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Cooking with Maintankadin

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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Fivelives » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:26 am

Gracerath wrote:That "stew flavor" isn't really a flavor at all if you ask me but more of an unctuousness, that lips smacking goodness we know and love from things such as good bbq ribs. That does indeed take time and controlled heat to break the connective tissues down into collagen. It actually doesn't take that long to do though and an hour or two simmering should do the trick with smaller pieces of meat. Your stew will be "done" in 2-3 hours and cooking it longer wont really do much for the flavor/texture. It is a convenience thing though. You can start it early in the day and basically let it simmer all day with no ill effects until everyone is ready for dinner.


Oh shit, I missed this post somehow.

Stews definitely have a distinct flavor that comes from long cook times. But that flavor takes forever to develop and tends to overwhelm the individual ingredients. It's complex - that's why I call it "stew flavored". A regular dish is to stew as a string quartet is to symphony orchestras. Everything in the stew should meld with everything else.

And collagen breaks down into gelatin when cooked - collagen IS a connective tissue.

As far as cook time goes, it depends on the meat you use for the stew. I know of one stew that's amazingly brilliant and delicious that's based around short ribs. Those are RIDICULOUSLY tough, and require a good braising to break down the collagen, then chilling to set the gelatin enough that the meat won't dissolve into the gravy of the stew, but remain in distinct chunks. Mutton is another meat notorious for requiring long cook times to tenderize, as are most game meats (venison shoulder is amazing in a stew, but requires not only a long cook time but also a long, looooooooong prep time - 24-36 hours of brine to take away the "gamey" taste before you can braise it for another 4 hours and chill it overnight to set it). Flank and skirt steaks (or the tenderloin, but who the hell stews tenderloin?) don't hold up well to long cook times, so those are mostly suitable for "quick" stews that are finished in 2 hours or so, whereas a brisket or short rib stew absolutely requires a long, slow cook time. As a general rule of thumb, if it's game meat or close to hoof or horn on a farmed animal, it needs a long cook time. If it's far away from the hoof and horn, it won't stand up to a long cook time.

Stewing is a lost art form, which is a shame.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Gracerath » Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:12 pm

Doh, my food science was off. But you got the idea.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Koatanga » Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:40 pm

Simple pot roast:

Get yourself one of those large 7-bone roasts - it's basically a slab of meat and bone sawed off the shoulder.

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Season with salt and pepper, and put it in an electric skillet on high to brown both sides, then reduce heat to low (2 or 3 on a scale of 10). Add water about halfway up the meat, and brown gravy mix (3 packets for a good-sized roast). Cover with vents open and cook low for several hours (top up water as necesary!).

About an hour and a half before you want to eat, add coarse-chopped carrots and potatoes. It's a long cook time for the veggies, but they lend their essence to the sauce and borrow flavour from the sauce for a synergystic effect.

While the cooking time is long, it's quite low-maintenance, and the end product is delicious.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Koatanga » Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:44 pm

One of our breakfast favourites:

Sautee diced potatoes until they begin to brown. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add chopped onion and cook until onion is translucent. Add chopped bacon and continue to cook until onions brown and begin to caramelise.

Om nom nom.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Skye1013 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:12 pm

Oo... I'll have to find my recipe container (it has like... 5 in it, thanks to my mom.) Have this awesome recipe for breakfast casserole!
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Lightbeard » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:18 pm

Fivelives wrote:Cayenne peppers come in between 30,000 and 190,000 scoville units. For reference, tabasco sauce tops out at around 5000, and most whole jalapenos are in the neighborhood of 3000 to 8000. So if you'd normally use a teaspoon of tabasco, switch that to 1/6th of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. It's that hot, and drying it concentrates the capsaicin, making it even hotter.

LB, have you tried making your own seasoning mix instead of using "crab seasoning"? I season my crab (not to mention most other seafoods) with this mix:

Celery seed
Smoked paprika
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh ground pink peppercorns
Chili powder
Ground mustard seed
Ground ginger
Allspice
Mix this all with about 60/40 fine ground sea salt (60% seasonings, 40% salt)

Try that, and play around with the ratios until you get something you like. I find that most of the off the shelf seasoning mixes don't come near the taste that I can make on my own using my spice cupboard.

And for reference, this (clicky) is what I use when I want to julienne something. If it's bigger than a carrot, say a potato or something, I whip out my mandolin (clicky). Granted, I don't julienne very often - if it's an ingredient in something else, I don't mind settling for running it over a box grater, and if it's a garnish then it's likely a leafy herb like basil or something else that you'd want to chiffonade instead.



I've never tried making my own seasoning but I'll give it a go.

I use crab seasoning in a lot of shellfish cooking, just because it fits with shellfish food.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Fivelives » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:56 am

Making your own is usually cheaper, and you get better quality and flavor from it.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Lightbeard » Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:21 pm

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Cooked some skewers the other night.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Fivelives » Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:25 pm

How to make gravy that doesn't taste like ass:

Heat 2oz (by volume) of cooking oil until it shimmers.
Slowly whisk in 2oz (by weight - this is important!) of all-purpose flour.
Once that's incorporated into a slurry, for gravies served with beef, add 1 cup beef stock; for gravies served with chicken, add 1 cup chicken stock; etc.

For brown gravy, heat 6oz (volume) of oil until it shimmers, then slowly whisk in 6oz (by weight) of all-purpose flour. Continue stirring until it reaches the desired consistency, and add salt & pepper to taste.

For white gravies (including sausage, or "country" gravy), mix 2oz (volume) of oil with 2oz (weight) all-purpose flour. Add 1 cup of scalded milk, 2tbsp melted butter, 1/4 cup browned sausage, and the pan drippings from cooking the sausage. Remove from heat and stir to combine.

I think this goes without saying, but add salt and pepper to taste to all of the above. Enjoy your gravy, fat bastards!
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Fetzie » Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:17 am

I prefer making a roux out of plain flour and butter, instead of cooking oil, but each to his own I guess.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:52 am

You can also use a root vegetable puree as a thickener instead of a roux. I love the earthy taste that adds and as a bonus it's a bit healthier.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Gracerath » Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:40 pm

The magic of starch. Once you learn the magic of roux, you'll never have a crappy gravy again. It also applies to several sauces. You'll experience the best macaroni and cheese of your life with the above skills! (with adjusted ingredients of course. Don't add beef stock to your macaroni :lol: )
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Skye1013 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:29 pm

Gracerath wrote:Don't add beef stock to your macaroni :lol:

I prefer ground beef for some nice cheesburger macaroni :)
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Fivelives » Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:18 pm

Nah, for macaroni & cheese, you use a simple roux of flour and butter.

I go with cooking oil mostly because it's a bit better for you than butter. The difference in taste is pretty much indistinguishable, at least to me. A roux, when used as a thickening agent, is pretty tasteless. It's only if you use it as a flavorant that you get any taste of it.

In general, the darker the roux, the less it'll thicken things and the more flavor it adds. A white roux is flavorless and a powerhouse thickener, and a brown roux has a rich nutty flavor, but doesn't thicken liquids worth shit.
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Re: Cooking with Maintankadin

Postby Fivelives » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:51 pm

Here's a fun one that's pretty easy to cook and super impressive to serve.

Pounded strip steak roulade stuffed with asparagus, artichoke and feta (4 servings):

4 new york strip steaks, 1/4" thick, trimmed as lean as you can get it
10-12 asparagus spears
12-15 artichoke leaves, trimmed (not the fibrous and woody outer leaves - use the softer inner leaves near the heart)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb feta cheese, crumbled
2 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
6-8 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil or butter
extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

Place the steaks one at a time between two sheets of clear plastic wrap and pound with a meat hammer (preferably) or anything else with a flat surface until they're between 1/8th and 1/16th inches thick. Basically, pound them until just before they start to turn to mush and separate, then trim them to rectangular shapes and refrigerate while you're working the rest of the ingredients up.

Julienne the prepared artichoke leaves and shallow fry them in a medium saucepan until they're crispy, then set aside to drain. If you have problems getting the veggie itself to crisp, lightly dredge the juliennes in flour before frying them

Saute the asparagus until tender, adding the minced garlic near the end so it doesn't burn.

In a small workbowl, combine the feta, basil, and tomato and toss until thoroughly mixed together.

Now it's time to assemble:

Lay out the steaks, season with salt and pepper, then lightly dress with extra virgin olive oil. Lay about 3 spears of asparagus along one of the long sides of the rectangle, but not completely up against it - you want some room to play with there. Sprinkle with crispy artichoke and top with the tomato basil feta and roll it into a roulade (like a Ho-Ho or sushi roll). Tie it with twine, brush it with oil and lightly brown it - just until the meat stiffens up a bit so it doesn't fall apart, and you get some caramelization on it. It shouldn't take more than a minute or so if you drop it into a hot enough pan.

Remove it from the pan and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it. After it's rested, slice it into medallions about an inch thick and serve on top of creamy polenta - garnish with some basil chiffonade and more of the tomato basil feta cheese.

Creamy polenta recipe (4-5 servings):

4 1/2 cups of water
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal (or polenta mix if you prefer)
5 tablespoons sweet cream butter, softened and cubed
3/4 cup fresh grated parmesagn cheese
3/4 cup room temperature whole milk or half & half (depending on how rich you want it to be)
1/2 tbsp salt

Directions:

Bring the water and salt to a boil, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes or until the cornmeal is tender. Stir often!

Once the cornmeal is tender, stir in the butter, dairy and cheese. Stir until everything's melted, add salt and pepper to taste, then serve it piping hot.
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