Monday, June 25, 2012
Nothing like cooking to bring a family together. Either you love it and it is your “go to” place for relaxation, inspiration or just good old enjoyment or you love your other half’s “go to” place for relaxation, inspiration or just good old enjoyment and you can lick the spoon and eat the results…..
But, for me, I will admit getting Alice involved in the process gives the most rewards. Like all 11 year olds she is not the most responsive at the idea of peeling pots of potatoes or washing the dishes afterwards but put a bowl of mince, herbs and egg in front of her and it’s all hands in until burger / meatloaf / whatever is thoroughly squished, squelched and mashed into submission. Who needs a mixer?
This weekend we were making ravioli from scratch (post to follow) and I was showing Alice how to beat an egg with a fork and I remembered that Sinéad and Alice made little eggmen last Easter to decorate the table.
And so, for no other reason than a bit of my own nostalgia, may I present to you “The Eggmen” by Alice….
Monday, June 11, 2012
In the US there are two types of ribs – Baby Back and St. Louis. In short, the baby backs are the part of the rib nearest the spine. These are tender but not very meaty and are what are normally sold in butcheries in Ireland. The St. Louis cut is after the baby backs and before the rib tips. These ribs are much meatier but tougher and that requires some more attention during the cooking process – but the final results are so much better in both flavours and a satisfying “bite”.
For the last year I have tried to find a butcher who will take the time to understand my requirements and again I must refer to Brendan Keenan from Keenan & Kennedy Butchers, http://www.keenanandkennedy.com/. Brendan took the time to look up St. Louis Ribs on the internet and sold me two perfectly cut racks of meaty deliciousness. (and no, he doesn’t pay me or reduce the bill for saying that….)
½ Tsp Black Pepper
Mix well together and put in some form of shaker (I use a magic bullet – got one some years ago and it’s the only thing it’s good at….)
The Braising Liquid (enough for two racks – halve if only doing one)
1 Cup (250 ml) Apple Juice
1 Tbls Worcester Sauce
1 Tbls Honey
Mix together in a heavy bottomed pan over a low to medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half (about 10 minutes) Let cool – I do this part after the ribs are first put on. (Note – reserve some sauce for dipping etc before you use it on the ribs)
Preparation - Firstly inspect your ribs (same for the baby backs – don’t miss this step). There will be a membrane on the inside (bony side). Push the back of a teaspoon or blunt knife under the membrane and work it until you can get a finger in under the skin. Then pull the membrane and it should pull away cleanly from the meat.
Flavouring – sprinkle the dry rub liberally on both sides of the ribs. Pack into a large Ziploc bag (I get mine from Ikea – the largest bags are ideal) and press as much air out as possible. Alternatively, wrap well in plastic wrap. Store overnight in the fridge. Take out of the fridge ½ hour before you go to cook them next day.
Cooking – The secret to good St. Louis Ribs is to cook low and slow. As this is Ireland, and most barbeques here are basic models (compared to the American models), it tends to be difficult to keep the temperatures consistent over long periods. This means that the best BBQ ribs are actually cooked in the oven (please don’t stone me just yet….)
Heat oven to 250F degrees. Place the ribs on a sheet of aluminium foil which has been doubled over (the final sheet size must be large enough to wrap the ribs in a parcel). Bring the two side edges to the top and seal tightly. Seal one end tightly. In the other end pour in half the liquid (if doing two racks) in each of the parcels and seal tightly. Place onto trays and place on the oven for 3 hours. (less if making baby back ribs say 2 ½ hours). After three hours test the “doneness” by twisting a middle bone – If it pulls away from the meat you are ready to finish - if not give it another half hour.
Monday, June 4, 2012
To quote Leo McGarry from TVs The West Wing (the late but great John Spencer) "There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make 'em - laws and sausages". I always had a hankering to make sausages - once you have the basic recipe there is a world of flavours out there to combine and mix until you have your own special signature sausage that you can roll out at family get-togethers and barbeques to oohhs and aahhs from the appreciative audience.
But where to start? I have read many tomes and guides into the strange world of fat and innards and it is a slightly scary place. I started by watching Season 7 Ep 06 of Good Eats (A Beautiful Grind) and this gave me a number of very good pointers not least being - Find a good butcher and get to know him. Having a person that is willing to take time to understand what you need and then provide you with quality product is half the battle.
|Real Kosher Salt - only used for special occasions as we can't get this in Ireland|
We started with the casings – rinse thoroughly and, by running water gently through them check for any bursts or tears then thread onto the stuffing attachment. Thankfully Sinéad volunteered for this job as it really is fiddly. I started the first grind, pushing the pork belly and back fat, cut into strips, through the grinder. This went smoothly and, once finished, added the rusk, water and seasonings to the mix and combined by hand. Refrigerate for an hour.