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  1. In the end I decided to go back for Day 2 rather than sell my pass. Glad I did. On Day 1 I had, in order: Moonlight Mutton -- I was a fan, not amazing but pretty tasty, although a little heavy handed on (I think) garlic powder. I like lamb, I like mutton too. My gripe: Before I got my sandwich I grabbed a sample hunk cut straight from the hind quarter, and this was a whole lot more interesting than the finely minced mixture they use for the sandwich. Bob Gibson's Pork Shoulder -- Usually among my favorites, but this year it was cold and pretty pedestrian. Martin's Whole Hog -- Last they were a very happy surprise for me, maybe the best thing I had. This year confirmed that Martin's is my new favorite vendor at the festival. I love their pork, it's tender and flavorful. Their sauce is terrific, and the slaw brings it all together. Pappy's St. Louis Ribs -- Decent, not great. Some smoke, but not enough. Not really succulent. Over-salted. A belly ache. On Day 2 I had, in order: Jack's Old South Brisket -- A nice showing. Moist and flavorful. Here's where I really agree with Fat Guy because although this was a good plate of brisket, it doesn't touch Hill Country. Blue Smoke Beef Ribs -- Again I agree with Fat Guy. These were very good beef ribs, although I was let down that the serving was a few bony pieces instead of one meaty piece. I struggled to find enough to meat. big ups to the pickled okra and assorted other pickled pieces. Dipping the beef in the pickle juice was a strong play. The Pit Whole Hog -- Still love this pork, it's just been surpassed for me by Martins.
  2. A $25 increase in price but no increase in food credit. AFAIK in the past you always got food credit that was equivalent to the cost of the pass, now there is $25 surcharge for access to the express line. I'm still going to do it because there is no other way to manage the wait times, but if this time I am paying a sum that is directly attributable to the express line they should be making sure it is truly express. Mambwe, you can always pay cash once you run out of Fastpass credits so why not buy just two and hand the passes around to get everyone through the line. Seems better than spending another $125 for only $100 more worth of food.
  3. Well, I served my brisket on Friday and it was great. Meat was perfectly pink throughout and I got an awesome sear in a blazing hot cast iron skillet. There were recommendations to drop the temp to the 131 range but I wanted pink rather than red for this meal so I'm glad I kept it a few degrees higher; my meat was not at all gray. I Like others have said, the result is something very reminiscent of a roast, rib roast imo. I made a red wine reduction sauce with lots of onions but I thought it was a bit overpowering. Better was simply the slightly reduced cooking juices. There really is very little fat that melts away so I had to spend some time trimming after the meat came out of the bag. I asked for this brisket well trimmed, but on my second go around I will ask the butcher to trim of the maximum possible amount of fat (this flat had very good marbling). I messed around with the blow torch on some leftovers and that was good too. My process: Seasoned with salt, brown sugar, mustard see and put some bay leaf and whole peppercorns in the bag. SV at 134 for 48 hours. Brown in blazing hot skillet.
  4. I would love to get a result similar to the Momofuku short ribs pictured above from post 1968. A few posts down from 1968 it was written that these were browned via deep fry and speculated that they were sous vided at 135. I'm not intending to deep fry but this is what I have in mind and I think cast iron will get me a similar brown, I might add a touch of sugar to help carmelization. Robert, in post 2571 you reported your brisket done at 135 was on the rare side of medium rare, you also raved about the results. I gather you've found through experimentation that you like it even rarer and have therefore shifted to 131.5. I'd say what I'm chasing after is more medium rare - medium. Care to comment on that? Also, still looking for reinforcement on whether I want the brisket well trimmed or not.
  5. I'm planning to do a brisket next week and would appreciate feedback on my plan, which has been mostly pieced together from other posts in the thread and Douglas Baldwin's page. 1. Going with either a whole brisket or just the point if I can find it. Definitely prime, maybe wagyu. Should I have the brisket well trimmed or just lightly trimmed? I've seen arguments that lightly trimmed is best, even for SV, to avoid a dry point. But AFAIK the fat will soften but not melt at 135, so others suggest having the brisket well trimmed. 2. Considering a brine per Douglas Baldwin's suggestion, but because I have a small kitchen I'd prefer to skip this step. Would like opinions here. 3. Considering a preliminary browning. Do others feel this adds significant depth of flavor? 4. Sous Vide for 48 hours at 135 degrees, to be finished a day or two before serving. I'll chill down afterward. 5. On dinner night, I need to bring the brisket up to temperature but will be without my SV equipment. Thinking I'll can deal just fine with simmering water at about 110 degrees as measured by a digital thermometer. 6. Pre-service browning. Could do either blow torch or skillet. I'd like a nice hard sear for a nice crusty edge and don't mind a small ring of well cooked meat so leaning towards a skillet browning but I do want the bulk of the meat to have some pinkness (I'd prefer to not trot out strange techniques like blowtorching in front of some squeamish guests).
  6. Yesterday was a bit of a disappointing day at the BABBP. That isn't to say I didn't have a good afternoon, but there were some definite bumps. The highlight of my day was Martin's whole hog. The meat itself was fantastic and nicely seasoned. And the sandwich with rather 'raw' coleslaw and terrific tangy thin sauce was greater than the sum of its parts. I'll usually eat the meat with a fork to save stomach space but the sandwich was such a well rounded affair that I couldn't help myself. This is up there with Ed Mitchell and Bob Gibson's as my favorites of the festival. I'm so pleased Martin's has been added to this years event and I'm hoping they'll become a regular. If you missed them yesterday, I recommend you make it a priority today. I also got to Jim 'n Nick's for their smoked pork sausage. They kept running out of food and stalling the line, so this was a bit of a chore. I like most any sausage, and this was no exception, but I was underwhelmed. It is nothing special. The pimento cheese with saltines is kind of worthless imo (although I'd like to see more vendors get away from beans or slaw). Baker's ribs was also very lackluster. The meat was tough and didn't have good smoke flavor. The serving size, three quite modest ribs, would have left something to be desired if the product itself was desirable. Baker's ribs has been a consistent let down at the event. IIRC they started out serving brisket a few years back and now have switched to ribs. Neither has been worthwhile. I hope they'll be asked to step aside next year. I hit Bob Gibson's which was great as always. Salt Lick was, from what I heard and gathered, completely out of food by 3:00. Running out of food only half-way through the day is pretty bad. I had spent a few minutes in a very long line and then aborted with the expectation of coming back when things died down a bit. Fast pass lines were worse than I've experienced the last two years. They ranged from just ten minutes for Bob Gibson's to what was probably an hour for Salt Lick, with something on the order of half an hour for the others I waited on. But I was there at much more peak times than '07 and '08 so it's not right to compare. I'm disappointed that I still have never had a great pork rib at the BABBP. I've never liked Mike Mills's ribs (I know others love them) although I do like his beans. Baker's I've already vented about. Blue Smoke is not so impressive (I wish they'd bring back the chicken from two years ago that I passed on but heard great reports about -- there is so much pork at the festival I think they could use a vendor doing great chicken and they should definitely have one vendor doing something exotic like mutton as mentioned up thread). I do really like Rack 'n Soul; they make a tasty baby back rib that it great for what it it, but it's not the 'real' bbq rib I am wanting for. I'm hopeful that Pappy's will put my gripe to bed when I get there today. I'm also let down that the organizers have still not added a representative from Kansas City. That's always been a big hole in the lineup. Today I will get to Ed Mitchell with one of my first (and maybe last) stops and will make sure to get to Salt Lick before the line builds too much. I'll also be sure sure to try Pappy's in my search for good ribs. I'm excited to eat at some of the NYC places -- Hill Country (which I eat at often anyway and which has better brisket than Salt Lick), Dinosaur (which I overlook each year but never actually get to in Harlem), and Rack 'n Soul. I'm going back to Martin's too!
  7. I mean ... I don't need an immersion circulator to get 80 degrees Fahrenheit in June. Thanks for pointing me to the Dec. 15 posts, they are helpful. Seems like 80 degrees is a lot higher than what anyone else has experimented with. I'd like an end result that has a melt in your mouth succulent quality but after a slight chew. It should hold together, rather than pulling apart, when you slice with a knife or pierce with a fork. Pink on the inside like the brisket from post 2298 or as mentioned/seen elsewhere with short ribs would be a bonus.
  8. I am thinking about picking up some wagyu beef cheeks from Japan Premium Beef for sous-vide. The Japanese butcher actually suggested a sous-vide method without solicitation, he recommended 80 degrees for five hours with a sear before and after. Does that sound like a good starting point or should I go a bit longer?
  9. Although the food is a central reason we decided to take our honeymoon in Italy, I've been delinquent in planning our meals. We leave this Tuesday the 28th so time is of the essence. I do have a few good recs for Rome, but always happy to hear more. The other destinations are an open book. Give me your best ideas from grand dining to hidden countryside gems to street fare. In addition to restaurants themselves I'm also looking for suggestions on particular dishes or food items I should seek out and where to do it, wine experiences, in home dining, and cooking schools.
  10. I've seen that episode with the cochinita pibil. Looks damn good. Well, I don't actually have a stovetop smoker but I figure it's not hard to rig something up with some foil and a rack or two.
  11. One afternoon last week I landed at the butcher without a plan for dinner. I looked through his meat case and decided I would take home a partial slab of pork spare ribs and try my hand at them in the sous vide set up for the first time. This was a full spare rib cut with the rib tips attached, but I had the butcher trim off the tips to turn it into a St. Louis cut with the tips separate. By the time I got home I only had a few hours before dinner and consulting cameo chef's table in post #2237 I saw that I didn't have nearly enough time to cook as recommended. I expected this but pushed on anyway. I divided into three portions: Four bones with a single tip; four more bones; and the remaining tips. I gave each portion a generous sprinkling of bbq rub, set the bath for 178 degrees, and let them go for about 3.5 hours. At the end of that time I took out the bag with the single tip, drained off the liquid, patted dry, applied more rub and put them under the broiler. I broiled on each side for less than five minutes. Then I basted the ribs with bbq sauce and put them back under the broiler for a few minutes on each side. Results were right about what I expected, which was to say pretty darn good. The meat had tenderized a good amount, there was no amount of unwelcome chew. A little more tender and they'd be in what I'd consider a sweet spot if I were having true barbecued ribs. The fat melted part way, I prefer a little more fat melting, but this was acceptable. The double broiling finishing method left me with both a crispy, flavorful meat exterior and a sticky caramelized sauce layer. I left the other two portion in the water at 178 for the next couple hours, then I turned the temp down to 170 for the overnight. When all was said and done they had 6-7 hours at 178 and anther ten hours at 170. When finished I cooled them rapidly and stuck them in the fridge. Earlier this week I had the second portion of ribs, finished the same way. The results here were truly outstanding. The fat melted pretty thoroughly but still just a perfect amount was left behind. The meat was super tender, falling off the bone, but no trace of mush. Ideally I'd have the meat just slightly less tender so it clings to the bone but comes off with little resistance. And again, the finishing method worked great. Tonight I had the rib tips. These were still good, but not up to par with either batch of ribs. That's probably because ribs tips just aren't as good as the ribs themselves, but next time I might go a little less time with this cut to see if the results improve. All in all a very successful experiment. I am really looking forward to next time and trying some flavor ideas beyond just bbq. However, I'm by no means abandoning bbq -- has anyone tried giving pork a pre-sous vide smoke in a table top smoker box.
  12. Found a long lost bone in strip steak in my freezer and decided to turn it into my first sous vide steak. The beef was dry aged, prime. After defrosting I hit is with salt, pepper, and a bit of frozen olive oil. Cooked it about fifty minutes at 57.7 degrees then seared a single side in a roaring skillet for about 40 seconds. I flipped it over for just a few more seconds because the gray sous vide exterior is so unappetizing. Finished with some more fleur de sel and very good olive oil. Results were phenomenal.
  13. After setting aside my foray into sous vide for a few months, I am back at it with my second attempt at duck "confit". I had to toss out my first attempt because my circulator shut off overnight and I had no way of knowing how long the food had been below safe temperature. But I rigged a new setup which has solved my evaporation problems of the past. I didn't do a salt cure, so this is not strictly a confit (I usually find traditional confit overwhelmingly salty). The legs are being cooked with a good amount of salt, some rosemary, a few juniper berries, and a couple tablespoons of duck fat I had been saving. The duck has been at 180 degrees for almost 18 hours and I plan to go for a full 24. Although the standard thread recipe for duck confit is 8-12 hours I'm game to try longer. I plan to sear the skin in a non-stick pan and serve with boiled potatoes and a frisee salad. But I'd love to hear other suggestions. I do have one question which is only semi-sous vide related. Is it OK for me to keep leftover duck fat? And if so, what is the best way to store it and for how long? I'm thinking I will harden the fat in the fridge and then vacuum seal it.
  14. All this talk yesterday gave me a craving so I went over to Nicky's to give them a try for the first time. I've bean meaning for a long, long time to mix Nicky's into the rotation but this was the first time I followed through. This was also the first time I followed through on another promise I kept making myself; that I would try a sardine sandwich. Since I've never had sardine anywhere else, comparisons aren't worth much, but I was generally pretty happy. My impressions are in line with all the other comments. A little more money, a little less food, a little less traditional seeming, solid solid sandwich. It was still plenty to eat, so I wasn't upset about the size. The sardine is obviously very different from any porky fillings, but it was yummy. My one gripe is that I was wanting the sandwich to have a little more garnish to balance out the protein, but I liked the slightly thicker julienne on the pickled carrots.
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