Meat Archive

Monday, February 18, 2013

italian stuffed cabbage

italian stuffed cabbage

Prior to November, what I knew of stuffed cabbage rolls were limited to the Jewish/Eastern European variety, which I make the way my mother-in-law does. I hadn’t given it further thought because as far as I was concerned, it was never broken, and needed little improvement, and when there’s little room for me to tinker in the kitchen, I quickly lose interest. But if I had, it might have occurred to me that cabbage, being one of the ultimate peasant foods, has probably been wrapped around meat that’s been ground and then stretched (always budget-minded, those peasants) with other ingredients and cooked in a sauce in a zillion different ways over the centuries. And oh, the fun we might have been having this whole time.

peeling the savoy
big floppy cabbage leaves

As it turns out, it could be argued that any region that can grow large cabbage leaves is indeed stuffing them with something. The most cursory of Google searches leads one on a tour of Greek lahanodolmathes, stuffed with ground beef and rice and covered with a traditional egg and lemon (avgolemono) sauce; French chou farci, stuffed with beef or pork, sometimes mushrooms, wrapped in large layers of cabbage leaves and served in wedges; Polish gloabki, or “little pigeons,” with pork and beef, and rice or barley (sigh); Slovak holubky or halupki; Serb or Croatian sarma with (hold me) sauerkraut and ham hocks, and Arabic mahshi malfouf which adds lemon juice, cinnamon and mint (swoon) to the usual ground meat and rice medley. And guys, I’m just getting started. The idea that there are this many ways to fall in love with stuffed cabbage torments me, and leaves me daydreaming about a Westeros-length winter wherein we could audition each one.

quickly blanching the cabbage leaves

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

charred pepper steak sauce

skirt steak with charred pepper sauce

This is Alex‘s birthday week, which, in case you’re new here, means that there’s an open package of bacon in the fridge, the promise of oysters, shrimp cocktail, small-batch bourbon and babysitters on the horizon, butter and chocolate will soon align to meet their many-candled cake destiny and I, well, I bought some steak. I bet you’d imagine that a guy married to gal who likes to cook things that make people happy would be frequently entitled to his favorite food on earth, made at home, just because it’s a Tuesday. Well, once every year or so, that is exactly what happens.

broiled red pepper
so you don't lose any pepper juices

This is also that point in the summer where pretty much every human being I know is either at their own beach house or a guest in someone else’s right now. If you’re in the former category, well, la-de-dah, okay? If you’re in the latter category, I know a secret: You are totally going to get invited back next year because I have just the hostess gift for you to bring. You’re welcome.

peppers and tomatoes and spice

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

bacon corn hash

bacon corn hash, wisp of steam

I just realized we are almost halfway through with summer and while I should be totally stoked about this — seeing as we’re melting through our fourth heatwave so far this summer in NYC and given what awesome things are in store for the fall — I am spectacularly bummed as I am just getting used to having an avalanche of delicious summer produce at my disposal and haven’t had time to do half of what I wanted to with it yet. Plus, this guy turns three at the end of the summer and I can’t, I won’t accept it. More time, please! For everything.

oatmeal strawberry cookies so much broccoli slaw
summer salsa fresca summer squash torte, simplified
cherry chocolate chunk scones buttermilk cornmeal chicken tenders

I missed you last week, a crazy week that did not entail, as hinted, a vacation but the heard-it-all-before-so-I’ll-spare-you tune about too much to do and too little time. I’ve been cooking more this month then my absence let on, just not a lot of things that seemed worth stepping up to this internet microphone to clear my throat and tell you about, things like oatmeal strawberry cookies (utterly delicious, but only for the first hour, after which they became chewy and sad, sigh) and a spectacular amount of broccoli slaw (five batches already this summer, a record). A summery salsa fresca with the first cherry tomatoes to go with our huevos rancheros and a streamlined version of this summer squash torte we can’t get enough of (there are new notes in the recipe, but I’d like to reshoot it and add more details soon, too). I made heart-shaped tiny whole wheat cherry chocolate chunk scones (closet Cherry Garcia fiend, here) for a friend’s daughter’s second birthday party and I’ve been fiddling around with various baked chicken tender recipes (for times when you crave crunchy chicken but have little desire to deep- or shallow-fry anything), looking for a winner.

diced red potatoes

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 22, 2012

cold rice noodles with peanut-lime chicken

last night's dinner

If you told me a week ago that I would willingly adding cold chicken to cold noodles and call it a meal, a meal I’d eat enthusiastically, I’d think you had lost your mind. The various intersections of cold chicken and cold pasta are littered with foods I’d rather forget, such as those macaroni salads with shredded, overcooked chicken, suspiciously squicked together with mayo in a clear plastic take-out container of dubious expiration at the nearest corner deli. Hey, who’s hungry? Probably not you anymore!

lots and lots of limes
lime garlic sauce, sauce 1

But in David Tanis able kitchen (and I hope you’re following his City Kitchen column each week as eagerly as I do) chicken is marinated with a potent mix of ginger, garlic, lime juice and fish sauce before being flash-grilled or broiled and then cooled and roughly chopped. It is then added to rice noodles as long and twisty as skeins of yarn, topped with lots of crunchy vegetables, a medley of two sauces (one loud with chiles, lime and fish sauce and the other nutty and perfect with ginger, peanut butter and toasted sesame), salted roasted peanuts, slivers of cooling herbs (mint, basil and cilantro) into something that’s about as close to a dream of a summery one-bowl meal as we can get, and just in time for our first inferno of a New York City heatwave this year.

peanut sauce, sauce 2

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

lasagna bolognese

lasagna bolognese

This, this is my culinary Mount Everest. This twenty-layer striation of noodles, ragu, béchamel and cheese, repeated four times and then some took me more than five years to conquer. To be honest, six years ago I didn’t know what it was. Sure, I had heard of lasagna but I wasn’t terribly fond of it because I don’t much care for the texture of ricotta once it has baked. (Ricotta, I’d argue, is best rich, fresh, and cold on toast.) But I was galloping through a post on an Italian food blog and I stumbled upon a parenthesised side-thought that stopped me dead in my tracks. It said something along the lines of “I don’t know whose idea it was to put ricotta in lasagna but… shudder.” And I thought, but wait! What’s supposed to go in lasagna? But there was no answer, so I set out to find one.

minced mirepoix (love this step)
browning the meat, vegetables

Lasagna alla Bolognese is an epic dish. Oh sure, it looks like an ordinary broiled mass of cheese, pasta and meaty tomato sauce but it’s so much more. To make it as I dreamed from that day forward I wanted to, everything gets a lot of love and time. The ragu is cooked for hours. The béchamel (ahem, besciamella), although the simplest of the five “Mother Sauces,” is still a set of ingredients that must be cooked separately, and in a prescribed order. The pasta doesn’t have to be fresh, but I figured if I was going to do this, I was going to really, really do this and I wanted fresh, delicious sheets of pasta to support the other cast members I’d so lovingly craft. And the cheese? There’s just one, Parmesan, and it doesn’t overwhelm.

simmered and dreamy

Continued after the jump »


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