23 March 2011

Corny Chicken

Now that I've starting corning meat, along with help from a hefty paycheck, I can't stop corning or better known as brining.

I started with a refrigerator check though and found that I had beets and a giant Costco box of spinach that needed to be eaten. I roasted the beets in the oven at 450°F for 30 minutes (they were tiny), and combined the following into a dressing:

6 tbs balsamic vinegar
3 tbs oil
2 tbs honey
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 lemon juiced
1 hefty pinch of crushed black pepper

I tossed all this together with the baby spinach and homemade feta cheese that Gbomb gave me. With that, I give you this:

For the chicken thighs, I brined them for 4 hours in:

1 gallon water
1 c sea salt
1/2 c sugar
5 tsp pink salt
5 tsp dried garlic
5 tsp dried onion
5 tsp dried tarragon
3 tbs black peppercorns
1 bunch parsley
2 bay leaves
2 lemons halved and squeezed and tossed in.

Note: I used the massive excess of brine to brine a whole chicken.

Finding a pack of Bockwurst at the back of the bottom shelf in the icebox, I grilled those too with the thighs.



Note the rosy corned color of the chicken. I made it superscharf with German toothpaste tube mustard.

17 March 2011


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I'm not Irish by any means, but as I tell Europeans, all Americans think there's some Irish in them and especially so on this holiday when most everyone crams in the cured beef and boiled cabbage. I've been making this annual dish for some years now, but this is the first that I have made it bottom up; i.e., starting at the corning.

This dinner had to take a bit of elementary planning, as I had to make sure the beef brisket will have been brined enough to be fully corned, which generally takes about three days. I've found through experience that any longer for the first cut brisket makes for a saltier brisket of corned beef that must be simmered longer to reduce the saltiness. That meant buying the brisket by Monday. I managed to get it by Monday evening, and I thought it'd be fine if I started brining that evening.

Lets start on St. Paddy's day though. The morning involved pulsing the following together in the food processor for the soda bread:

4 c flour
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp backing soda
4 tbs cold butter

This is kneaded together after the addition of 2 c buttermilk, scored with an X about 1/2 in deep, and baked at 425°F for 40 minutes. Bang! Baked while dealing with my morning work files.

Before brining the 10 lbs of brisket I trimmed about 1 lb of fat from it, so I could render the beef fat for later use.


Around 4 o'clock I rinsed the brine off of the brisket and set to boil it by 6 pm when people would start showing. My single bedroom apartment was at capacity tonight with a total of four people in it, so I missed a few photos opportunities, but I think everyone knows what a pot with liquid covering meat looks like. This is what a brisket of corned beef looks like after two hours of simmering.

I whipped up a mustard glaze with the following ingredients:

6 oz whole grain dijon mustard (half a Trader Joe's jar)
3 tbs honey
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ginger (1/2 in piece)
1 tsp onion powder
1 clv garlic

Off to the grill!

After the glaze has formed a nice crust, I put it in a pan and tacked it against the outside wall of my apartment.

I then Sandra Lee'd it and made a tablescape out of my food. In case any of my guests had digestive issues with the meal, I left out some super gas treatment.

Boiled vegetables are boiled vegetables: generally boring even if you throw parsnips into the mix of cabbage, red potato, and carrots. It still all goes into the greasy corned beef broth that leeches more flavor that contributing. Good for later soup use, crappy for tonight's side. I suppose it cooks the veg though...

At any rate, this is when the rendered beef fat enters, and everything is tossed in the fat and seasoned with crushed black pepper. See!

The cabbage was never the star of the show though. The corned beef is, and I really couldn't stop laughing as I fluffed it like this.

Everything was delicious, and again I made way too much food for such a small dinner party. For some reason, it made sense that each person should have 2.5 lbs of corned beef. Despite the ingurgitating pleasure, I goofed the corning. I should've bought the brisket on Sunday. It only brined for 2.5 days before I cooked it. It could have benefited from an additional day. I spoiled everyone's meal by allowing certain parts of the brisket to have this unsightly appearance.

16 March 2011

Chicken Jerk

For the past couple weeks I've been trying out a couple new things, but haven't posted because I either didn't take accurate notes for respectable posting, or they were simply lame. But now...the chicken jerk...

I won't bore you with the origin of jerked chicken, as I am assuming you can research it yourself by the fact that you are reading this, but I will say that my favorite origin story involves "jerking" the chicken around poking holes in it and stuffing the holes with spices. Despite the legend, I do it differently. I've made jerked chicken on several occasions before: first combining and blending the marinade and "jerking" the chicken overnight before grilling to island perfection (sometimes perforating the flesh, most times not). I took a different tact with it this time by first making a spice rub of salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg and letting that get comfortable on the chicken thighs for about an hour before searing both sides in a cast iron skillet.

I put the rest of the usual ingredients together in the blender: garlic, scallion, ginger, habanero pepper, lime juice, soy sauce, white vinegar, and I think a little thyme. This is poured into your favored Dansk enamel pot over the seared chicken and let alone covered to simmer for 2-3 hours. I went three awaiting a visitor at the expectant time.

The chicken is removed and set aside to cool.

The chicken is then pulled from the bones and placed back into the jerk sauce until serving. I, myself being poor, put it on toasted sourdough that I keep stocked in the bread bin and served it (sadly to myself) with a simple cabbage salad of red cabbage, shredded carrot, julienned cucumber and a dressing of vinegar, oil, sugar, garlic, and thyme. I left out the salt, as I pre-salted the vegetables to draw out their moisture and break down their cell walls, so my dressing could properly penetrate them with flavor.

Note to self: macro shots of cooked meat frequently tend to be gross.

01 March 2011

Cheap Soup

In continuation with making food on the cheap despite having a hefty payday last week, I raided the cupboard and freezer again to make a cheap soup. It's a tomato-based rainbow chard and garbanzo bean soup. Along with the cabeza broth leftover and since frozen from the cabeza tacos I made the other week, I also had some frozen Leberknödel made a month ago that I tossed in at the last second in order to overdo the protein.

In the ole Le Creuset pot, I sauted an onion and garlic, mixed in tomato paste, cumin, and chili flakes, followed with a large can of whole tomatoes and dried basil, and I let this simmer for a bit before adding a cup of the cabeza broth and a couple cups of water.

Thirty minutes later, I added chopped rainbow chard and softened for 5 minutes at the same heat. No re-seasoning was necessary because cabeza broth is basically gelatinous boullion. Before ladling into a bowl, I steeped the liver dumplings until reheated and presto! Cheap soup for lunch.

Combined cost: ca. $5.00
Total amount of soup: full stomach the rest of the week