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January 28, 2018

Food Thread: When In Doubt...Throw It Out! (Or Feed It To The Kids)

expired salt.jpg

Everybody looks at those "Best By" dates or the faint greenish hue on the hamburger in the back of the refrigerator and wonders, "Hmmm...I wonder if I can cook this tomorrow?"

But who the hell is calculating these dates, and what is it based on? I have a sneaking suspicion that most of them are ridiculous guesses, based on nothing more than, at best, the intuition of the food scientists (if we are lucky), and at worst, some junior copy editor in the marketing department.

So...where do you draw the line? The last piece of pizza that was left out on the counter looks awfully good the next hungover morning....


These are the people who are doing the heavy lifting in the food world, constantly pushing the envelope so that we have at our fingertips a seemingly never-ending variety of scrumptious fried foods. And for whatever reason, the cutting edge is on fair Albion, with the Scots leading the way.

Do you drink it or eat it? Chippie turns soup into finger food... by DEEP-FRYING it and serving it up in a burger bun

This one is sort of dumb, but I appreciate the effort. And his fried milkshake is brilliant, so he is clearly a serious fryer.


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Slapping the word "classic" on a recipe doesn't make it so. And here we have a wonderful example of something I call "recipe creep." Well, I just invented that phrase, but it explains why so many recipes are crap. Most chefs and many cooks like to put their own twist on the recipes they use, so they will toss in an extra ingredient or two, as if they are somehow as inventive as the sum of the cooking world over the last few hundred years.

And that is how we arrive at a steak tartare recipe that uses dry-aged sirloin, beets (BEETS?), edible flowers, and neglects Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Classic Beef Tartare As my idiot nephew would say, "What the hell?"

Sirloin, carefully trimmed of all connective tissue is a reasonable low-priced alternative to the tenderloin that should be used. But dry-aged? Huh? First of all, it will be tough to find sirloin that is dry-aged because it isn't that tender to begin with, and why add the significant extra cost of aging to a cut that isn't one of the great ones? Second, the particular and strong flavor of dry-aged beef is wildly inappropriate for this dish. It will overwhelm the flavors of the other ingredients and actually sounds sort of nasty. There is mold and shit on dry-aged beef. The high temperature of cooking kills those microbes, and moderates the sometimes pungent flavors and aromas. I would not want to eat them raw.

And what's with using ground beef? The texture of steak tartare is vital to the dish, and a fine hand-chop is the only way to go. I cut it into 1/8" pieces, which I think is the best for texture. Just be sure to measure each piece and discard the ones that are too small and trim the ones that are too big (Do I need to say that is an OCD joke?).

"Classic" is an overused word, but there are dishes that have that descriptor because they have survived the test of time. There are lots of excellent sources for those recipes, but don't be fooled by the word. Do a bit of research! "Larousse Gastronomique" is a great place to start. It's half food encyclopedia, half weird cookbook. Marcella Hazan's recipes are usually loyal to the Italian classics. And say what you will about Tyler Florence, his recipes are respectful of the traditional versions, and are usually damned good. Julia Child is a fantastic source too...she wrote excellent recipes that were modified for the American cook, but without the intent to put her own spin on them.

But wherever you go for your recipes, I'll bet you will end up someplace traditional and staid and even a little boring. But the food will be good even though the chef who wrote the recipe isn't a slim-hipped hipster with politically charged facial hair, a man-bun and more ink than a printing press factory.


I haven't made this in awhile, and I don't remember where I got the original recipe, and I have clearly modified it significantly. If I were to make this today I would pull the pork at 135 degrees, because the carryover will add at least 8-10 degrees.

Pork Roast With Shallot Reduction

    Pork roast* (tied), about 3 lbs. This recipe can be easily doubled to feed 8-10 people.
    1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into pinky sized pieces (I use the bagged baby carrots)
    1.5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
    2 large shallots, minced
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh Rosemary
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thyme
    1 large Garlic clove, minced
    Good Olive oil
    Balsamic Vinegar
    Kosher Salt
    ½ teaspoon freshly ground black Pepper
    Unsalted Butter
    Red wine (or port)
    ½ & ½ or heavy cream

Boil 1 quart of water

Preheat oven to 400° F

In a small dish, mix the herbs, the garlic, one teaspoon of Kosher salt, the pepper and two tablespoons of the olive oil.

Parboil the vegetables for a few minutes to give them a head start. Drain and set aside.

Heat a roasting pan on medium-high heat for a few minutes. While it is heating, lightly salt the pork roast. Turn the heat to high and place the pork roast in the middle of the pan. Sear each side for a minute or two, just until it has some nice color, resisting the temptation to move the roast around in the pan. Adjust the heat if it looks like the meat is burning. When the roast is nice and brown, remove the pan from the heat. Take the roast out of the pan and put it on the platter you will be using to serve it.

While it is cooling a bit, toss the potatoes and carrots together with some salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. Smear the herb mixture all over the roast and return it to the pan. Toss the potatoes and carrots artfully around the roast and place in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 140° F. The timing will vary, but count on 45 -60 minutes. I use one of those neat probe thermometers with the cable so I don’t have to keep opening the oven and stabbing the roast with a hand-held thermometer.

Remove the roast from the oven, place on the serving platter and cover with aluminum foil. I put the carrots and potatoes into a bowl in case I want to reheat them.

Add the shallots and two tablespoons of butter to the roasting pan over medium-low heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently so the shallots begin to soften and the pan is deglazed. When the shallots are soft, add about a glass full of red wine (use less if you use port, it is sweeter and more intense than red wine) and two tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar and continue to deglaze and reduce, whisking occasionally. When it has reduced by half, take it off the stove, let it cool for a minute, and then whisk in about 4 ounces of ½ & ½. Return the pan to the stove over low heat and reduce for a minute or so, and then spoon the sauce over the pork roast. Or, slice the roast into ½ inch slices and spoon a bit of the sauce on each portion. Whatever works. And don’t forget to serve the potatoes and carrots.

*Pork takes very well to brining, so if you feel like doing a bit of extra work, give it a shot. Don’t salt the pork before you sear it though; the brining adds plenty of salt! And use only ½ teaspoon of salt in the herb mixture.
Brine: ¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup kosher salt in 24 ounces of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Add enough crushed ice to make 1 quart, then submerge the roast in the brine (I put it in a heavy plastic bag so I can evacuate all the air). Make sure that it is completely covered, and refrigerate for several hours. Remove from brine and pat dry.


Food and cooking tips, dark chocolate caramels, Perfectly marbled prime NY strips, Yorkshire pudding and other goodies with impressive girth: cbd dot aoshq at gmail dot com

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posted by CBD at 04:00 PM

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