19 February 2011

Being Cheeky

Payday lapsed this week, so I've been reduced to pulling out cheap meat from the freezer and making something fantastico! I suppose it depends on who you ask on whether cachete de res or cabeza is any good. I got two hunks of beef cheek at the commissary at McClellan Park for a bit more than three bones. That's a bargain for 5 lbs. of beef in my book. I would guess that many prefer not getting it due to its extremely high fat content even when trimmed and cooked down. I won't disagree that it's fatty. It took a good 10 minutes to trim the fat and remove the silver skin that would only cook down to a chewy sinew akin to that of the skin of a Slim Jim; that is, you can chew it indefinitely and no amount of mastication will ever break it down.


Ten minutes later (check out the streaks of fat!):

Seasoned with salt and pepper and into the pot

I set the browned meat aside to saute some red onion, carrot, and garlic. After placing the meat back in, I zested 2 oranges and squeezed their juice into the pot and threw in 2 laurel leaves, fresh ground cumin and coriander, Mexican oregano, a California chili, an ancho chili, and a couple arbol chilies. I then brought the liquid up to level with Fiji water. I add only the best waters for beef cheek--that or tap.

This is brought to a boil and set into a 325°F oven and left alone for two hours to break down the fat and allow the flavors to marry.

The liquid has reduced to a dark gelatinous broth and is separated for a soup next week.

This is where I fork the meat apart and the angels sing...

Meat shredded means taco time, which means taking a small portion of the 5 lbs. of meat and placing it on warmed corn tortillas, topped with diced onion and cilantro, and drizzled with squeezed lime juice mixed with green El Yucatan.

You may ask why I cooked 5 lbs. of beef cheek for two tacos. Well, I do it for you dear reader. That and so I can refrigerate it overnight and make my own cabeza cheese, of course!

09 February 2011

Enchilada Sausage

It only took me one month to break my new year's resolution, but I'm still gonna soldier on instead of giving up on a post a week. I did have a blog post sorted for last week, so I will share it with you now.

I took out a whole chicken from the freezer last week and brined it in water, sugar, salt, and dried herbs, thinking that I would simply make a nice roasted chicken, but a friend tentatively planning to leave for a teaching gig in Saudi Arabia (who left last Friday) decided to go on a fast until the Super Bowl. I decided not to allow him to go a week without eating--well, not really, but it turned out that way. When I told him I was making an enchilada stuffed boneless chicken last Tuesday he caved and ate something to prep his system because as you surely know you cannot come off of a fast with a heavy meal without any looseness down under, so he ate a salad that promptly slipped through his digestive track.

He suggested taking it to a friend's place to prepare, so I did that. Unfortunately, I am left with few photos due to socializing.

First thing first, I made the enchilada stuffing. That called for first roasting the pasilla peppers.

After roasting, I put them in a bowl and wrapped a produce bag around it to steam the skins off for 5 minutes. To a tall skillet, I first browned chorizo from the Mercado Loco butcher counter, sauted one onion, a few cloves of garlic, and the chopped peppers. To this I added a can of tomatoes, a can of corn, and a cup of enchilada sauce:

1 can tomato paste
1 cup homemade chicken broth
1 tbs chili powder (toasted and ground ancho, california, arbol, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder)

Seasoned with salt and pepper as well as cinnamon. I finished it with tearing up 10 corn tortillas and folding them in. I let this simmer for 10 minutes to reduce and thicken.

Had I thought a bit more about it, I would have added an egg after cooling to help bind everything together, but I didn't.

I've become pretty proficient at deboning poultry, and it still makes for a fairly horrific sight.

The stuffing is spooned in and trussed back together with butcher's twine. Although I can pull a bird's flesh away from its skeleton with dexterity, I forgot to turn the bird over to tie it up correctly.

The bird spent an hour on a full-sized Weber grill with the coals pushed to the sides for convective grilling with the lid on. It turned out a nice color, but not entirely that attractive.

End result: delicious according to all at hand. I regret not getting the sloppy cross-section shot.