you have the freezer space, you’d be crazy not to double this recipe and put aside some for a rainy (or snowy) day.
Let me start this post with a sad confession, and that is this. It is REALLY hard to make meatloaf look good in a photograph. Sorry.
I mean I tried…..I really did. I tried to make this meatloaf look as good as it tastes, and give you all a shot that would leave you saying….”OMG, that looks awesome, I can’t wait to try this recipe!” Sadly, that was not to be, and I am here to tell you that this meatloaf and my camera have a hate-hate relationship.
So….If you are here looking for a GREAT meatloaf recipe, then by all means, please hang in with me and read on. If on the other hand you are here for a little taste of food porn, you are best advised to avert your eyes and run away.
I love my grill. I love the act of cooking just about anything on my outdoor grill, from the freshest swordfish, to thick, fat-marbled, beef rib-eye steaks. Every man I know is the same, even guys that avoid cooking in their kitchens at all costs. Put them next to a screaming hot grill and they have an almost instant primal reaction to the thing…..it’s like we’re all back living in a cave and trying to tame fire for the first time.
Sadly, as a resident of the Northeast, my opportunities to grill outdoors in the winter are fairly limited. We’ve had such a bad spell of weather as of late, that I haven’t even bothered to dig a path through the snow to my grill, you know, just in case we have a day that creeps above 40℉ and tempts me to fire up the beast.
That said, we have found ourselves doing more braising, making pastas and soups, and generally taking a break from grilled meats. It’s been all good, and natural, and seasonal, and in keeping with the proper rhythm of life in New England.
That was, until the other day when Peyton said she was “really…really…REALLY hankerin’ for a steak, and questioned if there was there anyway…PLEEEEASE that we could cook one indoors, because she really missed the sizzling, juicy, charred goodness of beef flesh done on the grill!” Clearly, she has been working on connecting with her inner cave woman.
Happily for her (and for all of us, really) there is a perfectly excellent way to cook steaks indoors, one that imparts many of the flavors that open-flame grilling does when cooking on an outdoor grill. There are two keys to crafting a “grilled” steak meal indoors to satisfy your inner caveman (or woman as it were), the first is to start with a nice thick steak (at least 1 -1/2″ – 2″ thick), cut from organically and humanely raised cattle. Second, you need BIG heat. For me, that translates into a fully pre-heated cast iron grill pan over a high flame to start cooking your steak, and a pre-heated 425℉ oven in which to finish the cooking. Oh….and you might want to be sure you have a good kitchen exhaust fan too.
I’m a proponent of adding complexity to the flavor of a good steak. For a filet, that may come in the form of a nice sauce bernaise, or perhaps a dollop of compound butter on top, for a sirloin or well marbled rib-eye, it is hard to beat a great chimichurri sauce. I was first introduced to chimichurri when I used to travel to Houston frequently for work. There was a great Argentinian restaurant there called Churrascos, that served fabulous steaks with the best chimichurri. The freshness of the parsley, the acidity of the vinegar, and the bite of the garlic are all perfect foils for the melting fat and earthy chew of the beef. It is so quick to throw one together, that once you’ve tried it, you’ll be making it a lot, I promise.
So let’s begin, shall we?
- 4 tablespoons fruity olive oil, divided
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1 bay leaf, broken in half
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 4 tablespoons roughly chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, red pepper, and bay leaf. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and sauté, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, olives, and vinegar. Season chimichurri with salt and pepper, and add a little water by teaspoonfuls to thin as needed. Let sit at room temperature while you cook your steaks, remove the bay leaf before serving.
For the Steaks
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Season steaks on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Brush heavy, large oven-proof grill skillet (preferably cast-iron) with vegetable oil. Heat over high heat until just smoking. Add steaks. Cook until nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes. Turn steaks and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into steaks registers 125°F to 130°F for medium-rare, about 10 minutes.
- Let steaks rest at least 5 minutes. Thinly slice crosswise, and spoon chimichurri over.