Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do try this at home

Don't be scared. No family members or eyebrows were injured during this process.

Deglazing is fun and knowing that the flare up is actually a really cool flame should give some sense of relief. I started tonight with a case of culinary block. I had no idea what to make for dinner. Watching an episode of Top Chef can nip that in the bud. The episode about Pig and Pinots gave me something to go with. We ended up with roasted pork tenderloin and broccoli with Bouchant and garlic mashers and a Chardonnay sage reduction. It really bugs me how complicated that all sounds considering how easy it is.

I peeled and cubed up some potatoes and boiled them in salted water with a splash of vinegar. At the same time I steamed some broccoli and the removed to an ice bath when they were starting to get tender. Actually I went a little too far with the broccoli because I was trying to put a pair of toddlers to bed at the same time.

I diced up an onion, shallot, and a few cloves of garlic and sautéed them in olive oil in a skillet large enough to handle my tenderloins. I added a little salt and pepper during this process. Once the onions were translucent I added a good pour of Bouchant and deglazed the pan. Fireworks!

Once the flames died down I scooped out the aromatics and tossed in the pork. Let these babies rest for a while to carmalize on the outside. Flip once they are nice and brown, insert a meat thermometer into thickest one and put the pan into the oven at 350. Let these roast for 8-10 minutes.

Toss the drained broccoli with some salt, pepper, olive oil, and a spoon full or two of the onion/garlic/shallot mix. Spread on to a baking sheet and drop on to a rack below the pork.

Crap! Taters. These should have been strained and put into a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 stick of butter, 2 big spoons of sour cream, 1/2 cup of milk, a couple of table spoons of the sautéed onions, salt and pepper. Mash and set aside.

Once the pork hits 155-165 internal temp pull the pan out. Place to tenderloin on a cutting board under a tent of foil to rest. Put the pan back on the burned cranked up to high. Duct tape a towel around your non-dominate hand because I have grabbed a pan handle that just came out of the oven more than once. This would be fortunate in the event that I needed to be finger printed because I don't think I have any prints left. Add the remaining onion mix to the pan until it is sizzling pretty good. Add 1 cup of white wine to deglaze and scrape the bottom of the pan to ge the fond off.

Let this mess reduce to about 1/2 the original volume and remove from the heat. Add a 1/2 stick of butter cut into small cubes and slowly stir until completely melted and incorporated. I like to puree this with a hand blender until smooth.

Slice the pork into medallions, drop some potatoes and broccoli on the plate and add the sauce. Viola. Tired and buzzed is not the best blogging combo but I am sure I will return to edit this tomorrow. Just trying to keep it regular.

Out of focus Bouchant. My favorite less expensive orange liquor. Save the Grand Mariner and Cointreau for margaritas.

Deglazing while talking on the phone. True multi-tasking.

Pretty pork cleaned and ready to go.

Proper browning. Don't touch it for at least 5 minutes after you put it in.

Finished product.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Vemon, she is soooo good.

I picked up a bottle of wine on chili day that I have not seen in quite a while. This puppy is pretty hard to find especially in a retail outlet. It is so top secret Seghesio doesn't even have it on its web site. It is the "Venom."

Seghesio has long been known as a prime producer of Zinfandel. While I appreciate their efforts, Zin is not one of my favorite grapes. Their work with Sangiovese is what I really enjoy. It seems that GrandPa Seghesio planted some vines from his native land back in 1910. While I am sure he was making some kick ass "Chianti Americano" prohibition pretty much put a stop to that. In wines resurgence Sangiovese was not exactly on chic list here in the states. Heck, most people didn't even know what was in those funny wicker lined bottles served in those mom and pop Italian food restaurants. Well, thanks to the new Super Tuscans and odd balls like me Sangiovese is now being not only appreciated but celebrated. About friggin' time you Johnny-come-lateleys.

This wine is elegance and finesse backed up with some serious fruit and a Megan Fox'esque sexy finish. The bright fruit nose picks up right as you open the bottle. It has a beautiful light red color very reminiscent of a good Dolcetto d'alba but with much more backbone. I wouldn't say it is as feminine as a Barbaresco but this ain't gonna go head to head with a cab. It is 100% Sangiovese so it is a true expression of the grape and the land. I have had a few sexy Spainards like this as well but they are few and far between. I hesitate to tell you the location for fear that you might head out and buy all of the remaining stock before my kidney extraction and sale is completed this weekend.

All in all this has to be one of the best $40 bottles of wine I have ever had. It is hard to find retail but if you do, pick up a case or three. And if you do feel free to invite me over for dinner. I promise to cook a meal that will revolve entirely around the wine.

Happy drinking!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chili Time!

When the mercury dips into the 50s and football season is in full swing I start to get a hankering. Nothing says fall like a good pot of chili con carne. My wife made the suggestion on the way home today and I was happy to obliged. There are a thousand ways to skin a cat and make a pot of chili. I in no way claim to have a blue ribbon recipe or am an authority but I have learned a few things from trial and error. Here is my contribution which come with the usual disclaimer of; I rarely measure and scarcely use scripted recipes.

The meat is the most important thing. Today I used beef chuck, pork shoulder (boston butt), and some ground buffalo. In the past I have included venison, antelope, goat, turkey, lamb, moose, or any other flesh that can be obtained. They all add their own interesting characteristics and flavors that can add depth and character to your creation. You can buy chili meat from you local grocery store which is little more than ground beef scraps pushed through a different die. I choose to make my own so that I can control the composition and texture.

There is a requisite amount of fat required, since after all fat is flavor. The good thing about making your own chili meat is that you can control this like an OCD kid sorting legos. I am a big fan of beef chuck for the base. It is easy to find and usually has an 80/20 lean to fat composition. I like to add some pork shoulder for lightness and texture, and the buffalo just happened to be available. Stick with the beef if you want to keep it simple.

3/4 pound of beef chuck and pork shoulder and 1/2 pound of Buffalo.

First cut up your meat into 1" cubes. Don't be too fussy since it is all gonna be chopped up next.

Drop a few pieces at a time into your food processor with the standard chopping blade. Pulse 8-10 times to get the desired consistency. Remove and start another batch.

This is what you are looking for. Not completely ground. Texture is good.

Brown the meat in small batches in a heavy bottomed pot or enameled dutch oven with some canola oil, salt, and pepper. Notice all the yummy brown goodness on the bottom. That is called fond. It makes everything taste better. We will deal with that later. Remove and let the meat drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Add your aromatics. This is 1 large white onion, 1 large shallot, and 5-6 cloves of fresh garlic. a rough chop or dice is fine. Add salt and pepper and cook until translucent which should be 8-10 minutes.

Once your onions and such are cooked down add at least 1/2 bottle of red wine. The majority of my cooking liquid is wine or beer since water really adds no flavor and instead becomes a simple medium to cook in. Make sure and scrape all of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a flat head wooden spoon or spatula.

This is where you start adding your spices and such. I have previously blogged about my favorite, but that is certainly left to your own personal interpretation. Yeah, most purists would go and hunt and gather their own ingredients but I leave that to food anthropologists and budding sociopaths. My personal fav asks for some crushed tomatoes and water but of course I deviate. A can or two of crushed tomatoes is great but remember to drain the juice. I also add a can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, 2 bay leaves, the zest of 1/2 lemon and the juice of a whole lemon. A splash of apple cider vinegar and a spoon full of brown sugar is always appreciated. Return the meat to the pot and add enough wine or water to ensure that all the goodies are floating.

Bring this whole mess to a simmer and the cover and turn down the heat to LOW. Grab half of your six pack or another bottle of wine and go catch at least 2 hours of a game or some home improvement shows. Come back later and check your creation. If it is a little thin leave the lid off for a few. If you insist on thickening it with assistance I recommend using Guar Gum. It has 8x the thickening power of corn starch and is very flavor neutral.

Remove from the heat and get your fixings ready. I am a fan of Fritos, corn bread, sharp cheddar cheese, diced onion, cilantro, and sour cream.

Pick your poison and you are good to go.

Peace be to you that has a steaming bowl of chili and a team that has a chance of making the play offs.