Monday, February 22, 2016

Boiled Crawfish



Boiling crawfish is an annual springtime event in our family.  Typically, we buy a 35# sack of crawfish on a Saturday morning and boil them in the afternoon.  Farm raised crawfish are delicious, but the wild crawfish are far and away better!  Living in Southeast Texas has its advantages and crawfish is definitely one of them!

Through the years, I have had the advantage of connections in the crawfish world.  As a kid we seined ponds and creeks for crawfish.  In the 80's we bought fresh wild crawfish for $25 per 35# sack.  My brother in law is in the freight forwarding business and we would give him an offshore cooler and he would put it on the truck.  The truck driver, as a favor to my brother in law, would stop in Crowley, Louisiana and pick up wild crawfish at cost!  We did this dozens of times and I had no idea, how lucky we were!



Over the past 20 years crawfish have become Lobsters of the Bayou!  Last weekend I picked up a sack for $2.48 per pound.  Still a bargain if you ask me!

Nobody on the planet cooks crawfish like me!  Everywhere you look, the so called pros are way overcooking their bugs.  I attended a crawfish boil last weekend at a bar and there was a famous food critic in attendance.  The boil was catered through the bar and the cooks had an excellent blend of spices in their pots.  The flavor was definitely there!  However, they cooked their bugs for 20 dog gone mintues and they also bought into the theory of soaking in a closed cooler for another 30 minutes!  Good Lord!  They were good!  Good as they get with the "cremate the hell out of them, attitude!  Anyway, the food critic said the product he consumed was the best ever?  I have to admit, they were good, good and cooked!  To the point of turning them into chalk.

I have researched 100's of methods, recipes and ingredients and they all are way overcooking their bugs.  No matter your blend of flavorful ingredients, if you over cook your bugs, you will wonder what might have been!  If you are cooking with a high pressure propane cooker, 3 minutes in a rolling boil is all they need!  Forget the voodoo bs about soaking them!  After 3 minutes, get them on the table ready for consumption.  The outcome is a tail that is extremely flavorful and thoroughly cooked!

All I ask if that you try it ~  


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Blackened Steak

Paul Prudhomme popularized the blackening process.  The process of heating a black iron skillet to very hot and quickly cooking meat coated with his signature spices most of the time with butter.  The theory was the thick coating of spices would quickly caramelize protecting the meat and creating a delicious outer crust.  I have been blackening both fish and meat for many years.  I always blacken meats outdoors because of the huge smoke cloud the process created.  Recently I ordered blackened beef tenderloin at Prudhomme's restaurant, K-Pauls', in New Orleans and it was delicious! The spice mixture I used on the steaks pictured was as follows:  granulated garlic, granulated onion, freshly ground tellicherry pepper corns and pink Himalayan sea salt.  I used about 1/3 of a stick of Kerrigold butter.  Enjoy!





Monday, October 26, 2015

Blackened Cod



Paul Prudhomme was the king of blackening fish.  His blackened red fish brought the red fish to the brink of extinction!  Well maybe not that extreme, but it was bad.  If all of Prudhomme's methods are done correctly, in a residential setting, you have to do it outside.  The cloud of smoke will run you out of the house.

It has been raining constantly for 4 days and I was looking for an opportunity to blacken the cod outdoors.  I needed to get them cooked, so I modified the method and it turned out great!

I rinsed the fillets and patted dry.  I sprinkled granulated garlic, granulated onion, fresh cracked black pepper, pink Himalayan sea salt and sweet organic paprika. both sides.  I put them all in a black iron skillet and put the heat on low.  I put a few tablespoons of grass-fed butter in the skillet with the fillets until it completely melted. I then removed from the heat and carefully dipped the top of each fillet in the butter.

I pre-heated the broiler to high and cooked for about 3 minutes.  It does not take long and it does not create the smoke bomb a white hot skillet creates.  Enjoy ~


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ribeyes Done Right!

First off, you have to have a very hot fire!  I like a hardwood fire because it adds exceptional flavor. If it was not for the added depth of flavor, I'd cook my steaks on a cast iron skillet!

A fire suitable for cooking steaks should literally engulf the meat in fire the second it hits the grate. A couple or 3 minutes each side and you will have a dark crust and a rare, tender, succulent steak!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Coconut Shrimp



I recently had the craving for coconut shrimp.  My lovely wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in New Orleans.  On one of our many excursions through the French Quarter, we stopped at a small local cafĂ© and had their coconut shrimp.  They were delicious and the following is a close recipe we have enjoyed here at home -

1 pound of Jumbo white gulf shrimp (18 count)
2 egg whites
1 T corn starch
1 C organic coconut
a little pink Himalayan sea salt after the shrimp are fried.
coconut oil

I cleaned, deveined and butterflied the shrimp.  I dried them in a paper towel.  I put 1 T of corn starch in a grocery bag and dropped in the shrimp.  I shook up the grocery bag so all the shrimp would have a fine dusting of corn starch.  I beat up the 2 egg whites and dipped the shrimp in for a good coating.  I then rolled the shrimp in the coconut and put them in a black iron skillet on a medium heat.  If it is too hot you will burn the coconut.  When they are golden brown, place them on a paper towel to drain.  Then add the salt as desired. 

I did not do any research and as far as I know, I created this recipe.  Think about it, it just makes sense.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Enjoy ~

Monday, August 4, 2014

Southeast Texas Smoked Pork Spareribs ~ ramblin's



When it comes to pork spareribs quality is very important.  Butchers offer ribs in various cuts.  They can be rough cut with a lot of bone, St. Louis cut without the chine, tail and tips, back rib cut also without the tips, flap and chine.  What is sold as a baby back rib is simply a small pig with the ribs cut with a band down both sides.  The added cost more than makes up for the loss of the flap, tips and chine bone.  Years ago a fresh, rough cut 2.5LBS and down pork sparerib was my favorite product.  These days you are lucky to find 3.5LBS and down frozen ribs.  Obviously, the more bone the meat markets sell the more profit they make.  The older the pig, the bigger the rib.  The bigger the rib, the heavier the rack.  Here in Southeast Texas the Asian food market has dominated consumption.  Paying the cost of a case of 2.5LBS and down is prohibitive if you can even find them.  Custom orders are very expensive.  In a perfect world I would order cases of young pig ribs carefully cut with a small chine and leave the tips alone.  As we all know, this is not a perfect world.  All that said a chef could butcher the 3.5LBS and down and saw off some of the tine and a bit of the end if that was the final product they were after.  The cheapest way to buy ribs is cryovaced in the meat case at your local grocery store.  This product has been frozen and thawed and has sat for a while until purchase.  Usually it is a pretty cost effective way to buy large qualities at reasonable prices.  Smaller racks can be cherry picked from the case and they will work. 

Prior to smoking ribs I like to prep them first.  Make sure you remove the membrane on the bone side.  The membrane is very easy to remove with a sharp knife and a paper towel or rag.  The paper towel is necessary to get a grip on the membrane.  You can simply peel the membrane off and move on to the next rack.  Removing this membrane allows the bone side to absorb rubs, liquids and smoke.  It is my opinion; it just makes for a better final product. 

There are many ways to take a rack of ribs to the chef’s idea of perfection.  The chef can cook low and slow away from the firebox for many hours and occasionally baste with his version of sop.  Some chefs use spray bottles to baste their ribs.  Some common liquids used are apple juice, coke, Dr. Pepper, root beer, beer, lemon juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, the list is as long as your imagination.  Typically, people have a perception of the direction they want to take a rack of ribs.  In Texas, folks like them in just about every way.  I like them in just about every way.  I call a tender, dry rib, the jerky style method.  They are very good and low on moisture.   

Some chefs smoke jerky style and at some point in the cooking process they wrap the racks in aluminum foil to finish them off.  This method can be varied in 100’s of ways.  You could smoke them for a short period of time and wrap.  You could take them half way then wrap.  You could take them to 75% then wrap, on and on.  This method produces a very tender rib with various levels of moisture in the meat.  

Other methods include boiling the rack prior to the smoking process.  Some old school chefs swear by this method.  An old timer out of Liberty County used to boil his ribs in a pot with a little apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  He would then smoke them until they reached his idea of perfection.  The one thing I remember about his outcome is the fact you could actually taste the meat.  It was not slathered with brown sugar and hot pepper hiding the true flavor of the pork.  Barbecue sauce on a perfectly executed rack of ribs is down right insulting.   

The key point in cooking a rack of ribs is the method you utilize.  There are 1000’s of methods and even more flavors.  Ribs have a very delicious flavor left alone.  Deviating off the true flavor of the meat is not what I personally like.  I do like some heat and a little sweet so I keep things pretty natural.  Natural sweetener can include apple juice, orange juice, pineapple juice etc.  Although I do not like things overly salty, I do like to add a very little salt to my ribs.  Adding a small amount of sodium can be achieved by just laying off the shaker.  However, I like to use a small amount of soy in the cooking process.  It is my opinion; a subtle hint of soy enhances the flavor of the pork.  I also enjoy the flavor of garlic and onion.  I try to never over season; I try to keep the flavor profile subtle.  When it comes to adding some heat I usually stick with cayenne pepper.  A little cayenne pepper will fire up the rib and not dominate the flavor.  The final outcome can go anywhere the chef desires.  Personally, I do not always prefer ribs that have been smoked over a long period of time.  If I am in the mood for a very tender rack of ribs, high in moisture, with a hint of smoke, I have a method for that.  To achieve this I fire up the pit with pecan wood and get it steak cooking hot.  I prep and marinate the ribs in a triple thick heavy duty aluminum foil “boat” for an hour of two.  I throw the ribs on the fire bone side down and brown them and then flip them and brown them on the meat side.  Do not burn them, just brown them.  During the searing process you pretty much have to look at them often being very careful not to burn them.  After they are well browned on both sides I then place them back in the marinade in the individually made aluminum boats.  Each boat should have a cup or 2 of marinade/liquid in them.  For each rack I pull out a very large amount of heavy duty aluminum foil a little longer than twice as long as the boat.  I set the boat on top of the foil and completely seal the whole boat lengthwise.  When I say completely sealed I mean no air transfer at all.  A small leak will ruin the process.  When you put the boats back on the pit they will steam for about 3 hours.  I try to keep them away from extreme heat.  The liquid in each boat should be more than enough to last the entire cooking process.  After about 3 hours at 250 to 300 open up one of the boats to determine how well they are done.  I like to remove them after the number 2 rib will wiggle just a little away from the meat.  This may be too tender for some chefs.  Make sure you check them and remove them at the tenderness you desire.  After they cool down a little they will firm up a bit.  That’s it for now. 
 
Bon Appetite!       

 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Homemade Wheat Bread

 
 
Update!  Homemade Bread!
 
Recipe is for 2 loaves
4 Cups organic wheat berries
Fresh milled
1/3 C organic olive oil
1/3 C organic (RAW) honey
2 t's sea salt ( I like pink Himalayan)
1 T yeast
2 C very warm water (filtered)
mix until dough clings to dough hook
 
 Let rise in the mixing bowl until double in size (about 20 minutes)
then beat dough down and divide into 2
then let dough rise in a warm oven until it is 1/2 inch above the sides of the bread pan
 
Then bake at 350 for 36 +- minutes
until golden brown
let rest on a cooling rack for 30 minutes
Enjoy~