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Posts posted by jmcgrath

  1. 140C doesn't make sense. Did you mean 40C? Since you used curing salt, I assume you were cold smoking. Sausage casings will get tough is you cook at too high of a temperature for too long.


  2. I recently made this for a dinner at my sportsmen's club. I mostly used Julia's recipe scaled up to feed 80. 60 pounds of beef chuck tenders, a case of Ravenswood Zin, five pounds each of carrots and yellow onions, three pounds of sliced mushrooms, etc., etc.

    I browned everything on hotel pans in our commercial ovens, deglazed with some of the Zin, and then moved everything into two large stock pots. I added the remaining Zin and then topped off with beef stock. I simmered everything for a few hours, moved the pots to our walk-in cooler and went home for the night. The pots went back on the range-top at three the next afternoon, for dinner at 6:30. Towards the end, I thickened with beurre manie. I served it with a mixed green salad, egg noodles, and warm rolls.

    I didn't blanch the bacon, and couldn't find enough pearl onions to make it worthwhile using them. The most labor intensive part of the prep was peeling the silver skin from the chuck tenders.


  3. Welcome to Concord. I moved here from Cambridge 15 years ago and I'm still suffering from culture shock. The Colonial Inn is a must try, not so much for the food, as for the antiquity. The food is okay. Or, hang out in its lounge and listen to a jazz band while munching on an excellent burger. Chang An has very good Cantonese style food, but don't expect to find anything spicy. La Provence is great for lunch and people watching. I only ate at Serafina once and was not impressed. The Walden Grill has had its ups and downs. Right now, I'd say the food is good but not great. I'm more likely to go to Waltham or Maynard for dinner.

    West Concord is a shoppers delight. Twin Seafood, West Concord five and ten, West Concord Supermarket, Concord Teacakes, and Nashoba Brook Bakery are only a few examples.

    I greatly prefer Verrill Farms to Arena for produce.

    That should get you started.


  4. East Coast Grill's "hell night" is coming up at the end of the month. We're going on Oct 31. Is anyone else going?

    For those who haven't heard about it, this is a three-day affair of super spicy food. Menu items are rated in bombs, and even the cocktails are hot. The most famous dish is the "pasta from hell" (10 bombs), with a habenero sauce that will literally leave you speechless and breathless for a few minutes.

    We went this past spring, and have been talking about the next one ever since. This time, I'm taking the next morning off  :wink:

    It's a really fun night for chileheads. I still remember the night I was slurping the noodles and one whiplashed into my eye. I was blind for the next half hour, but recovered and kept eating. Ring of Fire is a good reason to take the next morning off :wink:


  5. What restaurant's, deli's, sweet shops, confort food, bakeries, etc., do you feel really show what food in the Boston area is all about?

    I'm new to the Boston area (coming from the midwest) and trying to get the feel of what's good here.

    Coming from the midwest, you have probably never had decent seafood. Start there.

    Most of our beef comes from the midwest, so expect to pay double or triple what you are used to.

    Be prepared for price shock about everything.


  6. On Wednesday I'm going to do some rib trials for a party for Chufi at the end of the month.  I'd asked the guests to bring ribs, whoever was the rib expert, but when "buying them from Jones BBQ" was the best answer I could get, I figured it's time to become a rib expert myself.  I've read through this whole thread 3 times, taken notes, and just want to see whether any new and brilliant ideas are out there before I get started.

    Has anyone got additional words of wisdom and succulence?  I'll be using my offset smoker with cherry wood, and maybe a bit of hickory for added flavor.  I love Col Klink's rub and =Mark's sauce, so those will definitely be included in the trial, as will the St. Louis style recipe from Epicurious linked to above.  I've made that before, and it is indeed delicious.  I've never brined ribs, although I brine lots of other stuff, so I'll be trying some with brine and some without.

    For the actual party I'll be putting Col Klink's rub on and serving =Mark's sauce with some smoked brisket, so now that I think of it, I might want to make the ribs have a decidedly different flavor scheme.

    I'll add a few thoughts.

    Cherry has a wonderful flavor, but can over-darken meat if used to excess. I prefer Pecan to Hickory. Both woods impart similar flavor, but Hickory has a sharper bite.

    Either rack on a WSM works fine. Okay, you are using an offset, but WSMs were discussed in the thread. The bottom rack on my WSM runs about 25F cooler, so I run my top rack at 250F. Timing in the Epicurious directions seems short. I plan on about six hours for spares and five for baby backs at 225F. The top rack at 250F will take about 30 minutes less. When the meat has pulled back from the bone about 1/4" they are about done.

    St. Louis ribs are more of a way of trimming spares that they are a way of cooking them. The belly flap is removed.

    Temperature should be measured at the cooking grate. A thermometer stuck in the top of a cooker is going to read high, and you will be cooking at too low of a grate temperature.

    If you want to baste, a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and apple cider concentrate in a spray bottle works well. It will caramelize slightly and give your meat a beautiful tan.

    For a finishing glaze, 1/3 each of honey, your favorite barbecue sauce, and Jack Daniels, simmered for a bit to thicken will work.


  7. The "Julie/Julia" project has given me the idea that I could learn a lot by working through an important cookbook with classic dishes.  But which cookbook to choose?

    And then there's the Culinary Institute's "Professional Chef" tome, which I don't enjoy because I have to convert everything down from 10 portion recipes. 

    Any advice?

    I don't know what edition you have, but the Fifth has quite a number of one or two portion recipes. It's just as difficult to convert up to forty or eighty potrions.


  8. I realize that this is an abandoned thread - but here goes, anyway. . .

    Is it NOT possible to add a grate above the flash bars, in order to accommodate the occasional use of hardwood charcoal - in a GAS grill ? ? ?

    HELP me here . . . I actually sent an email to Weber Support. . . . no reply.

    I don't think you will accomplish anything if you do that. Hardwood charcoal adds very little flavor. Those of us who grill with charcoal use wood chunks for flavor. Wood chips in a smoker box or foil packet is the best solution if you cook with gas.


  9. I plan to make an assortment of strawberry jam.  In particular, I want to combine apples and strawberry so I won't have to use store bought pectin.  I also want to reduce the sugar by about a third.

    However, I see that there are different kinds of preserve methods.  I know you're suppose to sterilize the jars and lids.  My mom usually pours her jam into sterilized jars but does not heat the lids to seal it.  She stores it in the fridge and freezer.  Some people boil the jars and lids to seal it and store it in their pantry.

    I don't have home canning pots, tongs, etc.  Is it necessary to go through the whole boiling method if I don't use store bought pectin and use less sugar?  I want to store it in the fridge or freezer and want to avoid poisoning myself.  I don't want to use wax either.

    I just want the simplest method, use the least sugar and be able to store it either in a freezer or a pantry.  People tell me home preserving is simple but I'm confused with the different information I see out there.

    Thanks for your help.

    What's the problem with pectin? Is it a Kosher issue? if not, use pectin and forget the apples.

    Sterilize both the jars and lids.

    It is necessary to go through the whole boiling method, but sugar is not required. It depends on whether you want a strawberry spread or strawberry jam. If you want jam, use the recommended amount of sugar.


  10. Goal here is a vegetable side dish with a lot of good flavor.

    Broadly the idea is to flavor baby peas with bacon, mushrooms,

    onion, garlic, beef stock, and white wine.

    In a little more detail, the idea is to fry some bacon, make a

    essentially a <i>pan sauce,</i> combine with the peas, and


    Comments, reactions, thoughts, ideas?

    Baby peas have such a delicate flavor that almost anything you do to them is going to produce negative results. They are already blanched as part of the freezing process so just a brief saute in salted butter to warm them through should be all you need.

    I think your flavoring ideas are good, but they will work much better with more assertively flavored vegetables. Brussel sprouts immediately jumps to mind.

    Edited to add an example of an assertively flavored vegetable.


  11. The new cook off on crepes has me wanting a crepe pan as well, could tortillas be cooked in this? I really hate buying things that have only one purpose... :hmmm:

    I make crepes in a small cast iron fry pan and it works just fine. Because of the heavier weight, it took some practice to get the batter swirled across the bottom evenly.


  12. Here's a silly question about seasoning raw meat before cooking it.  I wash my hands, then I sprinkle with salt, pepper, etc., rub it around, turn the meat over to season the second side.  Now I wash hands again, before grabbing the pepper mill with my raw-meat-hands.  Then season the second side, and wash again when I'm done.  Any way to avoid that middle step hand-washing without getting gunk on the pepper mill???

    Grind the pepper into a small bowl in advance, then season both sides of the meat in a single step. It would be even better if you used food handling gloves. Latex is more common, but vinyl is available if you have a latex allergy. The gloves are very inexpensive compared to the increase in food safety they provide.


  13. Tammy, thank you so much for your advice. I don't have the time and price constraints you had to deal with. Further comments at the end.

    I've made Beef Bourguignon a couple times and talked about it in this thread.  Go to "print this topic" and search for Beef Burgundy to find the posts, if you're interested.  You don't have my price or time constraints, so the reasons it doesn't work well for me won't apply to you, and I think it sounds like a great idea.

    The recipe I've used is from Cook's Illustrated, and it turns out quite nicely.

    I think I will be able to scale things okay except for the herb bouquet. I need to go from a bouquet to ounces of herbs. Any suggestions? Julia's recipe serves six to eight regular people.

    In my experience, I've tended towards making several pots of whatever it is I'm making, rather than trying to do one ultra large one. This means that things like bouquet garni can actually just be doubled or tripled or whatever per pot. It also reduces cooking time, as bigger pots of food take much longer to cook.

    So if Julia's recipe serves 6-8 and you need to cook enough for 80 then you need 10-12 batches. I'd do three or four pots. Doing them individually like that makes it much easier for the home cook who just does occasional bulk cooking - you don't have to make as many modifications that way.

    For the pearl onions, I'm planning to use canned just because of the sheer volume. Any strong objections? I'll probably use fresh mushrooms. Julia recommends zinfandel or Chianti. I'm probably go with four liter boxes. I don't expect anyone here to admit they drink wine from a box, but If you heard of a reliable brand from a trusted friend, I would appreciate advice.

    I think frozen pearl onions would be preferable to canned. Re. box wine - I know that people like the Black Box Chardonnay - I don't know if Black Box makes a red. Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? You'd probably get better quality wine buying some $3.99 or $4.99 bottles from TJ's without a huge increase in cost. The quality of beef burgundy is largely at the whim of the wine you make it with - better wine makes it better, so buy the best that will work in your budget. (I have a friend who made BB from the leftovers of a mid to high end Burgundy tasting, and he said it was incredible.)

    The dinner will be in June, so I have plenty of time to plan. Any "gotchas" to look out for?

    Just the usual advice I give everyone - everything takes longer, so be sure to alot yourself plenty of time. Especially for something like BB which needs long slow cooking. I just looked at that recipe, and it's saying to check after 40 minutes?! That's crazy! Expect more like 2 1/2 - 3 hours to get truly tender wonderful beef. Maybe longer because you're doing triple or quad batches.

    We charge members $12, so I'm looking on a budget at around $900. After costing things out, I think I can afford a $100 dollar case of plonk wine out of that, with a few bottles left over for the cooks.

    We do dinners every other week and I've been an assistant cook a number of times. I can do the mise a day in advance if I can find a cold spot enough to keep things. We have a walk-in beer keg cooler that I could use, but that may not be cold enough. I could even do the cooking the day in advance to let the flavors meld. The mushrooms and pearl onions would go in during the reheat.

    And, I'm going with fresh pearl onions. What are assistant cooks for anyway? I'll be cooking in foil covered roasting pans to maximize surface area exposed to the heat, but even with that 40 minutes is just crazy. It will also make serving much easier. I'll do a tray per table, seven or eight trays, and let people help themselves.

    Thanks again,


  14. Cooking for 80

    I haven't made Beef Bourguignon since the '60s, so when I signed up to do a dinner at my club I thought it would be fairly simple but interesting. Around 80 people, mostly hungry males so I estimate 40 pounds of boneless beef. This JC recipe looks good but Google produces hundreds of variations. Anyone have other recommendations?

    I think I will be able to scale things okay except for the herb bouquet. I need to go from a bouquet to ounces of herbs. Any suggestions? Julia's recipe serves six to eight regular people.

    For the pearl onions, I'm planning to use canned just because of the sheer volume. Any strong objections? I'll probably use fresh mushrooms. Julia recommends zinfandel or Chianti. I'm probably go with four liter boxes. I don't expect anyone here to admit they drink wine from a box, but If you heard of a reliable brand from a trusted friend, I would appreciate advice.

    I have two commercial ovens and a full commercial kitchen to work with, so I don't expect any problems with that aspect.

    The dinner will be in June, so I have plenty of time to plan. Any "gotchas" to look out for?


  15. Susan, beautiful sausages.  how did you know what to do with the plastic thingy?  I don't understand from the description here (have I read the instructions yet?  Why, no.)

    I don't remember the plastic thingy being in the instructions. It is used to support the impeller thingy when a cutting disk isn't in place. Look how the tabs of the grinding disk fit into the body of the grinder. The plastic thingy fits into the same slots when a grinding disk isn't in place, as when you are stuffing. I think it will be obvious once you look how things fit together.

    Edited to add one more thing: Silver skin really clogs up the KA grinder, especially when using the finer grinding disk. Plan on disassembling several times midstream unless you trim carefully.


  16. Rooftop - you are so lucky to be able to get fruitwood delivered.  I can't even figure out where I can go get some with a station wagon.

    Many fruit orchards will give away their prunings or sell them at a nominal cost. They are more usable than split logs in most smokers.


  17. somewhere upthread, a kind poster gave <a href="http://www.nhgold.com/maple%20syrup.htm">this link to new hampshire gold</a> maple syrup.

    are there any other places that people can vouch for as being good?

    i have never had maple syrup.  only the fake kind (maple flavoured syrup).  id like to buy some online since apparently grocery stuff isnt in the same league (apparently?)...  or is the difference only apparent to connoisseurs?


    It's not so much the source as it is the grade. A lot of people prefer medium-amber even though the lighter grades are more expensive. The sap gets progressively darker over the course of the season's run. Syrup from places that use wood-fired evaporators may have a slightly different taste, but that is most likely only available locally.


  18. There is still, however, a question of originality, both in the sense of first and in the sense of creation. Just as there can't be copyright protection for the statement "1 + 1 = 2"

    That may be true, but the Patent Office can be clueless at times. This may be an "urban legend", but I read that someone had patented the "hton" and "ntoh" software algorithms. That's about as basic as "1 + 1 + 2". Then there's "Ringnet", but don't get me started on that.


  19. So how about all the pitmasters out there? I don't hear much about them using temperature probes (which I keep in the meat the whole time)... I know they have been doing it for years and would get a feel for it, but surely they must have some other indicator than by feel? (I'm not talking physical feel, more like knowing it's done without touching it).

    Several people, including me, have already told you that you have to do it by feel. Temperature probes give an approximation, but only that. Why do you have a problem with a physical test?


  20. Brining, absolutely, and I cook to 165F in the thigh. As Mizduccky said, joints may be a bit red. Cooking the breast to 180F is a good way to ruin a meal. I have a link to the latest USDA or is it ServSave guidelines around here somewhere. It's probably on an older computer that's not booted up right now. I'll look around in the morning.


  21. Hi All,

    I didn't have any luck searching.  Does anyone know of a book or website that has items organized based on their seasonal best availability?  The Chez Panisse books do it in a limited way for veggies and fruit.  Is there a "bible" on this subject or is it live and learn.



    Here's what's available at Verrill Farm in Concord, MA by month. They may be a few weeks behind what's available in NYC, but it should be close. In addition, it's an interesting web site to explore. My only relationship with them is that I'm a very happy customer.


  22. basil is a little more touchy than some others, but on the bright side it grows fast and is an annual anyway, so if it dies just start over.

    The reason many people have problems with basil is that they plant it too early. You need to wait until the soil has really warmed up, say early to mid-Summer depending on your location. Don't bother with nursery plants. It grows from seed very well. Keep the plants well trimmed and they will really bush out.


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