Creamy Corn Grits

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Creamy. Corn. Grits. Oh my, oh my. Yeah, they go with everything.  Growing up in the South they were pretty much a substitute for pasta.  You can top them with shrimp, tomato gravy, grilled sausages and green peppers, braised beef, red-eye gravy and eggs, or even spaghetti sauce!  I remember my college roommate’s boyfriend saying they’d have pot roast the night before and dice up the left overs to put on grits in the morning. A guy I dated before I met my husband had a grandmother who would fry shad roe in bacon grease and onions and serve it over grits.  You could even get all cray cray and go all out and put fried chicken livers on top.  Shoo-wee, I’m not lyin’ when I say my mouth is watering over that!  I can remember my Great Grandaddy just pouring pork jowl bacon drippings and crumbled bits on the top of grits (hey, he lived until he was 96!). Yes, yes indeed. Give. It. Up.

Just give REAL grits a try (no, not the instant stuff in the store)–you won’t be sorry!

Creamy Corn Grits (4 servings)

  • 1 1/3 Stone ground, unbleached, yellow grits
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • 2 TBSP finely-minced onion
  • 2 TBSP finely-minced celery
  • Adding other herbs, like bay leaf, savory, or peppers can be fun

Pour your grits into your pot.

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High quality stone-ground grits are essential to a good bowl of grits!

Add milk, cream, and bouillon gel.  Stir well.

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Stir in your cream, milk, and gel bouillon.

Add butter, minced onions, and minced celery.

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Get yourself some butter and don’t be afraid to add spices that compliment what you’re serving on top of the grits!

Place over medium heat. Stir occasionally in the beginning.

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Watch closely and stir as needed to avoid sticking to the bottom. cook until the grains are tender but the grits aren’t gluey.

As heat rises off of the grits, stir more often. You may need to decrease the heat to medium low if you find the grits are sticking to the bottom.  Once the grains are tender (not mushy or gluey), serve with your favorite fixin’s!

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Yeah, grits are GOOD!

 

Practicin’ for St. Patty’s (or better Corned Beef)!

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Practicin’ for St. Patty’s!

 

St. Patty’s is a big deal in our house. It’s the beginning of Spring, a good excuse to come out from under the winter weather (yes, the whole two months of it!), and to celebrate with good friends.  And then there’s Corned Beef. I’ve always loved Corned Beef.  That being said, Good Lord bless me, I’ve usually had the type you’re familiar with:  Boiled to bejesus and somewhere close to rubbery. In fact, I’ll never forget my friend  Jennifer looking at me a bit exasperatedly and saying, “um, but it’s pickled meat!”.  Indeed, it is. It’s actually pickled beef brisket.  Although I’m in no way close to starting the project from scratch and pickling my own fresh brisket, I’m down with creating a much better Corned Beef than I’ve had in the past.  After all, it’s well past ‘Half Way to St. Patty’s Day’ and I’m just gettin’ on it!

Note:  This Corned Beef isn’t watery, or blubbery, or chewy.  It has tons of flavor and is soft like butter. However, it can’t be done in a hurry. It’s like any other tough meat…low and slow is the way to go. I actually used a ‘Texas Crutch” about half way through cooking when it seemed the meat chunk was just stalling at the tough stage. Think about how long it takes to cook a brisket…it’s pickled cousin isn’t much better. Good news…do a big enough batch at a time and you can have corned beef and cabbage, Reuben sandwiches, and homemade corned beef hash.

 

Better Corned Beef:

  • Corned Beef Brisket (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 head of cabbage
  •  A Handful of carrots
  • 2 large onions
  • Seasoning packet that comes with; Or
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 TBSP mustard seeds
    • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
    • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced
  • 1 Sierra Nevada Porter
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Get yourself a big ol’ pot. Coarsely chop your cabbage and cut up your carrots and onions (not too small since they’ll be in the pot a while).

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Chop your cabbage coarsely…it’ll stand up better to longer braising times.

Place 1/2 of your coarsely chopped cabbage in the bottom of the pot. pour your spices (packet or otherwise) over the top.  Add 1/2 of your carrots and onions.  Place the Corned Beef brisket on top.

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Add 1/2 of your cabbage, onion, and carrots to the pot. Place your Corned Beef on top.

Add the rest of the cabbage, onions, and carrots.

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Your sweet little 4 pound baby Corned Beef brisket is nestled in a bed of cabbage, onion, and carrots.

Pour in your beer and stock. Place a tight-fitting lid and set pot over a medium-low heat. Start up The Big Lebowski (well, you have to have something to do while you wait!). Braise for around three hours. At this point it should accept a fork easily but not be near falling apart and still give a fair resistance.

Take the brisket, place on a double layer of foil, add about 1/2 cup of the braising liquid, and wrap tightly.  Place in a 275 degree oven until a fork slides in like butter (about 1.5 hours). I have no other way to describe this other than the fork truly slides in like a a hot knife through butter. In the smoking arena, I’ve found this usually equates to between 195 and 205 degrees. Pull your little package out of the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes on the counter. Then unwrap and slice across the grain.

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Mmmmmm…pickled brisket never tasted so good! God bless the Irish!

 

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Serve it up with some of your cabbage and carrots and a little bit of broth. Get crazy and add some masked potatoes or for a Southern flair, some creamy stone ground corn grits.

For a super, duper treat…fry up an egg over easy and eat your leftovers in the morning!

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Corned Beef is a great friend for eggs over easy. Better yet? Add some tasty potatoes for a homemade Corned Beef hash (no one should EVER eat that weird stuff out of a can). Breakfast never looked so good!

 

 

 

 

Dry-rubbed, BBQ Chicken Thighs

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Dry-rubbed BBQ chicken–totally hit the spot!

So, we decided to carry on the weekend with the grilling. I mean, the grill was already out and it saves me from destroying the kitchen. And it’s a great excuse to get in touch with my inner Cavewoman. Being we did up some awesome ribeyes last night, I was looking for something non-beef. BBQ chicken thighs hit the mark.  There’s something about the fat and char mixed with tangy sauce that is seriously good. We dry rubbed the chicken first (big thanks to my bro for giving me a batch of his secret dry rub), then slathered on some Stubbs Original Sauce. I know I should make my own sauce, but 80’s hair metal and a comfy porch chair were callin’ my name!

Dry-rubbed BBQ Chicken Thighs

  • Enough Chicken thighs for some serious grubbin’
  • Dry-rub of your choice (we used my brother’s, but Stubbs makes some good ones)
  • BBQ sauce of your choice (again, Stubbs makes great sauces)

Rub your chicken down generously with dry rub. Let sit at least an hour. If your can overnight it in the fridge, all the better.

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Kinda startin’ to think the grill is a little too hot. We went with a chunk charcoal–it burns way hotter than your regular briquette!

Prepare your coals. Heat Your grill with the lid on for at least 5 minutes with the bottom vents open. Remove the lid and place your thighs, skin side up. Cook until well browned on the bottom. Slater with sauce and flip. Slather the bottom (now facing up) with sauce and cook until internal temp reaches 165 degrees. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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Flames from h-e-double-hockey-sticks! At least the chicken got a little burn on…I love me some charred BBQ chicken skin!

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Had to remove the chicken and finish off in a pan to avoid getting too much char (is there such a thing??).

Now, this sounds easy. However, we got the grill a bit too hot.  The Hubbs had to dance around the grill, circling it like he was doing a rain dance, to avoid the bonfire and to place the BBQ sauce. I’m pretty sure he singed off all of his knuckle hair. Hey, at least we got a good chuckle out of it! We ended up removing the chicken after a good singe (I do like mine pretty darn burnt) and placing it in a pan to continue cooking so as to avoid some seriously charcoaly chicken. While letting the grill cool a bit, we cooked up some grilled corn and some bacon-wrapped asparagus (um, yeah..that asparagus didn’t stand a chance in making it to the dinner plate!). Then we put the chicken back on to finish.  It was perfectly burnt (yes there is such a thing!) and the meat was super juicy. Perfect!

 

Grilled Corn

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Awesome grilled corn!

Being married to a Nebraska Boy, corn takes a special place in our house. We don’t eat it often, so when we do, it’s gotta hit the spot and hold you over until the next round.  Now, I don’t discriminate when it comes to corn–I love it all. Creamed, boiled, steamed, or grilled in the husk. But we’d had grilled corn when we were out and about that was nothing short of awesome.  It was sweet, corny, and speckled with little charred spots.  But trying to reproduce this at home by way of grilling in the husk just didn’t produce the same effect. Finally we tried just slapping it on the grill sans husk.  Perfecto!  You can add lots of things to it (paprika, sour cream sauce, cheese, japapeno, etc.), but I think plain ol’ butter does the trick. This stuff is a great pair for anything grilled.  Bonus?  The dogs love, love, love to pick the cobs and get all the little bits off (Be careful to not let them eat the cob–it can’t be digested and can cause problems)!  Not to mention it’s hilarious to watch them munch off the leftover kernels typewriter style. Happy dog and happy Cornhusker = Happy life!

Grilled Corn

  • As many ears of corn as you need
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Hot grill

Score the husk near the bottom of the cob with a pairing knife. Remove the husk and silk. Place on a hot grill, turning occasionally, until the kernels darken a bit and char spots appear.  Remove from the grill, brush with butter, and sprinkle with salt. Dig in. Don’t forget to share with your furry buddies (just make sure they don’t get ahold of the cob!).

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Grilled corn pairs well with just about everything!

Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese and Mushroom-Sherry Cream Sauce

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Grilled ribeye with mushroom-sherry cream sauce. Seriously. Good. Eats.

It was a long work week and I was in the mood to don some flip flops, enjoy the good weather, sip a little vino, and chat with The Hubbs. Not to mention I had an itchin’ to bust out the charcoal Weber my brother and his family gave me for my birthday.  I mean, who doesn’t like to play with their new toys??  As the proverbial “They” say, it really is all about the simple things. So The Hubbs stopped to pick up some ribeyes and we were on our way to Good Times.

Although I love a good ol’, simple charred ribeye (seriously, that charred fat!), I was looking  for a little something more. Luckily The Hubbs picked up some mushrooms and blue cheese I keep a stock of cream and sherry on hand. Although this recipe might seem like work, don’t let it fool you. It’s perfect for sippin’ and is worth every minute!

 

Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese and Mushroom-Sherry Cream Sauce

  • 2 Ribeyes, well marbled, 2 inches thick
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Blue Cheese
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 2 TBSP oil (we used beef tallow)
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed, diced finely
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onions
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
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Season your steaks. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Salt and pepper the steaks. Let sit 1 hour at room temperature. Prepare your grill.

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Soak your dried porcini mushrooms in just enough hot water to cover.

Soak your dried mushrooms in just enough hot water to cover.

Cook your mushrooms. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1 TBSP fat to pan over medium heat. Sweat the onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute. Remove dried mushrooms from liquid and squeeze over pan. Dice and add to pan. Add sherry and deglaze pan. Add cream slowly while stirring. Add the reserved cooked mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until reduced by half and sauce coats the back of a spoon.

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Get your charcoal ready!

Light 6 quarts of charcoal in a charcoal chimney.  When the top briquettes are half covered with ash, spread 2/3 of charcoal over grate with bottom vents completely open. Spread remaining charcoal over 1/2 of grate. Heat grill about 5 minutes with lid on. Remove lid, pat ribeyes dry with paper towels (they won’t char up otherwise), and place ribeyes over the hot side of the grill (the side with more charcoal).  Cook uncovered until well browned on each side, 2-3 minutes per side.  Move steaks to cooler side of grill and cook until meat registers 115 degrees for rare or 120 degrees for medium-rare (I think ribeyes are better at medium-rare). Remove steaks, loosely tent with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.

Heat your oven’s broiler to high. Sprinkle steaks with desired amount of blue cheese and place under the broiler for a minute or two to melt (to avoid cooking your steak at this point, make sure the rack is as close to the element as possible).  Watch closely so you don’t burn them–it can happen quickly!

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Mmmmmm. Melty blue cheese.

Plate your steaks and serve with your awesome mushroom-sherry cream sauce. Serve with your favorite veggie. Since the grill was fired up, we paired the steaks with grilled zucchini and yellow squash drizzled with chive oil. Seriously delightful. The wine, conversation, and R & R wasn’t half bad either!

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Serve with mushroom-sherry cream sauce. Prepare for utter silence at the table!

12 Ways to Not Waste Food

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A few tips and tricks to help keep your grocery goods lasting longer.

Where’s the food, you say???  So, this isn’t so much a post about delicious, mouth-watering food as it is about keeping all that booty you scored at the grocery store and farmer’s market fresh.  The Hubbs goes ba-na-nas if food goes bad in the fridge. It’s like a visceral Tasmanian Devil sort of bananas.  Seriously, it’s best to avoid it–so over the years we’ve found ways to make the goods last and last. And I’m here to share that with you, and possibly save you a nasty divorce.

1.  Go to the store with a list. I’ll admit, this is my biggest weakness. I’m like a kid in a candy store.  My brain screams, “Buy all the food!”.  It’s taken a whole lotta work to pare down my addiction to food shopping. It’s worth it to  not waste your money and spare yourself the ‘Kids are starving in ______ ” speech. Do it. Try out Not Quite Suzie Homemaker’s free printable list.

2.  Bring home your bounty and wash and dry it. I use Fit vegetable wash due to its natural, non-chemical formula.  Fill up one side of your sink with cold water and add a capful. Soak veggies for a few minutes, agitating every so often. Rinse well and let dry. IF you can’t buy all organic, use rubber gloves when submerging hands as most of the stuff coming off of those veggies is now in the water.  Change periodically if you’ve got a lot to do. Greens and mushrooms don’t do well with this, so be sure to buy organic.

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Getting the goods clean. Vegetable washes can remove pesticides, dirt, and waxes if you can’t buy organic (Although make every effort to!)

3.  Make use of your dishwasher. No, I’m not suggesting to WASH your veggies in there. An empty dishwasher is the perfect place to air dry your goods, leaving you counter space and sparing you from hand drying every little tomato.

4.  Package appropriately. After drying, package your goods well. I have found that ziplocs with paper towel inserts keep condensate at a minimum and help things last A LOT longer. Seriously, I’ve had carrots and celery in my fridge for weeks and they look fantastic!  It does seem that mushrooms like a bit of air, so I layer those with paper towels and cover the top with a paper towel, but don’t place a lid. Greens in plastic containers do much better layered with paper towels as well. Replace paper towels when they become wet.

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Packaging your bounty correctly extends its shelf life.

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Paper towels wick away moisture from vegetable respiration. In other words, no slimy mess!

5.  Freeze leftovers. We’ve all done it–you craved something, made a vat, then tire of eating it.  Use vacuum ziplocs, sealing vacuum bags, freezer paper, and canning jars to reduce air contact and freeze for later use. This will take some experimenting to see which of your recipes freezes best. In my experience, dairy, eggs, mayo, and fish don’t freeze well. Try processing garden herbs with oil and freezing in ice cube trays or freezing leftover tomato paste in tablespoon portions and placing in baggies for later use. You can do this with stock too. Date everything.

6.  Portion meat. Portion big meat buys in smaller packages by wrapping in freezer paper, labeling and dating with a sharpie, and placing in a vaccuum ziploc. You can see what it is, it doesn’t get freezer burnt, and if you pull it out of the bag to thaw, you can reuse the bag (keep them in the freezer) since no juice has touched it.  The vaccuum ziplocs work especially well for things you’re going to be in and out of a lot (singly packages sausages, 2 strips of bacon, etc.).

7.  Make soup. Should all this fail and you’re left with some veggies that are verging on going bad…make soup! Trust me, you can make soup out of just about everything.  Also use leftover bones for stock. Freeze in one or two cup portions for later use.

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Soups are a great way to use up your produce.

8.  Render fat. Have fat you’ve trimmed off? Render it to get some super tasty oils to cook with later. Think beef tallow, chicken fat, duck fat. Make sure your meat is properly sourced so you’re not getting hormones and pesticides with that!

9.  Organize! The top shelf of our fridge is the ‘eat now’ and dairy area, the second shelf is the fat/oils area, gel bouillon and herbs are in a basket, cheese, butter, and guac are in the snack bin, and veggies are tucked away in crispers, in bags, and labeled. There’s never any doubt as to where things are. This is helpful for the ones in your family who always exclaim ‘there’s nothing to eat!”.  It’s also put a stop to our shouting ‘ya just gotta move stuff!”.

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Setting specific areas of your fridge–like ‘use now’–can help you not to waste food.

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No more screaming “You just have to move stuff!”.

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Keeping items handy helps them to get used up faster.

10.  Invest in tools. You may not want to spend money on cooking tools…but seriously, they give you the creativity and efficiency to do all kinds of things with your goods so you don’t get bored of the same ol’ thing and let that produce or meat laze around and go bad.  I couldn’t cook without a good food processor, blender, wand blender, cheesecloth/butter muslin, ball jars, temp probes, smoker, grill, and bouillon strainer.  Knives and pots/pans don’t cut it if you’re trying to get the most out of what you’ve paid for.

11. Learn to can and ferment. People have been preserving food by canning and fermenting for thousands of years at minimum.  Not only can you make some tasty, tasty stuff you prevent waste.  Check out Wild Fermentation for tips on how to get started. Sauerkraut, Kimchi, pickles, yogurt, cheese, vinegar, and kombucha are great examples of fermenting.  Bacon or onion jam? Yes, please.

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Kombucha…or fermented tea.

fermented pickles

Old-school fermented pickles…crunchy!

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Homemade yogurt–fermenting with cultures.

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Homemade sauerkraut–so much better (and crunchier!)–than canned or jarred versions.

12.  Compost. Scraps, peelings, egg shells, etc. can be composted since they can’t be used in any other way. They’re great for the garden (yes, even if it’s not a vegetable garden).  Bonus?  It reduces bags of trash going to a landfill. Check out How to Compost for tips.

13.  Eat the food you’ve prepared. This seems like a no-brainer. However, we often go through the trouble of making great meals only to wake up too late to pack them or to stop by The China Gourmet on the way home from work.  Pack you r lunch the night before, plan a bit so meals are easy when you get home.  This isn’t just about not wasting food, it’s about steering clear of things you don’t want in your body in the first place.  No one should eat potted meat.  Except maybe my buddy Shane.  And I’d swear he has the genetics for it. Or the preservatives have made him tougher.

 

With these few simple steps you’ll waste less and eat more. Win! Win!

 

 

Helluva Good Smoked Chicken

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Ok, so most people who know me have figured out I’m not a huge fan of chicken (except Dad’s BBQ chicken thighs!). Maybe it’s naturally a little bland or maybe I’ve just had a lot of poorly cooked chicken–but it doesn’t generally reach the top of the list in my kitchen as fav things to eat.  Enter the smoker. That little beauty forever changed the way I look at chicken! That thing turns what I know as bland-blech-where’s-the-sauce chicken into get-outta-my-way-or-you’ll-draw-back-a-nub chicken. It’s super easy (some prep is required) and you can throw some pork or beef on the smoker at the same time and have a feastival-o-meat! Any leftover (yea, right!) can be used in smoked chicken salad, chicken chili, smoked chicken Alfredo, or just on top of a salad. Using the leftover bones in making stock gives a subtle smoky flavor that works well for soups, stews, or as a braising liquid. Shove aside your loathing of chicken and let’s get to it!

  • 1 or 2 quality chickens
  • Sweet Tea Molasses Brine
  • Smoker with Pecan, Cherry, or Apple wood chips
  • Adult beverages, good friends, and some time

Rinse your chicken and plunk it down in your brine. For all the ‘no-sugar’ folks, don’t despair…the brine will be rinsed off and minimal sugar will be infused into the meat (use Blackstrap molasses if you’d like the least amount of sugar).

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Let sit 3 or so hours, or overnight in the fridge. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse well. Fire up your smoker, let it heat, and place your chips. I let the initial billow of smoke burn off so I don’t risk any bitterness. Throw your chickens in, grab your bevvy and friends, relax.  Two chickens usually take about 3 hours, or until the temp is 160 at the thigh (then rest on the counter, tented in foil, for 10 minutes or so for an internal temp of 165).  The skin is crisp, nice and brown, and the meat is super juicy and flavorful.  I promise, there won’t be a word spoken at the dinner table!

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Superb (and Easy!) Boneless Short Ribs

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The elusive moist, tender, I-can’t-stop-eating-it, get-back-or-I’ll-stab-your-hand short ribs.

I think I’ve tried short ribs every single time they’re on the menu. Even the ‘bad’ ones were great. Each time I’d come home excitedly to try making them myself. I wouldn’t say they were an epic failure…but they just weren’t as good as I’d had in restaurants (seriously, every time it’s like a war-of-forks when the Hubbs and I try to share!).  Then I met the boneless chuck short rib. These are not just short ribs with the bone removed–they’re a whole different cut entirely. More like a chuck roast cut into fat strips.  Accordingly, they turn out fork tender with the same treatment–low and slow.  There’s not much prep involved–just a bit of a wait time while they cook. And it’s so worth the wait—give ’em a try!

  • Boneless chuck short ribs (I always cook a load–they go fast!)
  • Beef broth to cover about 1/2 way up the ribs
  • a few carrots, onions, and celery; roughly chopped
  • Tomato paste (I used a tablespoon)
  • Bay leaves, rosemary, pepper to taste (salt the juices while reducing)
  • Large saucepan or dutch oven with tight-fitting lid

Sear the bejesus out of your short ribs.  I used beef tallow for it’s high smoke point and got a nice crust going.

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Searing all sides for a good crust adds flavor and seals in juices.

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Man, that’s gonna be good!

Remove ribs to a side plate. Saute the carrots, onion, and celery until just tender—or if you have a bit more time, caramelize them a little for extra flavor. Add the tomato paste a cook for a minute or two. Add the ribs in and cover with broth about 1/2 way up.

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Wilt or caramelize your veggies.

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Cover with broth 1/2 way up the sides of the meat.

Add your lid and pop in the oven at 300 degrees with a well-fitting lid (put foil on the edges to help seal up if yours doesn’t seal well). Alternatively you can barely simmer on the stovetop. Cook the ribs until they’re fork tender. You’ll know you’ve got it right when they give with the slightest pressure—the Hubbs says ‘like butter’.  Any fat or connective tissue will have melted. Reduce your juices until they coat the back of a spoon slightly.  No need to strain, just let ’em rip.

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Let ’em go low and slow! Try not to peek too much.

You can eat your ribs at this point–with a bit of your reduced juices–or for super awesome ribs, place them in a single, flat layer in a pan, cover with foil, and refrigerate overnight.

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For the best ribs, place in a single layer and refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Heat the next day by placing under a broiler until just warm. Pour on the reduced juices and go to town. I promise next time you’ll do double or triple batches!

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Go to town! They-re great on their own, with their cooked veggies, with roasted veggies, over risotto, or over creamy grits with their juices.

Enjoy!!

Chive (and other) Oils

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Celery soup with chive oil.

Ever wonder what those little green drops are floating in your soup or scattered perfectly around your plate at restaurants? Well, I’ve solved your wonder (I know it just keeps you up at night!). Herb oil. Not the kind where dried herbs are submerged in oil for some time, allowing the oil to take on the subtle flavor of the herb. These are smack-you-in -the-face, pungent, full-flavored oils. I really can’t get enough of them–on salads, over entrees, or drizzled in soup. They last a good long while in the fridge and are super useful. You won’t be sorry you took the time to try them out!

  • 1:1 ratio neutral oil to soft, green dry herb (chive, scallion, parsley, basil)
  • food processor
  • Butter linen or tea towel for draining (or get yourself a bouillon strainer for a less messier option)

Make sure your herbs are dry. Less water=longer shelf life. Roughly chop your herbs.

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Roughly chop your dry, soft herbs.

Place the herbs and oil in the food processor. Whiz until uniform (as close as you can get–try out a Vitamix for great results).

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Place herbs and oil in a food processor or Vitamix.

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Whiz until uniform or as close as you can get.

Place your herb oil in a saucepan and heat gently over low heat until just simmering.

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Place herb oil in a saucepan until you reach a gentle simmer….GENTLE! You don’t want to destroy the aromatic oils.

Strain well.

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A bouillon strainer works well for easy straining with little mess. It can be used for straining stock and yogurt too!

Place in ball jars and mark lids with a wax pencil with type of oil and date.

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Place in ball jars and mark lids with a wax pencil. Make sure to let the oil cool completely before placing the lid.

Let cool completely so there is no water condensation when you close them up. Refrigerate. Some say to use them within the week, but some of mine have lasted months! Trust me, you’ll know by smell and taste when they’re no longer good.

Try ’em on everything! My favorite is as a substitute for faux salad dressings–no more stuff out of a bottle!

Great bonus..you can freeze the drained bits of herb left in tablespoon servings, place in a sturdy ziploc, and use later in soups or mixed with butter over pasta or veggies for a quick meal! No waste!

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Freeze drained herb bits for later use…no waste!

Note:  Scallion oil will have some liquid at the bottom. Just let it settle and pour off the good green stuff so it will last longer! The scallion juice that’s left can be used in soups.

Caveman Meat

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My reaction after my first attempt at cooking a whole beef tenderloin…not the worst meat I’ve ever tasted, but I was disappointed. Lessons learned.

So I pretty much looked like the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame Lon Chaney after my first attempt at cooking a beef tenderloin (If you must ask how I know about Lon Chaney–>night shift…insomnia…silent movies to avoid waking Grumpy Kevin. There.).  Now, I may not have had that snaggle tooth or that 1/2-of-a-ping-pong-ball eye, but it was pretty damn close.  After spending that much money on a hunk o’ meat, if it doesn’t turn out how ya were dreaming’, you pretty much freak the h-e-double-hockeysticks out!

So, what happened you innocently ask?  Well, I followed the advice of the interwebs instead of my gut.  I mean, tenderloin is a b-e-a-u-tiful piece of meat. Seriously, it smelled better than most steaks while it was completely raw!  It smelled so good the dogs were doing the “dancing circus bear’ next to the counter. You know, where they stand up on their back legs, front arms just a danglin’, dancing around on their back feet to avoid falling over, head turned up, nose in the air. Yeah that. Anyway, I digress.  A good tenderloin is beautiful.  I knew in my heart-of-hearts that I should’ve have honored that beauty and let it shine by treating it simply. But oooohhhhh nooooo–I had to get all cray cray.  Good  God, it was like dressing up a sweet, little, innocent bride in a 1980’s hairmetal Kiss costume. I mean, brides are beautiful, Kiss is awesome….so, ipso facto…brides in Kiss costumes should be magnificent. Not so, people. You might stare in wonder, but not the good kind. I made the same mistake by marrying beef tenderloin and an herbal brine. The horror. The travesty. Mea culpa.  Thank goodness there was plenty o’ wine before we ate.

I was so peeved, I tried again the next weekend. We went to Dad’s, invited Tom and Cindy over again, and got to it.  This time we went to the opposite end of the spectrum…almost nothing.  A little salt, a little pepper, a bit o’ spice, some oil, and fire.  What a difference! It was meat like caveman must’ve eaten…a bit of a crust on the outside, medium rare on the interior, perfect.  There was almost absolute silence at the table as we ate. Enough silence for me to say a short prayer of thanks to my Caveman Homies for their genius in discovering and propagating fire and deciding to hang meat over it (my schooling as an anthropologist kicks in at the weirdest times).

Let’s get to it people. You’ll want to try this pronto.

  • 1/2 beef tenderloin (about 3-4 lbs), whole, trimmed (I left on the ‘wing’ meat)
  • 1 TBSP Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Fennel Seed (or use  a sprinkling of the elusive Fennel Pollen on the finished product)
  • cheap azz coffee grinder ($10 Mr. Coffee will do fine)
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Pre-trimming.

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Post-trimming, pre-trussing. I was so preoccupied with the grill that I didn’t get any trussing pics. The link to the video will help with that!

Now, process your spices in your coffee grinder (dedicate this for spices–it’s a WHOLE lot better than a mortar and pestle) until they’re dust. Put a light coating of oil on your tenderloin so your herbs stick.  Evenly coat your trimmed tenderloin in your spice dust, salt, and pepper. Truss your tenderloin.

Now, go get that grill as hot as you can get it, on one side ONLY (I used a gas grill). If you walk away after heating the grill continuing to be the proud owner of eyebrows, I will be disappointed.  Throw your tenderloin on and sear it on all sides. This doesn’t take long.  A minute or so per side. Then move the loin off heat–or onto indirect heat.  Let it rest there until the internal temp reaches about 90 degrees (about 15-20 minutes for mine).  Then pop it back over to the direct heat to finish until the internal temp reaches 110.  This doesn’t take long and really made a good crust on the outside.  Now, don’t freak out about the 110 degrees.  I can only say that when I cooked the first one to the recommended 135 to achieve medium rare after standing, that thing was much too done.  I went by the ‘squish factor’ on this one which happened to be about 110 degrees.

Remove the roast and loosely cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes (don’t cut it to soon!).

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Post-resting. Look at that crust! My caveman forefathers would be proud!

Slice and enjoy.

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Just what I was looking for! Man was it good!

I think it’s particularly good with a little horseradish sauce.  We make our sauce with sour cream, mayo, horseradish, cream, salt, pepper, garlic, and green onions.  I’ll be sure to add that recipe when we grill up another one.  Now go get down with your caveman roots and enjoy!