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Everything posted by dansch

  1. yeah chicago pizza and oven grinders is a 1.5 blocks away from out place...hehe. Love it! So has everyone that we have brought there... So good, salad rocks, the flat bread appetizer you HAVE to get ( covered in olive oil and awesome blends of spices) you rip it apart with those you are dining with...rip eat, rip eat, etc....its paper thin and really big around Mmmm carbs with oily goodness The pizza pot pies rock. I saw them featured on rachel rays travel food show in foor network. Saw EXACTLY how they're made.... I just relocated to Chicago and am half a block down from this place. There's a line out the door every night and Rebecca (my better half) and I assumed that there must be something to this line...something tasty at the end of it. Unfortunately, that's far from the case. We went and had the classic meat pot pie and the salami grinder to share. The pizza "pot pie" was just a mediocre crust filled with so-so meat spaghetti sauce (I'll give some credit to the whole mushrooms, but certainly not enough to distinguish the sauce) and /too much/ cheese. The "oven grinder" was a warm (not hot mind you, think sitting near the oven for a while, not in it) sub with thick slices of so-so salami (I'll admit that I'm a cured meat snob) with a ton of semi-melted flavorless provolone. On the side was a big pile of insipid partially-cooked green peppers. Needless to say, we could not understand what the line was all about. Then we gave directions to some tourists on the bus who asked if we new where it was. We gave them directions and asked them how they knew about the place... "it was on the Rachel Ray show". No wonder. -Dan p.s. We did not try the rather tasty-looking flatbread app that most people seemed to be tucking in to. It did look good...and I might even go in and try one sometime... but it will not be a prelude to an entree in my case.
  2. When I called yesterday they were able to give me a couple of time options on June 21 (I just asked for their first-available day and that's what he offered). -dan
  3. Having just relocated to Chicago, this is one of the places I am really excited to check out. I actually just called yesterday looking for a reservation and booked one out in June. Based on everything I've read, this is just the kind of place for me. Cloying service and pretension kind of put me on edge - it's just not comfortable to me. Not that I won't dine in places with them, but the idea of food at this level without it sounds fantastic. Frankly, I go out dining for the food. When I travel I'm a street-food *and* 3-star kind of guy - I want the best possible food regardless of the setting. While I see that the ambiance of a fine-dining establishment is part of the overall positive experience, so too for me is crouching on a tiny stool in a packed alley of Hanoi at lunchtime with businessmen and old ladies eating off a plastic plate. I guess what I'm saying is that no amount of service or amenities can make up for lackluster food, but that fantastic food is still fantastic to me regardless of setting. I also really like the idea of folks that want to produce food at this level, but want to maintain a hands-on approach, want the business to conform to their life (closed weekends, time for the family, etc.), and are creating the food experience that they want, not what convention mandates (huge staff, fancy decor, gentle music). That's something that I wish I had in my own life (I'm not in foodservice professionally) and can appreciate when other have created in their own. All that said, the proof is in the pudding; I'll post my thoughts after my dinner there in June. -Dan
  4. Very cool. I'll have to check that out sometime soon. I'm going car-less in Chicago, but have to travel to Wisconsin pretty frequently and will be renting ZipCars. I'll have to stick a cooler in the trunk and stock up... even though I'm living in an apartment, I brought my chest freezer. -Dan
  5. I had spotted them on the website for the Green City Market (which appears to be less than 2 blocks from my new abode), but their website indicates corn-fed beef. Don't get me wrong, I'll happily buy their meat at the market, I've just really learned to love the taste of grass-fed. -Dan
  6. So, I just relocated up to Chicago from Charlottesville (Virginia, that is) and while I'm loving city life so far, I'm having a hard time finding good beef. Ok, well, perhaps that's disingenuous. I can find lots of beef. I can even find things we didn't have back in Charlottesville like real dry-aged prime beef (Fox & Obel), great homemade sausages (Gepperth's), etc., but I can't find what I want: grass-fed local beef and local heritage breed pork. Now, I'm not trying to stoke the grass-fed/corn-fed flame wars, I'm simply looking for recommendations. Back home I had direct access to local farmers who treated their animals well, gave them space to roam (even the pigs... berkshire hogs that are given a hundred acres to roam develop great flavor and intramuscular fat). I also had an organic butcher who sourced most of his stock from local family farms. Googling, making phone calls, asking around has led me nowhere. Do I need to drive to Wisconsin and buy in bulk? I'd be ok with that, but still need a recommendation. Please send me what you've got. I really do love the taste of grass-fed beef and prefer to support local farmers who treat their animals and land well... Thanks for the help, -Dan
  7. I just noticed this as a recent addition at my local meat/cheese shop and picked some up. In fact, I'm eating it right now- it's *really* good. The texture and melt factor of the fat is just fantastic. I may have eaten better tasting ham, but this is the best texture I've come across. I wish I had my camera here to show off some shots of the marbling. -Dan
  8. So, a buddy of mine just sent me a snap he took when he came over for dinner and we had the country pate that I posted shots of up above. I also made the roasted veggie terrine (had a pescaterian over that night and didn't want them to miss this course completely) My plating skills need some work, but you get the point. Cooking up my VA country ham this weekend and will post shots and impressions (pictures of the ham-making process are here). Cheers, -Dan
  9. I was always a big fan of Matzo Brei growing up. What you need is 2-3 really good matzo recipes that you can have a stack of next to the giant stack of matzo boxes in the store. People will think to themselves "boy, that sounds good*" and snag at least a good 30-40 lbs each! Cheers, -Dan *Note: Of course, even the best Matzo-based food isn't really that good...
  10. Don't you think it should be: everyone who doesn't get sick reports back and by a process of elimination we'll know who didn't make it? ;-) -Dan [Moderator note: This topic continues here, Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 5)]
  11. I'm still curing hard, I just haven't posted much recently. Some of that comes down to the repetition. I've added bacon, pancetta, fresh sausages, etc. in to my normal repertoire and now it just seems so mundane! I think I posted some photos of my ham curing a couple months ago - they're done now and I'll post some pictures of the end-results when I cook one up for the first time (planned for my birthday in a couple of weeks). Here is a shot of my first terrine (basic country pate): (this is a little one that I made as a test from some extra mixture that wouldn't fit in my loaf pan) Cheers, -Dan
  12. When I made the pastrami from "Charcuterie" I steamed it for a couple of hours after smoking, which I can attest did in fact draw out a good bit of salt and tenderize the pastrami (which after a good long smoking session was a bit dry around the edges). It was *fantastic*. I was eating pastrami with every meal for a couple of weeks. The drippings at the bottom of the roasting pan I steamed it in were fantastic as well. It did not go to waste. Along with more mundane uses, I also happen to be playing with sodium alginate that weekend with a buddy. I made pastrami dripping (fat removed, obviously) caviar and blobs and such. We made a bunch of different flavors of blobs that day and pastrami jus was definitely the best. As an appetizer for dinner I pan fried small rounds of homemade rye and layered on some pastrami and topped with the caviar. Odd? Sure. Delicious? Oh yes. -Dan
  13. I recently found that my local health food store sells dextrose. It's right there with the cane sugar, agave syrup, etc. Seems kind of odd, but I'm not complaining - it does seem silly to pay shipping for something that's <$1/lb to start with... -Dan
  14. Also thought I'd toss up a couple of pictures from my day of country ham curing. A good friend of mine, David (pictured below), has been curing his own country hams for a couple of years and invited me and a mutual friend Brad to join him this year. We ordered a stack of 5 hams from a local organic farmer we know (plus one from the pig I butchered) and set to curing. Unfortunately the hams that the farm sent us already had the skin removed. David has a small smoke house on his property (my photos don't really do it justice) that has a slightly slanted curing table, hooks from the ceiling, and a fire pit in the center - very very cool. So, after rinsing the hams off, we set to massaging in a mixture of salt and brown sugar (David doesn't do nitrates, but I added DC #2 to my mix): Once rubbed down, we set them in to their own individual piles of curing mix, tossed some mix on top, and let them sit. To the left is a 20+ pound skinless ham with sea salt and brown sugar only, off to the right is my much smaller ~15 lb ham, skin still on, with salt, brown sugar, and DC#2: Given that all of my experiences with curing thus far have involved bleaching down work surfaces, sanitizing mixer and grinder parts, etc., this whole process was a bit odd. Obviously this is how hams have been cured for a long long time (as evidenced by David's awesome smoke house - who knows how old that thing is) and I shouldn't worry about it. That said, definitely a bit odd. So, right now the hams get flipped and rubbed down every few days. After 4-6 weeks we'll wash them off, hang them, smoke them, and then let them hang and cure until we get hungry and can't take it anymore! Cheers, -Dan
  15. Thanks for all of the kind words. The mixture itself was ground using the coarse plate on the KA grinder. I held aside a little bit of back fat to dice by hand to vary the texture a bit. All of the meat and fat was from a pig that I got from a local organic farmer - Tamworth breed, I think - that in and of itself was a cool experience - I went out to the farm and butchered it with him. Definitely learned my way around a carcass... The beef middles came from Butcher-Packer and are quite a bit different than what I was expecting. Instead of see-through thin hog casings, these have thick white walls that are just barely translucent. Creepiness factor aside, they're super easy to work with. I used my Grisly stuffer with the widest filling tube and just packed it on in. I tied them off in to individual ~14 inch lengths, as my curing chamber isn't that tall. Here are the sausages just after stuffing - definitely not an appetizing scene: Given the exterior hardening issue I had with my lomo (which, FWIW, I had stuffed in to an inedible collagen casing hoping to help slow down the drying - maybe next time I'll just rub it with some lard and hang it without a casing), I was definitely worried about case hardening, but it all worked out Ok. Total drying time was about a month and a half. Cheers, -Dan
  16. So, after feeling depressed over a couple of recent charcuterie failures (lomo got too dry on the outside and didn't work out), I was quite pleased to pull down my spicy sopressata today and find that not only does it look fantastic, it's downright delicious! This was made from a recipe in "Cooking by Hand" and stuffed in to beef middles (my first attempt at larger sausage diameter). Cheers, -Dan
  17. I've only made one food-related resolution for the new year, and I've already begun implementing it: I will only eat meat at restaurants if I know they procured it from trustworthy sources. I've long implemented a policy of not purchasing commercial meat for home cooking - getting all of my meat from local sources who treat their animals well, but have made exceptions when I eat out. -Dan
  18. Oh, if only we could get fresh Dungeness crabs out here in Virginia... My personal preference, is simply steamed. Last time I was in the pacific northwest (specifically: Fort Bragg, CA) I was on a mission to find steamed dungeness crabs. Every seafood place I stopped by was either closed, rented out to a party, or only served crab gussied up with cream sauces and the like. I just wanted a fresh, hot, crab on a plate. Finally I pulled over in a parking lot and asked a stranger where I could get good dungeness crab. He started rattling off the names of all of the restaurants I had already stopped by - I explained what I really wanted and he told me to go to a specific grocery store and walk to the seafood counter in the back. While walking in to the grocery store, I noticed the big gleaming stainless steamer sitting outside, still warm... definitely a good sign. We (my ever-patient better half, Rebecca) walked to the seafood counter and asked for 2 crabs. Still warm from being steamed, the fish monger pulled a couple big (1lb+) ones from the pile, weighed them, cleaned them out for us, wrapped them in butcher paper and we were on our way. We grabbed a stick of butter and headed back to our hotel. I warmed up the butter in the coffee maker (my McGyver moment of the night) and we sat on the floor eating crab meat until we could down no more. Definitely one of my fondest food memories. The really amazing part: the crab was only $3.50/lb. At that price, I'd eat crab once a day, every day, for the rest of my life. -Dan
  19. dansch

    Pork Tenderloin

    So, kind of a homemade sausage filling. I like the idea. Have you tried using the filling raw instead of cooked? Just thinking that if you bound the sausage filling in a standing mixer (as you would before stuffing in to casings), then stuffed it in to the tenderloin, the sausage filling would maintain a nice, juicy, sausage-like texture inside the loin. I guess the only issue would be cooking the filling through without overcooking the loin... now that I think this through, maybe pre-cooked is the way to go. I was just thinking that the texture of the cooked-in-place sausage filling would be better. Maybe sous-vide would do the trick - cook the stuffing in-place, but without overcooking the tenderloin. Sear before service... Mmm... pork stuffed pork; how can you go wrong? -Dan
  20. Albeit a bit off-topic, as it has nothing to do with cooking/curing from the book, I wanted to mention that I had the pleasure of eating at Five Lakes Grill, Brian Polcyn's restaurant in Milford, MI. I was up in Grand Rapids and Lansing for a couple of nights this and decided to drive over to Milford for the evening. By the time I got there, it was a bit late and the dinner crowd had already cleared out. I sat at the bar (was traveling alone for work) and had the "Farmer's Charcuterie Plate" followed by "The Glorious Pig!" Wow. The Farmer's plate had a spicy chorizo (fresh, not dried) served with a mustard sauce, smoked duck breast with an apple chutney, country terrine with ginger/something chutney, quenelle of confit (duck/rabbit - can't recall) salad, and finally another terrine served with a cherry/fruit chutney. I should have jotted down notes, as I'm clearly forgetting the difference between the terrines (one was lighter with some herbs, the other darker - in both color and flavor- both were extremely light on the palate, not greasy at all) as well as the details of some of the condiments. "The Glorious Pig!" is aptly described on the online menu as "A selection of Roasted Smoked Loin, Pork Confit and Josephine’s Kielbasa with Granny Smith apple and potato gratin, shallot confit, root vegetables, hard cider reduction and sweet potato hay" My only complaint about the entree was that it was a bit heavy on the loin and light on the kielbasa and pork confit from a portion perspective. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me (as I was traveling for work and didn't think I'd need it), so no pictures to report back with. Needless to say, if you find yourself anywhere near Detroit or Lansing (or for that matter Grand Rapids - as that's where I had to drive to after dinner), Five Lakes Grill is definitely a must-eat destination. Milford is somewhere off of 96 in between Detroit and Lansing - maybe 5-10 minutes off the highway. Cheers, -Dan p.s. I was most definitely the last patron that night, and the bartender who served me was just as friendly and helpful as could be and the kitchen staff clearly paid just as much attention to my meal as if it were in the middle of service - not the last order of the night.
  21. I still can't seem to get my salt level right. My most recent batch was in need of more salt - I find myself salting the slices before I fry them. Crazy. That said, I've made the pancetta recipe a number of times and the salt level is always perfect (since it's measured precisely for each belly I guess). I've been thinking of making the pancetta cure - minus bay leaves and juniper - and then smoking it instead of rolling and hanging. I'm not really sure why there's dextrose in the bacon cure recipe anyway. Thoughts from others? The andouille is one of the tastiest things I've made as a result of this experimentation with charcuterie. There's a recipe upthread that I used and thought was fantastic. I've been using the attachment for my Kitchenaid and it's Ok, but certainly not ideal. One thing I would consider a big plus in the manual category is that you could get one that would fit standard (say, #12) size dies - allowing a much wider range of grind sizes than the 2 that come with the KA. I've been thinking about moving up to a real (standalone) electric one for that reason + the nicer ones don't seem to get caught up and smear as a result of tiny bits of sinew/silverskin like the KA does. I'm assuming that it's a result of the blade style of the KA (very wide edge angle) - though perhaps horsepower and fit/precision (how close the blade gets to the die) of the standalone ones are significant factors as well. I know someone with a small Hobart food chopper (the toroid-shaped thing) that has a KA-style grinder attachment, but it's much more hard-core and he can grind just about anything without worry about trimming every last bit of connective tissue out. This thread is what got me participating in eGullet as well - previously I was just a lurker. Call it the power of pork... Cheers, -Dan
  22. dansch


    Well said. My biggest problem with most restaurants' nachos (and pizza for that matter) is that there is too much cheese. I like a good flavorful cheese on my nachos, not just a heaping melted pile of jack. That said, the key ingredient for nachos is: Bacon. Bacon, red onion, hot peppers and some fresh goat cheese - maybe a light sprinkle of jack just to get the crusty cheese bits around the edges. Good to go. -Dan
  23. So, I just pulled down and tried my paprika-cured lomo. Everything seems Ok, except the flavor is a bit on the sour side. After my experience with mold on my peperone (yes, yes I know I'm a mold wuss) I had been using a vinegar/water solution once every week or two on the lomo (which was in a collagen casing) to control any fuzzies. I fear that the vinegar may have really soaked in and caused this off sour flavor - fine and dandy in a salame, but not the flavor profile I wanted out of a lomo. In the future, I think I'll switch over to just a salt brine rub-down if I start to fear undesirable molds. Any thoughts on the use of vinegar? I know a number of people on this thread have used it - noticed any pronounced sour flavor introduced by it? -Dan
  24. Awesome. Like I said before, I intentionally putting mold on the outside of my salame seemed like such a natural thing... until it started growing. I figured that the chances of some other, nefarious mold spontaneously growing on all of the sausages 24 hours after I innoculated with good mold spores seemed rather slim, but still, fuzzy=bad=paranoid me. Hopefully my salame will too! Cheers, -Dan
  25. Yeah, the top one looks ok, it's the close inspection that freaks me out a bit. It's definitely hairy fuzz. I emailed the guys at Butcher-Packer last night (with a description, but no pictures) and his response was "It should be slightly creamy color with a little bit of fuzz". I wish he had said "slightly creamy and downright hairy". Normally it settles down to about 65%, but right now it's up around 83% (it usually spikes when I put a fresh load of sausage in). FWIW, it's about 59-60F degrees. Thanks for the advice, -Dan
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