Turkey Bratwurst

I’m just putting this recipe here so I don’t forget it. Used that sheboygan brat recipe from Food52 again, minus the caraway seeds. Came out wonderful:

Ingredients

The raw meat separated from one 13-lb turkey (should be 4 -6 lbs of meat or so- you’ll need to weigh it to calculate how much salt you’ll use)

1.5 – 2 lbs of salt pork fatback, rinsed thoroughly of excess salt

Cube and chill all meat and fat in the freezer until a little frozen around the edges.

Measure out enough kosher salt so that you’ll have 35 grams of salt for every 5 lbs of turkey meat. Do not include the salt pork in this calculation.

Add:

2 T minced garlic

1.5 T ground black pepper

2 tsp dried marjoram

1 tsp grated nutmeg

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground ginger

Mix salt and spices, pour over meat and fat and mix thoroughly. Put through meat grinder on the coarse die.

I got a little less than 8 lbs of sausage from this recipe and it came out very nice. You can’t tell it’s mostly turkey except that the patties fry up a little lighter in color than a 100% pork sausage would.

Turn your chuck roast into a mini-brisket

So, I found a recipe for cooking chuck in the manner of brisket. It’s on Amazing Ribs, of course. We had a bunch of ‘chuck tender’ roasts in the deep freeze, so I decided to try the method out on one of these. For the purpose of scientific inquiry (and because they were on incredible sale!), I also picked up a thick chuck steak to smoke at the same time. The chuck tender is lean, the steak is much fattier.

The ‘tender’ does not refer to the texture, but to the teardrop shape, which resembles that of a tenderloin. Be assured, it is not tender, but actually every bit as tough as the rest of the chuck! Makes a nice pot roast. I cut a couple up into large stew chunks for use in Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon recently and they were great for that kind of long slow braise.

The basic method for chuck-like-brisket:

Salted and seasoned them the night before. Scott smoked them at 225 F until the stall happened at internal temp of 150-ish, crutched them, continued to cook to internal temp of 180 F. Then he parked the hot beasts in a cooler lined with blankets for a while.

The chuck steak finished first in about 4 hours, and the chuck tender roast, a larger teardrop-shaped piece of meat, took one hour longer.

The chuck steak is very, very nice. All of it is sliceably firm (I sliced it up already), and 3/4 of it is tender enough that thick slices can be used for sandwich meat. Juicy, too. The remaining 1/4 can be eaten like steak but needs a little more time soaking in the crutch in order to be soft enough for sammiches.

We just checked out the chuck tender, and it is very beefy and flavorful from the smoke and rub, but still a little tough. I put it in the oven to finish up. It may soften up some, but it is dry and it won’t get juicier. It is a naturally leaner, drier piece of beef, and I cannot recommend this technique for this cut, unless it is put on a meat slicer for very thin sandwich slices, or chipped up for burrito meat. Chuck tenders seem to be tailor made for pot roast and stew, and not much else. Maybe for grinding, if you add fat (I ground one and cooked it without adding more fat, and it made a dry burger, too).

If you want brisket but don’t want to be out there smoking 14 lbs of meat for 12 hours+, try this technique with a nice fatty piece of chuck.

Canadian Bacon Update

This recipe cured for about a week in solution. I took it out and rinsed and wrapped it and let it sit in the fridge another day just for the salts to kind of continue equalizing. Today I let them soak in water for about half an hour to leach out some of the excess surface salt.

Then Scott smoked them for me to internal temp 150 degrees F.

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This is the bigger piece. It kind of looks like a pound cake in my terrible photo, but it’s pork loin all right. You can tell how awful I am at trimming silverskin and fat by all the choppy cuts in the surface.

I’m glad I upped the amounts of all the seasonings and I’m glad I added the steak seasoning. I can taste the spices and not just salt. The cure is very light tasting, light enough for ham sandwiches, and the meat is sweet and peppery. It’s a little dry, but hopefully that’s just the end piece.

Porkwork Afoot

I’m making a seven-pound batch of ‘Sheboygan’ style bratwurst from  the recipe I originally modified for chicken in this post.

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The link to the recipe at Food52 is at the bottom of the post linked above.

My only substitution was to use fatty beef instead of lean veal, and a slightly higher proportion of pork and pork fat. I fried a test patty and it was perfect and delicious. I recommend this recipe. Unfortunately, the salt is measured by volume instead of grams. I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt and I used the quantity in the recipe. If you use Morton’s kosher salt, that’s almost twice as much salt as Diamond Crystal for the same volume. Try mixing half the amount into your meat dice, grind and taste test a small sample, and decide for yourself if you need more. I tend to like less saltiness.

Extreme closeup of hog casings soaking in water.

casings

I’m never sure how long to soak these things. I’m going to go for overnight this time, and start with pretty hot water (90 degrees F), because I just read on the internet that’s how you get a nice stretchy smooth casing that expands well, and doesn’t stick and tear. Let you know how it goes. I’m just trying to keep them from being too chewy.

Second project: Back to canadian bacon.

ham

There’s two chunks of pork loin in this basic brine recipe that I got from the amazing Meathead and then tarted up like crazy. I doubled the garlic granules and added onion granules and way too much black pepper and then stuck out my tongue and threw in a handful of steak seasoning, too. I’m not afraid of the police.

Modding a recipe can be confusing, because experts like Ruhlman and Meathead have wildly different takes, even with roughly the same amount of starting material (around three pounds of meat and a gallon of water). In Charcuterie, Ruhlman has a canadian bacon recipe that I used before which takes 8 teaspoons of prague’s #1 (nitrite salt) per gallon and is done in three days. Meathead recommends two teaspoons per gallon and lets it cure for up to two weeks. And on Ruhlman’s site, he has a recipe that calls for a concentration of one tablespoon in half a gallon of water, which is equivalent to six teaspoons per gallon. What is best? I went with an amount closer to Meathead’s measurements and will check the pork after about six days.

Anyway. That lovely fresh brat recipe get stuffed in the morning. Booyah. I hope to remember to update with pics of the finished pork projects.

PBC idea

I think I just figured out how to solve two problems I have been having with the PBC.

 

 

  1. When cooking a lot of meat,  drippings can extinguish the coals
  2. Drippings send ash airborne and it ends up on the food

 

Solution?  Individual drip pans.

Beef.

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Looks dry. Is not dry. Just the photo. And the smoke ring is screamin’ red IRL. Dang lighting in here. We had a mishap on the foil pouch crutch and did lose our broth, so it probably could have been a bit moister with a softer bark. And I found Meathead’s rub just a little too peppery, which is strange, because I love pepper.

However, lovely pink slices fall off the bone and are succulent enough for me to call our first try delicious and successful. I had no idea this meat was going to be so rich. I can only have a small amount and I’m full.

Next time, I’m going to get the boneless version and sous vide it, then put the bark on it at the end.

Pretty stoked about today’s experiment. Booyah!

Pork Ribs.

Pretty good. I think I could have gone a little heavier with the rub. Next time we do pork ribs I’m going to do them with Wiserbud’s rub recipe instead and compare.

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The lowest part that hung just above the coals got charred but not as bad as you would expect, and I was surprised by that. Still, smoky and moist.

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I don’t know if you can see how moist the meat is in there for my terrible photography. Smoke ring is muted in the photo, too. Oh well.

Next up: Beef short ribs. On the crutch now.

 

 

Our First Ribs Together

I love ribs. But in almost twenty years of marriage we’ve never made them, because Scott’s not a fan of ribs.

Yet. Hopefully he’ll become a convert. We’re using recipes from Meathead’s book, so failure is not an option.

Today I got a couple St. Louis center cut pork racks, and four four-rib sections of beef short plate. Lightly salted and then rubbed with spices.

The pork got Memphis Dust, and the beef got Big Bad Beef Rub.

Oh my goodness. Even raw, they smell so nice.

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I’m toying with the idea of doing one of the beef shorties sous-vide overnight, then giving it a quick turn on the grill to crisp up the outside. Just for comparison purposes…hmmm. Nah, another time.

That would be a great thing to do when prepping for a cookout, though. Then the day of, instead of slaving over the grill, you could just pop your already-cooked ribs on the coals for a couple minutes a side and voila. Here is a great primer on what happens to short ribs at various times and temps in the sous vide.

Tomorrow is going to be a really good day. We’ll post the finished pics in the evening, if we’re not too stuffed to move.

UPDATE: It’s ON, people.

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Sous vide Experiment #3

Scott saw this recipe in the sous vide cookbook about transforming a cheap chuck roast into great beef, like prime rib.

  1. I salted the beef generously then browned the roast in a skillet on all sides.
  2. I added sherry, garlic powder, and black pepper to the fond in the skillet.
  3. I reduced the liquid, scraping up the brown bits and adding a lump of butter.
  4. All went into the bag along with the roast, and cooked 48 hrs at 130 degrees.

Pretty nice.

beefy

When it was done, I gave it another turn in the skillet with some browned butter but I don’t think that was necessary.

It’s nearly the same texture as prime rib. Very tender. A fork almost cuts it. The concentrated juice in the bag tastes wonderful. Just like a hearty beefy au jus, but less salty. I’m going to have to make rolls and have a serious french dip experience!

My criticism is that I think this machine’s thermostat runs a little hot. This roast is slightly too done for me. Next time I want to set it to <del>125 or 127 degrees </del> [130 degrees is the minimum on a long cook for safety. Do not reduce the temperature.] and see if that leaves it more to my liking (red) in the center. And I want to pull it off at 24 hours and see if there’s any real advantage to leaving it in twice as long.

Next up: More chicken. In a few days.

Sous vide Experiments

OK, so we kept hearing from Tushar and other people about how sous vide gives an awesome texture to meats and veggies.

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We treated ourselves to this thing. It was way lower in price than other brands on the internet ($69 instead of $200), and you don’t need to use a smartphone to control it. Which I think is a really dumb feature of both the Anova and Joule brands of sous vide machines.

Why should I be required to pull out my phone to control the sous vide machine that is sitting right in front of me? This brand (Sous Smart) makes more sense to me. Plug it in and set it. If I did have to walk away from it for a period of time and wouldn’t be around to turn it off when the food is ‘done,’ who cares? One major reason for the existence of sous vide is that the food waits for you at the correct temperature, for hours, without being overdone.

So, yesterday we tested it out with a couple chicken thighs prepared very simply with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. We vacuum-sealed them into a bag and Scott cooked them sous vide for eight hours at 165 degrees.

After removing the cooked chicken from the bag, I quickly seared them in some coconut oil on very high heat to brown them and crisp up the skin.

I made a quick sherry and butter gravy with the liquid in the cooking bags, and the crusties in the skillet. When we bit into the meat, we both made exclamations of wonder. I have never had chicken with this melting texture before. And the skin was shatteringly crisp, probably because during sous vide it was rendered out very thin. Very nice. Will do again.

So today we did some thick center cut pork loin chops for a couple hours at 140 degrees. Scott seasoned all seven of very simply with just a sprinkle of salt, which I am still angry at him about because I wanted to experiment with some different spices on a couple of them, which I TOLD him I wanted to do yesterday but he ignored me and did his own boring thing while I was still sleeping this morning. Which is fine. Fine.

This is how awful and grey food looks when it comes out of the bag. My understanding from some other videos I have watched, is that the bag impressions in the food can be prevented by adding some oil to the bag before cooking. It fills up the corners of the bag instead of allowing the slowly gelatinizing meat to conform there.

I knew this because I watched those videos, so this morning I would have put a little oil in the bags, but I wasn’t around, so now we have plastic bag-looking chops. Whatever. I think I’ll go talk to this wall now.

meat-one

Some of them probably would have also looked better if I had been allowed to put some spices on them. But no. Nevermind. It’s a man’s world.

I patted them dry with paper towels and gave them that same scorching skillet sear that the chicken got yesterday, but this time instead of chatting with my husband, I was completely silent, because who cares if I say anything anyway.

meat-two

Pretty good. Not as dramatic a textural difference from chops cooked the regular way, though. I wonder if to get that extremely succulent texture, they really needed to be in the low heat cooking for much longer. Or maybe I cooked them a bit too long in the skillet, negating the benefits of low heat cooking.

Don’t know. But we will be trying again real soon. It’s a new toy!

Next experiment: Probably veggies or salmon. Although Scott’s smoked salmon is pretty hard to beat.