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Archive for Meat & Poultry

TIP OF THE DAY: Poach Your Proteins

Poaching Salmon

Poached Tenderloin

Poached Chicken

Poached Salmon

[1] Poaching salmon is the easiest way to enjoy moist, tender fish, without cooking fish aromas. Here’s a recipe from Cooking Light. [2] Our favorite way to make beef tenderloin is to poach it. Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart. [3] If you make chicken in a pot, or chicken soup with pieces of chicken, you’ve poached a bird. Here’s a recipe from Enki Village. [4] Our first poaching attempt was inspired by classic French dish (here’s the recipe from Buck Cooks).

 

Poaching food is a topic that doesn’t come up much these days.

The age-old moist-heat cooking technique simply submerges raw food in a liquid. The technique cooks the food without pulling the moisture from it: The protein is moist, never dry.

The food cooks at a relatively low temperature (about 160°–180°F), which is especially good for delicate foods (eggs, fish) that might fall apart or dry out with other cooking methods.

Heartier foods—an entire beef tenderloin or chicken—work equally well.

Decades ago, when we tried to master the art of French cooking, we purchased a large, oblong fish poacher, a pan created to poach a whole fish.

Cold poached salmon was a mainstay of French cuisine, served with dill sauce and marinated cucumbers. We loved it and ate it regularly, at the numerous classic French restaurants that graced New York City back then. It looked easy to make, and it was.

But we subsequently discovered that serving it nicely takes a bit of training. The captains at the French restaurants new how to cut neat slices, avoiding the bones. Our salmon looked like it had been hacked by starving hordes. Sigh.

We stuck the poacher in the cupboard (until, 10 years later, we learned to poach an entire beef tenderloin, a cinch tot slice), and stuck to poaching fillets. They require zero skill to serve.

START POACHING TODAY

Just about any food can be poached, poaches up moist and flavorful, and can be served warm or cold.

Poaching proteins are an easy and healthy preparation; all your healthcare providers and trainers approve. Poaching has:

  • No added fat.
  • No unwanted aromas drifting through the house.
  • No “watching the pot” (or the grill).
  • Clean-up is easy: nothing sticks to the pan.
  •  
    Bonus:

    You end up with an extra dish, or part thereof.

    The poaching liquid becomes a delicious broth that can be served later, thickened into a sauce, or used in other recipes.

    WHAT’S IN THE POACHING LIQUID?

    The poaching liquid can include whatever flavors you want, from the base to the add-ins.

    Our wine editor, Kris Prasad, who taught us to poach a tenderloin, advised: “Toss in whatever you have: leftover wine, herbs, soy sauce instead of salt, a splash of balsamic, citrus juice or vinegar for tartness. Anything works.”

    The poaching liquid can be:

  • Water or stock/broth
  • Milk, as appropriate
  • Plain or blended with wine (including leftover sparkling wine), beer, dry vermouth, fruit juice
  • In terms of add-ins: Add in whatever flavors you like, from classic mirepoix—carrots, celery, onions—and fresh herbs, to the less obvious—cardamom, cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole nutmeg, etc.

     
    There are recipes galore online, and plenty of videos on YouTube, for anything you might want to poach.

    Don’t wait to try them: You may discover that poaching proteins is your favorite food discovery of the year.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate With A Bacon Bar + 21 More Food Bars

    Bacon Bloody Mary

    Bourbon Bacon

    Pancetta

    Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

    [1] Start with a bacon Bloody Mary (photo and a recipe courtesy Bacon Bourbon USA). [2] Bourbon bacon with bacon-cheddar biscuits and bacon jam (photo courtesy Smithfield). You can serve the different types of bacon on a plate or in a jar or glass. [3] You can include European styles of bacon, like pancetta. Check out the different types of bacon (photo courtesy Fra Mani).[4] Bacon-cheddar biscuits (photo courtesy Food Network).

     

    For entertaining, we like DIY food bars. Guests help themselves, and you only need to get involved when a plate or bowl needs to be refilled.

    Cocktails, Hors D’Oeuvre & Appetizers

  • Antipasto Bar
  • Apple Cider Party Bar
  • Bloody Mary Bar
  • Bruschetta Bar
  • Flavored Shots Party Bar
  • Gazpacho Bar
  • Guacamole Bar
  • Shandy Bar
  • Stuffed Avocado Bar
  •  
    Main Meals

  • Breakfast Or Brunch Bar
  • Coconut Bowl Bar
  • Lunch Or Dinner Bar
  • Tapas Bar
  • Temaki Bar (Sushi Hand Rolls)
  •  
    Desserts & Snacks

  • Assorted Desserts Bar
  • Brownie Bar
  • Frozen Yogurt Bar
  • Ice Cream Bar
  • Pudding Party Bar
  • S’mores Bar
  • Popcorn Bar
  •  
    Today, inspired by Smithfield, we’re adding to the list with a bacon bar.

    Whether for a casual New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, you can create a memorable experience for bacon lovers.

    RECIPE #1: BACON BLOODY MARY

    The easiest route to a Bacon Bloody Mary is to garnish a regular Bloody Mary with a strip of bacon. (You can do this with any savory cocktail, from bourbon on the rocks to a Martini.)

    Or, you could go whole hog with bacon vodka, bacon Bloody Bary mix and a bacon salt rim, as they do at Bacon Bourbon USA.

    We also have recipe for a BLT Bloody Mary, courtesy of the Hotel Jerome in Aspen.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: CARAMELIZED BOURBON BACON

    You can serve plain bacon, and showcase the difference between applewood- and hickory-smoked varieties.

    You can also enhance bacon with herbs, spices and sweeteners, not to mention chocolate. The next two recipes are from Smithfield.

    Smithfield even has ready-to-print labels to distinguish what you’re serving.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 sixteen-ounce packages thick-cut bacon
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper. Remove the bacon from the package and space evenly on the pan, without overlapping slices.

    2. PLACE the pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, rotating them halfway through. While the bacon is cooking, combine the honey, bourbon and maple syrup.

    3. REMOVE the pans from the oven and carefully drain off the grease (you may wish to reserve it in a jar for cooking greens, eggs, etc.).

    4. BRUSH the bacon with the bourbon/maple syrup/honey mixture. Return the pans to the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes. Let the bacon cool slightly and then serve immediately.
     

     
    RECIPE #3: SEA SALT CARMEL BACON OR SALTED CHOCOLATE BACON

    Like chocolate-covered bacon, this recipe from Smithfield qualifies as dessert!

    You can substitute chocolate sauce to make a chocolate bacon variation.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons caramel topping (or chocolate topping)
  • 2 twelve-ounce packages thick-cut bacon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking pans with nonstick foil. Remove bacon from package and space evenly without overlapping slices.

    2. PLACE the pans in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway and continue baking until crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven. Using tongs, place the strips on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Let cool slightly.

    3. HEAT the caramel in the microwave for 10 seconds. Drizzle the bacon with the caramel and sprinkle with sea salt. Return to the oven and bake 2 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes. Using tongs, remove to cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
     
     
    RECIPE #4: BACON-CHEDDAR BISCUITS

    Ingredients For 12 Biscuits

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (we substituted gruyère, which we prefer)
  • 1/2 cup diced cooked standard-sliced bacon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, toss together the cheese, green onions and bacon with 1 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut in the butter. Add the milk, stirring in just enough to bring the ingredients together and make a soft dough. Gently fold in the cheese mixture.

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Pat or roll out the dough to a thickness of ½ or ¾ inch. Cut into rounds with a 2 ½ inch round biscuit cutter.

    4. PLACE the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Ideally serve warm, although they’re delicious at room temperature, too.
     
     
    RECIPE #5: CHERRY BACON JAM WITH THYME & CLOVES

    This sweet-and-savory jam from Smithfield is delicious on biscuits, and also scores as a condiment on sandwiches, with eggs, and with grilled meats, poultry and fish/seafood.

    Ingredients For 9 Servings

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 large onions, finely diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds thick-cut bacon
  • 3 jars (10 ounces each) cherry preserves
  • 1.5 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the bacon in large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat until just crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels until cooled.

    2. DRAIN all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan. Increase the heat to medium and cook the onions for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent.

    3. ADD the preserves and sugar to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and the sugar has dissolved. Add in the vinegar, cloves, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until thickened and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile finely chop bacon while jam is reducing. Add bacon and thyme to pan and stir to combine, cooking until to your desired consistency. Let the jam cool. You can store in airtight jars for up to two weeks.

    TIP: For a smoother, less chunky jam, pulse the cooled bacon jam in a food processor until it is the desired smoothness.
     
     
    RECIPE #6: BACON APPLE PIE

    This pie crust top from Smithfield may be the best-tasting lattice ever.

    Ingredients

  • 8 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 3-1/2 pints sliced cooking apples (such as Granny Smith,
    Rome or Gala)
  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 9-inch single pie crust
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Bacon Apple Pie

    Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Bacon Ice Cream

    Bacon Clothesline

    [5] Bacon apple pie (photo courtesy Smithfield). [6] Bacon chocolate chip cookies from David Venable | QVC. Here’s the recipe. [7] Maple bacon bourbon ice cream. Here’s the recipe from from Cherry Tea Cakes. [8] And then there’s the Bacon Clothesline (photo courtesy David Burke | Fabrick Restaurant).

     
    1. HEAT the oven to 425°F. Place the pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges.

    2. TOSS together the apples and orange juice in a large bowl. Add the cranberries, walnuts and fresh ginger and mix well.

    3. STIR together the flour, ½ cup brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl. Add to the apples and toss until the slices are evenly coated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust.

    4. WEAVE the bacon slices together over top of pie, leaving 1-inch spaces between the slices (4 slices by 4 slices); tuck the ends of the strips under the apples as needed. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar over the top of the bacon slices.

    5. BAKE the pie in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp. Cover the edges of the crust with foil if it starts to get too dark.

    6. LET the pie stand for 15 minutes before slicing. This pie is best served warm because of the bacon. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

     
    HOW ABOUT BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES?
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BACON.

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Bacon Curing Kit

    What can you get for the bacon lover?

    There’s the Bacon Of The Month Club, but that’s $400.

    There’s always an assortment of the finest artisanal bacon brands from small producers who craft premium bacon the old-fashioned way: hand-rubbed spices, slow curing methods and real wood smoke.

    They can be double or triple the price of supermarket bacon, so it’s a gift most people wouldn’t buy for themselves. Check out some of the best brands, below.

    But this year, we’re recommending a DIY Bacon Curing Kit from Urban Accents. Just add a pork belly from the nearest butcher shop, and the recipient can have homemade bacon in just seven days. This DIY kit has everything you need!

    Just pick up a five-pound pork belly from your favorite meat counter and put the meat, curing salt, maple sage seasoning (if you like) into the curing bag. Refrigerate for seven days and you’ll be cooking up your own homemade bacon.

    The kit is $17.15 at Urban Accents.

    A five-pound pork belly is needed to make the bacon. Depending on your area, you can pay about $3.00 to $6.00 a pound. Heritage breeds are pricier.

    WHAT ARE THE BEST BACON BRANDS?

    According to a review in Food & Wine, you should try, in this order:

  • Vande Rose Farms Artisan Dry Cured Applewood Smoked: well-marbled heritage breed from the Duroc pig.
  • Trader Joe’s Uncured Apple Smoked Bacon.
  •  

    Bacon Making Kit

    Raw Pork Belly

    [1] Make five pounds of bacon with this DIY kit (photo courtesy Urban Accents). [2] Pork belly not included (photo courtesy Slap Yo Daddy BBQ).

  • D’Artagnan Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon. The company uses heritage breeds, such as Berkshire, Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace and Tamworth.
  • Tender Belly Dry Cured Maple Bacon: Made with Hampshire pork belly, known for its ideal meat-to-fat ratio, slow-smoked over cherrywood.
  • Applegate Farms Hickory Smoked Uncured Sunday Bacon: nitrate- and nitrite-free.
  •  
    Read the full review for more recommendations.

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: ButcherBox Grass-Fed Beef

    Butcher Box

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    Butcher Block Steak

    [1] A monthly (or one-time) box arrives, frozen and portion-wrapped. [2] The Steak and Chops Box. The boxes differ somewhat each month depending on what’s best. [3] You have to cook your own meat, but the result is worth it (all photos courtesy ButcherBox).

     

    What do you give loved ones who want to switch to all-natural and organic foods?

    To those who want to start the new year on the Paleo Diet?

    How about parents who only want to feed their children hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats?
     
    WHY GRASS-FED BEEF?

    Founder Mike Salguero, a follower of the Paleo Diet*, was first introduced to 100% grass-fed beef through a local farmer who sold quarter- and half-shares of cattle. Mike was instantly hooked, preferring the more natural taste of grass-fed beef and the many health advantages of grass-fed beef over conventional grain-fed beef.

    He asked himself: “Why isn’t everyone eating this?”

    The reason, he found, is that not everyone has access to grass-fed beef. Even if their market carries it, it is often limited to ground beef. Just 1% of the total beef consumed in the United States is 100% grass-fed.

    Mike set out to make 100%† grass-fed beef accessible to those who want it. He sought the best farmers; he and the team tasted every month’s supply before buying it.

    He added organic and free-range chicken and humanely raised heritage pork to the product mix, and made it simple to order and receive meat for the month.

    Butcher Box works on a subscription basis: Sign up for the number of months you want. You can cancel at any time, change your box contents, set your schedule (every month, every other, every three months) and so on.

    FOR GIFTS: You can send gift subscriptions or single boxes.
     
    WHAT YOU GET

    The team goes to great length to ensure that you’re wowed with each box you receive. Every cut from every farmer is tasted before ButcherBox buys it. If they don’t love it, you won’t get it.

    ButcherBox won a blind taste test on the Today Show, and gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from own taste test as well.

    ButcherBox offers four different monthly boxes, a balanced assortment of steaks, roasts, and easy-to-cook items like ground beef and tips. It arrives when you specify, portion-wrapped and frozen.

    Each monthly box contains a balanced selection of 3-5 premium cuts, from ribeye to flat iron to short ribs. In addition to the rotating monthly choices, each box includes a premium blend of ground beef.

    Based on the month’s contents, you can choose in advance to add on other options each month: New York strip steak, bacon, roasts, and so on. Its easy to customize your box to your household’s preferences.

    The basic boxes are:

  • All Beef Box
  • Beef & Chicken Box
  • Beef & Pork Box
  • Mixed Box (all 3 meats)
  •  
    All boxes come with curated recipes that you can use to cook the month’s cuts.
     
    WHAT IT COSTS

  • The ButcherBox you select is $129/month. It includes 7-10 pounds of meat—enough for at least 20 individual portions at a 5- to 8-ounce portion size.
  • The meats are less expensive than in stores, and shipping is included to the contiguous 48 states.
  • For individual gift boxes, prices start at $79.
  • The meats are flash frozen and portion-packaged.
  • DELIVERY

    The box is filled with dry ice that’s carefully calculated to keep the contents frozen on your doorstep for up to 24 hours after arrival.

    You receive a tracking number the night your box ships.
     
    CAN’T WAIT TO START YOUR OWN SUBSCRIPTION OR TO SEND BUTCHERBOX AS A GIFT?

    Head to GetButcherBox.com and start to drool!
     
    ________________
    *The Paleo Diet emphasizes whole foods and proteins from grass-fed animals, whose meat is considered more flavorful. It is usually lower in fat and calories.

    †Some cattle are 100% grass fed; others are fed with grass until six months before harvesting, when they are switched to grain to fatten them up.

     
      

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    RECIPE: One-Pan Chicken Dinner For Fall & Winter

    Chicken & Fall Vegetables

    Delicata Squash

    [1] Winner, winner: quick and easy chicken dinner. [2] Delicata squash has an edible rind and a built-in scalloped edge (both photos courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Winner, winner chicken dinner!

    This phrase is typically credited with originating on the Vegas Strip. Back in the 1950s, every casino had a $1.79 three-piece chicken dinner, which included a potato and a vegetable. At that time, a standard bet was $2. So if you won a hand, you’d have enough money to buy yourself a nice chicken dinner.

    At the time, as in many places today, this simple chicken dinner was the cheapest dinner around. So you didn’t win the roast beef dinner.

    But hey, don’t disparage a good plate of chicken and veggies. It’s one of America’s favorite meals.

    This one is a winner because you make it all in one pan, as in: Winner, winner, chicken dinner with a side of delicata squash and brussels sprouts.

    If you haven’t had delicata squash, it’s a great opportunity to try it. It may become a favorite.

  • Its orange flesh has a sweet and nutty flavor like acorn squash, but the skin is edible: no peeling required! That’s why it’s called delicata, Italian for delicate*.
  • It creates flower-like slices with great eye appeal for no extra effort.
  • Slices can be served atop green salads, with cottage cheese and/or Greek yogurt, topped with grains, potatoes, or other vegetables. It’s a winner.
  • You can roast it like any other winter squash.
  •  
    Thanks to Good Eggs, which delivers fine provisions in the Bay Area, for the recipe.

    RECIPE: ONE-PAN CHICKEN THIGHS WITH FALL VEGETABLES

    You can have this on the table in 35 minutes. If you don’t like brussels sprouts, exchange it for something else.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 handful sage leaves, chopped roughly
  • 1 pinch chile flakes
  • ½ pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out and cut into ½ half moons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEASON the chicken thighs on both sides and set aside.

    2. HEAT a large (10-inch) cast iron pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken thighs skin side down and cook until the skin starts to turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Remove the thighs and set aside.

    3. ADD a tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, sage and chile flakes. Cook until the garlic starts to color, about 4 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and squash and cook for about 5 minutes. When the vegetables start to soften…

    4. NESTLE the chicken skin-side-down in the vegetables. Turn the heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook until the thighs are cooked through and the vegetables are tender and caramelized, about 25 to 30 minutes.
     
    ________________
    *In fact, the delicate skin is why no American over 20 years of age grew up with delicata squash. The thin rind is susceptible to mildew which rots the crop. Thus, delicata squash all but disappeared after the Great Depression. Thankfully, a group at Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding took it under their wing around 2000, and bred a variety that was resistant to most squash diseases.

    †A handful is one of those imprecise measures that says: Use how much you want. More or less of the ingredient is not critical to the recipe’s outcome.

     
      

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