I just got into smoking (the cooking kind) and have been smoking foods for nearly 3 months now (since Aug 2017), briskets, round tips, chucks, and chicken. It’s really fun and when I get it right it is incredibly delicious. As time-consuming as it may be (not so much for chicken but definitely for tough meats), very few things in life can taste that good. Earlier I had posted an article on smoked chuck which if you haven’t tried it and you have access to a grill and wanna practice, this is a really fun and delicious way to do it plus it was one of the most delicious meats I’ve ever cooked if I may say so myself. This post is about chicken, more specifically, spatchcocked chicken smoked on a gas grill at home! Check it out.
I’ve spent the whole summer grilling outside. I got this pretty nice Webber Spirit grill about 2 months ago and I haven’t used the stove much. The grill is small, it only has 2 burners but it works really well. Gets super hot and I’ve successfully smoked a ton of different things. I wish it were a charcoal grill but regulations in LA prohibit its use in apartment complexes.
I’ve owned a number of grills in the past but I rarely used them, and rather misused them. Grilling is not an easy technique, especially for a cook that’s used to sous vide cooking. Grilling provides an extremely harsh environment for food. It is extremely inaccurate in terms of heat distribution too. But being able to cook outside without setting off any smoke alarms is awesome.
Making mayo at home is one of those practices that have fallen out of fashion. The whole raw egg/salmonella thing can be intimidating but it’s pretty easy to find pasteurized eggs in groceries stores. If you can’t find them you could still pasteurize them at home but it will require sous vide gear. If you’re interested you should check out my article on sous vide egg pasteurization which also deals with mayo pasteurization which in a nutshell talks about listeria and salmonella safe log reduction levels by application of heat bellow egg setting temperature. But if you wanna skip all that hassle, try getting pasteurized eggs.
I love lacto-fermented vegetables. Homemade sauerkraut and kimchi are fun to make and one of the first things I got into when I started this cooking blog. Along with bread making, vegetable fermentation has always been fascinating to me. Recently I’ve started experimenting with a broader spectrum of vegetables, spices, seasonings… the combinations are endless and the flavor profile that can be achieved are incredibly complex. Fermentation, aside from all the health benefits and the preservation perks simply makes things taste awesome.
I haven’t found a lot of information on the matter. Seems a bit odd considering how much importance people give to the “cook until juices run clear” rule in a time when sous vide cooking is becoming more popular but maybe that’s just me not crawling the web more thoroughly. If you’ve seen any good source of info let me know please… and I gotta warn yah, this post is probably a little graphic and off-putting but if you’ve been reading this blog…it happens.
And we’re back with some more sous vide cooking! A few things about pork tenderloin. It’s delicious but only if cooked properly otherwise is just boring. Cooking this cut with traditional methods requires some practice and a thermometer but if you’re looking for that medium rare finish and a pasteurized product then going sous vide is the easiest (and possibly the only practical …) way of getting there.
I don’t know about this title but I had to start somewhere and it is in fact related to how I feel about what I’m about to cover here. I have basically redefined the way I eat over the years of cooking which pretty much landed me in the sous vide cooking world. That taught me many things about food and what heat does to it. It also changed the way I see cooking in that now I do my best to applying the least amount of heat possible still placing all of my attention in flavor and texture. Each ingredient and preparation has therefor a very specific cooking time and temperature, etc, etc. You know all about that sous vide stuff, let’s move on.
My previous swordfish taco test.
If you have been tuning in lately you probably noticed my post about sous vide swordfish tacos from a few weeks ago. Well, I couldn’t let it go. I did more research and found that on average the cooking temperature suggested for cooking it was a couple of degrees lower. Now, if you’re not familiar with sous vide cooking, a few degrees can mean the world. Yes, that applies to traditional cooking as well but it’s a lot more difficult to quantify or even reproduce. But sous vide cooking is all about precision and it is fairly easy to experiment with different cooking temperatures, take notes (the whole purpose of this blog 4 years ago, not recipes, not food photography, cooking notes) and compare.
Certain ingredients can be misunderstood, others, I just simply don’t like. Swordfish I basically hated. But it was all nothing but a big misunderstanding. Understandably so. I still remember the first time somebody grilled swordfish steaks at some party and offered me a piece. It was like eating really densely packed sawdust and pretending to love it. For years, that remained to be how people cooked this fish and offered it to me. I wasn’t into cooking then but I did love attending bbq parties. The two things I knew at a bbq party were: stay away from grilled chicken breasts and definitely stay away from grilled swordfish.
Years of hatred. Almost 2 decades actually. That all changed in 30 minutes. This morning at 5:30am to be precise. I’m not an early bird but I often have the inability to sleep for more than a few hours on a regular night. I’m fully awake after that, simply staring at the ceiling until it’s time to get ready to go to work. It’s Saturday so I didn’t have the work problem. I knew that Ralphs on Olympic opens 24/7. Yeah, got some fish. Also learned that by California law you can’t buy alcohol before 6am. It was 5:55am by the time I hit the checkout and they made me wait. I took a six pack of beers with me in the end.
A week ago I cooked swordfish at a dinner party at my girlfriend’s house. I remember putting extreme care and attention over that skillet. Guess what… dry sawdusty steaks. Ok, they weren’t that bad, but come on! I thought I knew what I was doing in the kitchen! Well, obviously not. And definitely I haven’t figured out this swordfish technical cooking issue. If there’s anyone out there that can claim being able to pan roast or grill or simply warm up this thing on a skillet without it going dry, call me.
Not the first time this has been featured on this blog but why not blog about it again. This has to be one of the most underrated preparations of all time. I’m almost inclined to suggest it might be better than leaner tenderer cuts like loin meat. The process is long. It takes about a week to make but so does bacon. And you know how most carnivores feel about bacon, right? So this 5-7 day curing/cooking adventure will definitely yield something that might far exceed your expectations. I mean… it’s chuck meat. Cheap, tough, you have to boil this thing for hours to make it edible. The magic of sous vide never shined this bright before. Chuck roast. So simple and a powerful statement about getting misunderstood ingredients to steal the show… I mean this thing even dropped the mike.
Before we go any further I want to warn you. I just participated in the killing of a pig. I also documented it with pictures. I will do my best to avoid excessively-graphic imagery but as you may know, the process of butchering an animal is a dramatic event so if you’re not comfortable with this kind of content kindly skip this post. I will stick to the facts and present this subject as mindfully and respectfully as possible and only to show and share my love and appreciation for food, cooking and all that it entails.
As a meat eater, I was feeling compelled to witness and participate in the butchering of an animal. I felt that without doing so… eating meat was just a convenient luxury, far removed from the harsh reality of taking life to feed people. I also wanted to participate out of respect for the animals and the butchering craft that I know so little about. I thought If I were to continue to eat meat, I needed exposure to the entire story. And not the theory which we can all look up somewhere. I needed to see what was really involved. There’s drama in the act of killing no matter how “humanely” the killing is carried out. Our butchering instructor minimized suffering and worked as swiftly as possible.