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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Meat & Poultry

PRODUCT: Blake’s All Natural Comfort Food

Lobster mac and cheese: elegant comfort
food. Photo courtesy Blake’s All Natural.

 

Comfort food: does the term need an explanation? Those favorite foods from childhood, rich with nostalgia (and often, rich in calories), are so satisfying. For a brief period of time, they can make you feel that all’s well with the world.

Apple pie, banana pudding, beef stew, chicken pot pie, chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken, a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and meatloaf…the list goes on and on.

Depending on your ancestry, there will be additions from foreign lands. Borscht with boiled potatoes and sour cream and bagels with chopped herring or smoked whitefish are on our list.

Blake’s All Natural Foods specializes in frozen comfort food entrées from American and U.K. traditions. The line consists of all natural, frozen meals. They get popped into the oven or microwave, wanting only a large side salad to round out a convenient, healthful, and delicious lunch or dinner.

There are individual portions and family-size:

 

  • Mac & Cheese: Chicken Mac & Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese (family size only), Old Fashioned Macaroni & Cheese, Veggie Mac & Cheese
  • Old-Fashioned Macaroni & Beef
  • Pot Pies: Chicken Pot Pie, Garden Vegetable Pie, Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie
  • Shepherd’s Pie (gluten free)
  •  

    Most varieties can be cooked in either a microwave oven or a conventional oven. For the pot pies, you’ll want to use the oven so the lovely crust will crisp delightfully.

    For more information and to find a retailer near you, visit BlakesAllNatural.com.

    The products are made from scratch by actual people (not machines) in small batches by hand. The ingredients are all natural, the poultry and meats antibiotic- and hormone-free, the cheese rGBH-free.

    There’s also an organic line that includes most of the varieties above plus All Meat Chicken Pot Pie and Upside Down Chicken & Waffle Pie. The organic meals contain at least 70% organic ingredients and some varieties are 100% organic. The organic vegetables are also used in the all-natural line.

     

    Pot pies are made in three varieties, one with a gluten-free crust. Photo courtesy Blake’s All Natural.

     

    We tasted a few varieties—all comforting, some requiring a bit of extra seasoning (a tablespoon of grated Parmesan, a shake of nutmeg, some fresh-cracked pepper). In particular, the sauce for the Veggie Mac & Cheese was very buttery, but not cheesy enough for us. A couple of heaping tablespoons of Parmesan solved that!

     
    ABOUT BLAKE’S

    The company traces its origins to a 25-acre farm purchased in Concord, New Hampshire in the Great Depression the farm’s first season in 1929. Clara Blake’s son Roy grew up to farm award-winning turkeys.

    In the third generation, grandson Charlie was experimenting with his grandmother’s recipe for turkey pot pie. With a dozen pies in 1970, he sold out in 20 minutes. For the next 40 years, he sold turkey and chicken pot pies throughout New England—through modern distribution networks, not the back of the van.

    Charlie’s daughter Amy and her husband joined the business, and expanded the line to accommodate the wishes of their own young family—a fifth generation that one day may be the face of Blake’s.

    Grandma Clara would be proud.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asian Fusion Brisket Sandwich

    Brisket, anyone? Photo courtesy Fatty ‘Cue
    Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Here’s a fun idea for brisket lovers: An Asian fusion brisket sandwich.

    Fatty ‘Cue restaurants in New York City combine traditional smoky southern barbecue with spicy Southeast Asian flavorings.

    Each Fatty ‘Cue location has a variation on the smoked beef brisket recipe, including:

  • Brisket with smoked melted cheddar, purple pickled onions, aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), chili jam and cilantro, on toasted baguette slices
  • Brisket with smoked onion marmalade, green papaya slaw and bao (Chinese steamed buns)
  • Brisket with rhubarb kimchee and bao (you can use any type of kimchee)
  •  

    Fancy some fusion?

    You can add the Asian fixings to a roast beef sandwich, or for that matter, chicken, turkey, lamb, ham or roast pork. If you have a bottle of Southeast Asian fish-sauce, shake it on!

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Foie Gras Cubes, Bargain Foie Gras

    If you’re a fan of seared foie gras: Why pay a restaurant a $20 supplement for one little piece when you can buy an entire pound for $30.99 and sear it at home in a minute?

    Our Top Pick Of The Week is bargain foie gras: $30.99 a pound for the trimmings of the lobe, called foie gras cubes. The whole lobe, or for pre-sliced scallops, is almost double that.

    The cubes are available from foie gras specialist D’artagnan.

    While foie gras may seem exotic, cooking it couldn’t be easier. Just season with salt and pepper and place in a hot pan for a minute. The biggest task is deciding how to serve it.

    In general, sweet or sweet-and-sour items pair best with the richness of seared foie gras:

  • Sauteed fruit, from apples to citrus to mango
  • Chutney, compote, jam or wine jelly
  • Sweet sauce: balsamic reduction, honey-vinegar sauce (for the simplest solution, heat tart cherry or fig jam with balsamic or sherry vinegar) or a gastrique
  •  

    Affordable foie gras you can enjoy more often. Photo courtesy Chef Scott Conant.

     

    Foie gras should be enjoyed with a sweet white wine. Sauternes is the ideal match, but a late harvest Gewürtztraminer or Riesling can be equally wonderful.

    Read the full review, and decide what you’re going to serve with your cubes.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gourmet Cheeseburger Hot Pockets

    There’s a cheeseburger and pickles inside the
    pocket! Photo courtesy Steakhouse Elite.

     

    Maximize the fun and minimize the drips with this recipe for homemade hot pockets from Steakhouse Elite.

    RECIPE: CHEESEBURGER POCKETS

    Ingredients For Four Pockets

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 slices cheese, your choice
  • ¼ cup minced sweet onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 16 slices pickles and/or pickled jalapeños
  • 8-ounce package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Ketchup or barbecue sauce to dip
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F/175°C.

    2. DIVIDE crescent roll dough into rectangles on ungreased cookie sheets. Do not separate at the diagonal perforations. (Try pinching the diagonal perforation together to make a solid piece of dough).

    3. MIX the ground beef together with the onion, salt, pepper, and paprika, in a medium mixing bowl.

    4. PLACE ¼ cup of the beef mixture onto each crescent sheet; top with your pickles or jalapeños. Stretch dough over meat.

    5. BAKED in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve with a ramekin of ketchup for dipping.
     

    ABOUT STEAKHOUSE ELITE

    Steakhouse Elite produces American-raised Wagyu beef products that are known for their velvety texture and buttery flavor.

     

    Homemade “hot pockets” are easy to make. Photo courtesy Steakhouse Elite.

     

    You can find their ground beef, burger patties and franks at Acme, A&P, Balducci‘s, Food Emporium, Foodtown, Fresh Direct, Garden of Eden, King’s, Morton Williams, Pathmark, Publix and SuperFresh.

    For more information, visit the company website.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Hot Dog Recipes For Labor Day

    A hot dog Boston-style, topped with baked
    beans, crumbled bacon and chopped red
    onion. Photo courtesy Applegate.

     

    If you didn’t whip up some gourmet hot dogs on July 23rd, National Hot Dog Day, Labor Day Weekend is another opportunity to strut your hot dog stuff.

    In case you’re thinking chili cheese dogs, corn dogs and pizza dogs, take a look at these gourmet hot dog recipes. Below are more examples created by chefs across the country. Now, you’re ready to turn hot dogs to haute dogs.

  • Downward Dog, Japanese Style Hot Dogs. At The Corner Office in Denver, there’s a Japanese spin: Downward Dogs, two hot dogs with Japanese mustard, kewpie mayo, sweet soy sauce, nori and cucumber tsukemono (Japanese pickles sliced thin and marinated in rice wine vinegar, mirin, sugar, and salt for two days). The dogs are served in a split-top bun with a side of butter fries (tossed in clarified butter and salt). Kewpie mayo is a Japanese brand, a smoother, creamer mayonnaise made with rice vinegar rather than distilled white vinegar. You can buy it online.
  •  

  • Coney Island Style Hot Dogs or Coney Dogs. They’re not from New York’s famed Coney Island: This style of hot dog originated in Michigan in the early 20th century at Todoroff’s Original Coney Island. The original dog was topped with an all-meat (beanless chili), chopped white onions and stripes of yellow mustard. A special coney sauce evolved at hot dog stands that combined ground beef, onion, ketchup, mustard, celery seed, Worcestershire sauce and other seasonings. Here’s a coney sauce recipe. Toasted Oak in Novi, Michigan, an American brasserie, serves them with a twist: mini dogs topped with venison (instead of beef) coney sauce.
  • Southwestern Style Hot Dogs. Kachina Southwestern Grill in suburban Denver makes a Sonoran Dog, named after the state in the northwetern corner of Mexico. The restaurant pays homage to this culinary melting pot with a Kobe beef hot dog topped with applewood bacon, cowboy beans, pico de gallo, crumbled cotija cheese and smoked tomato aïoli, wrapped in house-made bolillo, a long, crusty roll with a baguette-like texture.
  •  

  • Poutine Dog, Breakfast Dog. There are two special dogs at Portland’s The Original Dinerant (a cross between a diner and a restaurant). Poutine Dog adds a hot dog to the classic Canadian dish. The dog is topped with warm cheese curds, crispy French fries and veal gravy. Or try a Breakfast Dog instead of sausage and eggs. It’s a grilled hot dog topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and wrapped in a bun that’s been French toast-battered and fried bun. The condiments: a drizzle of maple syrup and powdered sugar, of course.
  •  
    These recipes are from our chef friend Ken:

  • BLT Dogs. Shredded lettuce, bacon, mayonnaise, diced tomatoes.
  • Peking Dogs. The dog is topped with the fixings of Peking Duck—julienne cucumbers, chopped scallions and hoisin sauce—and wrapped in a crepe.
  •  

    A San Francisco-style hot dog: healthy salad fixings on your frank. Photo courtesy Applegate.

  • Taco Dogs. Wrap halved hot dogs in grilled tortillas, topped with taco condiments (shredded cheese and lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, etc.).
  •  
    WANT SOMETHING EASIER?

    Just provide some special ingredients in addition to the traditional hot dog condiments.

  • Traditional hot dog condiments: barbecue sauce, chili, cheese (shredded), ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, pickle relish, sauerkraut.
  • Special hot dog condiments: bruschetta and fresh basil leaves, caramelized onions, cilantro, crumbled blue cheese, corn relish, jalapeños (raw and/or pickled), fruit salsa (mango, peach, pineapple), Onion Crunch.
  •  

    HOT DOG TRIVIA

    According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, an estimated seven billion hot dogs are eaten by Americans between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And every year, Americans eat an average of 60 hot dogs each!

  • Miller Park in Milwaukee is the only Major League ball park in which sausages outsell hot dogs. We recently featured “The Beast,” their “turducken” of hot dogs.
  • Ball park hot dog vendors need to be strong. A fully loaded bin weights approximately 40 pounds, and vendors typically walk 4 to 5 miles per game, up and down steps. They work on tips and commission.
  • “Nobody, I mean nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog” is a phrase less famous than “Go ahead, make my day.” But Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry said them both (the former in “Sudden Impact”).
  • Glamour queen Marlene Deitrich’s preferred meal was hot dogs and Champagne.
  • Visitors can purchase hot dogs at the Vatican Snack Bar.
  •  
    Want more trivia? Take our hot dog trivia quiz.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Moroccan Potato Kabobs

    Moroccan potato kabobs. Photo courtesy
    PotatoGoodness.com.

     

    Kabobs, variously transliterated from Arabic and other alphabets as kabab, kabob, kebab, kebap and kebob, refer to small pieces of meat or seafood that are marinated and broiled. They’re often cooked with tomatoes, green peppers, onions or other vegetables, usually on a skewer. The word meant roast meat; Americans have adopted it to mean food on a skewer.

    Since today is National Potato Day, we’ve got potato kabobs for you, a side dish flavored with Moroccan spices.

    The recipe is seasoned with a flavorful charmoula, a pesto-like sauce; the potatoes are grilled and sprinkled with a Moroccan spice blend. Add some beef, chicken, lamb or other protein for a complete all-kabob dinner.

    RECIPE: MOROCCAN POTATO KABOBS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds assorted red, yellow and purple
    potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup charmoula (recipe below)
  • 12 1-inch pieces pickled lemon/preserved lemon (recipe)
  • 12 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • 12 pitted Kalamata olives
  • Ras el hanout Moroccan spice blend (recipe below)
  • Preparation

    1. SIMMER potatoes until tender but still firm, drain and toss with charmoula. Cool.

    2. THREAD one cube of each kind of potato onto each of 6 skewers, alternating with 1 bay leaf, 1 piece lemon rind and 1 olive.

    3. GRILL skewers on a gas or charcoal grill, turning to form grill marks on each side. Sprinkle with Moroccan spice blend and serve.

     

    CHARMOULA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. urée ingredients in a blender.

    2. STORE in a tightly-sealed glass jar. Yields 3/4 cup.

     

    Ras el hanout. Photo courtesy Zamouri Spices. You can buy it online.

     
    RAS EL HANOUT

    Ras el hanout is a complex, aromatic spice blend, and as fundamental to Moroccan cooking as curry is to Indian cuisine.

    The name means “head of the shop” or top of the shop: the freshest and best spices the merchant has to offer. Most recipes include anise, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg and turmeric, but a shopkeeper might blend 30 or more ingredients. Allspice, coriander, chili flakes, cumin, clove, hibiscus, lavender, mustard and star anise are popular ingredients.

    The whole spices, dried roots and leaves are dry-fried to release their full flavor, then finely ground together. The finished product looks something like curry powder.

    The spice is used to coat baked or roasted meat, seafood and vegetables; in tagines and stews; and in couscous. You can buy a jar at an Indian market or online; or use this recipe to make your own.
     
    RAS EL HANOUT SPICE BLEND

    Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground mace
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND spices in a bowl.

    2. STORE tightly capped in a glass jar, in a dry, dark place. It will maintain its strength for several months.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: The Turducken Of Sausage

    Today’s Food Fun involves a word new to most people, engastration; a food familiar to many, turducken; and a bratwurst-hot dog riff on turducken.

    FOOD 101: ENGASTRATION

    Turducken consists of a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which is in turn stuffed into a de-boned turkey. The dish is a form of engastration: a preparation method in which one bird is stuffed inside the gastric passage of another to create a bird inside a bird inside a bird. The term is derived from Greek words meaning “in the belly.”

    Some recipes also have stuffing between each layer. The entire bird/bird/bird could also be covered in pastry.

    The method of engastration supposedly originated during the Middle Ages (here’s more engrastration history). A popular dish in 19th century England was Pandora’s Cushion, a boned goose stuffed with a boned chicken, which was stuffed with a boned pheasant, itself stuffed with a boned quail.”

     

    The Beast: a sausage stuffed with a hot dog, the cousin of turducken. Photo courtesy MLBlogs.com.

     

    The engastration most often consumed in the U.S. is the turducken. While Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme claims to have invented the idea, there is an Empire Kosher Poultry recipe book that long pre-dates Prudhomme’s recipe, although the recipe wasn’t called turducken. So Prudhomme may be credited with coming up with the portmanteau (see below).

    But turducken might easily have remained unknown outside Louisiana for a long time. Fortunately for turducken lovers, American football commentator John Madden promoted the dish on Fox Sports by feeding it to the Thanksgiving Bowl winners.

     

    Turducken: turkey stuffed with chicken
    stuffed with duck. Photo courtesy Louisiana
    Crawfish Co.

     

    THE BEAST BRATWURST HOT DOG

    Schlitz claimed it was “The beer that made Milwaukee famous.” But with all the food fans online these days, that claim is waiting to be updated.

    In the 21st century, the contender to make Milwaukee famous is The Beast, a grilled bratwurst sliced in half and stuffed with a grilled hot dog. The brat/dog is then wrapped in bacon and grilled.

    At The Plaza Pavillion in Miller Park, it’s served with sauerkraut and grilled onions on a Pretzilla pretzel roll, with house-made potato chips and a pickle.

    What, only one item stuffed into a second item? If the bacon doesn’t work for you as the third layer, just split the grilled hot dog in half and stuff it with cheese.

    TURDUCKEN: A PORTMANTEAU

    The word turducken is a portmanteau of turkey, duck, and chicken.

     

    A portmanteau (port-MAN-toe) is a combination of two or more words or morphemes, and their respective definitions, into one new word.

    The term derives from portmanteau luggage, a British term for a piece of luggage with two compartments, which in turn is derived from the French porter (to carry) and manteau (coat). A porte-manteau is a coat tree.

    The term was first used in the combined-meaning context in 1871 by Lewis Carroll in “Through the Looking-Glass.” Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky: “slithy” means “lithe and slimy” and “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable.”

    Humpty Dumpty explains: “You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

      

    Comments

    NEWS: Certified Humane® Products Now Available In All 50 States

    What is Certified Humane, and why should you care?

    Certified Humane is the seal of compliance bestowed by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), the leading non-profit certification organization dedicated to improving the lives of farm animals. The program aims to improve the lives of farm animals by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices.

    That’s you: a consumer who is reading this!

    ABOUT CERTIFIED HUMANE PRODUCTS

    When you see the Certified Humane Raised and Handled label on a product, you are assured that the food comes from a facility that meets precise, objective standards for farm animal treatment.

     

    Look for the Certified Humane label. Can’t find it? Ask the meat department manager. Photo courtesy HFAC.

     
    The dairy products, eggs, meat and poultry have been produced according to HFAC’s precise standards for humane farm animal treatment. The standards were developed by a veritable “Who’s Who” of national and international animal scientists and farm-animal welfare experts. Producer compliance with the standards is verified through annual on-site visits by third-party inspectors.

    Nationally recognized as the Gold Standard for certifying animal welfare from birth through slaughter, the program is supported by more than 50 humane organizations. More than 100 U.S. companies, representing thousands of farms and millions of farm animals, are now certified. The assurances include, among other things, that:

  • The animals have ample space, shelter and gentle handling to limit stress.
  • Animals receive fresh water and a healthy diet of quality feed, without added antibiotics or hormones.
  • Animals are free to behave naturally; for example, chickens are able to flap their wings and dust bathe, and pigs have the space to move around and root. Cages, crates and tie stalls are among the forbidden.
  • Producers must comply with the American Meat Institute Standards (AMI), a higher standard for slaughtering farm animals than the federal Humane Slaughter Act.
  •  

    Happy sows, happy piglets on a Certified
    Humane farm in Missouri. Photo courtesy
    HFAC.

     

    WHERE TO FIND CERTIFIED HUMANE
    PRODUCTS

    With the addition of Alaska this year, Certified Humane products are now available in all 50 states. Certified Humane products are available for sale 9 out of the top 10 grocery retailers, in more than 10,000 locations nationwide. Products are also available in Canada and for online purchase.

    To locate the nearest products, simply download the Certified Humane App from the Apple Store for iPhone, or from Google Play for Android.

    Accessing CertifiedHumane.org from any mobile device will instantly pull up a “Where to Buy” button, made for quick access to nearby products. From a computer, visit the Where to Buy page of the website.

     
    Both the app and the website lead you to a list of 42 companies that ship Certified Humane products to your door.

    Learn more at CertifiedHumane.org.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Turn Leftovers Into Ragout (Stew)

    The term ragoût (rah-GOO) may sound fancy, but it’s the French word for stew. When you make a quick-and-easy version from leftovers, it’s certainly more tempting-sounding than “leftovers stew.”

    The word origin is a bit more glamorous: ragoûter, meaning “to revive the taste.” And yes, it’s etymologically related to the Italian ragù, a sauce for pasta and other foods.

    The basic method for ragoût involves slow cooking over low heat. But forget the slow cooking, and throw leftovers into a pot to create something new and tasty, meat-based or vegetarian.

    The ingredients can include anything you’ve got, with poultry/meat or vegetarian. Almost about any vegetable can be added. If you don’t have leftover veggies, steam some carrots and potatoes or whatever you have and toss them into the pot.

     

    Turn leftovers into ragoût. Photo courtesy
    Spice Islands.

    Check the fridge for:

  • Beans, grains and legumes
  • Meat, poultry, tofu
  • Potatoes, rice and pasta
  • Vegetables
  • Optional garnishes: grated cheese, fresh herbs
  •  

    Combine beef broth with soup concentrate
    for an “instant” stew base. Photo courtesy
    College Inn.

     

    Check the spice rack for anything that appeals to you, from classics like oregano and thyme to assertive like chili flakes or curry. Think of a few dashes of a “surprise” sweet spice, like allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg. And don’t forget the herbs.

    The next step is to make the sauce, from:

  • Packaged beef stew seasoning mix and water (check the spice section in the store; McCormick makes one)
  • Tomato juice or vegetable juice (you can combine with broth)
  • Soup concentrate (cream of mushroom or other vegetable, minestrone/vegetable, tomato, etc.)
  • Stock or canned broth
  • Wine
  • Worcestershire sauce
  •  
    The art is in mixing the different ingredients and reducing them to a stew-like consistency (otherwise, you’ve got soup—which is also a great use for leftovers). Your own palate and eye will guide you.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Five Minute Marinating Tips

    Whether you decide to grill, roast, or sauté meats and other foods, marinating will make them tastier.

    A marinade is a savory, acidic sauce comprised of an acid, oil and seasonings. The food—fish, meat, vegetables—is bathed in the marinade to enrich its flavor and/or to tenderize it. The breaking down of the tissue also causes meat and poultry to hold more liquid, making it juicier.

    The marinade should be relatively thin in consistency, in order to penetrate the food. The acidic ingredient can be buttermilk, lemon juice, wine/beer, or yogurt, seasoned with herbs and/or spices. Sometimes oil is eliminated from red meat marinades, because meat generally contains enough fat.
     
    EASY MARINADE RECIPE

    1. MIX any good cooking oil with an acid (lemon juice, vinegar, wine).

     

    Old-school marinating: in a glass or plastic dish. Photo courtesy 12Tomatoes.com.

     
    2. CHOP up some fresh herbs and garlic cloves or add herbs and/or spices from your pantry. For an Asian marinade, mix soy sauce with oil, chopped onions and garlic.

    Thanks to Linda Stadley of What‘s Cooking America and FoodSafety.gov for some of these tips:

  • RATIO: A general rule of marinade-to-meat ration is 1/2 cup of marinade per pound of meat. If you use a little more marinade, it will be OK.
  • FRIDGE: Always marinate in the refrigerator, never marinate at room temperature or outdoors when barbecuing. Bacteria can quickly multiply on warm, raw meat. If the recipe says to marinate at room temperature, ignore it.
  • TIME: Marinades that contain no salt, acid, or alcohol can be marinated overnight or, in some cases, longer.
  • TIME: Marinades that contain acid, alcohol or salt should not be used for longer than four hours, because those ingredients will chemically “cook” or denature the food, the way raw seafood is cured by citrus juice to create ceviche.
  • TIME: Marinades that contain citrus juices, especially lemon or lime juice, should be used for only 2 hours or less. Mind the time: foods left too long in these blends can change color and texture. Fish fillets, for example, can change in a matter of minutes.
  • TIME: You can store marinated poultry in your refrigerator for two days. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb may be marinated up to 5 days.
  • SAFETY: Be sure to use a food thermometer and cook the meat to a safe minimum internal temperature. Here’s a temperature chart.
  •  

    The best way to marinate: in a resealable
    plastic bag. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
  • NO METAL: Do NOT marinate in a metal container: The acidic mixture can react with the metal. Marinate only in a sealable plastic bag, plastic container or glass container. Turn the food occasionally so that all sides are coated evenly with the marinade.
  • COVER: If you marinate in container (as opposed to a plastic bag), cover it.
  • DON’T REUSE: Never reuse marinade unless you’ve boiled it to destroy harmful bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. If you plan to use some of the marinade as sauce for the cooked food, reserve that portion apart from what you are using to marinate.
  • BOTTLED DRESSING: A common tip is to marinate in bottled Italian dressing, a ready-mixed combination of acid, oil and seasonings. But why pay several dollars for bottled dressing when you can use your own oil, and vinegar and garlic for pennies?
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    EASIEST MARINATING: PLASTIC BAG

    The easiest and least messy way to marinate food is to use a resealable plastic bag. When all of the air is pressed out before the bag is sealed, the marinade completely surrounds the meat.

    This dramatically reduces the amount of marinade necessary, and also affords even marination, allowing maximum penetration of the marinade from all sides.

    Here are tips from McCormick for five-minute marinating. If your recipe calls for a longer time, follow the instructions.

    1. PLACE the food and the marinade in a resealable plastic bag.

    2. PUSH the air out of the bag and seal tightly.

    3. MASSAGE the food for five minutes, turning the bag often so it absorbs most of the marinade. (this is easy to do with meat and seafood; vegetables should just be squished around in the bag).

    4. REMOVE the food and cook. Discard the bag with the remaining marinade.

      

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