meat

This past weekend was probably one of our last opportunities to grill in nice weather – it was a cool 45F outside, just enough to require my jacket and a careful eye on my charcoal. I’ll likely grill through the winter, but I figured now would be a good time to share this recipe for Inihaw na Liempo (Filipino Grilled Pork Belly).

Pork has a long history in Filipino cuisine; the Tagalog word for pig, baboy, is likely derived from the Indo-Malay babi/bayi, indicating that pork spread to the Philippine archipelago alongside its early inhabitants. For reference, there is evidence of humans living in the Philippines some 67,000 years ago, but they were likely displaced by several other arriving groups until about 6,000 years ago, when Malayo-Polynesians first arrived from East Asia. There is no perfect way to determine whether the pigs are an ancient member of the archipelago, but the fact that pigs have cultural significance on the islands is a good indication; for example, the seafaring Sama-Bajau, an ethnic group who live mostly in the Southern Philippines, used simple pig-shaped constellation clusters to navigate prior to the arrival of Europeans and their more advanced navigational methods.

Inihaw na Liempo is a more modern preparation of pork belly, using ingredients with both short and long histories in the Philippines. Many recipes today call for banana ketchup, which was a replacement for tomato ketchup invented during tomato shortages in World War II. Intrigued by the idea, I decided to mash a couple bananas into my marinade, and was pleasantly surprised by the fruity notes that complemented the crispy pork belly. Just be sure to keep a watchful eye on the grill – the natural sugars in the banana tend to encourage browning. For that reason, I like to slice my pork belly relatively thin, at 1/2″, to ensure the pork cooks through before getting too browned (plus, thinner slices = more crispy surface texture).

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We’re currently vacationing in Orlando this week (and consulting my Disney guide from time to time). The weather is perfect, the crowds are terrible (as expected), and our son Oliver is having a great time relaxing and getting away from the stresses of kindergarten. In preparation for our trip, I decided to revisit one of the first recipes I posted on this blog, beef jerky.

It’s amazing how jerky has endured as one of my all-time favorite foods since childhood. The word “jerky” itself is borrow from the word ch’arki, which translates to “dried, salted meat” in the Quechua language (spoken in the Andes region of South America).

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Local friends: I’ll be cooking a four-course dinner as a guest chef at So Gourmet Pensacola on Saturday, January 17th from 6-8pm. There are still seats available, RSVP for the event here. See you then!

Hanger steak is a v-shaped cut taken from the diaphragm of the cow. It was a relatively rare cut until recently, because butchers commonly kept it for themselves; in fact, another name for this cut is “butcher’s cut”. It weighs less than two pounds, which is a perfect size for whipping up a date-night dish. Gents, take note: we’re only a little over a month out from Valentine’s Day – plenty of time to practice this recipe beforehand!

Hanger steak works best when cooked quickly over a high heat, and served medium rare. Marinating the cut will infuse it with a punch of flavor, but it takes a little away from the spontaneity of this dish. Instead, I like to complement the simple, tender steak with a rich sauce, like the Bordelaise in today’s recipe.

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I owe a huge debt to America’s Test Kitchen and their Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks, whether they realize it or not; their books have been a staple in my reading library for nearly 20 years now. Many of the techniques I use in my cooking are founded on principles and tips that I’ve gleaned from their work. In fact, eagle-eyed readers of The Ancestral Table might have noticed that I gave them a nod in the back of my book, for influencing three of its recipes.

When they asked me to review and help spread the word about their new book, The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book: The Game-Changing Guide that Teaches You How to Cook Meat and Poultry with 425 Bulletproof Recipes, I jumped at the chance. Read on for the full review, but if you’re looking for the short version, it’s this: this is an essential guide to mastering the subtle art of cooking meat, and will set you up for a lifetime of deliciousness.

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This week I’m traveling to NYC for a cooking demo, and Providence and Boston for book signings. More info here – please be sure to come visit since I’m not sure when I’ll be heading north again for a while. See you there!

I have a love/hate relationship with braised beef. While I love the tenderness that comes from slow-roasting meat in liquid, I sometimes become bored with the tired texture of braised dishes. So in writing this recipe, I decided to make a classic braised short ribs recipe, but alter its final texture by roasting it at a high heat before returning it to the braising liquid. This technique allows me to add some crispness to the beef and also presents an opportunity to reduce and flavor the braising liquid while the beef finishes.

Short ribs are one of my favorite cuts of beef, as they are extremely rich, relatively inexpensive, and very versatile. They are best known as a low-and-slow cut, but they fare just as well with high heat grilling, such as in my Wang Kalbi recipe.

The short ribs for this recipe were graciously donated by my friends at Arrowhead Beef, a grass-fed farm located in Chipley, Florida. Along with their online store, they sell their products all over Florida, at farmer’s markets and retail locations. Their short ribs were delicious – meaty and full of tasty connective tissue. They worked perfectly with this braise.

Better yet! They’re offering a 10% off total purchase for The Domestic Man readers. Use code domesticman when checking out. Offer expires March 31st, 2014 and excludes Bulk Beef options; limited 1 per customer.

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People say nice things about companies all the time, and I’m always leery of endorsements. After all, companies are just big, hulking, impersonal machines, right? While it’s probably easy or convenient to say that The Ancestral Table is solely the result of my own hard work over the years, the truth is that my cookbook wouldn’t have been possible without the support of many people, chief among them my friends at US Wellness Meats. I realize that sounds a little extreme, so hear me out.

Two years ago, I sent them an email asking if they were interested in partnering for some recipes. This was my first time putting myself (and this blog) out there like that, and I felt sheepish writing such an assuming email – after all, at the time I had only a few hundred Facebook “likes” and a regular readership of around 50 people. But the USWM team saw something they liked in my little site, and sent me a box of various meats to work with; they also added me as their April 2012 Featured Chef, and my website took off from there. I attribute the turning point of this blog – from something I was writing for mostly myself to what it is today – to their support in early 2012.

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Today’s recipe is a combination of two recent events in our house. First, I recently bought a remote grill thermometer, and I was itching to try it out. The thermometer has has two probes: one that goes in the meat and one to gauge the overall grill temperature. It’s an easy way to keep an eye on both the grill temp and your food without having to open the grill lid. Plus, it has a wireless receiver so I can keep an eye on the temperatures from afar, perfect for some wintertime grilling.

Second, we recently came across a beautiful French Rack of Pork at our local market, which is a shoulder pork loin still attached to the ribs; basically, it’s a rack of center cut pork chops. As luck would have it, the rack was on sale; my guess is that it intimidated customers and the store was having a hard time selling it. Either way, we couldn’t turn down the price, so I dragged the big hunk of meat home and the rest is history.

I decided to smoke the rack on my gas grill, which would allow me to give it a flavorful crust without overcooking the tender meat inside. Just to be safe, I brined the pork overnight to keep it from drying out, which was also a good call. The end result was crisp on the outside, and ridiculously juicy and flavorful on the inside.

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I love finding new ways to transform cheap cuts of meat into something spectacular. I think most people feel the same way, as my Eye of Round Roast recipe remains the most popular recipe on my blog. So when I read my friend Peter’s Tjälknöl recipe from earlier this year, I knew that I needed to try it. The method intrigued me: take a frozen chunk of lean beef and slow cook it until it reaches a certain temperature, then remove it and let it sit in a brine for a few hours. The Tjälknöl came out utterly delicious and not unlike roast beef, perfect for thinly slicing and enjoying cold.

I love the story behind the dish, which I pulled straight from Peter’s excellent blog, Striclty Paleo…ish:

“Ragnhild Nilsson, the wife of moose hunter Eskil Nilsson, asked her husband one evening to thaw a frozen moose steak in the oven on low temperature. He did…and forgot about it, and Ragnhild found it still laying in the oven the next day. She understood it would be rather tasteless eating it like that, so in an attempt to save it she placed it in a brine for a few hours. When they later ate it, they both found it to be not only delicious, but also extremely juicy and tender. A year or so later, she submitted the recipe for a national contest to find new regional signature dishes, and won! Tjälknöl was declared the new signature dish of Medelpad (a region of northern Sweden), and it spread nationwide.”

I took a few liberties with the original recipe as I converted it to US measurements, mostly because I’m constantly tweaking things in the kitchen.

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As the temperatures fall this month, I expect many people to be hesitant about going outside to grill food. Personally, we keep the grill outside and ready all year long, but I realize that not everyone feels that way (especially my Midwestern readers, whose winters are a little more significant than ours). So I thought it would be a good time to work on a solid, foolproof pan-seared steak recipe.

To be honest, we as a family don’t eat steak much, due to its high price point. But it’s an excellent celebratory meal, or for when you’re looking for a simple, developed taste without having to spend much time preparing your meal. Generally, steaks are made from the most tender cuts of the animal and cooked quickly; their tenderness comes from a lack of tough fibers and connective tissue found in the muscles that are more worked. Applying a light spice rub on a steak is ideal, and right before cooking, so that you have contrasting tastes of the crust and delicate interior. The combination of cacao, peppers, and salt go especially well with steak.

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Hey folks! Tonight at 7pm ET (4pm PT) I’ll be one of three home chefs participating in a live Google+ Hangout “Cookalong” with MasterChef Top 4 contestant Jessie Lysiak; be sure to tune in via the MasterChef Google+ page or FOX’s YouTube Channel to watch me in action! Thanks for the support!

Most of the time, I really appreciate a well-marinated chunk of meat. Or something that’s been swimming in a fragrant sauce for a while. But every once in I while I like to bring dishes back to their basics – and this week’s recipe fits the bill nicely. Picanha (pronounced “Pee-cone-ya”) is about as simple as it can get: skewered rump cap roasted over an open fire, flavored with only sea salt. It’s a staple dish of Brazilian barbecue (churrasco) and one of the more prominent dishes from the region.

A rump cap is hard to find in many American butcher shops, as it’s often incorporated into the cut we call rump roast. If you’re lucky enough to find it in North America, the rump cap is usually identified by a thick layer of fat on one side which flavors the meat as it grills. As an alternative, we used a couple top sirloins from US Wellness Meats, which had a nice layer of fat on one side, mimicking the rump cap perfectly.

This week’s recipe, like last week’s Couve a Mineira, is part of a team-up recipe with my friend Alex Boake. Be sure to check out her illustrated version of this recipe!

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