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Everything posted by cjsadler

  1. Is 'butt' the same as 'shoulder'? This has bothered me for awhile. What I mainly see for sale in DC is 'picnic shoulder'. I was told shoulder is the same as butt (butt is just a term, the real 'butt' is the ham), but then was told that 'picnic shoulder' is not butt, only things plainly called 'shoulder' (or some other variant besides 'picnic') are butt. Can anyone solve this butt/shoulder mystery?
  2. I'll second San Marco. I've really enjoyed all the meals I've had there. The best inexpensive Italian in DC, in my opinion. Last visit had some good carpaccio and risotto. Interesting grappa bottle collection, too.
  3. Ate here last night for the first time along with plenty of other skinflints taking advantage of the 'no corkage' night. Had some very satisfying pate and then scallops. The scallops were served on a leek mousse, which really wasn't a mousse, but rather leeks pureed with butter. Odd presentation, with the scallops gathered inside the bottom of a potato cone (sorta like a big potato chip in the shape of a gramophone/protective dog collar) dotted with red wine reduction. Also sampled some bites of escargot, which were nice in a pesto with eggplant, and beef tenderloin in a pepper sauce. Everyone's dish was served with a side of pureed carrots, whose flavor was overwhelmed by the amount of butter in them (we had to ask if it really was carrots). We washed everything down with a couple of bottles I just brought back from Napa. I don't know if I was too excited by anything (well, maybe the pate), but it's a nice neighborhood spot. I'll probably head back when it's a bit colder, as alot of the dishes that remain on the menu (beef stew, lamb stew, etc) aren't very appealing to me in hot weather.
  4. cjsadler


    Gave the carnitas a go this weekend, but as usual when I try cooking something the first time, I ended up screwing it up (even though this sounded so easy). Used a 5.5lb pork shoulder, cut it into 1" cubes (with fat cap), added half a can of pepsi, chopped onions, jalepenos and salt and then covered with water. I obviously put way too much water in, as a couple hours later, the pork was close to done, but the pot was still full of water (it had been partially covered). Took the lid off and turned up the heat some, which may have been my second mistake-- when the liquid finally evaporated, there was no fat in the pan. The dry meat was just scorching on the bottom, so I stopped at that point (it had basically disintegrated into pulled pork at this point). Maybe the fat emulsified in the water (since the heat was too high) and evaporated along with it? I'd included most of the fat cap, so I was really mystified-- all that fat had to have gone somewhere. So there was no frying of the carnitas (I expected there to be a pool of fat they were frying in), but the 'pulled pork' that resulted wasn't bad.
  5. cjsadler

    Pork Tenderloin

    The chicken sausage was pre-cooked. Interesting technique-- poach the sausage, then freeze it (it was made from scratch, so tubes of the right size could be made to fit the tenderloin-- he just piped it out of a pastry bag onto saran wrap, rolled and tied it with butcher string at each end). Cut a slit through the center of the tenderloin with a boning knife, unwrap the frozen sausage and jam it in there. Let thaw and then you're ready to go.
  6. Got to witness something pretty interesting at a cooking demo last night. The chef stuffed pork tenderloin with chicken sausage and then cooked it to only medium-rare. The pork was not just slightly pink-- it was red. People were aghast, but the chef said that trichinosis has been eradicted for 30 years now (at least in USDA certified pork), but cookbooks still tell you to cook it almost well done (way overcooked in his opinion). He even ate some raw tenderloin to quell people's fears! And as the owner of the cooking school, he said he certainly wouldn't be serving you something that would make you sick since he would be liable. Maybe this isn't news to others, but I found all this surprising, and that pork was sooooo delicious. It was like you've been only eating well done steak and just got a taste of a medium one. I've never seen pork served like that in a restaurant-- maybe because people would be too freaked out?
  7. I like this place. Sometimes the crowd there can be annoying, but they do have a nice bourbon & whiskey selection (they need to get Copper Fox, though). However, it always seems like I am one of the few people there actually drinking bourbon. Some interesting beer selections and they have some fancy wine fridge contraption for glass selections (which look to be mostly from small CA wineries). It pumps the wine out of the bottles and out through taps on the outside-- so no warm reds here. The food is just standard bar fare. Dinner at Heritage India and then some post-dinner bourbon at Bourbon makes for a good evening.
  8. cjsadler


    Dumb question: When you fry/roast in the oven, doesn't all the onion, garlic and non-pork stuff burn since you aren't stirring it? Or do you throw all that stuff out and just use the cubes at that point?
  9. We just got back from Napa yesterday. Ate a very pleasant meal on the patio at Bistro Jeanty. However, as much as I liked the place, I didn't think it was anything too special. You can eat just as well at a French Bistro in Chicago or other cities that have good ones. So, in that respect, I'd agree with your inclination that it might be a 'wasted' meal. Again, it's a great place, but I would have preferred something more exciting and regional since I don't get to Napa much (I'm on the opposite coast). Only other dinner we ate out was at the Martini House in St. Helena, which was good, but not exceptional. Other recommendations we got that I would have liked to follow up on: Tra Vigne and the CIA's restaurant (did go to a cool cooking demo at the CIA, though-- they have them daily-- worth checking out).
  10. Crispy polenta is my all-time nemesis. We have fought many battles. It does not even seem like a worthy adversary, yet it defeats me every time. Most recipes say "Pour polenta into pan and chill 2 hours. Slice into triangles or cut into rounds and saute". Bull****!! This never works. I've tried making the polenta with much less liquid, chilling it overnight, coating it in flour, panko and raw polenta... grilling it, and frying it... high heat, low heat... It never gets very crispy and it usually just melts. Sometimes I'll get a very thin layer of crust that slips off as soon as you try to eat it. Maybe I'm just expecting too much-- I want like the crispness of a good potato galette, but with polenta. Tart dough is a close second (I do alright with basic pie dough). I've been trying a bunch of recipes. Seems to be alot of different methods... some cream the butter and sugar, some use confectioner's sugar, some barely use any sugar, some have no water, etc... It's never the crisp, tender, flaky dough I want. And it usually shrinks like hell (even after I've chilled or frozen the dough in the pan in addition to letting it rest before rolling). I figured Jeffrey Steingarden's "Gold Standard Tart Dough" from 'It Must Have Been Something I Ate' was finally going to be the one that worked. Nope- it produced a super-brittle dough that disintegrated in your mouth (not in a pleasant way). I assume this was because the butter was worked too well into the flour, but I barely worked it in! (or so I thought!).
  11. Last fall, as part of a tasting menu at a restaurant, I had some scallops with perfectly wrapped bacon-- the bacon looked like it was fused on. Fast forward to this spring where I saw an Iron Chef style showdown featuring the chef from this same restaurant. One of the mystery ingredients was scallops and thus the chef used bacon to wrap them. I watched closely while he did it. He rolled the bacon wrapped scallops around the edge of a skillet on their sides, moving them every minute or so, and I think tilting the pan a bit to keep the grease away. I talked to him afterwards and he said he never puts the scallops flat in the pan, but they'll eventually get cooked-- just use very thin bacon in one layer and there is no need for toothpicks (thick bacon will buckle, but thin will pull in tight against the scallops). Haven't tested his method myself yet, though...
  12. cjsadler

    Superior Vinegars

    I'm going to be out in Napa/Sonoma in a couple of weeks. I'm curious what wineries also produce good vinegars so I can pick some up (red and white).
  13. There's a few of recipes that specify 'cracker bread' as an ingredient. What is she referring to exactly?
  14. cjsadler

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    If sauteeing the gnocchi, do they need to be boiled first? I see this instruction for alot of books. I'm wondering if it's just intended as a prepare ahead method, though-- boiling them beforehand, then sauteeing later when you're ready to serve. Also, I'm curious about the use of cake/pastry flour in gnocchi. Heard this was a good trick for really light gnocchi. In principle (lower gluten) it sounds like something worth exploring.
  15. I will say that the fries at the new DC places are up to the quality of the VA locations. Not so the bland, dry burgers.
  16. cjsadler

    Seared Scallops

    I've had this exact same problem-- after setting the seared scallops aside, they leak a puddle of tasty juice (never-frozen, no-water-added, dry pack scallops). They look and taste great, but I'm still troubled by the juice loss. Will try the low oven finish method. I'm curious about something, though. In several seared scallop recipes I've seen it says to reserve the scallops in a warm bowl after you've seared them and while you're making the sauce. What's the reason for specifying a bowl (instead of a plate or rack)-- is the idea to get the scallops to reabsorb the juices they're exuding (since the bowl will cluster them all in the puddle of juice?).
  17. My revised title for this thread would be: Five Guys: "Expanding and Sucking". Stopped in at the new Chinatown location last night. The burgers were totally mediocre-- as disappointing as the Howard location. Too bad, 'cause I really like the Old Town location's burgers. We consoled ourselves afterwards with pints of Victory Hop Devil at RFD. It's the beer they're currently filtering through that crazy new hop device they have and it's dynamite.
  18. Great course-- thanks for doing it. I've got a question about tomatillos and salsa verde. I make it fairly close to your method, but occationaly the result is unpleasantly sour (trying to sweeten it has made it an even more unpleasant sweet n' sour). Is this due to the tomatillos being too unripe/old or perhaps not cooking them long enough/short enough?
  19. I was there not too long ago, and I agree. The prices are up and several of the dishes seem to now be too cluttered-- all sorts of garnishes and sauces. I still like this place, though. The owner and employees are all so nice there. Some friends of mine were running late, so they invited me to the bar and gave me tastes of all the glass wines (which must have been at least 8 wines).
  20. I heard similar warnings about Obelisk, but last year I had one of the most memorable meals I've had in DC there. A fried risotto ball amuse, white asparagus with shaved parmesian, seafood raviolini, veal chop... Very simple presentations, but damn good. Maybe it was just an 'on' night and they haven't recovered from their slide, but I was really impressed. And at $58 for 5 courses, it's a nice deal.
  21. For some reason, I never think of Palena as being 'Italian', like I do Obelisk, Tosca, Laboratorio, etc...
  22. I'm a big fan of Obelisk, and I think it's now your obvious choice. And hey, at half the price of Maestro or the Lab, you can use the savings for a nice father's day dinner.
  23. cjsadler


    There's a store near me that does have fresh pods. They look downright nasty-- it basically looks like a bag of goo with pod shaped lumps. Is this normal? Or does it mean they are not fresh? Can't tell from the label whether they are sweet or tart. Can you elaborate on how to use them? A previous post said to pour on boiling water. So you basically soak them and then sieve the result?
  24. I thought one of the best moments was Alton Brown's impersonation of Kaga in the beginning of the preview special. He was cracking me up as he did the yellow pepper scene Alton-style: measuring the pepper and writing down notes, etc... I've always been curious about the meals given to the judges on IC. Since all the dishes from both competitors are done at the same time, how are they served? Surely most of the dishes can't sit around that long? Especially for whoever goes second...
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