Saturday, December 29, 2007

Toasted Flour

This is a new trick I've only just picked up while browsing Slashfood. A contributor named Marisa made a Thanksgiving post that I recalled and looked up for Christmas turkey use.

Now, of course, you can just go read her post (please do, otherwise I'd just be copying everything she said), but her and I e-mailed back and forth a few times and a few things came up worth mentioning. I've used uncoated pans (the new saute' pan that Karen just picked up for me, pictured, is great for containing the potential huge mess) while Marisa, I found, used a nonstick pan. I'm pretty sure this is the reason my flour toasted so quickly (12-15 minutes vs. 30 to 60). Also, I just have to say if you have a badass flat whisk you'd normally use for deglazing...that's what you should use.

So, true to the original story, the gravy we made for Christmas dinner was fantastic. With so much flavorful, colored flour, you can expand your turkey juices more and have more gravy then you normally would, and the pre-cooked flour required little cooking to remove the "doughy" flavor that you normally need to work out.

This 2ed batch I just did is for some shrimp gumbo I'll be making tomorrow. A nice dark roux is a tradition of this dish, and this should give me a nice head-start.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Yes, you likely are thinking this is one of those things anyone can do. And you're right...anyone can make fries. Badly. You see, there is a little bit of technique to this, and many times it isn't done. You know the local fry truck (if you're in Ontario) you hit up all the time? Some do it right, but most of them do it wrong. There are three trucks here in Almonte, and they're all on the wrong side of technique. You can tell not from taste (they taste fine) but texture. If you snack down on the fries and they're tasty-but-limp and even soggy feeling, you know they cheated.

The "thing" is cooking them twice. Once at about 280 F for about eight minutes, then setting them aside to cool. Make a few batches so you have enough. Then you cook them again for about 3 minutes at 375 F. That's it. The first cooking does all the "cooking" and the 2ed does all the color, flavor, and crispiness. If you do the whole step in one go at 375F, see above for cheating = soggy + limp.

Now, leave the skins on. They make the fries look home-made, and the skin has flavor. Same with cutting...just use a knife. If you peel the potatoes and then use some device to make perfect fries, then they just look like they came from a bag which is lame. Yes, I used a mandolin for this batch but it was for five people so I did a pretty large amount and I was in a bit of a rush. :)
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Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs

I'll be a bit lazy and just link to the recipe, but man...this was good. You can serve with mashed potatoes, or as I did, with hot buttered broad noodles.
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Friday, December 07, 2007

Pork Medallions with Garlic

The sauce obscures it, but this is actually a stuffed pork roast, the center of the medallion has a little surprise of bacon and, obviously, garlic. The pan sauce with wine and shallots was amazing.

1 bulb of garlic, minced into a paste
2 slices of bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbso butter
flour, salt, pepper

2 shallots, diced very finely
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp of demi glace (I'm sure you have this lying around)

Butterfly the pork roast (you could also use two pork tenderloins and sandwich them) and spread the entire inside with the garlic paste, then lay the strips of bacon inside also, lengthwise. Tie up the roast with string, spacing your string for future individual servings. Dust the outside of the roast with the mixture of flour, salt, pepper. Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Heat a oven-friendly frying pan (no plastic or wooden handles) and add the olive oil first, then butter (the oil raises the smoking temperature of the butter). Sear and brown the roast on all sides. Thow the pan in the oven for 20 minutes or so, don't worry about when it's "done" as this is just to make the outside nice and crusty for flavor.

Remove from the oven, and set aside the roast under foil to rest for a while. Discard any extra fat from the pan you roasted in, and add 1 tbsp of butter, and the shallots. Cook over heat for a couple minutes until softened. Deglaze with the wine + stock and scrape up all the yummy bits with a wisk. Add another tbsp of butter. Add the demi glace if you have it. Add the drippings from the plate you're resting your roast on. Reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Keep warm.

Put a cast iron pan on, get it hot. Really hot. Carve the roast into the medallions, and sear both sides until browned a bit, this will finish the cooking process for the inside of the roast (so not too thick, eh?). Serve with mashed potatoes, veg of choice, and spoon the warm sauce over.

Recipe is blatently stolen from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook, and altered just a touch. :)
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