I'll be moving this site to http://grapefruitpamplemousse.com. Of course, I hope to add more content (more frequently), but you can find all the old posts there for now.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Now that that’s out of the way…
Allow me to refresh your memory about what I’m working on… In my last post, I explained that I am preparing turkey breast, pastrami style per Stephen Raichlen’s recipe. I took the ‘cured’ turkey out of the fridge, removed the plastic wrap, and let it warm up a bit at room temperature. I’m always hearing this is the right thing to do when cooking meats, so I do not question.
This is what the turkey looked like the night before cooking:
You can see most of the cure didn’t stick to the meat and it looked very dry, sandy almost. Below, you can see what the turkey looked like after a night’s slumber. The salt and sugar pulled some moisture from the bird to make the spice mix into a sticky, fragrant paste.
I put the turkey breast, minus extraneous cure, on the grill with plenty of charcoal and hickory chips. The charcoal and wood chips were positioned on one side of the grill with the meat on the other. The lid was on the grill throughout cooking, except when I was checking on the meat and snapping pics. I positioned the holes in the lid over the meat to draw the smoke over it, and also rotated the meat 180° halfway through cooking so the other side of the turkey got some exposure to the hotter side of the grill. I did this more for even smoking than even heating.
I really just wanted to cook the turkey recipe, but needed to find a way of serving it. I settled on turkey Rueben sandwiches. So while the turkey was on the grill, getting its smoke on, I got to work on the accoutrements for my mini-Ruebens. They include this triptych of sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and emmental.:
Not content to serve up run-of-the-mill sauerkraut, I headed to Fairway for true Alsatian choucroute. What’s the difference between choucroute and sauerkraut? Oh, about $6. Seriously, this stuff was $8 for the bucket.
I’m reminded of a joke I heard, I want to say from Alton Brown: What’s the difference between EN-dive and ahn-DEEVE?
Actually, the choucroute was less vinegar-ish (normal people might say “acidic”) than regular sauerkraut, and had more of a funky, fermented taste to it. It was good, but I wish it had a bit more punch. I suppose I should mention what I consider ‘regular sauerkraut’: something like Boar’s Head.
I got to work straining the choucroute, but really, there wasn’t very much moisture to drain away. There’s something I love about this picture. You may have to be a little crazy to love any picture of sauerkraut, so count me in the crazy club, I guess.
When the turkey was 160°F, I pulled it off the grill and let it rest and cool. There was a piece of turkey skin on there, but since it was beneath the cure, it didn’t crisp up much. I suppose next time, and there WILL be a next time, I could wipe the excess cure off the skin. It pretty much fell off while slicing anyway.
I love how the smoke from the grill gives meats that delightful amber hue. It is delightful, isn’t it?
A couple years back, after several bouts of foul sliced meats from various proprietors, my family protested store-bought deli meats and decided to roast our own turkey breasts, roast beefs, etc. We bought a meat slicer, which goes largely unused these days, but I did rock it for slicing the turkey. It does a brilliant job, as you can see.
While slicing the meat, I may or may not have eaten about five slices. Of course, if I did eat any, the first two would have been eaten to verify that the turkey wasn’t poison. The next three would, of course be eaten because they were too ugly to put on a sandwich. If I had tasted the meat, it would have been nicely smoky, not too spicy, wanting more black pepper, but plenty moist and tender. If…
Anyway, I got to work buttering some cocktail rye and pumpernickel breads. Splendid photo, right? I love several of this batch of photos.
Next, I cut the cheese…hehe. Seriously though, I gave the emmental the meat slicer treatment. Although I purchased about $12 worth of cheese, I only used half, and let the other half grow moldy in the fridge, only to throw it out with the remaining $6 of choucroute a couple weeks later. I’m going to hell for all this food wasting…
I was actually bringing these sandwiches to a party. I love showing up to a party with surprise food, especially when it’s a bit out of the ordinary. Doesn’t everybody love surprise food??? I laid these sandwiches out, open faced, on a few baking sheets so I could melt the cheese at the party. I don’t have any shots of the finished sandwiches, but just imagine those in the picture below with another piece of bread on top. To be more specific, they each got a squirt of homemade Russian dressing (ketchup, mayonnaise, cayenne!) and another piece of bread. I managed to put rye bread on top of the pumpernickel-bottomed sandwiches and pumpernickel on the rye-bottomed sandwiches, but there were no complaints.
I got good feedback from the party-goers. Everyone seemed to enjoy these little guys, and there were no leftovers. My own criticisms were that the bread was too dry – no cocktail breads anymore; there was not enough dressing, although I purposely limited it for mess reasons; and finally, the sauerkraut wasn’t nearly tangy enough. I think using a different sauerkraut and baking up some fresh bread should solve two out of three of these problems. And I might just add a messy glob of sauce too, just because the mess would be worth it.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
For Christmas this year, my brother got me a classic Weber kettle grill, something I’ve wanted for a while. I christened it with burgers right after the holiday, and barbecued a pork shoulder just last week as part of Food & Films 2010 (no post about this event yet), but I certainly don’t consider myself an excellent pitmaster. To learn more about barbecue, I’ve been reading about the technique and watching Steven Raichlen
And so it was, Friday night. I fired up the TiVo and found an episode of Primal Grill. I believe it is the first episode of the series, ‘Smoke Screen’. Raichlen prepared turkey breast pastrami-style. He cured it with salt, sugar, black pepper and other spices, then slowly smoked it, sliced it thinly, and piled it on sandwiches. I had that “I’ve got to make that” moment, and immediately began thinking of the first opportunity I’d have to get working on it. I recalled that I am going to a party on Sunday. Perfect occasion. It was decided.
Not wanting to show up to a party with just a bunch of sliced pastrami, I knew I had to do something amazing with it. Raichlen used his turkey pastrami in Reuben sandwiches, so I took his idea and ran with it. I picked up some cocktail rye and pumpernickel breads, Alsatian sauerkraut, and ementhal at Fairway, along with the turkey and spices I didn’t already have. I also may have picked up a snack…
I’d actually never had a mallomar before this evening. I’ve heard great things about them, about their addictive properties, their seasonality, their…perfection, but I never really imagined them to be anything special. I mean, it’s just marshmallow on top of a cookie, covered in chocolate, right? Pretty simple. How amazing could the mallowmar be?
Well, I did this…
…six times. They were darn good.
The cure for the turkey pastrami includes ground coriander, mace, kosher salt, garlic, paprika, black pepper, anise, dark brown sugar, pimenton, and ground mustard.
I measured all my dry ingredients….
and peeled my garlic cloves….
and chopped them coarsely.
Then, I ground the whole peppercorns and anise seeds coarsely in my coffee grinder (dedicated to spices!). I added the garlic and some canola oil to the spices to make a dry rub.
Then it was time to work on the turkey. I gave it a rinse, patted it dry, and rubbed it all over with the fragrant cure.
I wrapped it tightly with plastic wrap, set it on a plate, and put everything in the refrigerator overnight. Twenty-four hours would be nice, but that’s not going to happen. I’m going to smoke it Sunday, and should detail that process here in the next few days.
I forgot to describe one optional step… If you’re so inclined, spill red food coloring on your light colored counter tops. Then try to clean it up. Then walk around with the evidence.
You caught me red-handed.
Friday, January 08, 2010
Monday, December 21, 2009
I have a confession to make. Yesterday, I made brownies from a BOX. I know! How could I?!
We had some weather yesterday, and I was, well, under the weather. So while the rest of the fam shoveled us out, I whipped up some brunch, including brownies. I did spruce up the box mix with some chocolate chips though.
How did they taste? Well, like brownies from a box. They lacked the rich chocolaty goodness of my standards, and the texture was a bit puzzling, with the outside crisp and chewy, but the middle gooey and fudgy. They got us through brunch though, and I didn’t have to feel like such a slacker for not shoveling.