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July 26, 2020

Food Thread: Smoked Meats And Boston Lettuce: The Only Good Thing To Come Out Of Boston (Go Yankees)


Ah...salad. It's not a meal unless you are going to toss something that used to have four legs and went moo into it, but a well composed salad is a thing of beauty. It compliments the meal and provides a counterpoint to the richness of fatty foods. And a good meal should have fat in it!

Our current blend is Boston lettuce, pickled red onion (fabulous!) grape tomatoes and some crumbled feta. We used to use goat cheese, but the salty tang of the feta and its firmer consistency is a better choice for salad.

As for the dressing? Vinaigrette with a splash of honey, and for the last few months we have been adding a bit of whole grain mustard. There is a surprising amount of variation among the common brands, but I haven't paid enough attention to which was best. Yes...I am a dummy.

I am content with the decreased variety of produce available during the winter, with the exception of lettuce. That is one of those things that just doesn't travel well, so the summer months are perfect for great lettuce. One day (read: never) I will grow my own. My folks used to have a lettuce patch in the back yard, but I recall it was a race with the rabbits!


It's high summer, and it seems like everyone is busy smoking large quantities of pretty much everything. The gold standard is brisket, mostly because it is rather difficult to do well. But the big downside to brisket is the length of time it takes, with that tiny window of opportunity between not done and dried out and practically inedible. That's why I don't smoke brisket. I have, and I probably will again, but it seems like to be successful one has to be a combination of a great chef and a necromancer.

But there are other things to smoke, like chicken and fish and my personal favorite, lamb, and the easiest of the bunch...large chunks of pig. I use my Weber Smokey Mountain (R2D2), or more frequently my gas grill with a smoker insert. For short smokes that works really well, but I wouldn't smoke a pork butt on it. My dedicated smoker has a large water reservoir that works both to moderate heat swings and to keep the atmosphere nice and humid.

So what do you folks use? Electric smokers? offset smokers with your secret recipe of hardwoods? Gas smokers? There are so many types and brands that it is difficult to narrow it down to a reasonable choice.

Any suggestions?


From commenter "Not That Guy (javems)" of gorgeous bread fame...


Found this in my pantry today. We have moved twice sense this was bought. Obviously I make my own gravy.



What can I say? I really like Gordon Ramsey. I have eaten in his restaurants and cooked his recipes and even watched some of his TV shows, and he strikes me as someone who takes his craft very, very seriously. Like Bobby Flay he enjoys using a lot of spice in many of his dishes, but unlike Bobby Flay, Ramsey keeps his under control. I dislike recipes that call for 17 different spices and three different peppers. Okay...great....the food will be completely masked by the heat and pungency of the spices. What's the point? I want to taste both! Well, I'm going to give this a shot and see whether Ramsey can elevate Jerk Chicken from something fun to something excellent.

Real Maraschino cherries are amazing, and nothing like those neon-red monstrosities that many bars and most ice cream parlors use. Unfortunately they are obscenely expensive; the last jar I bought was at the bargain-basement price of $15 for a jar of 50. Ouch!

One big problem is that the Marasca cherry just doesn't grow well here. It is a bitter cherry with a dense pulp, so it stands up well to cooking and maceration. Some of you fruit experts can probably tell us which is the best substitute. I don't know a damned thing about that sort of stuff!

A few weeks ago one of our resident bartenders mentioned that he was making his own version of Maraschino cherries, and he has been kind enough to share his recipe.


I whipped up a batch of cocktail cherries that were pretty decent and thought I would share them with the Horde Cocktailian Club.

I'm not good at recording recipes anymore at the advanced age of 29, so I apologize if the recipe is in parts in places rather than volumetric measures.

I started by making a spiced rich Demerara syrup using:

2 cups Demerara sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
20 cloves
1 whole nutmeg cracked in two
12 allspice berries

I simmered that stuff for a good hour over low heat and strained it to remove the spices.

Then I combined equal parts of the syrup with Luxardo Maraschino Originale Liqueur to produce the syrup to macerate the cherries in.

When the resulting liquid dropped to a temperature of 90 degrees, I poured it over the pitted cherries in the jar I used and left it on the counter until it reached room temperature.

Earlier attempts in which I simmered the cherries in the syrup yielded a cherry with a flaccid consistency that only Jonah Goldberg's wife could appreciate.

Conversely, raw cherries in the same syrup did not absorb enough of the syrup and maintained more of an olive-like texture.

Fourth time was a charm though, just a tad of heat was enough to pleasantly soften the fruit while maintaining their integrity (unlike Jonah who, while definitely a softened fruit, has no integrity).

I decided for overkill and stuffed a couple of thin swaths of orange zest into the jar and let them macerate for a couple of days in the fridge and, well, if I do say so myself, they were quite pleasing in this Manhattan I made with:

3 oz. Michter's Rye
.5 oz Noilly Pratt Rouge
5 shakes of Regan's Orange Bitters

Stirred, of course.

If you have thoughts on what is wrong with them or how to improve them, keep them to yourself. If I wanted that kind of feedback, I'd get married again.

Bitter Clinger, Uncultured Hillbilly Bartender

Any cherry experts out there who know what variety is closest to the Marasca?

Commenter "Lizzy" sends this along, and while I am suspicious of any cookie that doesn't have butter in it, it's worth a try. How bad could it be?
This Salted Peanut Butter Cookie recipe was the perfect solution for a recent bbq with a beloved relative who was recently diagnosed as being gluten-intolerant (apparently this can happen when you get old?). She has always made the best cookies, so it was fun to find tasty cookies I could serve her. It's not fussy, nor does it require a special trip to the store for some alternative flour. It only requires 4 ingredients: peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla - woohoo!

salted peanut butter cookies

And here is one more recipe from Lizzy, who seems to like the minimalist approach to cooking.

Magical two-ingredient oat brittle

• 1/2 cup (50 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
• 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup
• A couple of pinches of sea salt

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small dish, stir the oats, syrup and salt together until the oats are coated with liquid.
3. Spread the sticky mixture out on a small parchment-lined baking sheet in a thin layer; the oats should be touching each other but not in any piles.
4. Bake for 10 minutes and take a look. You want it to be toasted light golden at the edges - this usually takes 3 more minutes, but it's always safer to check.
5. Remove from the oven, and let the brittle cool completely on the baking sheet, then lift it off in one pleasing sheet and break into chunks.

I'll bet you can make a savory version of this with less sugar and maybe some oil. Or not. I remember oat crackers from my youth, but haven't seen them in stores for years and years.

This is one of those recipes that I will try once. I am confident that it will be very good but not worth the trouble. Even though Falafel baked egg cups has two things I really like, it's just too much work when there are dozens of other dishes that are probably just as good and less commotion in the kitchen. But if you want to make this for me I'll provide the breakfast bourbon!

Food and cooking tips, Large-breasted Muscovy ducks, young wild pigs, bartenders who use vermouth in Martinis (but not too much), pork belly that doesn't have 5-spice, low-temperature-roast chicken, and good tomatoes that aren't square, pale pink and covered with Mestizo E.coli: cbd dot aoshq at gmail dot com. Any advocacy of French Toast with syrup will result in disciplinary action up to and including being nuked from orbit. And yes, shaking a Manhattan is blasphemy...it's in the Bible!

digg this
posted by CBD at 04:00 PM

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