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Archive for Meat & Poultry

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Tony Roma’s Heat & Eat Barbecue

Tony Roma's Ribs

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Spare Ribs

Top: We love these meaty boneless ribs. Center: Look for this package in your supermarket. Bottom: Baby back ribs. All photos courtesy Tony Roma’s.

 

We try to avoid barbecue joints because way beyond the barbecue, we fill up on cornbread, buttermilk biscuits, cole slaw, mac and cheese and banana pudding. We feel overstuffed now, just by thinking of it.

That’s why it was our lucky day when we accepted Tony Roma’s offer of heat-and-eat pork ribs to consider for THE NIBBLE. They’re available at supermarkets nationwide, and we’re thankful for that! (Here’s a store locator.)

They’re as good or better than what we get in restaurants…and we don’t face a menu of tempting, high-carb, high-sugar, high-fat choices. And we don’t have to make anyone’s brother’s award-winning recipe.
 
ABOUT THE RIBS

The ribs and barbecue are marinated and slow-cooked. Fully cooked and nicely sauced, we microwaved them and they were ready in minutes. We tried:

  • Tony Roma’s Baby Back Pork Ribs
  • Tony Roma’s Boneless Pork Ribs
  • Tony Roma’s BBQ Pulled Pork
  •  
    There are other choices we didn’t taste—but look forward to:

  • Pulled Chicken
  • St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs
  •  
    All are available in with either Sweet & Spicy or Sweet Hickory barbecue sauces, and all made us happy. But the boneless ribs are by far our favorite: thick slices of tender meat with no bones to contend with.

    We were in hog heaven, and the boneless ribs have joined our “addiction list”—Top Picks that we continue to buy regularly at the grocer’s.

    Now, we can enjoy delicious ribs without all the empty carb sides and without sticky fingers: We eat them with a knife and fork. We…

  • Ate them with a big, crunchy salad and homemade cole slaw (purchased a package of shredded cabbage and tossed with a light vinaigrette—and sometimes blue cheese dressing).
  • Rolled them in lettuce leaves with shredded carrots, shredded daikon and watercress.
  • Served them with sides of sweet potatoes and sautéed apples* or caramelized onions.
  • Made burritos and tacos.
  • Served three slices atop a bed of [variously] sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, grits and San Gennaro polenta.
  •  
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    *We bought a jar of Grandma Hoerner’s Big Slice, delectable and time-saving.
     
    A QUICK PORK RIBS TUTORIAL

    There are two types of barbecue preparation: dry and wet. Dry ribs are rubbed with a mixture of herbs and spices. The rubs don’t require advance preparation; they can be applied just before barbecuing. Wet ribs are basted with sauce prior to and during the barbecuing process.

  • Baby Back Ribs are sourced from the loin area. These ribs tend to be smaller in size than spare ribs, but are considered to be more tender than other rib cuts. Think of them as tender and tasty.
  • Spare Ribs, also called side ribs, are from the belly area. They are longer and fatter than baby back ribs, but less meaty. The mix of meat and fat add to their tenderness and make slow-cooking a great way to enjoy these pork ribs. They’re what you want if you love to chew on the bones.
  • Boneless Ribs are sourced from the shoulder-area of the hog. They are slow cooked at low heat until tender and then portioned into various size boneless rib pieces. Most often, boneless ribs are marinated and seasoned for tenderness.
  • St. Louis-Style Ribs are a particular cut of the pork rib. The shape is almost rectangular and bone has been removed. These are meaty and tasty ribs, typically marinated for tenderness.
  • Pulled Pork is made with meat sourced from the shoulder area. It is slow cooked at low heat until it becomes tender enough to be “pulled” apart. Most often, pulled pork is marinated and seasoned for tenderness and tastiness.
  • Types Of Pork Ribs Chart

     
    Glossary information and chart courtesy Rupari Foods, maker of Tony Roma’s retail barbecue products.
     
    LOVE PORK?

    Check our the different cuts of pork in our Pork Glossary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Roast Chicken Recipe

    Our mom was a terrific cook, of everything from the simple to the elaborate. On weekday nights, meals would be more simple: grilled meats and fish, salad, a vegetable, a starch. Once or twice a week she roasted a plump whole chicken in a countertop rotisserie, similar to this one but bigger, and without today’s multi-tasking options. It grilled meat on a spit, period.

    She gave it to us one year, when she upgraded to a new model. But as much as we loved roasting a juicy Bell & Adams chicken, taking up two feet of counter space was a hardship in a typical New York City kitchen. So one day, we passed it on to someone with enviable counter space.

    It’s easy to pick up a roasted chicken in a supermarket these days, and some markets use quality birds with a quite satisfactory result. But it’s not in our DNA to buy a pre-cooked chicken. We tried a vertical roaster from Cuisinart which saved us eight inches of footprint—but that was still too much forfeited counter space for us.

    More recently, we came across a simple broiler-and-oven roasting technique from GFF Magazine. If you have a butcher who can debone the chicken for you—or you like to do it yourself (here’s a video tutorial)—you’ll find that the roasting technique delivers the most delicious chicken: very crisp skin and very moist meat.

    The recipe was developed by Chef Daniel Patterson, whose San Francisco restaurant, Coi, earned two Michelin-stars.

    Chef Daniel finished the dish with fried herbs and an herb vinaigrette. We took a shortcut and sprinkled the cooked chicken with fresh herbs.

    It’s not Mom’s beloved rotisserie chicken, seasoned with paprika and garlic salt that scented the air, but it’s time to move on.

    RECIPE: CHEF DANIEL PATTERSON’S ROAST CHICKEN

    Ingredients For 4 to 6 Servings

  • 1 whole chicken, about 4-1/2 pounds, deboned
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Garnish: minced fresh parsley or other herb of choice
  •  

    Roast Chicken

    Whole Raw Chicken

    Top: Chef Daniel Patterson’s easy roast chicken (photo courtesy GFF Magazine). Bottom: If you have a good palate, it pays to spend extra on the best chicken (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     
    Preparation

    This recipe was made in an oven with a top broiler element. If your broiler is in a separate unit, preheat your oven to 250°F.

    1. SALT the chicken 1 to 3 hours prior to cooking and place it in the fridge. Remove it 10 minutes before cooking and place it in a rimmed pan, skin side up.

    2. ADJUST the oven rack to 3 inches from the broiler heating element, and preheat the broiler. Place the pan under the heat for 10 minutes. This browns and crisps the skin. Rotate the pan a few times for even browning.

    3. TURN the oven temperature down to 250°F and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes, cut the chicken into pieces and serve.

     
    CAN YOU NAME THE CUTS OF CHICKEN?

    There’s much more beyond breast, drumstick, thigh and wing. Check out the parts of a chicken in our Chicken Glossary. Cluck, cluck, cluck.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Roast Leg Of Lamb

    Our family typically had turkey for Thanksgiving, prime rib for Christmas, ham and lamb for Easter, lamb for Mother’s Day and a return to prime rib for Father’s Day.

    Back in the day, food was seasonal. Lamb was available in the spring. Fall is the natural mating time for sheep, which results in lambing in early spring. From an evolutionary standpoint, in spring there is plentiful grass for the mother, which maximizes her milk production to feed her offspring.

    With modern animal husbandry, grass can be replaced with feed, and sheep can be artificially inseminated. Adios nature, hello year-round lamb.

    This luscious lamb dinner from Good Eggs in San Francisco is festive without requiring an overly involved preparation process. The artichokes, stewed with herbs and lemon, are a delectable side. But don’t consider them as your “green vegetable’: Add some spring peas, too.

    And don’t wait for a holiday to make it. We enjoy it for weekend dinners.
     
    RECIPE: LEG OF LAMB WITH STEWED MINT ARTICHOKES & YOGURT SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 4.5 pound leg of lamb
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs plus more for garnish
  • 3-4 large artichokes or 1 pound baby artichokes (we prefer the babies—see photo below)
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups Whole Greek yogurt
  • Marash Turkish chile flakes*
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • A few splashes of white wine vinegar
  • A loaf good bread
  •  
    Plus

  • Spring peas, carrots or other vegetable
  •    

    Leg Of Lamb Dinner

    Roast Leg Of Lamb

    Top: A perfect roast lamb dinner from Good Eggs | SF. Bottom: A roast leg of lamb from Allen Bros.

     
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    *Marash chile flakes are red pepper flakes from Turkey. They have a complex flavor—fruit and smoke—with moderate heat. Marash is both smokier and a bit hotter than Aleppo pepper, but you can use them interchangeably. The flakes can be blended with lemon juice and salt for a meat rub, or added to olive oil to make a vinaigrette, pasta or rice sauce. Blend the flakes with olive oil for a bread dipper, add to soups and stews, chili or any meat dish.

     

    Marash Chile Flakes

    Grilled Baby Artichokes

    Top: Marash chili flakes; photo courtesy Silver Lake Station, which sells the chile flakes. Bottom: Make extra artichokes to enjoy the next day. These are served at X Bar at the Hyatt Regency | Los Angeles.

     

    Preparation

    1. PAT the meat dry an hour ahead of time, and season it generously with salt and pepper. You can do this the day before and remove it from the fridge about an hour before cooking. Leave any twine or netting around the meat in place.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Place a cast-iron† pan large enough to hold the lamb on the stove top, over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a light coat of olive oil, place the leg in the pan and brown it on all four sides until the skin is deeply golden and crisped (about 4 minutes per side). Tuck three large sprigs of rosemary around the lamb, and roast it for half an hour until the internal temperature reaches at least 145° (for medium-rare). While lamb is cooking…

    3. PREPARE the artichokes: Wash under cold running water, remove the toughest outer leaves and, if necessary peel the stems. Then slice across the base of the leaves, remove the choke, and quarter the large artichoke hearts/stems or halve the baby artichokes.

    4. PLACE the artichoke hearts in a pot and cover with water. Add a bit of olive oil, two tablespoons of salt, two sprigs of thyme, three bay leaves, three sprigs of mint and a splash of white wine vinegar. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the artichoke quarters are fork-tender. While the artichokes cook…

    5. MAKE the yogurt sauce. Whisk the yogurt with a handful of chopped mint, a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of Marash chili pepper, and the zest and juice of one lemon. Taste for balance; if you prefer a thinner sauce, you can add more olive oil or lemon juice. When the artichokes are done…

    6. REMOVE the artichokes from the liquid with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and set them aside to cool. When cool, taste and season them with salt and a bit more olive oil to taste. Finish with some freshly chopped mint. When lamb is done…

     

    7. REMOVE the pan from oven and let the lamb rest at least 15 minutes. Remove any twine or netting around the lamb and slice against the grain. Garnish with whole herbs as desired. Serve with the artichokes, yogurt sauce and sweet spring peas.
     
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    *Cast iron enables better browning or searing, but if you don’t have it, use your heaviest roasting pan.

      

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Australian Lamb

    While Mom always served great meals, a leg of lamb was a special treat. It was the star of our yearly Easter dinner, served with mint jelly and sides of spring peas and roasted potatoes.

    When the folks from Aussie Lamb contacted us with the offer to try Australia-raised lamb, they didn’t have to twist arms. The lamb arrived frozen, but it didn’t stay that way for long. We defrosted a different cut overnight in the fridge, and the next day enjoyed an exceptional lamb dinner.

    Australia is known worldwide as a producer and exporter of high-quality lamb with a top food safety record. The lamb is 100% free-range, feeding on grass. It is all-natural, free of artificial additives including hormone.

    Naturally lean, tender and juicy with superb flavor, the lamb is aged to retain moisture and then vacuum-packed. Our “Lambathon”—three consecutive days of lamb dinners—has made us a big fan. The chops were wonderful, the rack of lamb celestial.

    All of the cuts are available, from ground meat and kabobs to shank and shoulder—for special occasions to every day. The lamb is certified Halal.

    And, it is half the price of fresh lamb (we checked prices at FreshDirect.com). No one could tell the difference.

     

    Rack Of Lamb

    Cooked Lamb Shank

    Top: Elegant rack of lamb for special occasions. Bottom: Luscious lamb shank for every day. Photos courtesy Australian Lamb.

     
    LAMB: A HEALTHY RED MEAT

    Lamb is a lean protein with low cholesterol. An average 3-ounce serving is just 175 calories. Lamb is an excellent source of protein, niacin, selenium and vitamin B12, and a good source of riboflavin.

    And here’s a surprise: Lamb has three times more iron than chicken and two times m ore iron than pork and salmon. While fish contains the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids, lean lamb is close behind.

    Australian Lamb is a healthy choice for any lifestyle—a naturally nutrient-rich food with high levels of zinc, Vitamin B12, iron, riboflavin and thiamin.

    In our neighborhood, it is carried by the best markets, Citarella and Whole Foods among them. Here’s a store locator.

    There are more recipes than you can shake a tail at, at AustralianLamb.com, along with cooking tips and a video library.

    The council will also send you a free cookbook.

    Could you ask for anything more?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Corned Beef & Cabbage Sandwich

    Sliced Corned Beef

    Top: A Corned Beef & Cabbage panini sandwich from Dietz & Watson. Bottom: Sliced corned beef. Photo courtesy Cascal Soda.

     

    You may look forward to Corned Beef & Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day? How about a Corned Beef & Cabbage Sandwich?

    If it sounds strange, remember that cole slaw is simply sliced cabbage with dressing, and that the Reuben is a grilled or toasted sandwich on rye or pumpernickel with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian Dressing.

    In this recipe from Dietz & Watson, they cabbage is simply steamed, but nothing’s stopping you from serving the sandwich with a side of slaw. Or a cold beer.

    This photo shows the sandwich made on a panini press, but you can make a conventional sandwich as you prefer.

    This sandwich is a relative of
    In addition to corned beef hash, this is one of our favorite uses for leftover corned beef.

    RECIPE: CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE SANDWICH

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup green cabbage, julienned finely
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 slices rye bread or substitute
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or grainy mustard
  • 6 thin slices corned beef
  • 2 ounces Cheddar Cheese
  • Optional garnish: pickles
  •  
    Preparation  

    1. BRING 1/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon oil to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Add the cabbage and reduce the heat to low. Steam the cabbage for 15 minutes but do not overcook; the cabbage should still remain crisp. Drain and pat with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    2. LAY two slices of bread on a flat work surface. Spread 1 teaspoon of mustard on each slice. Pile the corned beef, Cheddar and cabbage on one slice. Add the top slice of bread. Grill on a panini press or serve as is.

     

     
    WHAT IS CORNED BEEF?

    Corning refers to curing or pickling the meat in a seasoned brine. The word refers to the “corns” or grains of rock salt (today, kosher salt) that is mixed with water to make the brine.

    Typically, brisket is used to make corned beef; the dish has many regional variations and seasonings. Smoking a corned beef, and adding extra spices, produces pastrami.

    Corned beef was a staple in middle-European Jewish cuisine. Irish immigrants learned about corned beef on New York’s Lower East Side from their Jewish neighbors, and adopted it as a cheaper alternative to Irish bacon. Bacon and cabbage is a popular Irish dish. (Irish bacon is a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. Here are the different types of bacon.)

    Cattle in Ireland were not used for meat but for dairy products. Pork, an inexpensive meat in Ireland, was a dinner table staple.

    But in the U.S., pork was much more expensive than the American staple meat, beef; and brisket, which required several hours of cooking to tenderize, was an affordable cut. Irish-Americans substituted corned beef for the bacon, and and Corned Beef & Cabbage was born.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipe

    Growing up, we had plenty of corned beef and cabbage. It was one of Mom’s favorites; she made it once a month or so in a big iron Dutch oven.

    These days we only get homemade corned beef and cabbage when we make it ourself. Unlike Mom, we can’t hang around the kitchen and watch the pot.

    Fortunately, McCormick sent us this slow cooker recipe. We toss the ingredients into the cooker, turn it on and come back in eight hours. Slow cooking lacks the glamour of aroma wafting from the big iron pot, but it does the job.

    WHAT IS CORNED BEEF?

    Corning refers to curing or pickling the meat in a seasoned brine. The word refers to the “corns” or grains of rock salt (today, kosher salt) that is mixed with water to make the brine.

    Typically, brisket is used to make corned beef; the dish has many regional variations and seasonings. Smoking a corned beef, and adding extra spices, produces pastrami.

    Corned beef was a staple in middle-European Jewish cuisine. Irish immigrants learned about corned beef on New York’s Lower East Side from their Jewish neighbors, and adopted it as a cheaper alternative to Irish bacon. Bacon and cabbage is a popular Irish dish. (Irish bacon is a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. Here are the different types of bacon.)

    Cattle in Ireland were not used for meat but for dairy products. Pork, an inexpensive meat in Ireland, was a dinner table staple.

    But in the U.S., pork was much more expensive than the American staple meat, beef; and brisket, which required several hours of cooking to tenderize, was an affordable cut. Irish-Americans substituted corned beef for the bacon, and and Corned Beef & Cabbage was born.

    Trivia: The first St. Patrick’s Day parade originated in New York City, in 1762.

       

    Corned Beef & Cabbage

    Uncooked Brisket

    Top: Slow cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage from McCormick. Bottom: Uncooked brisket from Double R Ranch, available from Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Pickling Spice Recipe

    Crock Pot Slow Cooker

    Top: If you don’t have pickling spice, you can make your own from spices you do have (photo Taste Of Home). Bottom: Toss everything into the slow cooker and come back at dinner time (photo Rival).

     

    RECIPE: SLOW COOKER CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE

    Conventional Corned Beef & Cabbage simmers for about three hours on the stove top. Here’s a classic recipe with a twist: a touch of Guinness.

    But toss the ingredients into a slow cooker and come back in eight hours to dish out perfectly cooked corned beef and cabbage. Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 8 hours.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 8 small red potatoes
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 pre-brined corned beef brisket (4 pounds), rinsed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice (recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 head cabbage, cored and cut into wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the potatoes, carrots and onion in a 6-quart slow cooker; place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with pickling spice and minced garlic. Add enough water (about 8 cups) to just cover the meat. Add the lid. For best results, do not remove the cover during cooking, except to add the cabbage in Step 2.

    2. COOK for 7 hours on HIGH, then add the cabbage and cook for 1 to 2 hours on HIGH or until cabbage is tender but still crisp (not soggy).

    3. REMOVE the corned beef to a serving platter and slice thinly across the grain. Serve with the vegetables.

     

    FOOD TRIVIA

    The original slow cooker was the Crock Pot, introduced in 1971 by the Rival Company. It was developed as an electric bean cooker, and was originally called the Beanery. Earlier, the Rival Company had introduced the electric can opener. Thanks, Rival!
     
    RECIPE: PICKLING SPICE

    If you don’t have pickling spice, you can make your own with this recipe from Taste of Home:

  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients. Store in an airtight jar in a cool dark place (i.e., not next to the stove or oven).

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Fried Chicken Sandwiches & New Combinations

    Fried Chicken Sandwich

    Chicken & Waffle Minis

    Top: Trending now, the “gourmet” fried chicken sandwich. This one is from Shake Shack. Bottom: Hold the bun and do something special, like the fried chicken with micro corn muffins and honey butter (for the chicken, not the biscuits) at Honey Butter Fried Chicken | Chicago.

     

    According to Flavor & The Menu, a trends magazine for chefs, a new wave of fried chicken is popping up from coast to coast.

    Much of it is in the form of a gourmet fried chicken sandwich: brined, deftly seasoned, often with antibiotic-free chickens sourced from family farms. It’s a far cry from Chick-Fil-A.

    “Gourmet” (our word) doesn’t refer to an elegant ambiance or fancy plating. Rather, it’s an approach to fried chicken that uses top ingredients, including interesting buns and condiments.

    THE NEW TAKE ON FRIED CHICKEN

  • In Manhattan, food trendsetter David Chang has opened Fuku, with a focus on fried chicken sandwiches. For his Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich, chicken thighs are marinated in habanero purée, coated in buttermilk, dredged in a spice blend, fried, then placed inside a steamed potato roll with pickles and Fuku butter (butter spiked with fermented chickpeas).
  • For a limited time, Shake Shack, with multiple locations in New York and elsewhere, is offering Chick’n Shack, a crispy hormone-free, antibiotic-free, cage-free chicken breast sandwich with lettuce, pickles and buttermilk mayonnaise on a potato roll (top photo).
  • Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Chicago double-batters buttermilk fried chicken and tops the crispy skin with smoked paprika salt. The chicken is served with honey butter to slather on the chicken, as well as teeny corn muffin bits (second photo).
  • At The Crack Shack in San Diego, fried chicken is served with global-accented sauces such as harissa chimichurri and kimchi barbecue. The sandwich is served on a house-baked English muffin.
  • At Birds & Bubbles on New York’s Lower East Side, the Chicken & Egg Biscuit is marinated in buttermilk and served with deviled egg sauce and a dill pickle. You can also have Birdies In A Blanket, a re-imagined approach to chicken and waffles. The chicken is coated in waffle batter before frying. Out of the fryer, it’s then sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (What, no maple syrup?)
  • At Arlen’s Chicken in Evanston, Illinois, a bucket of small pieces of fried chicken comes with either potato tots or crispy biscuits and a choice of three sauces: honey butter, Sriracha honey or Oh So Hot (which includes Scotch bonnets, ghost peppers and red finger chiles). The sandwich version starts with a toasted housemade biscuit, topped with cheddar cheese, a fried chicken thigh, sauce, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce and tomato. With deference to fried chicken lovers who still want something good-for-you, you can have your chicken and sauce served atop a green salad.
  •  
    Read the entire story at GetFlavor.com.

    Then, give some thought to your own perfect fried chicken sandwich or other “re-imagining.”

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cabbage The New Kale

    Head Of Cabbage

    Head Of Red Cabbage

    Savoy Cabbage

    Bok Choy (White Cabbage)

    Head Of Napa Cabbage

    Top: Familiar green cabbage. Second: Purple cabbage (other varieties are red). Bottom: Savoy cabbage. Third: Savoy cabbage. Fourth: Bok choy or white cabbage. Photos courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco. Bottom: Napa or Chinese cabbage. Photo courtesy MG Produce.

     

    St. Patrick’s Day evokes corned beef and cabbage—a dish the Irish learned in America, by the way, from immigrant Jews on New York’s Lower East Side. But we’d like to use the occasion for a plea:

    Make cabbage the new kale. Even if you’re not tired of trendy kale, we sure are.

    We’re turning back the clock. We were a cabbage lover before we ever heard of kale. Cole slaw and Nana’s stuffed cabbage were favorites while we were still in kindergarten. Next came sauerkraut on hot dogs and the braised red cabbage served with Sauerbraten, the German classic that marinates beef in vinegar or wine.

  • Cabbage is sharp and crunchy when served raw in salads and slaws. Unlike lettuce, it doesn’t wilt under dressing.
  • It becomes soft and suppple when braised over low heat, made into soup or cooked in casseroles. Heat brings out some sweetness.
  • It is both crisp and tender when grilled or added to stir-frys.
  • It plays well with other vegetables: brassicas, root vegetables, potatoes.
  •  
    CABBAGE VS. KALE

    Like kale, cabbage is a brassica (cruciferous vegetable), packed with anticarcinogen antioxidants.

    It even has fewer calories. Here’s a nutritional comparison.

    Eat This Not That highlights 10 greens that are healthier than kale. (This article, based on a report from the Centers For Disease Control [CDC], begs the question: When will chard become the next supergreen?)

    Finally, it’s a much more versatile ingredient, as you’ll discover when you keep reading.
     
    TYPES OF CABBAGE

    With these choices, it doesn’t get dull:

  • Bok choy/white cabbage, crisp, broad, white stems with a nutty nuance; tender, deep green leaves that taste not unlike spinach.
  • Green cabbage, ubiquitous, slightly peppery when raw.
  • Red/purple cabbage, slightly earthier than green cabbage.
  • Savoy cabbage, deeper green color, beautifully crinkled leaves, thinner leaves with mild flavor.
  • Napa† cabbage/Chinese cabbage, oblong shape with frilly, sweeter, softer leaves.
  •  
    You can use them interchangeably in recipes where the cabbage is chopped or sliced, like cole slaw or soup. The round heads are interchangeable, except when color or texture is important.

    While they do have different flavors, bok choy and napa cabbage are interchangeable in stir-fries and braises.

  • Bok choy is white-stemmed with dark green leaves; napa cabbage is pale green with crinkly leaves.
  • Napa cabbage has a very mild flavor along with a peppery kick. Bok choy has a stronger flavor, similar to green cabbage.
  •  
    WAYS TO USE CABBAGE

    For starters:

  • Baked cabbage chips (recipe)
  • Casseroles
  • Lettuce cup substitute
  • Sandwich wraps
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sides
  • Slaws
  • Soups and stews
  • Stuffed cabbage
  •  
    Emeril’s favorite cabbage recipe has bacon and is simmered in beer.

    We’d love to know your favorite cabbage recipe.

    _______________________________
    *The Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others.

    †Here, “napa” does not refer to California’s Napa Valley. The word originates from a Japanese term that refers to the leaves of vegetables that are edible. The variety originated near Beijing, China.

     

     
    RECIPE: THAI STEAK SALAD WITH RED CABBAGE

    In addition to Thai salads with cabbage and stuffed cabbage, we now regularly make cabbage wraps.

    Thanks to Quinciple, a weekly curated delivery of farmer’s market produce, for this recipe.

    Ingredients For 1-3 Servings‡

  • 1 sirloin steak
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup red or purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ¼ pound baby greens
  • ¼ cup mixed fresh cilantro and mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEASON the steak generously on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet with just a few drops of oil in it, sear the steak on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, or longer for more well-done beef. Sirloin tastes best when cooked hot and fast to medium rare. Let the steak cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

    2. WHISK together the juice from the lime, the soy sauce, fish sauce, shallot and olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    3. SLICE the steak thinly. Toss the greens and cabbage with the dressing. Divide the salad between two plates and top with the steak. Garnish with the mint, cilantro and peanuts.

     

    Thai Steak Salad

    Cabbage Wrap Sandwiches

    Top photo: Thai Steak Salad with red cabbage from Quinciple. Bottom: Savoy cabbage wraps, served with spicy peanut dipping sauce. Here’s the recipe from AHouseInTheHills.com.

     
    __________________________
    ‡Depending on whether you plan to serve the salad as a first course or a main.

      

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    RECIPE: Cajun Chicken Salad

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cajun chicken salad potatorolls.com 230

    Chunky Chicken Salad

    Top: Cajun Chicken Salad on a Martin’s
    potato roll. Bottom: Martin prefers a
    food-processor blended chicken salad, which
    is so creamy it can be used as a spread. We
    prefer chunky chicken salad.

     

    Our favorite chicken salad recipe includes sliced grapes and almonds and dried cherries or cranberries in a curry mayonnaise.

    But we headed south (metaphorically speaking to try this recipe, from Martin’s Famous Pastry, a spicy, meaty departure from our sweeter recipe.

    This Cajun Chicken Salad adds popular Creole ingredients like spicy andouille sausage, onions, celery, sundried tomatoes, and seasoning, to minced chicken to create a dish full of flavor.

    Martin’s, which sells potato rolls, used their product for a sandwich. We couldn’t get hold odf the rolls, so we put the chicken salad on a bed of mesclun.

     
    RECIPE: CAJUN CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Sandwiches

  • 3-4 cups cooked chicken, minced into small pieces
  • 1/3 pound smoked andouille sausage
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 green onion tops, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup apple, finely chopped
  • 1 handful sundried tomatoes, chopped small
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Creole seasoning, to taste (recipe below)
  • 4 Martin’s Sandwich Potato Rolls or other roll/bread
  • Butter lettuce or other pliable lettuce
  • Optional: Provolone cheese slices
  • Optional: Dijon or other spicy mustard
  • Optional: mesclun or other greens (instead of the bread)
  • Preparation

    1. SAUTÉ the chopped onions and sausage in butter until the onions are soft and translucent.

    2. COMBINE the chopped chicken, sausage and sautéed onions in a food processor and blend to the desired consistency; or simply combine them in a mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients and then season to taste.

    3. SERVE on a roll with lettuce, cheese and mustard on the side; or on a bed of greens.
     
    RECIPE: CREOLE SEASONING

    If you don’t have Creole seasoning, it’s easy to make your own. This recipe makes much more than you need for the chicken salad, but you can cut it down or use the extra in other recipes, from eggs to burgers.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 teaspoons granulated garlic
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the spices in a bowl, and stir to combine.

    2. STORE in an airtight container away from light and heat, but use as quickly as possible.

     

    WHAT IS ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE?

    Andouille (pronounced on-DOO-wee) is a smoked, spicy pork sausage, originally from France. It was brought to Louisiana by the French immigrants and Acadian (French Canadian) exiles, whose cuisines would merge to create much of Louisiana Creole fare.

    The sausage is made using coarsely-ground pork from a smoked Boston shoulder roast, along with garlic, pepper, onions, wine, and other seasonings. Once the casing is stuffed, the sausage is smoked again.

    FOOD TRIVIA: Like the word ganache, which means imbecile in French (here’s the story), the word andouille also designates an imbecile.
     
    CAJUN VS. CREOLE: THE DIFFERENCE

    Cajun and Creole are not the same, although people removed from Louisiana often use them without distinction.

  • Creole referred to people who were born to settlers in French Colonial Louisiana, specifically in New Orleans. In the 18th century, Creoles were the descendants of the French and Spanish upper class that ruled the city.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Andouille beauty wiki 230

    Andouille sausage joins the chicken in this chicken salad recipe (photo Eva K | Wikimedia).

  • Cajuns, on the other hand, emigrated from the Acadia region of Canada, which consisted of present-day New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. They settled in the swampy region of Louisiana that is today known as Acadiana; their name in French, les Acadians, became shortened in the vernacular as Cajun.
  •  
    Some people think of Creole cuisine as “city food” and Cajun cuisine as “country food.” But to eyeball the dish and tell its provenance, here’s a simple trick:

    Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and Cajun food typically does not. That’s how to quickly distinguish a Cajun gumbo or jambalaya from a Creole gumbo or jambalaya.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Beef-Buying Tips (What To Ask The Butcher)

    Grilled Bone In Strip Steak

    Lookin’ good: a bone-in strip steak. Photo
    courtesy Remington’s | Chicago.

     

    We recently were taken to dinner at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C., located on the lovely balcony of historic Grand Central Terminal in the heart of Manhattan.

    We wondered if Executive Chef Cenobio Canalizo would give us some advice on the most important considerations when buying steaks and roasts to cook at home. It’s a big expense, and we want to spend our money wisely.

    He kindly provided us with these…
     
    6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR BUTCHER WHEN BUYING FINE BEEF

    1. Is it wet aged or dry aged?

    Dry-aged beef has a roasted, nutty flavor, while wet-aged beef can taste slightly metallic. Wet-aged beef lacks the depth of flavor of dry-aged, but it can be more tender.

    Chef Canalizo says most chefs will agree that dry-aged has the preferred flavor; it’s also more expensive.

     

    In wet aging, the muscle (beef) rests in a plastic bag in a refrigerated room. With dry-aged, it hangs to age in the air. When you see the word “aged” followed by a given amount of time, and there is no reference to wet or dry, you can safely assume that it is wet-aged beef.
     
    2. How long was the beef aged?

    Chef Canalizo prefers 21 days of aging. Longer is not always better, he advises. Aging actually causes the meat to decay (a tenderizing process). With too much aging, beef can develop a moldy smell and taste.

    All beef needs at least 3 weeks to start to tenderize. Naturally raised beef needs more than 6 weeks because the animals are more mature when they are processed. The reason most supermarket beef is tougher is because it is not sufficiently aged. (Aging = time = more expense.)
     
    3. Is it corn-fed or grass-fed beef?

    What a steer eats can have a major effect on the nutrient composition of the beef. Grass-fed beef usually contains less total fat than grain-fed beef. Thus, gram for gram, grass-fed beef contains fewer calories.

    According to AuthorityNutrition.com, while grass-fed beef may contain slightly less total fat than grain-fed beef, equally valuable is that it contains a lot more Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), another fatty acid. Both are very beneficial nutrients.

     

    4. How much fat has been trimmed?

    Chef Canalizo recommends leaving a quarter inch of fat on top of the steak for flavor.

    Many people choose cuts with less fat and less marbling. Marbling is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean, and is a prized feature (that’s why Kobe and Wagyu are the most prized beef in the world).

    The fat adds flavor and helps to tenderize the meat. Also, much of it is “cooked out” before the beef is served.
     
    5. How many ounces is it with the bone?

    Chef Canalizo recommends 14 ounces (bone included) per guest. You should request cuts that are closest to the bone. The meat is sweeter and there’s more flavor.

     

    Roast Beerf

    Our mom’s special occasion go-to dish: a roast beef. She insisted on USDA Prime, and became friendly with a top butcher. Photo courtesy Niman Ranch.

     
    6. What’s the grade/quality of the meat?

    From top down, the grades of beef are USDA Prime, USDA Choice and USDA Select. Additional grades, not available for consumer purchase, are Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner. These latter grades are used in anything from canned chili to pet food.

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a quality grade is a composite evaluation of factors that affect palatability of meat (tenderness, juiciness and flavor).

    These factors include carcass maturity, firmness, texture and color of the lean, and the amount and distribution of marbling within the lean.

    Beef is graded in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness and flavor; and yield grades for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass.

    While only the quality grade is important to you as the buyer, you should note that in the yield grade, only 3% of all beef produced in the U.S. is USDA Prime. It’s sold only at top butcher shops and top steak restaurants like Michael Jordan’s.

    If you’re not going for USDA Prime, be sure you’re getting USDA Choice, not USDA Select.

      

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